For most of us, riding an elevator is as easy as one, two, three. But that’s not the case for Diosdado Mampao, whose elevator ride last October 2 was one for the books. “Buhay pa ako! (I’m still alive!),” he thought when the elevator finally stopped and the door opened.
Diosdado was among the three datus of the Matigsalug tribe who came all the way from Davao City to join the Mindanao Trade Expo on October 2-5 in Makati City. With the help of AboitizPower subsidiary Therma South and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the datus and their tribe brought their products and their culture to Manila and to the world for the first time.
The Matigsalug is a river-dwelling tribe living near the borders of Bukidnon and Davao City. For three years now, they have been partners of AboitizPower in its carbon sink management plan which will rehabilitate around 1,000 hectares of ancestral land.
The trees planted in this area are designed to offset the carbon emissions of Therma South’s thermal power plant in Davao City.
“Part of the assistance of AboitizPower and Therma South is empowering the mostly women Matigsalugs so they can design and produce products that are marketable,” Jason Magnaye, community relations manager of Therma South, said.
For Datu Dado, little did he know that the experience would be so much more than selling their products such as handwoven bags, baskets, and fashion accessories, among others.
“Hindi ako makapaniwala na nakarating ako dito sa Maynila (I couldn’t believe I would be able to come here in Manila),” Datu Dado said and his face lit up as he recalled the very first time he set foot in the city. “Sabi ko sa sarili ko, ganito pala ang Maynila. May mga nakikita akong building sa Davao pero iba dito, malalaki sila at maraming marami (So this is Manila, I said to myself. I have seen buildings in Davao, but here, these are taller and far greater in number).”
Datu Dado’s eyes even glistened with tears as he wholeheartedly expressed his gratitude to the partners of the Matigsalug Council of Elders Marilog District, Davao City, Inc. (MACOEMADDACI).
The Matigsalugs have long been into handweaving and have been selling their products in their small community in Davao City, but it was with the help of their partners that they were able to sustain their livelihood and even create a brand for their products, which they called “Nasabeka”, a Matigsalug term for unity.
“Nakalakhan na namin ang hanapbuhay na ito na nagpapakita ng kultura namin, kaya masayang masaya kami na maipagpapatuloy namin ito at maipamamana sa mga susunod na henerasyon ng aming tribo (We grew up with this livelihood that reflects our culture, so we are very happy that we are now able to sustain it for the next generations of our tribe),” Datu Dado said.
Indeed, “Nasabeka” opened doors for Datu Dado and his fellow Matigsalugs – elevator door, airplane door, hotel room door, and whatnots. Datu Dado and his tribe’s story is a testament to the many growth opportunities that abound when communities and businesses, like AboitizPower, work together towards a better future for all.