These Kids in Mati, Davao Oriental Make Mother Nature Happy!
Kenneth Mheil Mangaya- Ay | March 02, 2020
Photos from Happy Forest Kids-Catmonan
Mati City, Davao Oriental is considered as Davao Region's top weekend destination, whatever the season! It is the place where you can enjoy being tanned in the wavy ocean, with a view of surfers exhibiting their skills. It is also a playground for kids making sandcastles.
While children look forward to weekends as a time for play and fun, it is a different picture for the kids in Sittio Catmonan, Mati City, Davao Oriental. Through community efforts, they are taught at a young age to become responsible earth stewards through a variety of afterschool care programs. The Happy Forest Kids-Catmonan is a project brought to life by Mr. Daruel Porlares and Dr. Roy Ponce, a Science, Technology, and Biology Researcher. "Gusto namo nga dili mudako ang mga bata nga wala kabalo unsaon pag-atiman sa kinaiyahan kay diri biya ta manguha sa atong panginabuhian so maayo nang karon pa lang makabalo na sila unsaon pag-protekta sa kinaiyahan! (We wanted them to grow responsibly by knowing how to take care of the environment so that their generation will continue to benefit from it!)," Mr. Porlares explained. Inspired by their advocacy, they built a humble center where children acquire knowledge not just from books but through life’s realities: a fun space intended to easily pass messages on the cleanliness of the coast and respect for biodiversity.
[related: A Place Called Mati]
Activities include creative games where kids express their creativity through various activities such as painting stones, an activity that helps the younger generation consider the use of natural materials, the impact of single-use plastics, etc. Researchers, Biologists, Mountaineers visit the kids every week to conduct lectures and make fun activities such as mangrove planting, coastal clean-up, trivia games to encourage the children in the community to take part in the protection of the environment.
[related: Dive Into the Blue in Davao Oriental]
Today, the school of behavioral knowledge is bearing fruits and the little ones are quick to set an example in protecting their blessed land. The HFK center is located at the foot of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site, Mt. Hamiguitan and also part of the Pujada Bay, recently recognized as one of the World’s Most Beautiful Bay. The center is surrounded by mountains that constitute the watershed, with the tropical forest and its multiple rivers that supply fresh water to the bay.