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Historically, many indigenous and rural populations in the Philippines have endured several chapters of religious, socio-economic and political oppression in the hands of colonizers and local elites. In recent decades, high numbers of indigenous people have been violently displaced from their ancestral domains, their traditional lifeways attacked from various directions. For this reason, the continuing retelling of the peoples’ rich cultural history is a crucial component of the pursuit of social justice. Agusan del Sur is a province in the country’s largest island, Mindanao. The indigenous groups in Agusan del Sur include the Manobo, Higaonon and Banwaon, while the other rural populations are constituted by settlers from the Visayas, Luzon and other parts of Mindanao. Many of the indigenous and rural youth of Agusan del Sur, born to already socially marginalized and economically depressed communities, will either continue the cycle of dispossession and powerlessness or violence, or become forces of peaceful, positive change in their communities. The aim of the Tao Foundation for Culture and Arts is to ensure the latter choice by revitalizing cultural traditions as well as by providing college scholarships. The Tao Foundation used to have a scholarship program for indigenous youth, but this initiative had to be discontinued due to a lack of sustained funding. Elders throughout Agusan del Sur continue to ask about scholarships for their children and grandchildren. By establishing sustained partnerships with support groups across the globe, the Tao Foundation hopes to restore this invaluable program of youth empowerment and indigenous justice.
The Tao Foundation for Culture and Arts is an initiative focused on revitalizing Philippine indigenous cultural traditions in a nation burdened with the continued after-effects of centuries of colonization. By empowering the youth through cultural as well as academic knowledge, the Tao Foundation can help disrupt the cycles of dispossession and powerlessness that plague many indigenous and rural communities. This project will provide 20 indigenous and other rural youths with scholarships to pursue one year of college education in the province of Agusan del Sur in the southern Philippines. From applicants endorsed by partner communities and NGOs, the Tao Foundation will select 20 indigenous and other rural poor youth who are ready to begin or continue their college education in schools in Agusan del Sur. These schools include the Philippine Normal University-Agusan campus and the Agusan del Sur State College of Agriculture and Technology. Beyond their formal education, scholarship recipients will also receive training in cultural awareness, leadership, environmental management, gender equality, and related matters. Applicants must meet eligibility requirements in order to receive the scholarship, and can renew it every semester or school year upon satisfaction of the requirements detailed below. Eligibility: Applicant's parents are members of indigenous or rural poor communities Applicant is residing in an indigenous community or near it Applicant has talent(s) and/or interested to learn indigenous and other traditional forms of knowledge Average Grade of at least 80 Scholarship Maintenance: Average Maintenance of 80, with no grade lower than 78 Continuous growth in study of indigenous culture Compliance in the submission of reports Compliance in the submission of official receipts and similar documents Compliance in the specified community service activity For this scholarship program to function successfully, the Tao Foundation requests committed annual support that will sustain the scholars' entire college education. With enough funding, the initiative can expand in scope to increase the number of scholars supported.