Rowena Tutana Navaira
Awarded $15,000 Through the Live Your Dream Award.
For as long as she can remember, Rowena has been passionate about obtaining an education despite the many obstacles she has faced.
Rowena Tutana Navaira belongs to the Dumagat tribe. She lives in a remote mountain village in the Philippines. Her tribe earns most of its income from farming.
Rowena is married to the tribal chieftain. Because he is occupied with official duties, which are unpaid, she serves as the sole financial supporter of four adults—her husband, ailing mother, and siblings—and her own three children.
A Dream to Overcome Obstacles
For as long as she can remember, Rowena has been passionate about obtaining an education despite the many obstacles she has faced. For instance, limited access to transportation makes it difficult for members of her tribe to obtain formal schooling. It’s more than 15 miles to the nearest town.
The walk typically takes three to four hours in good weather, and longer if it rains and the clay mud on the road becomes sticky. A ride on a jeepney to the town center is expensive and hard to come by. For these reasons, many Dumagats do not attend school and never learn to read or write.
Rowena says no one in her village has graduated from college. Maybe she will be the first. At age 37 she is in her second year of a distance-learning program that will lead to a bachelor’s degree in marketing. She studies at home and goes to classes once a month. This flexibility allows her to continue working to support her family.
I hope to use my marketing degree to help my tribe figure out how we can economically sustain our farming activities while also promoting our culture and developing pride in our heritage.Rowena Tutana Navaira Live Your Dream Awards Recipient