By Severino C. Samonte

1st Dumagat tribe member from Bulacan town finishes education

When the Metro Manila College (MMC) based in Novaliches, Quezon City held its 49th Commencement Exercises last June 24, one of the very grateful graduates was a 35-year-old female member of the indigenous peoples (IPs) Dumagat tribe from the eastern Bulacan section of the Sierra Madre Mountain range.

She is Dulce Dela Rosa from the 47-year-old town of Doña Remedios Trinidad (DRT) abutting Norzagaray, San Miguel and Angat. She finished her Bachelor of Elementary Education (BEED) under the scholarship program of the MMC's Gawad Metronians Educational Foundation Inc. (GMEFI).

GMEFI, one of the social responsibility arms of the MMC, was established in 2014 to provide scholarships to deserving members of vulnerable sectors like IPs and persons with disabilities (PWDs).

In a Facebook post shared with this writer by Michael Lauta, one of her teachers at the MMC, Dulce expressed her gratitude to God Almighty she called "Makedepat," the MMC management and faculty members, and all those who had helped her financially in completing a college course.

She said she would be using her degree and knowledge to help her fellow IP members in Doña Remedios Trinidad and neighboring towns like Norzagaray, San Miguel and Angat.

According to Dulce, she finished the secondary course at the Minuyan National High School in Norzagaray in April 2006. With the help of some religious and civic leaders from her town and nearby areas, she enrolled in a nursing course at the Fatima University in Barangay Greater Lagro, Novaliches but was unable to continue due to financial constraints.

She enrolled next for a BEED course at the Bulacan Agricultural State College but was forced to stop again from 2009 to 2020.

In 2021, she became fortunate to be given a scholarship at the MMC, where she finally finished BEED this year.

Dulce's townmates have hailed her perseverance to prove that it is a mistaken notion to say that an IP tribe member is not capable of completing a college course.

GMEF was launched in 2014 to honor the memory of Dr. Mamerto S. Miranda, founder of the MMC, originally the Novaliches Academy established in 1947.

In an article in the 2017 GMEFI souvenir magazine, Dr. Evelyne M. Dominguez, president of the GMEF, Inc. Board of Trustees, narrated that after the World War II in 1945, her father, a United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) veteran who survived the April 1942 Bataan Death March, observed that parents in Novaliches could not send their children to secondary schools in distant Caloocan town and Manila because of poverty. There was no secondary school in Novaliches at that time.

Miranda knew that the only way to give the children hope and a better future was through education, so he founded the school in March 1947. Originally located at the old Plaza Novaliches-Bayan, it started with just 14 students.

As years passed by and the number of students grew, it began to offer tertiary courses and the name Novaliches Academy was changed to Metro Manila College in 1977. It thus became the first private school in Novaliches to offer college courses, in addition to pre-school, elementary, junior and senior high schools at present.

The school later transferred to a more spacious campus with an area of three-and-a-half hectares in Barangay Kaligayahan, Novaliches, just off the current Novaliches District Center.

According to the Doña Remedios Trinidad local government website, the municipality was created under Presidential Decree No. 1196 issued on Sept. 13, 1977 by then-President Ferdinand E. Marcos. It was named in honor of Doña Remedios T. Romualdez, mother of then-First Lady Imelda R. Marcos, who was a Bulakeña from the town of Baliuag, now a city.

The municipality covers seven barangays, originally part of Angat, Norzagaray and San Miguel. These are Pulong Sampaloc and Camachile of Angat; Bayabas and Kabayunan of Norzagaray; Talbac, Camachin and Kalawakan of San Miguel.

Geographically, Doña Remedios Trinidad is the largest municipality in Bulacan, occupying almost one-third of the total land area of the province. It partially embraces three major conservation areas: the Angat Watershed Forest Reserve, Biak-na-Bato National Park, and Doña Remedios–General Tinio Watershed Forest Reserve.


About the Columnist

Image of Severino C. Samonte

He began his journalistic career by contributing to the Liwayway and Bulaklak magazines in the 1960’s. He was the night editor of the Philippine News Service when Martial Law was declared in September 1972. When the Philippine News Agency was organized in March 1973, he was named national news editor because of his news wire service experience.

He retired as executive news editor in 2003. He also served as executive editor of the Malacanang-based Presidential News Desk from 1993 to 1996 and from 2005 to 2008.