Young as they are, these former TVIRD scholars do not think and act for their personal benefit alone. They also think of others, saying that they are just extending the same blessings they once received, now that they are in a better position to share. (TVIRD photo)
SIOCON, ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE
Engineer Ariel Ogiagan is one of the top officials of the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (LDRRMO) in the town of Baliguian, a third-class municipality in Zamboanga del Norte Province. It is easy to see that this young civil engineer has come a long way.
A son of a farmer and member of the Subanon tribe, Ogiagan was one of the 91 scholars of TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc. (TVIRD) at the time the company operated in Sitio Canatuan, Barangay Tabayo, Siocon. He is currently an LDRRMO Officer-2 of Baliguian after he obtained his degree in civil engineering back in 2013 at the Western Mindanao University (WMSU).
Being among the top performers of his class and a member of his tribe were the merits on which the company provided him a scholarship grant.
“The opportunity for a better education and decent life is the best thing that TVIRD has done for me and my family,” said Ogiagan.
His view is shared by fellow scholars who are now working in the government and private sector.
For Cynthia Comisas-Lacpao, a nurse, the greatest legacy the company has left to the Subanon is education. “It has opened many doors and opportunities for us – and for non-Subanons as well,” she said.
A former scholar and company nurse for more than a decade, Lacpao left TVIRD and worked for the Department of Health (DOH) when the company concluded its mining operations. She then entered politics in 2019 after being elected as member of Siocon local council.
“I will not be where I am today without TVIRD’s Scholarship Program,” shared Midwife Jeanette Neri-Asmad, one of Zamboanga City’s medical frontliners who is now married to a police officer and has four children.
Like Cynthia, Jeanette worked with the DOH after she retired form the company. She agrees that education is one of the best social investments TVIRD has provided for the Subanons. “It provided me the credentials to get a job,” she added.
Another scholar turned nurse is Kris Carousel Banguih-Taradji who is working at the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) in its Liloy, Zamboanga del Norte office.
At present, TVIRD company scholars form part of Siocon’s young professionals – the so-called millennial generation.
Two of Jeanette’s fellow scholars are midwives who work as Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) in the Middle East while another scholar, Aiza Salvador – daughter of Sta. Maria Barangay Chairman Muarip Salvador – is now a licensed Respiratory Therapist and works in a government hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Another young achiever is Ryan Sahiron who obtained his bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education (BSED), Major in Filipino, and is a faculty member of Siocon National High School of this town. He teaches Filipino language and literature to his students.
Meantime, Canatuan resident and daughter of former TVIRD employee, Anette A. Bade, holds a degree in Computer Science and now works in the town’s Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO).
Records showed that TVIRD has produced 20 licensed teachers and all are working in government schools in different towns of this province while at least two are teaching in nearby province of Zamboanga Sibugay. By next year, TVIRD will have an environmental engineer and forester.
The ongoing final mine site rehabilitation in Canatuan, according to Ogiagan, is doing well, especially with the reforestation of the disturbed areas.
“These trees will help stabilize slope areas and will prevent erosion, which if not prevented, will endanger the surrounding communities and those living in downstream areas,” said the young engineer.
He gave nine points to the current rehabilitation project saying that he believes there should always be room for improvement – and it is what the remaining one point is reserved for – and which also runs parallel with TVIRD’s adherence to continuous improvement in all its undertakings.
Young as they are, these former TVIRD scholars do not think and act for their personal benefit alone. They also think of others, saying that they are just extending the same blessings they once received, now that they are in a better position to share. (PR)