By Raymund Antonio
Students from Sumilao National High School in Bukidnon have to walk up to 13 kilometers daily just to get to school. Not anymore.
This as Vice President Leni Robredo and an Angat Buhay partner opened a P1.2-million dormitory that will cater to Grade 11 and 12 female students from various barangays in the municipality.
Robredo led the turnover of the newly constructed girls’ dormitory–funded by Rotary Club of Makati–during a recent ceremony at the annex building of the national high school in Barangay Vista Villa.
The Vice President said the construction of a dormitory has been a longtime vision of the local government to help out-of-school youth to go back to school.
“Panaginip po ni Mayor na magdala ng dormitory dito sa inyo dahil alam po natin kung gaano kalalayo iyong mga inuuwian ng mga estudyante,” Robredo, a former housing chief, said.
(It has been a dream of the mayor to bring a dormitory here because we know how far the homes of students are.)
“Kaya hopefully, dahil po sa dormitory na ito, mag-improve iyong ating participation rate [at bumaba] iyong dropout rate,” she added.
(Hopefully, because of the dormitory, the participation rate will improve and [it will lower] the dropout rate.)
Joining Robredo at the event were Sumilao Mayor Sonny Villo, Vice Mayor Emily Okit, school officials, barangay captains, and other local officials.
Sumilao is among the beneficiary areas of Angat Buhay, Robredo’s flagship anti-poverty program that links private partners to communities in need.
Other Angat Buhay interventions in Sumilao included construction of school buildings and classrooms in different barangays.
According to the Office of the Vice President, it is looking for prospective partners for the construction of another dormitory for male high school students.
Robredo’s involvement in Sumilao was way back when she still worked with the non-governmental legal group Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal or Saligan.
Robredo, who was a pro bono lawyer before she entered politics, defended the Sumilao farmers in their land rights cases.
In 2016, they, in turn, marched from Bukidnon to Manila in support of Robredo’s vice presidential bid.
“Mula po noong abogado pa lang ako, noong nag-congressman ako, saka noong nag-vice president na ako, talaga pong malapit sa puso ko itong bayan niyo,” she said in her message.
(Since I was still a lawyer [for Saligan], when I became congressman, then vice president, your town has been close to my heart.)