Biographical Sketch of Bai Hadja Fatima Matabay Plang
Posted by: MC “Tho” Sampiano
Bai Hadja Fatima Matabay Plang was born on January 21, 1912 in Pikit, Cotabato. She had rich and wide range of experiences in the fields of education and social work. Her active involvement in education and social services catapulted her to the popularity that she had enjoyed among people from all walks of life - from the rural poor to the national leadership under various government administrations from the time she entered the public service.
She had her first college education at the Philippine Normal College, major in Home Economics and minor in library Science. She took up Social Welfare Work, specializing in Public Assistance at the University of Chicago. She finished B.S. in Education at the Philippine Women's University.
From the time she entered school at the age of seven, she had been a Government Pensionado (1919-1933). Later she was awarded a Fulbright Travel Grant in 1947-1950, study grant from the American Association of University Women in 1948-1949, training grant in Public Assistance from the U.S. Federal Social Security Administration and an Observation Study Grant in Extension Services from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1950.
Her work experiences started as a classroom teacher at the Cotabato Elementary School after graduating from high school. After finishing two years college work at the Philippine Normal School, now Philippine Normal College, in Manila, she taught at the Pagalungan Elementary School. Later, she transferred to the Cotabato Elementary School as Home Economics teacher. After World War II she resumed her teaching profession at the Balongis Elementary School in Pikit, Cotabato, and then later transferred to the central Mindanao Colleges in Kidapawan, Cotabato.
She had also worked as researcher in the Senate under Senator Pecson (1952-1953) and Senator Cabili (19S3-1954) while lobbying for the Enabling Act to establish the Mindanao Institute of Technology.
During World War II she served through the Mlang Women's Auxiliary Service of the Guerilla Organization under the late Datu Udtog Matalam.
Back from her scholarship in the U.S. in 1950, she started lobbying for the establishment of the Mindanao Institute of Technology until 1952 when Republic Act No. 763, was signed into law creating the Institute. When MIT was opened in 1954 by virtue of Republic Act No. 998 she was designated overseer of the College until the first president was appointed. Thereafter, she served as College and Board Secretary and Liaison Officer until 1968.
She was the Founding Executive Director of the Children's Educational Foundation Village (now the Cotabato Foundation College of Science and Technology) in Doroloman, Magpet, Cotabato from 1968 until her retirement in 1977. After retirement from public service, she founded the Mindanao Islamic Foundation Polytechnic Institute in Batulawan, Pikit, Cotabato. Thus, she had founded three educational institutions which now cater to thousands of students in this part of the country.
Leaving a legacy behind for the benefit of humanity, particularly of the rural poor, in terms of educational opportunities, Bai Hadja Fatima Matabay Plang died on April 13, 1984. Yes, she had gone ahead and it is now for us, the living, to perpetuate the ideals for which she had dedicated her life. (T.C. de la Cruz)
The Founder's Vision
The establishment of the Mindanao Institute of Technology (MIT), now the University of Southern Mindanao (USM), was conceived by the late Bai Hadja Fatima Matabay Plang, a prominent Muslim lady educator and dedicated social worker. Her vision of this state college was to provide education for the poor but deserving youth and to promote cultural integration in this part of the country. The process was tedious but she was determined to make the sacrifices. It took years before she could finally negotiate the uphill struggle.
Spending her own money, much time and efforts, she lobbied incessantly in the halls of Congress and in Malacañang for the establishment of the Institute. She also lobbied for the transfer of the 1,024-hectares government estate in Kabacan, Cotabato under the administration of the National Fiber Corporation (NAFCO) to the MIT as a land grant where the Institution was to be established for educational purposes. Finally, her efforts and sacrifices culminated with success when the late President Elpidio Quirino signed on June 20, 1952 Republic Act No. 763 creating the Mindanao Institute of Technology.
To have a working knowledge on the operation of a state college, she went on a study grant to observe the administration and organization of the Berea State College - in Kentucky, U.S.A. She furthermore observed the operation of the Central Luzon Agricultural College (now CLSU) in Munoz, Nueva Ecija, one of the first state colleges established in the Philippines, prior to the opening of the MIT. Meantime, she continued to work for the necessary funding of the college to be opened. Eventually, Republic Act No. 998, otherwise known as the Enabling Act, was signed into law by the late President Ramon Magsaysay on June 10, 1954. This Act appropriated an amount of P200,000.00 for the operation of the College during the fiscal year 1954 to 1955. This facilitated the formal opening of the MIT on October 1, 1954.
The defunct Kabacan Junior High School, then a provincial school of Cotabato, became the nucleus of the MIT by virtue of Provincial Board Resolution No. 164, s. 1954. This affected the transfer of all assets and liabilities of the said high school including Two Hundred Forty Eight (248) students and Ten (10) teachers to the College.
The collegiate department was opened in June 1955 and three degree programs in agriculture, Home Technology and Industrial Arts and two-degree courses in Rubber Technology and Farm Mechanics as initial collegiate offerings with some 800 students. Secondary agriculture and homemaking curricula were offered in the high school department.
After 24 years of gradual but steady development, the MIT was converted into the University of Southern Mindanao by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 1312 Issued by former Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos on March 13, 1978.
Today the USM had become a center of high level manpower development in agriculture and allied sciences in Southern Philippines. With its multi-academic units, increasing capabilities, strong alumni and public support, and above all, dedicated students, faculty and staff and capable administration, the University continues to pursue Its mission, thereby perpetuating the ideals of the Founder of the Institution, Bai Hadja Fatima Matabay Plang. (T.C. de la Cruz)
(Posted by: MC "Tho" Sampiano)