Monday, August 8, 2011



DepED Formulates Education Policies for Indigenous Peoples

The Department of Education has formulated a policy framework for indigenous peoples that aims to make the Philippine educational system truly inclusive and respectful of the diversity of learners especially those belonging to the minority groups.

Education Secretary Armin Luistro said it is part of DepEd’s mandate to provide basic education for all, one that recognizes and promotes the rights and welfare of indigenous peoples to enable them to face various social realities and challenges.

The signing of the education policy framework for lPs, according to Luistro, is DepEd’s modest contribution to the United Nations celebration of World Indigenous Peoples' Day which is observed August 9 of every year.

“When we were working on the education policy framework for lPs, we had in mind their special needs, history, language, culture, as well as their social and economic aspirations and priorities,” Luistro added.

IPs remain the most vulnerable and marginalized citizens because of their lack of access to basic social services, limited livelihood opportunities which lead to social, economic, and political exclusion.

"A basic education that is culturally sensitive is an essential means for lPs to claim their other rights, exercise self-determination, and expand the choices available to them." explained Luistro.

While there are existing models end best practices on lP education based on successful interventions by DepEd, non-government and lP organizations, the department consolidated these experiences and lessons to formulate a systematic and coherent lP education program. DepEd formulated the education policy framework in consultation with representatives from lP communities, civil society, and other government agencies.

The education policy framework for lP seeks to ensure the provision of quality basic education for all IPs that will lead to functional literacy. DepEd will work with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), local government unties (LGUs), and other government agencies to provide IPs with culture-responsive basic education through formal school and alternative learning systems.

It also calls for the adoption of appropriate basic education pedagogy, content and assessment through the integration of Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices (IKSPs) in all learning areas and processes. DepEd will adopt the mother tongue-based multilingual education for IP learners.

The policy framework also seeks to provide adequate and culturally-appropriate learning resources and environment to lP learners including the development of textbooks and other supplementary learning materials specifically for the IP learners.

Part of the lP education framerwork is to strengthen the hiring, deployment, and continuous development of teachers and learning facilitators implementing the lP Education Program. The DepEd shall review, harmonize, and align its teacher education and development policies – consistent with the National Competency-Based Teacher Standards (NCBTS).

Moreover, DepEd will establish and strengthen appropriate multi-level units within DepED responsible for planning, implementing and monitoring IP education interventions. It shall likewise ensure that adequate financial support from various sources such as the agency's regular annual budget and the LGUS' Special Education Fund (SEF), among others - are readily available to implementing units to ensure smooth implementation and sustainability of education services.

An important part of these education policies for lPs is the implementation of a stronger affirmative action to eradicate all forms of discrimination against lPs in the entire Philippine educational system. ln line with this policy, all concerned DepED offices and units shall also ensure that textbooks, supplementary learning materials, and other learning resource are free from discriminatory content and erroneous accounts, descriptions, and visual depictions, which misrepresent the history and culture of lPs or do not adequately acknowledge them.

"To ensure compliance of all concerned sectors, the DepED shall organize consultations and dialogues as needed to periodically review the implementation of this policy framework and other policy directives and interventions that will ensue from it," declared Luistro.

-August 8, 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011

Bringing Education Where It Is Needed Most

Bringing Education Where It is Needed Most
By Lisa Y. Gokongwei-Cheng
(Published in To Give and Not to Count the Cost: Ateneans Inspiring Ateneans 1859-2009) [1]

I first met Gina Alfonso in 1986 when we were both freshmen and shared some classes together. We did not become close friends until our senior year when we found ourselves in the yearbook staff together…

…After college, Gina became a teacher in Xavier University in Cagayan as member of the Jesuit Volunteers Philippines (JVP). Ateneans know that the JVP are an elite group of volunteers who are dispatched throughout the country’s poorest areas to serve as educators, community organizers, and over-all helpers. They must go through a tough screening process because mental and spiritual toughness is necessary to live and work in hardship posts. It was during these two years that her passion for service was forged.

In 1998, after getting a master’s degree from Fordham University and a stint managing her family’s school, she took a trip to Bukidnon that would change her life and the lives of one of the communities she encountered there.

I have never been there but friends who have tell me that Miarayon is one the most beautiful places in the Philippines. It is also one of the poorest. Miarayon is land of the Tala-Andigs, one of the country’s neglected indigenous peoples. The land’s breathtaking natural beauty and fresh air do not make up for the fact that like most of the country’s indigenous populace, Tala-Andigs are very poor and do not have access to basic services. When Gina met with the tribal elders, a literacy program for their children was among their most urgent needs.

Her experience in Miarayon so touched Gina that she promised to return one day to help build a school for the community. In 1999 she fulfilled that promise. With a group that included her father Fil Alfonso, she founded the Cartwheel Foundation. Its short-term goal was to build a nursery in the community and provide scholarships for its most promising youth. The long-term mission, which became Cartwheel’s slogan was to bring education where it is needed most.

In the first year, with the help of sponsors like the Seattle-based Starbucks Foundation which had donated USD12, 600 and Rustan’s Coffee which gave Php270, 000, Cartwheel was able to build a pre-school for the community’s young children and send ten Tala-Andig scholars to Bukidnon State College and San Isidro University in Bukidnon. Ten years later, Cartwheel has been able to send 71 indigenous youth to college and over 300 indigenous children to school. Today, it has moved out of Miarayon and focused its resources on helping other indigenous peoples in Bukidnon, Agusan, Maguindanao, Zamboanga del Sur, Nueva Ecija, Isabela, Ifugao, Mindoro, and Palawan.

Gina left Cartwheel as its president in 2004 to pursue her other life goals. Today the foundation is run by Rojean Caharian Macalalad[2] and other trusted professionals. Cartwheel remains a small foundation and like many has not been able to expand due to lack of funding but it has managed to keep to its core mission through the help of its committed community of funders. Gina still sits on Cartwheel’s board of trustees but puts its future squarely on the shoulders of its existing board and managers believing that a foundation must survive its original founder.

I was invited to Cartwheel’s tenth-year anniversary dinner last January which I attended with my husband Berck who sits on Cartwheel’s board. While I had not been in touch with the Foundation for a long time, I thoroughly enjoyed the evening’s entertainment and was surprised at what the group had achieved. Cartwheel scholars proudly performed their traditional dances dressed in gorgeous indigenous wear. Three scholars confidently talked about their experiences under the Cartwheel program and gave thanks to the foundation. The morale was very high indeed among the scholars. One highlight of my evening was meeting Berck’s scholar, Eleneday, a Tala-Andig who was one of Cartwheel’s first graduates. She is now a pre-school teacher in Manila but spends much of her free time giving back to the Cartwheel community that helped her. Because of Cartwheel she is able to determine her own destiny and help others like her do the same.

But that night, my overwhelming feeling was pride in Gina’s accomplishments. That night, dressed in skirt made from indigenous fabric, Gina gave a speech and thanked everybody who helped the foundation. But everyone in that room knew that it was Gina we owed our thanks to.

Today Gina is in Washington DC working as a therapist for troubled children from poor neighborhoods. Her specialty is using the power of art to help these children. She hopes one day to return to the Philippines.


If you are interested in donating money to help IP, you may contact the Cartwheel Foundation at +632 584.1532, email at, or its website:

Save Now

[1] Copyright 2010 The Sesquicentennial Committee, Office of the President, Ateneo de Manila University

[2] Beginning January 2010, Coleen Rae P. Ramirez has replaced Rojean Macalalad as Executive Director of Cartwheel Foundation.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The latest Cartwheel Christmas Collection is here!

All-new designs for the Christmas Cards painted by Ichananaw children of Kalinga and gift items that let you enjoy the sweetness of nature. Take your pick now!

(Click on images to enlarge)

Call +632 584 1532 or email for orders and inquiries.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Join us for one night of music and bridging cultures!

In one special evening, re-discover your heritage and experience the harmonies that can be made amidst rich diversity.

Cartwheel Foundation, Inc. and the Cultural Center of the Philippines present Reconnecting with our Roots: A Cultural Exchange
, on June 21, 2009, 6:00 p.m. at the CCP's Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (Little Theater). An exhibit will be open for viewing before the show at 4:00 p.m.

Together, Filipino indigenous tribes, American classical musicians, and young musicians from Metro Manila will create the melody of self-determination, cultural dialogue, and peace.

With performances by:

The Tala-Andig of Miarayon, Bukidnon
The Umajam of Cabanglasan, Bukidnon
The Ichananaw of Tinglayan, Kalinga

Cultures in Harmony
St. Scholastica's College, School of Music
Philippine Research for Developing Instrumental Soloists (PREDIS)

Directed by Palanca Awardee Mr. Floy Quintos

This production is also made possible by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and Ala-Ala Foundation (Jose Antonio Delgado Memorial Foundation, Inc.)

For tickets and inquires, please call Lilet at 02 584 1532 / 0918 938 9265 or email

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Cartwheel has a fresh, new website!

Cartwheel has made a change. And it's one click away. Check out our all-new website at! We've filled it with all the information on anything you might want to know about Cartwheel. We've also added more features to give you more of what you love -- volunteer and scholar stories, videos, photo albums, and online newsletters. You can also SIGN UP to volunteer or simply become part of our mailing list!

Soon, you can also DONATE ONLINE and help us be one step closer to bringing education where it is needed most. Check back soon too for our ONLINE SHOP and many more updates!!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Munting Handaan Para sa Pangarap ng Batang Katutubo: A Donate-and-Dine Affair

What better way is there to celebrate the New Year, than by remembering the blessings received and by sharing those blessings with others? Cartwheel Foundation invites you to not only count your blessings, but to bless others in return!

On January 21, 2009 at 6:30 pm, Cartwheel will be holding a benefit dinner, "Munting Handaan Para Sa Pangarap ng Batang Katutubo", at the Lighthouse Restaurant in Meralco. The tickets are priced at Php1,000.00 each. The dinner will consist of simple Filipino fare, but we know that you will leave the event not only with full bellies, but with hearts full of hope for a better future for the indigenous peoples!

Cartwheel is one of the founding partners of Pamulaan Center for the Indigenous Peoples' Education (IP College in Davao). Pamulaan has 93 indigenous college youth from 33 different tribes all over the country. Your donation will go a long way in supporting Cartwheel's education programs - college scholarships as well as preschool programs in Nueva Ecija and, soon, partnerships for indigenous children in Agusan del Sur .

For tickets and more information, please call or text Coleen Ramirez at +63917 5353652 or Lilet Centeno at +632 584 1532 or email Donations of any amount are also accepted. (BPI Peso Savings Account 0203 2322 92, Account Name: Cartwheel Foundation, Inc)

We need your support in weaving more triumphant stories in the lives of the indigenous peoples. Come and share their dreams! See you in Meralco!

Lighthouse Restaurant Address:
Lopez Building
Meralco Compound
Ortigas Avenue, Pasig City