Archive | Story of change

Hog raising, life-changing!

It was dinner time but Aling Cristeta and her family were not gathered around a table to feast on a delicious and hearty meal. Instead, they were just about to sleep with empty stomachs.

The Silent Voice of an Aching Mother

To 48 year-old Cristeta Austria, her four daughters are everything. Likewise, she is the best mother through the eyes of her children. But no matter how much you want to give everything to the ones you love, there will always be a series of hurdles to keep you from doing it. For Aling Cristeta, that hurdle is called poverty.

Aling Cristeta and her family lives in Pola, a 3rd class municipality in Oriental Mindoro where majority of the local workforce depends on agriculture as a main source of income. Her family relies on the income of the pillar of the home or haligi ng tahanan who works as a tricycle driver. Yes. More or less three hundred pesos a day to support a family of six. Every single day, Aling Cristeta finds it difficult and even impossible to divide the money just to make ends meet. There were nights when they had to skip meals to save the money for school requirements of the children. “Ang bigat sa loob na makita ang aking mga anak na nagugutom tapos wala akong magawa,” cried Aling Cristeta as she recalls the lowest point in her life. “Yung tricycle na pinapasada ng asawa ko ay hindi naman sa amin. Hinihiram lang niya ‘yun. Kaya talagang hindi naiiwasan na mawalan siya ng trabaho pag hindi niya nahihiram. Apektado ang buong pamilya dahil wala kaming pambili ng ulam. Tiis-tiis lang sabi ko sa mga anak ko. Wala kaming makain talaga,” she added.

The Will to Change

Aling Cristeta cannot forget when the opportunity to change their situation knocked on her door. DSWD came 2008. She was selected as one of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries in the municipality. She didn’t know exactly what it means. All she knew was a financial assistance came from the government.

Through the series of orientation, she was able to understand the objectives of the program particularly its commitment in eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and promoting gender equality. She was able to help her husband support the family. She had the money allotted for her children’s school requirements and other immediate needs. Years after, Aling Cristeta availed another DSWD service, the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) in 2012. “Bumisita ulit ang DSWD sa bayan namin. Sabi nila meron daw panibagong project. Ito nga ang SLP. Natuwa ako kasi panibagong oportunidad ito sa tulad kong mahirap,” she narrated.

SLP targets poor, vulnerable, and marginalized families and engages them in thriving livelihoods. “Sabi sa SLP, yung programa daw nila ang magbibigay ng puhunan na makakatulong upang makapagsimula ng negosyo. Naengganyo ako na sumali sa SLP dahil sabi ko sa sarili ko na ito na yung daan para makaahon kami sa hirap,” said Aling Cristeta.

Through the Self-Employment-Kaunlaran (SEA-K) Program, Aling Cristeta joined the association interested to venture in hog raising and received a capital assistance worth 10,000 pesos. “Bale 20 kami sa association noon. Noong sinabi nila na meron daw pagbababuyan sa program, naging interesado ako. Binigyan ako ng 10,000 [pesos] ng DSWD at ‘yun ‘yung ginamit ko na pambili ng dalawang baboy at pakain,” she narrated.

Aling Cristeta is now into entrepreneurial undertakings. She attended a series of technical assistance trainings organized by DSWD and its partner agencies to enrich her knowledge and skills to effectively manage her microenterprise. “Pagkalipas ng tatlong buwan, naipagbili ko na ‘yung dalawang baboy at tuwang tuwa ako na sa wakas kikita na ako. Noong hawak ko na yung perang napagbentahan ng baboy, sabi ko sa sarili ko na hindi ko ito uubusin. Katulad ng natutunan ko sa training sa hog raising, ang ginawa ko bumili ulit ako ng panibagong mga baboy na aalagaan para tuloy-tuloy ang kita,” she said hearing a smile in the tone of her voice.

Hard Work Pays Off

“Noong nakita ko na kaya ko na tumayo sa sarili kong paa, nag-waive na ako sa 4Ps. Sabi ko sa sarili ko na hayaan naman na may ibang mas mahihirap ang matulungan ng programa,” said Aling Cristeta.

Through SLP, she was able to venture into other microenterprises: distribution of frozen goods and poultry raising. “Bukod sa pagbababuyan, nakapagtayo na rin ako ng maliit na negosyo na poultry raising at frozen goods. Nagsimula ako sa 50 piraso na manok at ngayon ay 100 na ang aking inaalagaan,” she said. Starting a business is one thing and how to actually make it is another thing. Aling Cristeta has proven that she can manage both. She also shared how the program helped her children. She narrated, “Hindi lang ako sa aming pamilya ang natulungan ng SLP kundi pati na rin ang aking tatlong anak na sumali sa skills training na electronics. ‘Yung isa ko namang anak nagsabi sa’kin na mag-e-enroll daw siya sa pagtitinda ng frozen goods.” Aling Cristeta showed her support to her daughter, “Sabi ko sa kanya na kaya niya iyon at huwag siyang susuko. Ngayon ay na-destino siya sa Laguna at nakakapagbigay ng hindi bababa sa 1000 pesos kada buwan.”

Truly, she is now a successful entrepreneur, wife, and mother. Reaping the fruit of her labor did not happen overnight. It was something that took a while to take place. She recalled, “Dati ultimo maliit na bagay hindi ko maibigay sa pamilya ko. Wala silang makain tapos wala ding pambili ng gamit sa eskwelahan.” Through the course of the program, the series of skills training combined with persistence made way to her dream of becoming financially capable. “Hanggang ngayon, lahat ng natutunan ko sa SLP ay dala-dala ko parin,” Aling Cristeta proudly said. After waiving from 4Ps, she is now fully committed to her microenterprises.

Aling Cristeta leaves an inspiring message, “Para sa katulad ko na nangarap maiahon sa kahirapan ang pamilya, ‘wag kayong susuko. Patuloy kayong magtiyaga at ‘wag mawalan ng pag-asa. Samahan niyo palagi ng determinasyon ang inyong mga pangarap upang makamit ninyo ang inaasam na tagumpay.”

 

 

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To the Top: A Journey Towards Volunteerism and Leadership

ACTIVE VOLUNTEERISM- Giovannie Fabro, 32 represents their community’s Operation and Maintenance Group on the Organizational Development and Management Training of Kalahi  CIDSS.

Traversing the coconut plantation in the morning and organizing youth groups in the afternoon has been the routine of Giovannie, a dark, well-built man in his early thirties with a face chiseled by hard work and a heart molded by volunteerism.

Giovannie Fabro, more well-known in his community as Giovan is the Barangay Sub-Project Management Committee (BSPMC) Chairperson of Barangay Toctoc in Banton Romblon. From a by-stander to a volunteer, Giovan said that he has found more meaning in life when he was immersed in volunteerism and in Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi CIDSS).

New Chapter

Like many of the youths in Banton, Giovan worked in Manila. Numerous factories hired him until he has worked himself to exhaustion. Realizing that his income was not enough to support his family in the province, Giovan decided to go back home to take care of his parents.

He worked on their copras business to earn a living. Even with lesser income, he admitted that going back home was one of the best decisions he has ever done.

His caring and gregarious personality earned him a lot of buddies in Brgy. Toctoc. They usually hang-out and play basketball on the community court where the Kalahi CIDSS Barangay Assemblies (BA) were frequently conducted. This hobby of his had introduced him to the program and to volunteerism.

The raising hands of the people in the half court intrigued Giovan as they rest after a basketball game and he listened to what they discussed. He learned that the people were voting for a sub-project that they wanted to have in their community. Amazed on how the people are given the freedom to have a project of their choice, Giovan decided to join the next meetings.

In the beginning, he admitted that attending the assemblies of Kalahi CIDSS was like learning a foreign language. “Napakadaming acronyms yung nababanggit nila at hindi ko talaga maintindihan kaya tinatanong ko yung katabi ko.” (I do not understand the numerous acronyms that they mention thus I ask the person next to me about the meaning of those acronyms.)

He chuckled as he added, “umabot na sa pagkakataon sa assembly na nainis na yung katabi ko sa katatanong ko kaya linayasan nya na ko.” (One time, during the assembly, my seatmate got tired of my asking thus he walked away.)

The Heart of a Volunteer

On the second cycle of Kalahi CIDSS, he actively participated and was elected as a member of the Project Implementation Team (PIT).

A sudden change in Giovan’s routine had happened when he became a volunteer. His usual lazy afternoons were changed to attending meetings of the BSPMC and studying the community procurement manual.

Eventually, he discovered his passion to volunteerism when he attended the community volunteers’ training. This has also been his inspiration to organize a youth group called Uswag Banton. The group aims to re-plant trees in the area.  In addition, he encouraged the members of the group to take part in Kalahi CIDSS and they help the community empowerment facilitator to gather people during barangay assemblies.

The community members witnessed his industry as a community volunteer. Thus, they decided to elect him as the BSPMC chairperson of Barangay Toctoc on the third cycle of the program. Mrs. Yolly Felita, one of the elders in Brgy Toctoc said that she is convinced that Giovan will be a good BSPMC chairperson.

Despite this, Giovan admitted that he had second thoughts on accepting the new post.

Nevertheless, his dream of giving his community a safe and sustainable drinking water has surfaced than his fear of greater responsibility. “Sabi ko sa sarili ko, ngayon pa ba ako titigil kung kelan malapit na naming makamit ang pangangailangan ng aming komunidad?” (I said to myself, would I stop now, now that the need of our community is almost within our reach?)

Community Empowerment Facilitator of Brgy. Toctoc Shirley Vallez recounted a story on how Giovan has shown his dedication to the project. According to her, “Si Giovan ang nanguna noong kailangang i-konekta pababa sa bundok yung tubig kahit medyo masama yung pakiramdam nya. Na-amaze ako sa batang yan kasi kita mo sakanya yung passion na tumulong kahit may sinat sya.” (Giovan lead the community to connect the water from its source in the mountain down to their community and he was not feeling well when he did it. I was amazed on that kid because you can see his passion to help even he is sick.)

Beyond service

Giovan saw how the community driven development process has transformed his flat and passive community into an active one. From his account, he was amazed on how his community was able to work together in spite of political ramifications because of their common goal of having access to clean and potable water.

Consequently, Giovannie discovered his leadership talents in becoming a Kalahi CIDSS volunteer. From the timid man, he was now able to speak in front of his community and other crowds. He recounted the moment where he shared his reflection during the BSPMC training in Makati and he said he never felt so proud before.

“Kung may sasabihin ako at alam kong tama at makakabuti, sasabihin ko yun” (If I have something to say that I know is right and will contribute to the greater good, then I will say it) said Giovannie. He added “Sana ganun din ang gawin ng mga ka-barangay ko“(I wish that the people in my community would also do the same.)

Giovannie has been a volunteer of Kalahi for 2 years now and as a volunteer he had a lot of realizations in life, in his community and in the municipality of Banton. “Sana ay tigilan na ng kababayan ko ang panlilibak sa iba dahil lang sa pulitika. Panira sa pag kakaisa ng Bantoanon yang ganang gawain.” (I wish that people would stop destroying others for the sake of their political endeavors. This kind of action destroys our hope of uniting the Bantoanons for the common good).

All of Giovannie’s BSPMC colleagues have previously held posts in public service. With this, he was teased by his ‘kuyas’ that he must try his luck in politics and run as a barangay councilor. He said that he feels awkward whenever such topics are being discussed.

All Giovan know is his true calling is to serve his community beyond Kalahi CIDSS.

Kalahi CIDSS is a poverty alleviating program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development that employs the process of community driven development to empower the community which would empower the people, promote good governance, and alleviate poverty in the community. ###

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ANG BAGONG “AKO”

 

Ang Bagong “Ako”

Ni Linelyn K. Juanzon

Paano ba binago ng KALAHI ang pananaw ko sa buhay? Bago dumating ang KALAHI-CIDSS sa aming barangay ay isa lamang akong simple at ordinaryong mamamayan na hindi nakikialam sa lahat ng usaping may kinalaman sa barangay lalo’t higit sa usaping imprastraktura, sa mga proyektong naipapagawa at sa usaping pangkabuhayan. Oo, nakikita ko ang bawat galaw ng aking mga kababayan, pero hindi ko nalalaman na sa likod ng mga pangyayari ay mayroong mas malalim pa na kwento na aking matutuklasan. Ang pang araw-araw kong buhay ay umiikot lamang sa pagtuturo ( dahil isa akong day care worker, sa pagsisimba, at sa mga usaping napapaloob sa aming tahanan). Katwiran ko noon, nariyan ang mga kagawad at kapitan na syang namumuno at sila lang ang may karapatan sa mga usaping pambarangay.

Dumaan ang unang siklo ng KALAHI-CIDSS MCC na hind ako dumadalo sa mga Barangay Assembly, bagamat isa ang aming barangay sa mga na prioritize, at nabigyan kami ng isang silid aralan, katwiran ko parang ang gulo gulo ng proseso at hindi na ako dapat na nakikialam dahil masyado na silang marami. Sa unang Barangay Assembly ng pangalawang siklo, napadaan ako at tinawag ng isang volunteer na syang umaakto na bookkeeper. Nagpapatulong sya sa paggawa ng minutes ng nangyayaring BA. Tinulungan ko sya sa pag gawa kung paano at habang nakikinig ako sa presentasyon ng mga volunteer, nagkainteres akong malaman kung anu ba ang KALAHI at ano ba ang layunin nito. Nang matapos ang Barangay Assembly at nakihalubilo ako sa mga volunteer, napukaw nito ang aking interes na matuto at makilahok. Nang maihalal ako bilang isang BSPMC Chairperson, tuluyan nitong binago ang aking mga pananaw sa buhay lalo na sa usaping proyekto sa barangay at sa usaping pangkabuhayan. Naging aktibo ako sa larangan ng pakikilahok, pakikialam, at pagmamalasakit lalo na sa aming mga kababayan na nasa malalayong sityo.

Hindi naging madali para sa akin ang maging isang Barangay Sub-Project Managament Committee Chairperson, pero dito ko nalaman na may kakayahan pala ako na maging isang lider. Naging isang hamon sa akin ang pamumuno dahil ako ay isang babae at hindi degree holder. Natakot ako na baka hindi ko makaya at ako ay pumalpak sa tungkuling iniatang sa akin at ipinagkatiwala sa akin ng aking mga kababayan . Sinikap kong gawin ang lahat ng aking makakaya at tanggapin ang bawat hamon ng mayroong pagnanais na matuto. Ang una kong pinagsikapang gawin ay ang pagdalo sa lahat ng trainings at seminar na isinasagawa ng KALAHI. Lahat ng community volunteers training ay aking dinadaluhan, sa pagnanais na mapuno ako ng lahat ng kaalamang aking kinakailangan. Sumakit ang ulo ko sa pag aaral lalo na pagdating sa finance at engineering details. Katwiran ko balang araw ay magagamit ko ang mga kaalamang ito .

Hindi na prio ang aming barangay sa pangalawa at pangatlong siklo ng KALAHI MCC. Pero hindi pa rin kami sumuko, dahil talagang kailangan namin ng mga proyekto, lalo na at ang aming barangay ang pinakamalayong barangay sa BAYAN NG CALATRAVA. Sa loob ng mga panahong iyon ay napakarami na ng aming natutuhan, hindi lamang ako kundi maging ang aking mga kapwa volunteer. Isa na doon ang mabuting pagsasamahan sa pagitan ng mga community volunteer at sa mga opisyales ng barangay. Naging kaibigan namin ang mga kawani sa munisipyo at ang mga staff ng KALAHI, bagamat minsan ay nagkakaroon ng hindi pagkakaunawaan dahil sa mga hinahabol na deadlines. Nalaman namin sa paulit ulit na Barangay Assembly na marami pala ang mga hinaing ng aming mga kababayan na mas nangangailangan ng agarang katugunan. Nalaman ko ang bawat maliliit na detalye sa barangay TALISAY na akala ko noon ay hindi mahalaga, kagaya ng total na populasyon, total households, etc.

Sa unang siklo ng KALAHI NCDDP, pinalad na ma prio ang aming barangay sa isinulong na proyektong seawall na matagal ng inaasam ng aming mga kababayan. Sa malaking pondo na aming hahawakan, alam ko na malaki ang responsibilidad na nakaatang sa akin bilang BSPMC. Naging abala ang lahat sa pag aasikaso ng lahat ng dokumentong kakailanganin sa mangyayaring implementasyon. Kasabay nito ang mga trainings and seminar na isinasagawa, at ang mga deadlines ng hinihinging dokumento. Sa lahat ng iyon, ipinagpapasalamat ko ang 100% na suporta ng BLGU, sa mga Barangay Assembly, at transportasyon kung may mga ipinapatawag na workshop. Ipinapahatid kami ng aming kapitan sa bayan kapag wala kaming masakyang Bangka, at ipinapasundo sa bayan tuwing kami’y inaabot ng gabi. At ang aming mga bolunter, ay nagtiya-tiyagang maglakad mula Brgy. Linao hanggang Brgy. Talisay, kapag malakas ang alon para lamang maipasa ang mga dokumento.

Personal kong pinamamahalaan ang lahat ng nangyayaring transaksyon mula sa canvassing, delivery ng mga materyalis at on-going na implementasyon. Hindi ito naging madali para sa akin, marami ang umugong na haka haka na hindi ito matatapos. Nag umpisa akong maging mahigpit lalo na sa pagsunod sa oras, sa isang araw na bayanihan, sa pagsuot ng PPE, at sa inventory ng mga materyalis sa bodega. Natutunan kong makiharap sa mga imposibleng supplier ng mga materyales. At sa mga nagtatampong mga volunteer at mga tatamad tamad na mga laborer. Sa buong panahon ng implementasyon, narito ang mga challenges na aking kinaharap at ang mga solusyong aking ginawa ( kasama ng mga volunteer) para maging maayos ang takbo ng implementasyon:

  • Sa paghuhukay, naging paulit ulit ang tambak ng buhangin sa hinuhukayan naging dahilan ng pagbagal ng accomplishment ng trabaho. Pinag usapan namin sa execom, kasama ang TWG at ang mga staff ng KALAHI ang magandang maaring gawin para mas mapabilis ang implementasyon.
  • Kakulangan sa laborer, dahil walang nag aaply sa paghuhukay dahil mahirap at mabigat na trabaho. Gusto ng ibang mga laborer na sa mas madaling gawain na sila magtatrabaho. Gumawa kami ng isang resolusyon na kung walang mag aaply ng trabaho sa paghuhukay ay ang mga trabahador o mga laborer na maghuhukay ang sya ding magtatrabaho sa pagbubuhos o finishing na ng seawall.
  • Na discourage ang mga volunteer sa maraming mga komento na hindi matatapos ang proyekto ay ubos na agad ang budget o pondo para dito. Nagpulong ang mga volunteer sa pamamagitan ng execom at ine-encourage sila na pagbutihin lang ang ginagawa at hayaan ang mga komento sa labas. Ipinaliwanag sa BA ang lahat ng technicalities ng proyekto sa tulong ng mga engineers ng KALAHI at munisipyo.
  • Dahilan sa malayo at palagiang malakas ang alon, nagkukulang kami sa supervision ng mga technical facilitators, kaya pinag aralan ko bilang BSPMC ang engineering details ng proyekto para malaman ko kung tumatakbo pa ba ito sa tama at nakakasunod hanggang sa makatapos kami ng mayroon pang pondo at sapat na panahon.
  • Para makatipid at makasiguro na hindi kami kakapusin. Nakipag ugnayan ako sa mga lider ng lahat ng organisasyon sa BARANGAY upang humingi ng bayanihan sa kanila. Gaya ng KALIPI, fisherfolk at farmers, community volunteers at ERPAT. Ang mga opisyales ng barangay ay paulit ulit at hindi nagsasawa sa pagbibigay ng bayanihan sa buong panahon ng implementasyon.

Pumupunta ako sa project sight at pinamamahalaan ng maiigi ang bawat gawain, pati na rin ang pag papala ng lupa.

Naging mahalagang isyu sa implementasyon ang pagtatrabaho ng mga kababaihan sa isinasagawang proyekto. Pinag uusapan ang mga kakayahan ng mga babae kumpara sa mga lalaki.

Para masagot ang nasabing isyu, isa sa inimbitahan sa BA, ay ang MSWDO para ipaliwanag ang pantay na karapatan ng mga kababaihan pagdating sa pagtatrabaho at sa tatanggaping sweldo. Ang anumang problema sa isinasagawang implementasyon ay idinaan sa EXECOM para sa sama samang pagpaplano at pag iisip ng solusyon, paghingi ng opinyon sa mga tamang tao na nakakaalam ng mga detalye lalo na pagdating sa engineering details. Pakikinig sa suhestiyon ng mga on-lookers at mga standby sa tabi tabi, sa mga payo ng mga nakatatanda at pagbibigay ng halaga sa suhestiyon ng mga barangay opisyal. Naging mahigpit ang aking pagrerepaso lalo na sa mga papel na may kinalaman sa kaperahan at naging maingat sa pagpirma sa mga tseke, at mga voucher na pinapipirmahan. Nagamit ko sa implementasyon ang mga natutunan ko sa mga trainings and seminar na aking pinagdaanan.

Naging daan ang aking pagiging bolunter, sa kung anu ang aking pananaw sa ngayon. Mula sa pagiging isang ordinaryong mamamayan, naging lider ako ng mga organisasyon sa aming Barangay gaya ng SAUMATA (Samahan ng Mga Ulirang Mamamayan ng Talisay), KALIPI, at RURAL IMPROVEMENT CLUB sa ilalim ng Agrikultura. Kasama sa mga trainings at seminar sa loob man o sa labas ng bayan ng Calatrava. Kasama sa Local Poverty Reduction Team at ginagampanan ang papel ng secretary sa LPRAT. Myembro ng iba’t ibang organisasyon sa munisipyo na nagre representa sa Barangay Talisay.

Saludo ako sa layunin at proseso ng KALAHI, hinubog nito ang karamihan sa mamamayan sa pakikilahok at pakikialam. Tinuruang maging transparent ang BLGU at mga mamamayan sa mga gagawing proyekto. Naibigay sa mamamayan ang mga proyektong mas tunay na kinakailangan. Binigyan nito ng kapangyarihan ang mga ordinaryong mamamayan na direktang hawakan at pamahalaan ang isinasagawang proyekto. Binigyan nito ng pagkakataon ang mga mamamayan na matuto ng tamang proseso. Naniniwala ako na kapag lubos na naunawaan ng mga tao ang proseso ng KALAHI mas magiging maunlad pa an gating bayan. Walang maiiwanan, lahat ay magkakaroon ng pagkakataong paunlarin ang kanyang sarili, makatulong sa kapwa at sa kanya kanyang lugar na kinabibilangan. Nagkaroon ng katuparan ang layunin ng KALAHI. Ang mabigyang kapangyarihan ang mamamayan, magkaroon ng maayos na pamamahala at maibsan ang kahirapan.

Sa ngayon, hindi kami na-prio sa pangatlong siklo ng KC NCDDP. Pero may boses na kami para ilapit sa iba’t-ibang ahensya ang mga problema na hindi napondohan ng KALAHI. Natuto na kaming gumawa ng project proposal at hindi na kami nangangamba na matengga na lang o mawalan ng saysay ang mga problema na natukoy at ginawaan ng dokumento ng aming mga boluntaryo. Sinisikap ko na palakasin ang loob ng aking mga kapwa bolunter, maging ng mga barangay opisyal na nawawalan ng pag asa dahil sa hindi kami na-prio. Pinagsisikapan ko na kahit wala kaming proyekto sa ngayon mula sa KALAHI, hindi doon natatapos ang aming ugnayan bilang volunteer, na marami pa rin kaming magagawa para sa barangay, at sa aming mga kabababayan. Ipinapaunawa ko sa kanila na ang pagiging bolunter ay walang limitasyon at walang sukatan. Basta nagmumula sa puso ang pagnanais na makapaglingkod.

Isa sa pinapangarap ko bilang isang lider na mayroon pang uusbong na panibagong lider magmula sa aking mga kapwa volunteer na magnanais na maglingkod ng walang kapalit para sa kapakanan ng aking mga kababayan. Lalo na at marami sa mga kabataan sa ngayon ang nakatambay lamang at walang ginagawa. Pangarap ko na mahikayat sila at mabigyan ng pagkakataon na makilahok at sa kanila magsisimula ang mga lider na tapat, maaasahan, walang itinatago at may malasakit sa kapwa at sa bayan. Sinisikap kong gawing isang organisasyon ang mga bolunter sa komunidad, organisasyon na kaagapay ng lokal na pamahalaan sa pagpaplano, pagsasagawa, at pagmamasid ng mga isinasagawang proyekto. Organisasyon o samahan na magsisilbing daluyan ng mga tamang impormasyon mula sa lokal na pamahalaan patungo sa mga ordinaryong mamamayan. Samahan na uupo sa Barangay Development Council o sa Municipal Development Council upang idulog ang mga problema ng aking mga kababayan. Samahan na magsisilbing tulay tungo sa pagbabago.

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This is one in the stories in the series of “Building CDD Champs” stories of transformation by Kalahi CIDSS Stakeholders. This story was written by Miss Linelyn Juanzo, a Barangay Sub-Project Management Committee Chairperson of Brgy. Talisay in the town of Calatrava in the province of Romblon.

 

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Small problems, big heroes: Community Organizing in Magdiwang, Romblon

In the core of the Philippine culture is the value of unity and togetherness best exhibited in the practice of bayanihan.

The term bayanihan means helping one’s neighbor to make a difficult task less demanding. Most of the time it is featured as a group of men transporting a bahay-kubo, the traditional Filipino house, on their shoulders. The act is a demonstration of a community spirit, an admirable display of solidarity and teamwork, traits that are now threatened towards extinction.

Such feats are now uncommon. Except in the remote municipality of Magdiwang, Romblon.

Reviving the lost culture of bayanihan

Found in the heart of the Philippine archipelago is the crescent-shaped Sibuyan Island.

Famous for its rich natural biodiversity and scenic landscapes, Sibuyan Island is a pearl in the seas of Romblon province. Aside from this, the island became more prominent in the mountaineering community for the perilously challenging climb of Mt. Guiting-Guiting.

This abundance in natural wonders parallels the island’s wealth of big-hearted people.

In Magdiwang, one of the three municipalities in the island, is where the timeworn value of bayanihan is currently in revival. Residents have started to work together in resolving issues that affects their communities and barangays.

Organizing communities, organizing change

Magdiwang is one of the three municipalities of Sibuyan Island and is the first in the region of MIMAROPA to apply Community Organizing as part of the KALAHI-CIDSS program.

KALAHI-CIDSS or Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services is one of the core poverty alleviation programs of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Through the program, communities are granted the resources and the responsibility over planning, implementing and maintaining sub-projects that address their needs. In employing the community organizing approach however, communities are at liberty to solve their problems with their own resources, skills and creativity through the guidance of Community Empowerment Facilitators (CEFs).

To provide the necessary assistance and support, CEFs immerse themselves in the communities to know their culture and lifestyle. They visit residents and engage them in conversations, participate in community activities and stay with them in their homes.

Through this, CEFs get a glimpse of the people’s daily struggles and the problems that cause their hardships. After identifying their problem, the CEFs’ goal is to empower the residents and motivate them to act.

A boat ride to safety

In barangay Jao-Asan, residents have to cross a river to reach the town proper. Though perfectly safe in the summer when the water barely reaches their knees, the river swells and reaches at least 10 feet high when the rainy season comes. The risks of river crossing in these times hinder the transportation of their farm produce and deter residents from going to work and students from going to school.

Another problem the residents identified is the worn-out bridge that has already caused accidents. Several children and a carabao have fallen from the bridge and were injured.

To address this, residents of Sitio Agsalay collected contributions from each household and solicited aid for the construction of a boat and the renovation of the old bridge.

According to Janice Fabila, one of the volunteers, “maraming taon ang lumipas ng hindi napapansin at naaayos ang aming suliranin (many years have passed and our problems are ignored and were never remedied)”.

The boat, operated through a pulley system since it would be difficult to row through the strong river current, would transport residents across the river. Through their efforts, the old bridge was also reconstructed and now offers safe passage for the residents, children, animals and even motorcycles.

During the blessing of these community projects on May 5, 2016, the municipal Mayor Hon. Guillermo Rocha acknowledged the efforts of the community and committed to fixing the bridge and giving the community a hundred meter hanging bridge to replace the boat that would amount to at least P2.5 million as estimated by the Technical Facilitator of the Kalahi-CIDSS Area Coordinating Team of Magdiwang.

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Safe crossing. Children ride the boat across the river while their mothers wait on the other side

On the road to change

In Barangay Dulangan, a different set of challenges were met with a different set of solutions but with the same eagerness for change.

A staggering one hundred twenty people including Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program beneficiaries and Indigenous People worked together in creating a road from what used to be a narrow man-made trail. The nearly 150 m. road was done in three 2-hour periods during Saturdays.

“Parang mga langgam yung mga nagtatrabaho noon (They were like ants when they were working)”, Helen Marin, one of the volunteers who led the bayanihan, said jokingly as she explained how the people worked together, some hauling rocks, sand and gravel while others cleaned the path.

About 42 households will directly benefit from the road, including a family with a physically disabled child who had previously dealt with difficulties in transportation.

“Marami ng nakakapasok na mga nagtitinda at nakakapagbaba ng mga ani galing sa bukid (Many sellers can go inside and harvests can be brought down from farms)”, said Helen.

The once narrow trail now have the capacity for a tricycle that will carry their farm produce.

The clearing of several parts of their road in Sitio Franco that were buried in small-scale landslides because of Typhoon Nona were also undertaken by the affected barangay residents and thus solving their problems in transportation.

In the process, they also dug up canals in the side of the road which was needed to keep water from accumulating in the middle.

Recognizing the determination of the community, the concreting of the road was included in the municipality’s Annual Investment Plan for 2017, allotting P200,000 for its construction.

The barangay is also cut across in several places by stretches of rivers and the residents found difficulty in crossing some parts especially when they have to transport goods to the town and vice versa.

In response to this dilemma, they have decided to construct a temporary spillway.

The 40 m. spill way was built in 2 hours by at least 80 residents composed of men, women and children, who hauled large rocks and created a form of bridge that connects the roads across each river bank.

In the approaching rainy season, the temporary spillway is in danger of being carried away by strong river currents but their hard work will not go to waste. This effort has earned them the promise of a P1.6 M concrete spillway to be included in the Bottom-up Budgeting (BuB) program.

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Vehicles pass without difficulty on newly cleared road of Sitio Franco

Involving the youth

When typhoon Nona struck, it brought destruction to the communities in the municipality. This included the basketball court of Barangay Poblacion.

Ruined and covered in sand, the youth were unable to use it and resorted to computer games and other unhealthy activities.

Until a small group of teenagers decided to organize a clean-up and solicited sports equipment from the local officials who were generous enough to heed their request.

“Di kami makapaniwala na nakausap namin si SB Ado Villanueva at Kagawad Noriel Rollon para sa pangangailangan naming mga kabataan.  Natuto kaming makipag-usap sa mga taong may katungkulan sa gobyerno. (We can’t believe that we can talk to the SB and Kagawad for the needs of the youth. We learned to talk to people in the government)”, one of the youngsters said.

It was also in this Barangay where the mothers were mobilized to conduct a community clean-up against dengue after a recent outbreak of the disease in January.

According to them, this was the very first time that they had a bayanihan. But the experience was both challenging and enlightening for both the mothers and the youth.

“Ngayon lang namin na-realize na may magagawa pala kami para makatulong sa komunidad. Malaking bagay pala talaga pag nagkaka-isa (It is only now that we realize that we can do something for our community. Unity is really very important),” reflected one of the mothers.

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Fly high. The youth of Brgy. Poblacion enjoy a ballgame after their clean-up

A gathering place for IPs

The lack of meeting or gathering place has been the problem of the women of Barangay Ipil for months. As beneficiaries of the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer (MCCT) for IPs, they needed an area where they are able to meet and hold activities.

They decided to take action and build a temporary cluster house, a small bahay kubo made of wood and indigenous materials.

The cluster house was constructed with the help of the women’s husbands. “Tuwing araw ng lingo pumupunta kaming lahat dito kasama ang mga asawa namin (On Sundays we go here with our husbands), said Cristina Ruado, the Parent Leader of the MCCT IPs.

While their husbands created the foundation, the women were tasked to weave coconut leaves for the roof.

All the materials used were from each of the members who were tasked in the beginning of their project, therefore minimizing their expenses. The barangay showed their support by lending them the land where the temporary cluster house is now erected.

The task was completed in four weeks even though the women were at first unsure whether they would be able to convince their husbands to help.

The experience was definitely a memorable one for the women and their husbands. “Habang nagtatrabaho, masaya kami, kahit mainit nagkekwentuhan kami ng masasaya (We were happy while working, even though it’s hot, we chat about happy things)”, recalls Leticia Burac, one of the volunteers.

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The women of Brgy. Ipil and Kalahi-CIDSS staff share a meal during the blessing of their cluster house (Photo from ACT Magdiwang)

Bayanis on the rise

These are only a few of the bayanihans of the residents of Magdiwang.

In Barangay Agutay, they are planning to install street lights and construct a basketball court. Negotiations with the governor are ongoing for an irrigation system for the farmers of Barangay Ambulong.

Their efforts are also acknowledged by the local government. Barangay Tampayan was given two jetmatic pumps from the LGU and four comfort room units from the Rural Health Unit for the benefit of more than one hundred residents.

It has been common practice that small problems in society are ignored or blamed to the government’s incompetence. But in the Municipality of Magdiwang, people have taken responsibility for their communities, proving that with unity, they are able solve problems that have long burdened them. With their own hands and the spirit of bayanihan, they have accomplished goals that at first seemed impossible.

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Unity Towards Security

Almost five months after being devastated by Typhoon Nona, traces of destruction are still apparent in some places in Baco, Oriental Mindoro. As one of the municipalities that were severely damaged by the typhoon, the citizens of Baco determinedly continues to rise against the challenges brought about by these types of disasters.

In Barangay Lantuyang, a predominantly Mangyan Alangan community, Nori Veron Maliglig recalls that most of the community scatters to different places to evacuate the area during calamities.

Located right beside the Karayrayan River, many of the residents of Barangay Lantuyang, especially those in the lower areas are in danger from flooding. And because most of the Mangyan houses are made of light materials, strong winds and rains easily damage and destroy their homes.

In the midst of these threats, the community have decided to construct an evacuation center with the funding of the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS). As one of the core poverty alleviation programs of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, it aims to empower communities to choose and implement projects that address their most pressing needs.

Tagalog turned Mangyan

Nori Veron Maliglig, a sixty-year-old resident of Barangay Lantuyang, is one of the volunteers of KALAHI-CIDSS who persevered for the success of the implementation of the project.

Together with the other volunteers, she diligently worked and showed her care for the residents of the barangay despite being the only Tagalog in a community of Mangyans.

She settled in Baragay Lantuyang forty years ago and has embraced the Mangyans and their culture and now has a family with two children. “Tagalog ako na naging Mangyan (I am a Tagalog who became a Mangyan)”, she laughingly said.

Since this was a first for the community, the Mangyans were hesitant in claiming the job of the Warehouse Keeper, worried that they would have to pay for anything that will go missing from the warehouse.

“Ako naman po ay naaawa na yun na lamang ang wala kaya nilakasan ko ang loob ko na ako ay tumayo bilang bodegera (I felt sorry that it was still vacant so I gathered my courage and became the warehouse keeper)”, said Nanay Veron.

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Almost there. Nanay Veron smiles in front of the nearly completed evacuation center.

Not just another charity

The community of Barangay Lantuyang is no stranger to outsiders offering help, especially charities; NGOs, NGAs and private corporations often visit and promise infrastructure and development. Most of which were never completed.

From all the false promises emanated their mistrust of all programs and agencies that reach out to their community.

Because of this, the whole community was at first hesitant in accepting the KALAHI-CIDSS program. According to Nanay Veron, “Noong umpisa, hindi sila naniniwala. Baka mahirapan lang sila pero wala din (At first they did not believe. Maybe it would just burden them but result to nothing)”.

But she tried to persuade them to give the program a chance. “Tignan muna natin (let’s see first)”, she told them.

Seeing the project slowly being completed, “Sinabi ng mga mangyan na pinalakas ko ang loob nila (The mangyans said that I gave them courage)”, said Nanay Veron.

When the community has finally united with one goal in mind, the challenges however numerous and daunting were faced with determination.

The land where the evacuation center was planned to be built was owned by priests. So in groups, the volunteers and community members visited the Bishop numerous times to ask for his approval.

His fear and his mistrust was the same as the community.

With the help of Father Victor Florida, SVD, commonly known by the Mangyans as “Father Jun Jun”, the volunteers and the community tirelessly visited the Bishop to explain the process of KALAHI-CIDSS though at first he remained doubtful. He needed assurance that the program will not be same as the previous projects given to Barangay Lantuyang.

After months of meetings, he consulted the issue with the priests of Oriental Mindoro and finally gave his permission to use the land.

Soon, given the chance and proper training the volunteers were already doing things on their own.

They initiated the relocation of an electric post situated at the construction site by talking with the local energy provider.

Whenever needed, the Procurement Team head, Sawi Villar, can even go alone to Calapan City to talk to suppliers and for canvasing.

As a fairly distant Barangay, transportation can be a challenge for the volunteers. For this, they contribute some of their extra earnings from harvests.

They also had a contribution for the pig used in the pansula, a ritual before the start of the construction to ward off evil spirits.

However, their determination was further tested. During Typhoon Nona, a part of the roof of their warehouse was blown away, leaving all their materials under the rain and the rising water of the river.

Some of their cement got wet rendering them unusable, but the volunteers never lost hope.

Laborers and volunteers were already working on the building while relief goods were being distributed to the residents of the Barangay. Almost all of the community members were also very willing to work have a bayanihan for the completion of their evacuation center.

“Ibinuhos ko na ang aking kalooban jan, ako ay hindi umaabsent at palaging nagbabantay (I poured my soul there, I was never absent and I always look after the materials)”, says Nanay Veron.

Beyond beliefs, beyond religion

The residents of Barangay Lantuyang are now eager to implement projects for the development of their barangay. They plan to propose for a protection dike or a day care center in the following cycles of the KALAHI CIDSS.

During the blessing of their evacuation center on April 28, 2016, Father Jun Jun told the residents to care for the building saying, “panatilihhin nating buo, panatilihin nating maayos, panatilihin nating malinis dahil sa panahon na kailangang kailangan natin na syay nandyan (Let us keep it whole, let us keep it in good condition, let us keep it clean because when the time comes that we will need it, it will be there)”.

In his message, Father Jun Jun also emphasized the importance of the community’s solidarity. “Sa tuwing magpapaalala ako sa mga taga Lantuyang, sinasabi ko na ang pagkakaiba iba ng ating mga pananampalataya ay sana hindi maging hadlang, sana ito ang maging daan para sama sama kayong gumawa (Whenever I remind the residents of Lantuyang, I tell them that, may the differences in religion not be a hindrance, it should be a way for you to work together)”

The community of Barangay Lantuyang, diverse in beliefs and religion, with their initial success in the construction of the evacuation center, was reminded that only with unity will they achieve change and development.

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Father Jun Jun leads the blessing of the evacuation center

photo 2

The evacuation center of Barangay Lantuyang

 

 

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Reawakening of the Mangyan Alangan culture

It’s the end of another day. As the twilight sky turns a deep blue color and the cold breeze starts to drift from the mountains of Oriental Mindoro, darkness has completely covered the lands except for the only light coming from a fire burning in the middle of a big wooden house.

Around the fire, clusters of people of all ages are talking, laughing, or singing by the warmth of the flames, their shadows flickering on the wooden walls of the balaylakoy.

This is how Vicente Sara, the Barangay Sub-Project Management Committee Chairperson of Barangay Caburo of Naujan, Oriental Mindoro remember the days when the Alangan culture flourished.

In the heart of Alangan culture

The Alangan tribe is one of the eight Mangyan tribes of the island of Mindoro each with a completely distinctive culture and language. In the earlier days, the Mangyan Alangans were known to live in these great houses where up to 20 families, usually of the same ancestry, share one living space. The word balaylakoy literally translates to “malaking bahay” or “big house”, the word balay meaning “house” and lakoy meaning “big”.

The traditional balaylakoy provides more than a home and protection for the Alangans. It is also a sacred place where rituals and gatherings are conducted.

Each year, during harvest season, the Alangans have a celebration called the pamago. Each family residing in the balaylakoy contributes some of their harvest and together they pound rice to remove the husk in the palangganan, the center of the balaylakoy. Residents, visitors from other balaylakoys, even outsiders are welcome to feast on their harvests.

“Pinakamasayang panahon sa balaylakoy ang pamago (The pamago is the happiest time in the balaylakoy)”, Vicente Sara, more fondly called “Ka Beting”, cheerfully recounts.

This much awaited festivity is the Alangans’ thanksgiving for the bountiful harvest and their way of praying for the promise of the continuous richness of their lands. And it is just one of the ceremonies and rituals that are led by their greatly respected elder and healer known as the aplaki.

Aside from rituals, the Alangans also gather around the fire that usually burns continuously every day in the palangganan, to resolve conflicts, plan for activities of their community and more importantly to bond with their family.

Through sharing stories and just enjoying each other’s company through ambahans which can be chanting rhymes similar to poetry or alternately singing songs, the Alangans preserved their culture and lived in harmony.

And because the Alangans lived together, almost all of the adults are able to work on their kaingin or farm and all the children can be left with a guardian.

Lahat ng aspeto ng buhay ng katutubong Mangyan ay naka angkla sa balaylakoy kaya ganun na lang ang pagpapahalaga sa balaylakoy (All aspects of the lives of the Mangyans is anchored on the balaylakoy, which is why we give it much importance),” explains Ka Beting.

Decline of tradition 

However, due to the vast amount external influences, many of the Mangyan Alangans today have started to settle in individual houses and actual balaylakoys have grown more uncommon in communities.

“Ilang pamayanan na lang ng katutubong Alangan ang may ganitong balaylakoy (Very few Alangan tribes still have a balaylakoy), Ka Beting declared.”

According to Domingo Torres, the Barangay Captain of Caburo, it has been almost 15 years when their last balaylakoy was destroyed by a typhoon.

Along with the custom of living under one roof, the Alangans’ sense of unity and togetherness seemed to fade. “Talamak na ang pagkakanya-kanya (Selfishness is becoming prevalent)”, says Ka beting.

With all the changes in their system, it has become challenging for the aplaki and other community leaders to detect problems within the village. When a family is faced with difficulties, it has become a common mindset for others to ignore what doesn’t concern them. Thus, conflicts have also become more difficult to resolve.

“Samantala, kapag nasa isang balaylakoy, hindi nila kayang sabihin na ‘bahala na yan’, nandoon pa rin yung pananagutan, yung problema nila, problema ko rin,(however, when in a balaylakoy, they can’t just say ‘come what may’, they are also liable for others’ problems, their problems are my problems too)”, said Ka Beting.

And because the balaylakoy is strongly connected to the Mangyan Alangan culture, their traditions and customs are slowly being forgotten along with its disappearance, especially by the youth.

“Nalulungkot din kami na nakikita na ang aming kultura ay unti unting naglalaho na kaya gustong gusto naming ibalik ito (We are saddened by seeing our culture slowly disappear, which is why we want to bring it back), Ka Beting said with determination.

For many of the older members of the community, though they no longer live in the balaylakoy, the place has remained a sacred place where traditions and rituals that are spared by the effects of outside influence are still practiced.

“Kung hindi man tuluyang maibalik ang kultura namin dati ay unti unting makita sana ng susunod na salinlahi kung gaano kahalaga at gaano kadaming gamit ang balaylakoy (We may not be able to totally revive our culture but we want the next generations to know the importance of the balaylakoy and its many uses)”, explained Ka Beting.

Preserving a culture of unity

Through the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS), one of the core poverty alleviation programs of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the community of Brgy. Caburo was granted more than two hundred thousand pesos for the construction of their balaylakoy.

Ang mga activity na ginagawa sa balaylakoy ay hindi pang personal na interes and purpose kundi pang komunidad (Activities conducted in the balaylakoy are not for personal interest and purposes but for the community), says Ka Beting.

Remembering the earlier days when they had a balaylakoy, Wilma Garon, one of the older community members, shared that trainings on handicrafts and livelihood were done in the balaylakoys.

The construction of the balaylakoy has an essential role in their fight to preserve their culture. As Ka Beting explained, while sharing stories and chewing betel nut around the fire in the palangganan, the aplaki also teaches the beliefs and values of the Alangans to the youth.

The whole community supports the project knowing that the balaylakoy may be the key to save a culture nearing its extinction. “Nakikita ko sa pamayanan naming mangyan na naghahari na ang impluwensya na galing sa labas (I can see in our Mangyan community that external influence is becoming dominant)”, Ka Beting declared.

Nevertheless, together with the community, Ka Beting has remained resolute to achieve their goal of protecting their own culture even through the challenges they faced in preparing for the implementation of the project.

The community encountered problems in land acquisition since the land of Barangay Caburo used to be owned by priests and was endorsed to about 30 families who now held the land title.

They first asked for an agreement with the priests but the documents proved to be unnecessary because they needed the consent of the families. Though it took some time, through the community’s combined efforts, all the families who now owned the land gave their permission for the construction of the balaylakoy.

According to Ka Beting, the core purpose of the balaylakoy is to ensure that the spirit of unity lives within the community. And to successfully build their balaylakoy, they will have to strengthen this characteristic and work in harmony.

Accordingly, the whole community has expressed their willingness help in the construction through bayanihan.

Modernized balaylakoy

The traditional balaylakoy is a wooden house with an undivided interior containing the palangganan in the middle. The planned balaylakoy in Barangay Caburo however, will have concrete pillars, indigenous materials such as wood and bamboo for the walls and floors, and will have two extra rooms and a comfort room.

This modernized balaylakoy was designed for the benefit of the whole community.

Barangay Caburo is composed of three sitios with the other two situated further up the mountains. Aside from rituals that are usually performed in the balaylakoy, they will also have a meeting place for large gatherings and assemblies which can also serve as their temporary shelter.

The balaylakoy can also accommodate students from neighboring and distant barangays who attend school in Barangay Caburo especially during rainy days when there are floods or when rivers become dangerous to cross as the water level rises.

Once completed, part of the balaylakoy will also serve as the office of the Sanguniang Barangay. Important documents may be housed safely inside and barangay officials will be available whenever community members have concerns and complaints.

They planned to build a structure that can be used for all the different activities for the community, for the tribe or for the barangay. Nevertheless, with all its uses, the balaylakoy is still ultimately intended to be more than just a multi-purpose hall.

Buhay na buhay ang kultura sa balaylakoy (The culture is alive within the balaylakoy)”, says Ka Beting, and the community hopes that with its construction, the rest of the Alangans will be encouraged to protect and preserve their beliefs. Their goal through the balaylakoy, which is the center of the Alangans’ way of life, is that the youth and future generations will appreciate and be proud that they are part of a rich and beautiful culture.

Though Barangay Caburo is one of the farthest and most depressed areas in the Municipality of Naujan, the dedicated volunteers of KALAHI-CIDSS persevered in processing the approval of their sub-project and have committed to continue to work hard for the implementation later this year.

Brgy. Caburo photo 1

Domingo Torres and Vicente Sara stands in front of the land where the balaylakoy will be contructed.

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Helping others, improving one’s self

The Serna family is gleeful for winning the Search for Huwarang Pantawid Pamilya in the provincial level.

The Serna family poses happily for winning the Search for Huwarang Pantawid Pamilya in the provincial level.

It took about 20 minutes of boat ride going to this island of San Jose, Occidental Mindoro to interview one of this year’s model families and the provincial winner of Huwarang Pantawid Pamilya.

It was raining early in the morning going to Brgy. Labangan in Ilin island but as the boat nears the docking area, rays of smiles from its residents welcome the guests and the sun peeps from the clouds and shone its light to bring a brighter day.

Among the crowd is the silent couple, Eusebio and Gigie showing their glee together with their fellow community members. The Serna family brought pride not only to their own but also for the whole community. It was seen that the family is known to everyone in the area that they are enjoined by their neighbors in celebration of winning the competition.

Eusebio, 49 year old, and Gigie, 43, have seven children through their 23 years of marriage. Living from an island barangay, the family lives off by Eusebio being a “konduktor sa bangka”. But with seven children, it is not enough to sustain their needs alone. Thus, they also plant crops and vegetables. They have an organized garden across their house. They have almost all kinds of root crops and vegetables: sitaw, ampalaya, kangkong, gabi, papaya, gabi, kamote, etc. Through proper budgeting, they were able to buy and tend some animals like goats, chicken, pig and cow.

“Dahil po iyan sa tulong ng Pantawid Pamilya kaya naman paunti-unti, iniaangat po namin ang aming kondisyon sa buhay,” said Gigie. It is through the program and being wise in saving money that they are able to face the challenges in their living conditions. “Pinag-uusapan naming mag-asawa kung anong gagawin sa mga natatanggap namin kaya unti-unti napagawa rin namin ang bahay,” added Gigie.

Gigie also narrated, “Malaki rin po ang naitulong ng programa dahil nabibigyan ng oportunidad ang mga bata na magpa-check-up at mabigyan sila ng mga pangangailangan nila sa eskwelahan.” Gigie also said that she is active in attending their Family Development Sessions (FDS). It is through the sessions that she gains new knowledge that she applies in their everyday life.

Gigie makes sure that they have a clean and organize backyard garden.

Gigie makes sure that they have a clean and organize backyard garden.

Being active in community activities is innate for the couple. Gigie is a catechist or part-time volunteer teacher to grade two pupils in Labangan Elementary School since 2014. She was also voted as a secretary in the Parent-Teacher Association in the same school, as well as the secretary and president of the Festijos for two consecutive years in their barangay. She is also an active volunteer of the Community Savings Group, a women’s group, for five years. Currently, she is a treasurer of their SEA-K and a parent leader of Pantawid Pamilya.

On the other hand, Eusebio is a trained traditional veterinarian. He was fortunate to be chosen by the Department of Agriculture through the Plan International’s project in their barangay to tend to farm animals that he was sent to Manila for a training. Eusebio monitors animals and provides care when they have illnesses. Specifically, he provides vitamins using a syringe to the cattle. Eusebio is in-charge of all the animals in the island.

The couple relayed that there was a time that they fought due to Gigie’s schedule in participating to too many community activities. But with communication, the couple resolved their issues and agreed to always talk with one another and manage their time for the family and their responsibilities in the community. With the innate feeling to serve, the couple could not help but be active in the community, and they both understand that they have to be more patient and understanding of one another’s feelings and positions.

Moreover, they have bright and talented children. Of the seven, three are still in school in their island; one in high school, one in elementary and the youngest in Daycare. The eldest, Gerald, 23, did not graduate from college and decided to help his father being a ‘bangkero’ and whatever work he gets in San Jose proper, sometimes being a construction worker. The second, Ivee Valerie is a trainee in a company in Cavite while the third, Erick Jade, recently finished high school and is waiting for her sister to help him get a job in the same company and help the family instead.

The Sernas calmly tells their contributions in the community as well as their personal struggles in the family.

The Sernas calmly tells their contributions in the community as well as their personal struggles in the family.

“Ang meron sa aming pamilya ay yung nagkakasundo kami, tulong-tulong,” said Gerald. His mother followed, “Pag nakikita nila yung Papa nila kung anong trabaho, tinutulungan nila.” The family works together. It is Serna family’s strong suit and will always be. “At mahal namin ang isa’t-isa,” ended Erick Jade. Although they stopped studying, Gerald and Erick Jade expressed their feelings to continue and get vocational courses.

The struggles the family feel are not reasons for them not to help their fellows. These even made them an exemplary family that despite their personal challenges, they managed to provide time to help others. Their values have never been more founded and their characters have never been stronger. This only goes to show that one’s development is not only measured physically or materially, but also by showing people that you are there whenever you are needed, ‘cause when you help others, you improve yourself as well. ###

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Urduja of Seaweeds Production in Taytay Palawan

Seaweeds

Gaudiosa M. Alto, president of Bagong Pag-asa Association, is known as Urduja of Seaweeds Production.

Urduja is a legendary Filipino heroine recognized for her strong leadership and passion for serving the people. Deviating from stereotype about woman being weak and passive, Urduja showed that she is a ruler who can mobilize and defend her people. She is a true legendary warrior.

In the midst of sea paradise in Taytay Palawan, there is also a strong, independent and dedicated woman recognized as Urduja of Seaweeds Farming.

Gaudiosa M. Alto, 63, is the president of Bagong Pag-Asa Association (BPA), an organization guided by Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) IV- MiMaRoPa Sustainable Livelihood Program.

During the field visit, as the cold breeze touched her skin and splash of water lingered in her feet, Gaudiosa started to tell her story. Her stories pierced the heart and soul of the listeners. She looked straight into our eyes and sincerely told every chapter of the book of her life: every journey she had encountered, every failure she had tasted and every triumph she had reached.

As she gazed in the sky painted with mixture of  gray and tangerine triggering a feeling of longing, she reminisced her experiences before the SLP Seaweeds Production.

Life dark as a coal

 

Life before the SLP seaweeds production was full of hardship and uncertainty.

“Mahirap po ang buhay namin dati bago ‘yang SLP, para pong laging may pangamba,” recalled Gaudiosa.

Coal mining was her primary source of income.  As a coal miner, Gaudiosa’s life was full of darkness and fear.  It was always like a vacuum: sufocated with emptiness and no direction.

Her life was always at risk.

“Dati po kaming nag-uuling. Para kami ay maka-survive (pinasok na namin ang pag-uuling). Ay mahirap mag-uling! Buhay ang nakataya dyan,” said Gaudiosa while trying to control the crystal clear tears from falling in her eyes.

Aside from being illegal, coal mining posed risks in her health and her environment.

However difficult life has been, she didn’t lose hope.  Risks of her previous work pushed her to look for greater opportunities.  With the help of Edilberto Y. Felizarte, Pamantulon Taytay Palawan Barangay Chairman, Gaudiosa discovered the opportunities offered by SLP.

“Huminigi si kapitan ng tulong sa SLP kung pwede raw bigyan kami ng hanapbuhay. Ito nga ang binigay, ang pagse-seaweads,” Gaudiosa stated.

 

Seaweeds: treasure in the heart of sea paradise of Taytay, Palawan

 

Sustainable Livelihood Program introduced Seaweeds Production in 2013.  This project has been offered by DSWD-SLP to Gaudiosa since the municipality of Taytay provides a sustainable environment for seaweed production because it is strategically located in a relatively typhoon-free area having wide reef areas, extended marine coastlines and wide coastal shelves.

Aiming to improve their knowledge and skills in seaweeds farming, Gaudiosa, together with other partner-beneficiaries, undergone the six (6) day training of SLP provided by the Department of Agriculture Bureaus of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Regional Fisheries Training Center Palawan and DSWD-SLP.

This six days of training changed their lives forever.

Asked about her life transformation, Gaudiosa answered genuinely. Her voice rattled and became more sincere.  Her eyes widened as if letting you glimpse into her soul.

“Napakasaya ko po. Malaking tulong talaga pag-seaweeds sa amin. Laking pagbabago po talaga,” said Gaudiosa while posing her sweetest and sincerest smile.

She was able to breakaway from dragging and hazardous livelihood. No more sleepless nights worrying what will happen to them during their work. No more despair on things they can’t give and promise to their family. No more emptiness, risk and darkness — only light and future full of hope and prosperity.

 

Godsend Wealth: Benefits of Seaweeds

Seaweeds2

Seaweeds farmers preparing the propagules for planting in the sea paradise of Taytay, Palawan.

Treasure in the heart of sea paradise of Taytay Palawan brought illuminating light in the dark life of Gaudiosa.

Every strand of seaweeds is like a rope made of gold, a discovered wealth.  Seaweeds served as the primary source of income, it strengthen the tie of relationship with her family and knitted her closely with the community.

Gaudiosa’s wealth is her family. As bread winner,  she spends all her income for her family, most specially for the education of her grandchildren.

“Dito kami kumukuha ng pagkain at mga gamit na pampaaral sa aming mga anak.”

Seaweeds also transformed the lives of members of her community.

With the help of DSWD-SLP, two major associations were organized: Bagong Pag-asa and Taytay Palawan Seaweed Farmers Federation.

Gaudiosa is the president of Bagong Pag-asa. It is noticeable that all her members are all men and yet, everyone of them has high regard and respect for Gaudiosa. She really shows great leadership in the members of her association. Indeed, she is Urduja of the seaweeds production.

During the  planting and harvesting season, everyone gathers together —  sharing unceasing stories, unwavering hopes and never-ending laughters.

 

Everlasting Treasure: Sustainability of Seaweeds Production

 

With the success she has tasted, Gaudiosa don’t want to remain dependent on what SLP and other agencies have given them. She wants a sustainable business. She is dreaming of being in full control of seaweeds production, free from the abuse and cruelty of middle men.

“ Malaki na po ang tulong ng SLP. Pero syempre po hinihiling ko po na kami na talaga mamahala sa seaweeds. Para po hindi na kami umaasa sa mga middle man. Madalas po kasi lugi kami,” emphasized by Gaudiosa.

Seaweeds is in demand in the market all year round thus making it more sustainbale with the technical support from partner agencies in the areas of organizational development and marketing.

 

 

Victory of Urduja of Seaweeds Production

 

Gaudiosa like Urduja has tasted countless battles in her life but she remained standing like a true warrior. In her journey, no matter how many gigantic waves will come and collosal combats she will encounter, she will alsways give a whirl in order to protect and serve her family and her people.

For all the victories she has achieved, she is grateful to her family and seaweeds farming: the true treasure of her life. ###

 

 

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