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UTAWIT visits Gawad Kalinga San Martin Sibol School
By: Marlyn Importante


Gawad Kalinga was chosen as this year’s beneficiary of UTAWIT: Himig ng Pinoy at Hapon, Isang Pagdiriwang, a prestigious charity singing competition organized by various Japan-based Filipino organizations. The UTAWIT organizers turned over the proceeds of their charity event to our Aeta community through a simple but meaningful ceremony last June 20 at the Gawad Kalinga San Martin Sibol School Child and Youth Development in Bamban, Tarlac. Irene Kaneko, Utawit’s National Execom Chairman and Ofelia Ai Kaneko, Utawit Execom member flew all the way from Japan to spearhead the donation turnover. The momentous event was witnessed by the Sibol kids and their teachers, as well as Ms. Jovy E. Santos, the Child and Youth Development Coordinator of Tarlac Gawad Kalinga Sibol. Also in attendance were the families and friends of the Sibol kids.



During the turnover, the students, parents, and community leaders showcased their traditional singing and dancing to their guests from UTAWIT. The word, UTAWIT is actually a blending of UTA, a Japanese word and AWIT, a Filipino word, which both means “to sing.” Teacher Loida Punzalan, an Aeta GK Volunteer Teacher shared her message to the group, “Kami po'y taos-pusong nagpapasalamat sa pagtulong n'yo sa mga batang katutubo rito sa San Martin. Napakalaking tulong po ng donasyon na ibinigay n'yo para matugunan ang mga pangangailangan nila sa pag-aaral. Pagpalain po kayo ng Maykapal at ipagdarasal po naming ang inyong tagumpay."



Aetas are an indigenous people who live mostly in mountainous areas of Luzon in the Philippines. Currently, there are a total of 8 Aeta GK Villages in Bamban, Tarlac that can be found in 3 sitios namely San Martin, Sta. Rosa, and Burog. The 3 Sibol Schools in those sitios are the recipient of the UTAWIT donations. The Sta. Rosa Sibol School has 30 students, while Sitio San Martin and Burog, each has 20 students.



Irene Kaneko mentioned during the turnover event, “After the agonizing traffic in Manila, the 32˚C heat, and the 4 hours or so long drive to the school, it was worth it when we were welcomed with the smiles of the kids and mothers. Otsukaresama deshita!”

Domo Arigato UTAWIT!

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