SULADS began in the late 1960’s with a dream of Mr. Apo Napoleon Saguan, a supervisor at MVC. He dreamed meeting a Manobo Chief in the market. The following day Apo went to the nearby city, Valencia and when he went to the market, lo and behold, he met the Manobo Chief in his dream, named Datu Tibalaw. The Chief as well was given a dream that we would meet a man in the market. The moment the Chief saw Apo he exclaimed, I saw you in my dream! They then had a dialogue in their local dialect and the Chief related to Apo the need for teachers to teach his people.
Upon arriving MVC, Apo related their meeting with Datu Tibalaw to James Zacchary, who was then a teacher at Mountain View College. Apo relayed the need for teachers who were then living in the nearby Mountain ranges across Mountain View College. Two students (Peter Donton and Dave Saguan) were then sent to survey the villages and they found out a very primitive, war-like tribe. They were hunters and gatherers and moved from place to place within their territory in search of food. Entrance into the territory of another clan or family could bring retaliation, and many times including bloodshed. For months, Peter and Dave made frequent visits to the villages. During one of their visits, a Manobo came up to kill them and so they ran for their lives in different directions. Two weeks later, they meet again at Mountain View College.
So in 1969, the Student Missionary (SM) program was conceived. It was a Community based extension program under Mountain View College where students from Mountain View College would take a year off to live and serve these people. It was learned that the Manobos were suspicious of “lowlanders” and did not readily accept strangers in the mountains. Yet over time, the student missionaries won the confidence of the datus or chiefs and the student missionaries were welcomed into the villages and culture of the Manobo.
Their work: Included teaching the people farming methods, village sanitation, public health, and (civic problems assist in civic problems, helping their sitio and barangay leaders, teach them hygiene, teach them to be good citizens of our country the Philippines, and above all teach the value of having an almighty God to worship.) literacy. A method used in teaching was the singing of religious songs and studying of the Bible stories for reading. The first datu to accept the “beliefs” as brought by the missionaries was Datu Tibalawan in the village of Dampaan located at Conception, Valencia City. The first formal mission school was formed in his village by Abraham Carpena and Samuel Napigkit. Eight mission schools were eventually established which spawned churches and schools in each of the villages. Bulalang was developed as a secondary school for the Manobos and included an airstrip, dormitories, cafeteria, classrooms, and a sanitary water supply. All schools were non-formal and received no recognition from the government.
Then it crept through the forest to San Fernando, Bukidnon. The eight active literacy centers in 70’s and 80’s were Durian, Bulalang, Dao, Balaas, Usarayan, Mahayag, all from San Fernando and Sto. Domingo in Quezon, and Dampaan in Conception Valencia, Bukidnon.
All new students entering the program were required to attend a training program which included teaching techniques, health education, agricultural techniques, home treatments, anthropology, and other needed topics. The students would spend a year working with their assigned village after which they would return to school.
Eventually women students were admitted to the program and community service was extended beyond cultural minorities to include hospital based outreach and health education. An airplane was used to service three of the schools and airdrops of supplies helped others.
Financial resources were always a challenge as initially no solicitation of funds was made. Reports of the program were many and worldwide. These reports sparked the interest of many and funds flowed to help in project support. Mountain View Foundation of the Philippines, Inc. was formed to assist in raising funds for the community service and on-campus projects of Mountain View College. These included the funding of DXCR radio which had regular programming for communities in central Mindanao. The student missionary program was funded and expanded in part by funds raised by the Mountain View Foundation. A publication known as The Hilltop Messenger was sent worldwide to tell the story of the community outreach of Mountain View College, including the student missionary program.
In the early 1980′s the need for a higher degree of self-support was seen as the dependence on donations was too great. With funding from Mountain View Foundation and other sources various agricultural projects were started. Villages began to participate in the production of products which included woven mats, furniture, baskets, greeting cards, paper products, and items made from rattan. These were marketed locally as well as overseas.
Between its founding in 1969 until 1990, it is estimated that 325 students participated in the program. These students graduated from Mountain View College and are in various occupations worldwide. A study done in the late 1980′s indicated that the average former student missionary had three times the likelihood of completing an advanced degree than non-student missionaries. The program not only benefited those whom it served, but helped to train a very motivated and balanced graduate.
With a change of personnel and value perception of the program, it declined rapidly in the early 1987/1990′s. Promotion declined, and eventually it appeared that it would no longer continue.
The program was revived when Dr Bland of the Prison Ministries of the GC? Started 200K with Former student missionaries, Joel Velasco, Alex Panes, and Daryl Famisaran, joined by Dr. Fred Webb of Mountain View College. With the help of new leadership, donors from the United States, and others, in November of 1994 18 students were on their way to revive 8 schools. The organization was renamed SULADS, a word in Manobo meaning brother or sister.
Work for the Muslim’s started when Harlan Gaid, assigned in Bongao as Church Pastor with no baptism reports. So missionaries were sent in 1996, Ranny De Vera comes in at 2000 burden of Mam Sha and Sir Daryl. This was after 16 years of waiting. 3 years sir daryl did elementary.
Deaf Ministry was finally born 2011 through the burden of Mam Sha Famisaran. It all started in 1991 with Sir Daryl who had a deaf sister. He had this burden so they learned at the PRID govt. program. 16 years of waiting.
By 1996 the government began to recognize the outstanding program that the Sulad program was offering and in 1997 the program was awarded recognition from the Department of Education and Culture for its outstanding work in Literacy training. Fidel V. Ramos, President of the Republic of the Philippines named the Mountain View College Sulads program as the Most Outstanding Literacy program in the Philippines for 1997. The program director, Daryl Famisaran was also awarded a plaque by the President as the Most Outstanding Literacy Worker in the Philippines for 1997. By the year 2000 the program was serving 22 villages with 44 Sulads.
The Sulad program continues to grow and now reaches to 25 villages and 63 Sulads. In 2003/2004 Daryl Famisaran seeing the need for secondary level education spearheaded the first high school located at Sto Domingo, Lumintao, Quezon, Bukidnon, to serve the growing number of graduates from the various literacy centres. Free Education as well as free food since many of the students came from far away locations. Their parents could not provide for them as was compared to the literacy centers and they were in poverty and could not pay for such.
In 2007, Further recognition was given by ABS-CBN, recognizing Daryl Famisaran, then the director, as Bayaning Pilipino (Philippine Hero) among others and received a Geny Lopez award for “setting aside self for the sake of others” as the evaluators put it.
At present, The program no longer serves only the Manobos but reaches out to a wide variety of unreached peoples and groups within the Philippines. They are the Tausog, Maranao, Samal, Badjao, Higaonon, Talaandig, B’ Laan, Kaulo, T’ Boli, Tasaday, Subanen, Iranon, Camayo, and the Manobos which are further classified as Surigaonon Manobo, Agusanon Manobo, Matigsalug Manobo, Tigwahanon Manobo, Pulangihon Manobo, Ata Manobo. 8 in Bukidnon, 8 in Cotabato, 2 in Davao, 5 in Agusan, 3 in Surigao, 2 in Lanao, 3 in Zamboanga, 5 in Tawitawi and 3 High Schools, one in Bukidnon, in Tawitawi and Agusan.
Adding to the Philosophy of Reaching the Unreached, Deaf Ministry was born with the help of Sarah Famisaran, with the understanding that many of our deaf brothers and sisters are unreached. They too need LOVE.
With 10 Staff and 108 Volunteers, the SULADS operate 35 Literacy Centers and 5 High Schools, the SULADS continues to envision to reach the unreached people groups of Asia.