TACLOBAN CITY—Army Major Arturo Dumalagan and his fellow soldiers are off on another mission, this time armed with hundreds of pair of slippers.
“We try to win the hearts and minds of the community where ambush and landmines frequently happened,” Dumalagan, who is assigned to the Office of Civil Military Operations of the 8th Infantry Division based in Camp Lukban, Catbalogan City, said.
Dumalagan, who has been in the service for 17 years, said that he is looking forward to reaching a milestone of giving 5,000 pairs of slippers or more for the children who are living in poor and conflict areas through their “Tsinelas Para sa Kapayapaan (Slippers for Peace)” initiative.
The gift-giving of slippers started on November 8, 2016, in Patikul, Sulu after they were ambushed by the notorious terror group Abu Sayyaf where he was previously assigned, Dumalagan said.
Since then, their outreach project has already distributed 4,081 pairs of slippers, the Army official said.
“The slippers we give are just a part of our motivation for the children to study hard and finish their schooling. It is not a simple gift but a ribbon tied on your finger,” said the 43-year-old military officer who also came from a poor family and eventually worked his way out from hardship by finishing his studies as a working student.
“I am a living proof that poverty is not a hindrance for our dream but a challenge for all of us to overcome,” Dumalagan, father to two children, said.
Dumalagan rose from his military career through hard work and determination.
For their next outreach project, he said they have two schools in Mindanao area that are waiting for their gifts–the slippers.
He said they welcome donation for their outreach project either in cash or in kind.
“Tsinelas Para sa Kapayapaan goes no boundaries as long as our sponsors are able to provide we can accommodate all who ask for their share and of course we prioritize the poorest of the poor school children in the far flung areas.”
Last July 8 of this year, Dumalagan’s advocacy was recognized during the Regional Youth Summit in Ormoc City.
Dumalagan said that “Tsinelas Para sa Kapayapaan” also received an award for uplifting the morale of youth in Sulu Peninsula by giving them sports equipment that greatly changes their way of life.
According to him, the support they give has led the youths away from the use of illegal drugs.
It has also eased their “sorrow” as they struggle to survive amid the armed conflict in their area, Dumalagan said.
“Our advocacy for the young children who will become a new breed of a young generation in the near future will bridge us to the path of an everlasting peace in ‘Land of Promise’ where souls and blood of our fellow countrymen lie in agony of unending war on terrorism,” Dumalagan said.