Sitio Las-igan in Barangay Cabiten is one of the remotest communities in Mankayan. With no road access, it can only be reached on foot in about three hours, trekking a couple of mountains and crossing three hanging bridges over gushing rivers.
But the long distance and the scorching heat did not discourage the Lepanto team from reaching out especially to the 30 bright pupils of the Las-Igan Multi-Grade School. All the students went home with brand new bags, school supplies, toys, smiles on their faces, and joy in their hearts.
This was followed by a visit in another remote community in the municipality, Barangay Bedbed. Unlike Sitio Las-igan, Bedbed can be reached by a 4-wheel drive vehicle, but this means traversing an hour of rough roads and crossing a narrow river.
Headed by LCMC President and COO Bryan U. Yap, VP for HRAD Knestor Jose Y. Godino, and VP/Resident Manager Engr. Tom Consolacion, the Lepanto team turned over cultural instruments like gongs and solibao; Benguet native attires; educational books; and a television set for the Bedbed day care, elementary, and high schools.
“Labis labis ang aming tuwa at pasasalamat, dahil hindi namin sukat akalain na mismong ang mga nasa itaas na position, mga nasa executive na lebel, ay bababa sa mga malalayong lugar, lalo na dito sa amin sa Bedbed na talagang mahirap puntahan,” shared Barangay Capt. Dalion N. Baygan.
Sitio Am-am in Barangay Balili is another far-flung community in Mankayan. Although it has a paved road, it will still take an hour and a half drive to reach the village. Over 50 pupils of Am-am Elementary School were gifted with new school bags, while teachers get to enjoy new computers and printers.
To date, 12 schools and over 2,000 students of Mankayan have been serviced by the mining company. Because for Lepanto, literally, “ain’t no mountain high, valleys low, and rivers wide enough” to keep our heartfelt care from getting to the communities we serve.
By Salvador ‘Butch’ Mendizabal Jr.