Archive | February 29th, 2016

When Two IPs Unite: Powerful Transformation


He is an Igorot.

She is Mangyan.

Love unites them together.

And they have proven that when two minorities unite, a major and powerful transformation will happen.

Ulirang Nakatatanda

Henry Valdez Sulay, Ulirang Nakatatanda 2015 Awardee.

Henry Valdez Sulay, 74, born in Mt. Province, now a resident of Brgy. Harison Paluan, Occidental Mindoro was 3rd Placer in ‘Ulirang Nakakatanda Award 2015’.

Ulirang Nakatatanda is an annual recognition of the Department of Social Welfare and Development IV-MiMaRoPa to the exemplary attributes, notable efforts and contribution of senior citizens to their personal life, family, community, and fellow senior citizens.

During the validation, Henry told us his love story.

His cheeks blushed and his body shivered every time he recalls the moment he and his wife, Mila Parisan, first met.

“Una ko po siyang nakita noong umakyat kami ng bundok ng kaibigan ko. Nagtitinda po siya noon ng gulay at prutas. Sobrang nabighani po ako sa kanya… Parang na-love at first sight ba. Simula po noon, lagi na akong bumibili sa kanya,” narrated Henry like an inlove teenager.

Known for his dedication and diligence, Henry consistently pursued Mila.

Everyday he visits Mila and helps her in selling fruits and vegetables.

However, their love journey was never easy. Mila’s parents dislike Henry and did everything they can to make him stop from courting their daughter.

“Napakahigpit po talaga nila (magulang ni Mila).  Pinapauwi po agad nila ako at may mga pagsubok na pinapagawa. Ang pinakamahirap po ay ang pagkuha ng Pulot Pukyutan sa itaas ng puno. Tatlo po kaming nanliligaw kay Mila. Yung una eh nahulog sa puno. Yung pangalawa naman eh kinagat ng mga bubuyog. Sa huli po, ako ang nakakuha ng Pulot Pukyutan. Kaya nakuha ko rin ang puso ni Mila,” Henry proudly uttered.

Beehive served as Henry’s trophy.

From then on, Mila’s clan treated him kindly and accepted him as part of their family.

In fact, one day, he was invited to attend a special event.

An event, where in he was the center of celebration. An event that, unknown to him, will change his life forever: his Own Wedding.

He was caught of guard.

But because his pure intention for Mila he accepted wholeheartedly the wedding ceremony and vowed to forever serve and love the IP of his life.


Prosperous Fruits of Love

Henry and Mila’s union gave them intelligent, talented, and amiable six (6) children. All of them are now professionals.

Their eldest, Gloria Sulay, graduated as valedictorian in elementary and salutatorian in High School. She is now working as Mathematics and English teacher at Paluan National High School.

Cecilia Sulay, their second child, graduated BS Computer Science at Rizal Technological Colleges while their third child, Manuel Sulay, took up engineering course and practical electricity.

Their twin children, Joel and Noel Sulay, also gave them double honor and recognition. Joel, is the first Mangyan in Occidental Mindoro who finished engineering. He worked in Manila Electric Company (MERALCO) and HUAWEI-Globe Tatoo Company before being the NOC Manager at key Square in Pasig. On the other hand, Noel, worked as principal of one of the private schools in Lucena.

Hariel Sulay, the youngest of their children, finished Associate Electronics Communication Engineering and is now working with Joel.


Sweet, Kind, and Successful Revenge

                Henry and Mila, when they were just starting to build their family, have tasted the cruelty of judgmental and racist people.

“Noong pinakasalan ko po noon si Mila, nilalait po ako ng mga kakilala ko. Habang nagtatanim po ako, sinisigawan po nila ako ng Mangyan… Mangyan…,” recalled Henry who was very downhearted of the harsh treatment.

Even their children have tasted the stigma of being IP.

“ Minsan po umuuwi mga anak ko na umiiyak. Inaaway daw po kasi sila sa school nila dahil Mangyan sila,” narrated Henry.

However, instead of thinking and doing vicious avenge, Henry used all the rude and painful experiences as a fuel to perservere in life.

Henry’s family survived through farm labor. This is their main source of income in supporting the needs of their family and paying the educational expenses of their six children.

Before, there was no elementary school in their area which challenged Henry to send them to a good school to have formal education. For Henry, even when he was still young, education plays a vital role to achieve a successful future.


Mangyans’ Home Sweet Home: a result of powerful and altruistic IP movement

                Henry initiated projects for the Mangyan IP of Paluan. One of which is the Mangyan Dorm in Poblacion of Paluan.

He sought the help of Bishop Apostocial Vicariate of San Jose (AVSJ)and the Parish Priest of Paluan if they can temporarily build a small house inside the church compound so it would be accessible to the elementary schools of Paluan.

“Nakiusap po ako noon sa kaibigan kong Bishop na gumawa ng dormitoryo para sa mga bata.  Buti po at pumayag siya. Malaking tulong po talaga yun,” said Henry.

The bishop approved his request and even helped him in providing school supplies for his children.

He encouraged his fellow Mangyan to also send their children to school to have a brighter future and also to escape from the ruthless treatment of people to them. They responded positively.

Through Henry’s initiatives and Bayanihan system, they built a dormitory inside the Parish compound not only for the students but also for their family who want to visit them.


Dreaming High, Soaring Higher: Power of Mangyan

                Years passed and Henry’s passion in helping his fellow Mangyans did not stop.

He initiated the request to the Occidental Mindoro Division Office of the Department of Education to put a Minority School in their Brgy. Today, Harisson Minority is offering complete education (grade 1 to grade 6) not only for Mangyans but also for the Tagalogs. Also, Henry donated part of his land to the DepEd where this school was constructed.

He also initiated the request survey and distribution of Department of Agrarian reform to the Mangyans of Brgy. Harisson.

Now, he is an active member of Paluan Senior Citizen Association. He persistently encourages Mangyan elders to register in OSCA to fully enjoy their privileges as senior citizens.

It’s all because of Love

Asked what motivates him to serve his fellow Mangyans and senior citizens, Henry answered: LOVE.

First, love for his wife. Even he was born as an Igorot, his commitment to Mila made him a Mangyan by heart. Mila taught him how to love unconditionally and to persevere against all odds. Their union was epic. They have proven that when IPs unite they can generously and sympathetically serve their brothers and sisters.

Also, his love for his children, education and serving others motivated him to create a simple yet powerful movement to help fellow Mangyans acquire educational opportunity and posess a safe haven and to generously serve his fellow senior citizens.

Henry’s altruistic act, exemplary contribution to his family, community ,and fellow senior citizens brought him to be awarded as Ulirang Nakatatanda. ###

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