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Last October, Woods and Books linked up with volunteer organizations that don’t let mountains get in their way.

Ilonggo mountaineers brought books, school supplies, and educational materials to the children of Mayabay Primary School, which lies at the foot of Mt. Nangtud in the province of Antique. (Photo courtesy of IMC.)

For delivery of our latest book donations, we partnered with the Iloilo Mountaineering Club (IMC), headed by Jun Ramirez. Launched in May 2013, Education for Every Juan, is an IMC campaign to bring books and other resource materials to upland communities. For their October trek, IMC mountaineers were joined by other volunteers from other mountaineering clubs in Iloilo City, namely: The University of the Philippines in the Visayas Mountaineering Club, The University of San Agustin Mountaineering Club, and the Central Philippine University Mountaineering Club.

First, the mountaineers gathered, sorted, and packed items, among which was a big book box (center) from Woods and Books donors. (Photo courtesy of IMC.)

These Woods and Books donations came from three sources: a Singapore-based non-profit, Espesyal Pinoy; River Oaks Charter School in Stockton, CA, USA; and students of the California Montessori Project, Orangevale, CA, USA, in response to 4th Grader Jasmine Smith’s activist project. (See related stories, “The Special Kindness of Strangers” and “Think Big, Start Small.”)

Back in July, River Oaks Charter School donated storybooks, workbooks, and various teacher resources to Woods and Books volunteer, Jim Kahny.

Back in August, Jasmine Smith (here in costume for the musical Mulan) of California Montessori Project Orangevale handed over student donations for shipping the book box to Iloilo City.

The mountaineers delivered books and supplies to two schools: Lumboyan Elementary School and Mayabay Primary School in the town of Barbaza. To reach Barangay (barrio) Lumboyan where these schools are located, they had to trek three hours from the town proper.

Sometimes, the trail to Barangay Lumboyan was partly paved. (Photo courtesy of IMC.)

At times, the trail cut through cool waters. (Photo courtesy of IMC.)

At certain junctions, the mountaineers needed help from the local folks to traverse the currents. (Photo courtesy of IMC.)

Other times, the trail was high and dry. (Photo courtesy of IMC.)

The local guides also served the important role of carrying loads of donated items up to the trail’s end. (Photo courtesy of IMC)

For this community outreach trek, the mountaineers also distributed hygiene kits (toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste) to students.

It takes a host of donors and benefactors from the Philippines and abroad (listed in the green banner) to help educate the children of this village. (Photo courtesy of IMC.)

The Iloilo Mountaineering Club not only plans and organizes climbs and caving expeditions, its members also host and attend mountaineering courses and safety/first-aid training workshops, as well as join relief and rescue operations.

Aside from their climbing skills, these mountaineers also hone their storytelling skills with every visit to a school.

Forty-five years ago, IMC began with a small group of mountaineering enthusiasts led by Victor Pison. The group began as a small, close-knit circle of Ilonggo businessmen and women, as well as young professionals, and has since grown into a non-government organization whose members often serve as mentors to mountaineering clubs of students from different universities in Iloilo City.

Thanks to Woods and Books donors and our mountaineering partners, children in geographically isolated areas in Panay can read more books. Children can read alone… (Photo courtesy of IMC.)

They can read with a friend… (Photo courtesy of IMC.)

They can read in the classroom… (Photo courtesy of IMC.)

They can read under a tree…(Photo courtesy of IMC.)

And, they can read by a mountain, too! (Photo courtesy of IMC.)

IMC President, Jun Ramirez (in purple shirt) and other IMC volunteers, give our donated books a second home in Antique. (Photo courtesy of IMC.)

Thank you, generous book donors! And thank you, Ilonggo mountaineers, for letting Woods and Books join you in your trek up Mt. Nangtud. We hope to join you in future treks in your campaign to bring books to children who need them!

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