Uncle Jessie, a Longtime Companion of JTS Aid Projects in Damulog
Uncle Jessie is everywhere around the project site wearing a yellow t-shirts and jeans. He is over sixty years old, but he is healthy and full of positive energy. Uncle Jessie is a project coordinator in Damulog. Since 2007, when JTS started aid projects in Damulog, he has worked on all of them, including the construction of 14 schools and 3 public water systems. We had a conversation with him in Milutong, where school construction is underway.
Hello, Uncle Jessie. Could you introduce yourself?
Hello, my name is Jesus S. Suarez. Everyone calls me Jessie. I coordinate communications among the municipality office, JTS, and the local residents for JTS projects in Damulog. I also visit project sites with JTS volunteers evert week to check on the progress of the projects and provide the necessary assistance.
How did you start working with JTS?
I met JTS volunteers for the first time during the construction of the Mikasili Elementary School. I visited the site at the request of Governor Chonko to help with the construction project. Although a year and a half had passed since the school constraction began, the school site was still full of weeds, and all the construction wood was rotten. Governor Chonko asked me support JTS in the school construction. This was the beginning of my relationship with JTS. Since then, I have been working on all school and water system construction projects carried out by JTS in Damulog.
What was the most impressive project you worked on?
It was the Mikasili Elementary School project. It was very challenging, and I met JTS through that project. Travelling to Mikasili for the first meeting of with JTS was difficult since it was my first trip to Mikasili and the road condition was poor. When I finally arrived, the meeting had already ended. I came back home and told the governor that I didn’t want to work on the project. However, I ended up joining the project several days later.
Please tell us about Damulog.
The Municipality of Damulog is located near the border between Bukidnon, inhabited by mostly indigenous people, and North Cotabato, inhabited by mostly Muslims. The two provinces have been involved in many conflicts due to their religious and cultural difference. Being located in the outskirt of the province, Damulog has received little government assistance. Due to the poverty and conflicts in the region, it has always been difficult to initiate any village development projects in Damulog.
Has there been any changes since JTS started projects in Damulog?
Damulog now has a school and public water supply systems. The children can go to school, so they are happier and now have dreams. The public water supply systems have improved the hygiene of the people as they have made doing laundry and taking baths much easier. It is also great that women and children do not need to travel far to get water. The biggest change, however, is that there is peace and order in the municipality after the local residents began working together on the projects.
Do you have any additional comment?
JTS has long carried out various aid projects in Damulong, the poorest region in the Philippines, and has worked to improve the lives of the poorest people. As a result, both Damulog and Damulog residents have changed a great deal. The residents have learned to live and work in harmony, as well as learning how to improve their lives. Thank you JTS, for your support.