With the indigenous families in Camarines Norte lacking jobs and roofs over their heads, the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC), through its social arm the Felix Y. Manalo (FYM) Foundation, launched a recently housing and livelihood project for Kabihug families in Barangay Bakal, Paracale, Camarines Norte.
The Kabihug are an indigenous group belonging to the Negrito race in the highlands of Bicol, who have been victims of oppression and discrimination because of their ethnicity.
According to INC General Auditor Brother Glicerio Santos, “the members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo know what it feels like to be oppressed, so when Executive Minister Brother Eduardo V. Manalo learned that our brother Kabihug were suffering from discrimination, he immediately decreed that we extend assistance to them.”
The newly opened INC community project stands on a 100-hectare land atop the slopes of Paracale. It houses 300 housing units to serve as permanent shelters for Kabihug families, complimented by livelihood facilities such as a 20-hectare kalamansi orchard, an eco-farm, and a 300-square-meter fish-drying plant.
The FYM Foundation also built a garment factory and a learning center that will initially offer kindergarten and grade 1 elementary education to Kabihug children.
INC Executive Minister Brother Eduardo V. Manalo led the inauguration, which also coincided with the first worship service of the INC local congregation of Bakal and the dedication of its new house of worship, which crowns the whole community.
In his homily during the chapel dedication, Brother Eduardo Manalo emphasized that while addressing poverty and other such problems is necessary, far more important is for people to be able to exercise their right to render true worship to God in order to receive His blessings.
Nelson S. Badilla