Black Pencil Project Celebrates 10 Years of Sheer Volunteerism with TBP
I was sitting at the top of a 4×4 engine powered jeepney regaling at the spectacular landscape of Ifugao, when we suddenly came into a halt. A roar of the engine gave it a kick inching a few inches forward. Then followed by a complete standstill. We were ordered to get off the jeep. So we could push it out of the two feet mud that accumulated over the dirt road. A few meters away from us, large boulders from a landslide occupied half of the road. What seemed to be a major road block for our journey back to Banaue happened to be an everyday occurrence for the people living in the village of Cambulo in Ifugao.
Tucked deep in the snaking rice terraces of Ifugao, the village of Cambulo is now a popular hiking destination welcoming tourists. Even from those different parts of the world – wanting to witness the grandeur of the mountains of Cordillera. The homestay and community-driven tourism has gifted the village a much needed economic boost. Ten years ago though, it was a different story. Almost no one outside of Ifugao has even heard about this village… Saved for a few geographically knowledgeable travelers and the few men and women, who chose this place to start a volunteerism movement that would inspire and help many.
It was ten years ago, when the Black Pencil Project was born in Cambulo Village, Ifugao. Today, in partnership with the Tourism Promotions Board of the Philippines, they came back to the place where 10 years of sheer volunteerism all started.
Good Deeds Come in Full Circle
“We choose to celebrate our 10th year anniversary at the exact place where Black Pencil Project was born. I think what made the night special was the tribute of the kids we’ve helped a few years back. It was heartwarming to hear them narrate their experiences with our volunteers and programs” said Black Pencil Project founder Mon Corpuz.
A decade is a long time that Odessa, one of the kids who first witnessed the arrival of Black Pencil Project in their village is now herself, an active volunteer for the group. She was in her early grade school years when she received the very first set of school supplies from the Black Pencil Project. Today, she sets an example that every good deed really comes in full circle.
Black Pencil Project: 10 Years of “Smuggling Pencils”
Since their first foray fusing travel, outreach and community immersion, Black Pencil Project has steadily grown and evolved during the last ten years. Current active members of the core group according to Corpuz, composed of “young professionals, program incubators and change makers, prominent figures in the private sector and social development communities”.
Over the years, they have held outreach journeys providing hard to reach barrios, free access to school supplies. From Batanes to as far as Tawi-Tawi.
Partnering with Tourism Promotions Board of the Philippines’ CSR Initiative
After working with different partner groups and organizations, the Black Pencil Project was fortunate to have found a solid partner in the Tourism Promotions Board of the Philippines. Through TPB’s Corporate Social Responsibility Program (CSR), TPB hopes to spring board this recent outreach trip to Cambulo into more similar projects all over the Philippines.
“High in TPB’s CSR Program line-up is youth education. By acknowledging Filipino youth as future tourism stewards, TPB through its CSR program seeks to inculcate early awareness of the holistic environmental and community needs enabling green and sustainable tourism” said Mavic Sevilla, CSR and Business Development head of TPB.
Other than the school supplies TPB provided, they also donated a sum to be used in the construction of a Visitor Information Center. To properly brief arriving tourists and to also train the locals to practice sustainable tourism and cultural and natural conservation.
As our jeepney started its engine again and continued to negotiate the steep and zigzag roads going back to Banaue, I recollect the joyful faces of the kids, as they received their school supplies kit. I felt a beam of hope knowing that as long as we keep doing this kind of endeavors, no matter how far and isolated a community may be. Only if we put importance in safeguarding the education of the youth, and continue promoting volunteerism travel, the kids will be alright.