MEET: Juda Diklay, 1st from Palawan's Indigenous Tau’t Bato tribe to Graduate from University - The Most Popular Lists


MEET: Juda Diklay, 1st from Palawan's Indigenous Tau’t Bato tribe to Graduate from University

Making history as the first person from the Tau’t Bato tribe to graduate from elementary, high school, and college, 25-year-old Juda Diklay would become the tribe’s first teacher!

This inspiring young lady chose to become a teacher to help the rest of her tribe find success like she had; though the experience was filled with difficulties and challenges.

Living in Singnapan Valley, Palawan, the Tau’t Bato tribe live in homes made from light materials. When rainy season comes, they go up the mountains to seek shelter from the caves inside an ancient volcano, the home of their forefathers.

Life is difficult for the Tau’t Bato tribe; though they survive by planting their own crops, hunting, and gathering wild fruit and vegetables. But tribe has no access to schools or health care in the area.

Tumihay, a native Pala'wan Tau't Bato tribeman of southern Palawan
Photo credit: Jacom Maentz Photographer

In a bid to help the tribe have a better, safer life, Christian missionary group Youth with a Mission (YWAM) takes the 8-hour trek from Brgy. Ransang, Rizal, Palawan to encourage them to go to the lowlands so their children can go to school.

For 5 years, the group continually visited the tribe, until Juda’s family finally decided to try going to the lowlands to send her and her younger brother, Jonathan, to school.

According to Juda, she wasn’t really interested in school, but her brother was so eager to study – and YWAM had sent their eyes on her as a scholar.

Challenging Life in the Lowlands

Already 10 years old at the time, the first-time student had difficulties in school as she could not relate with her much younger classmates who already had background in some reading and writing.

As a Grade 1 student at Ransang Elementary School, Juda felt she was too old. Aside from struggling with her studies, she also struggled with making friends. There were many who laughed at her for being different and for even dreaming about going to school.

“May mga nagsasabi sa akin noon na bakit daw ba ako nag-aaral eh taga-bundok lang naman daw ako. Wala naman daw akong silbi,” Juda recalled.

Juda thought of quitting, promising herself she would go back home once she graduates from elementary.

But she graduated as valedictorian! This gave her inspiration to continue with her studies.

Photo credit: SMU DSWD MIMAROPA / Good News Pilipinas

In high school, the bullying intensified.

“Nung high school naman po ako, may kaklase ako na sinira yung project na gawa ko dahil nauna akong magpasa sa kanila dahil hindi pa sila tapos at nauna ako sa deadline. Umiyak lang ako noon pag-uwi tapos gumawa na lang ako ng panibago at nagpasa pagkatapos nilang gawin yung kanila,” Juda shared.

In all these hardships, she found strength in a few close friends and people from YWAM who continued to encourage her. Thanks to them, she was able to complete her high school education.

Overcoming the Challenges

In college, YWAM could not support Juda fully, but she was able to obtain a slot on the Expanded Students’ Grants-in-Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation (ESGP-PA) of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) where she received Php30,000 on the first semester to cover for her tuition feeds, books, board and lodging, and other needs in school.

Tumihay from the Tau't Bato tribe in one of the cave structures looking for birds to hunt with his blowgun
Photo credit: Jacom Maentz Photographer

“Nagulat po ako noong nakuha ko yung pera kasi first time ko pong makahawak ng ganoon kalaki. Pagkatapos ko pong bilhin yung mga kailangan ko, yung ibang natira po sa pera ko ay ipinadala ko sa amin at sa isa kong kapatid na nag-aaral,” Juda narrated.

She took up Bachelor of Elementary Education at the Western Philippines University (WPU) in Puerto Princesa where she finally had a good time as a student. There, she enjoyed her uniqueness and didn’t experience discrimination just because she comes from the mountains.

Photo credit: SMU DSWD MIMAROPA / Good News Pilipinas

Juda joyfully graduated from college, making history as the first one from the Tau’t Bato tribe to achieve such a feat. She chose to become an educator so she could help the tribe.

“Babalik na po ako sa amin at magtuturo ako doon. Ipapakita ko sa kanila kung gaano kahalaga ang edukasyon,” Juda shared. “Iniisip ko pong magturo ng ALS doon sa amin para lahat ng mga tao doon ay makapag-aral.”

Today, the Tau’t Bato tribe are no longer scared about sending their children to school. They also have access to health care, thanks to Juda’s father who has become the only Barangay Health Worker (BHW) in Tau’t Bato.

Man from the Tau't Bato tribe walking back home on a path through the forest.
Photo credit: Jacom Maentz Photographer


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