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Dahlia and Janeth: The aspiring teachers from Agta tribe

by Bryan Gadingan

IN a Facebook post on January 29, cousins Dahlia and Janeth Jugueta captivated the hearts of netizens by sharing their desire to be the first teachers from the Agta tribe in Quezon province. 

Roel Avila, a professor at Philippine National University-South Luzon Campus, posted a photo of himself standing between the two cousins who he described as “dreamers” refusing to let poverty stand in their way of achieving their dreams.

“Dahlia and Janeth (both Jugueta) dream of becoming the first teachers of their ethnic tribe in the 4th Congressional District of Quezon.

They are now students of PNUSL and strive to finish BMSEE and serve their people,” said the post.

“God bless these ladies and their plans! Are there still people with good hearts to extend their helping hands?” asked Avila, who is trying to reach out to the community to assist the cousins with their finances.

The post drew immediate attention from netizens, with some expressing awe at Dahlia and Janeth’s desire to give back to their ethnic group, which led to them contributing compensation.

“Karamihan po ay alumni ng PNU, natutuwa sila doon sa konsepto na may nag-aaral na Agta, wala pa kasing nakakagraduate na ganon dito,” said Avila in an interview on PTV.

“So ang ganda ng konsepto na sila ay makakatapos, at makakapagturo doon sa kanilang tribo,” he added.

“At kapag sila ay nakapagtrabaho na, makakapagpa-aral na sila ng mga anak nito, tuloy-tuloy na hanggang maiba na ‘yung kanilang way of life. Hanggang makaangat na sila sa buhay,” said the professor, anticipating how this might alter the direction of the cousins’ lives.

Currently, the Juguetas are pursuing a Bachelor of Mathematics and Science Elementary Education at the PNU-South Luzon campus. Motivated by the goal of improving their families’ lives, it seems nothing can stop them from graduating.

“Bata pa lang po ako gusto ko na talagang makapagtapos,” said Dahlia, explaining why she was eager to finish her studies.

“Tatay ko ho grade 1 lang, kuya ko grade 1 lang, ako lang po ‘yung walang hiya na kahit matanda na, wala po akong pakialam kahit anong sabihin ng ibang tao basta gusto kong mag-aral, gusto kong makatapos.”

Janeth’s motivation was the same, and she is driven to attend school and complete her education for her parents and her own family.

“Gustong gusto ko pong pumasok at makapagtapos po para sa mga magulang at mga anak ko,” she said.

Despite having difficulty understanding some of their subjects, they strive to study more so they can serve as an inspiration to their tribe, particularly the younger generations.

“Iyong mga bata nakikita ko nagtatrabaho na, parang naaawa po ako. Kung halimbawa po ako ay makapagtapos, ‘yun pong mga huling henerasyon ay hindi na magtatrabaho agad pagkatapos ng grade 6,” Dahlia explained.

“Ganun po kasi ‘yung nangyayari, pagtapos nila ng grade 6 ay ayaw na nila mag-high school, trabaho na po agad.”

The tuition of the Juguetas are free, thanks to the country’s free tertiary education. However, what troubles them are the various fees and  expenses they must pay, such as the dormitories they are staying in.

“Hindi ko na talaga ito aatrasan, minsan lang dumating ang ganitong pagkakataon, kung aayawan ko pa ho ay talaga namang napakalaking pagkakamali ko na po iyon,” said Dahlia.

The same goes for Janeth: “Ipagpapatuloy ko po dahil naumpisahan na ho. Maganda po na tapusin ang pag-aaral.”

On the bright side, PNU-South Luzon ensured that the Juguetas received aid and that their college provided an inclusive education for the cousins.

They also said they were  communicating with the Quezon local government to assist the Juguetas, even if they were years ahead of finishing their studies.

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