Women have no access to reproductive health services. Most have more than five children. Not a few suffer from urinary tract infection (UTI).
The Mangyans are also deprived of formal education.
NGO worker Brozula estimates the illiteracy rate among Mangyans to be 60 to 70 percent. “While they are not ignorant because they have their own language and culture, they lack exposure to formal education,” Brozula said.
“Most of us only finished Grade 4,” Cora said, adding that those who were not able to enter school only learned from the programs of the church.
Rowena said that for every 20 Tadyawan-Mangyan who finished elementary, only eight are able to reach secondary school.
To begin with, the schools are far from the Mangyan communities, Brozula said. “They also experience discrimination and this discourages many of them to pursue their studies,” Brozula said.
There is no electricity in most of the Mangyan communities. The indigenous peoples of Mindoro get their water from spring and rivers. There are no roads from the town centers going to their villages.
“During elections, many politicians woo us. They fetch us and provide us food. When we need their services, they would all be gone,” Cora said.