Hidden in the foot of the mountain in Sitio Pangatleban, Brgy. Ipilan, Brooke’s Point, Palawan is a three-fourth hectare of farm of the beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program under the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer Program for the Indigenous People (MCCT-IP).
The farm was established for planting different kinds of vegetables in 2015 through the Cash for Building Livelihood Assets (CBLA), a project under MCCT-IP for the beneficiaries of the barangay who are members of the Cuyunon and Palaw’an tribe. Through the project, they were able to gain income from it and has helped them in forming a strong relationship with their fellow beneficiaries.
“Isang magandang oportunidad po sa amin ang mabigyan ng ganitong proyekto. Hindi lang kami natututo, kundi nagkakaroon rin kami ng pinagkakakitaan dahil dito,” said Jenalyn L. Larawan, a MCCT-IP beneficiary.
The project has created an opportunity for the IP beneficiaries in the barangay to become economically empowered by providing them other sources of income.
Creating livelihood for the IPs
Most IPs in Brgy. Ipilan depends on farming as their main source of income to provide for the needs of their family. According to them, it is more difficult for them to find other opportunities compared to the people in the lowland since most of them were not able to go to school due to inaccessibility of education in their area.
“Dahil malalayo po ang aming mga bahay sa proper, mas nahihirapan po kaming magkaroon ng trabaho at ang tanging alam naman po namin ay na trabaho ay ang pagtatanim,” Jenalyn said.
After becoming beneficiaries of the MCCT-IP in 2014, they have learned the importance of conducting regular check-ups for the children and pregnant women, as well as the importance of education since those are the conditions of the program in order for them to receive financial assistance. Moreover, through their monthly Family Development Sessions (FDS) they have become more aware of their rights as IPs and it has helped them in strengthening their capacities in responding to their needs.
Part of the implementation design in MCCT is to generate appropriate resources and services for the IP. It differed to the regular Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) as it offers Support Services Intervention (SSI) for livelihood aside from the regular benefits of receiving cash grants. The SSI component of MCCT aims to provide additional assistance to improve the current living condition of the IP families and communities. The livelihoods identified were coordinated with the program staff and community facilitators based on the needs of the community.
In 2016, the 40 MCCT-IP beneficiaries of Brgy. Ipilan were provided SSI on organic farming. The Pantawid staff organized forty beneficiaries from the sitio to come together to grow organic vegetables in a borrowed land. The beneficiaries have borrowed a three-fourth hectare of vacant lot to Pablo Rodriguez, an IP resident in their area who is not a Pantawid beneficiary, for their organic farming project. The plot is part of his 6.6-hectare land which Pablo also uses for farming.
“Nagkasundo kami sa barangay at may kasulatan na ipapahiram ang lupa sa loob ng limang taon. Kapalit nito, binibigyan din namin siya ng aming mga tanim na gulay,” Jenalyn said.
The beneficiaries were provided with trainings through the coordination of Pantawid Pamilya with other agencies and organizations. They were also provided starter kits which include supplies and materials necessary for the operation of their organic farm.
The beneficiaries have planted different crops such as ampalaya, talong, okra, sitaw, and kalabasa among others in their farm. Since they are a big group, they divided the members and assigned tasks and schedules for them so that all of them will have equal works.
All of their hard work paid off after they have generated a total of P5,195.00 from their yield. However, months after, a typhoon hit their farm which destroyed their crops. The members have to re-plant the seeds and wait until it is ready for harvest.
Providing Better Opportunities
The organic farm of the MCCT-IP beneficiaries continued despite the challenges brought about by different environmental concerns. In 2017, 10 members from the group thought of planting mongo seeds specifically the kintab variety in their plot aside from the vegetable crops. Because of this, the Pantawid staff connected them with another program of DSWD, which is the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) for the Mongo Production through Microenterprise Development – Cash for Building Livelihood Assets (MD-CBLA). Through this, their group will be recognized as a micro-enterprise that can help them broaden their market. Through the help of both programs, they became a supplier of mongo beans to a Baby Food Facility in Brooke’s Point, Palawan which makes mongo rice for babies.
For the mongo seeds, Pantawid staff coordinated with the Department of Agriculture (DA) so that beneficiaries can be given the kintab variety. After 5 months, the group was able to obtain a total of P16,080.00, less their expenses. They deposited P13,000.00 of their income in the bank which they save for the future use of the members.
Meanwhile, other beneficiaries from their organic farm decided to plant 100 pieces of lakatan which allowed them to earn P2,249.00. They also tried planting a corn variety used for chicken feeds.
Until now, beneficiaries are continuously planting in their organic farm to provide extra income for the members.
“Nagkakaisa po kaming ipagpatuloy ang aming taniman para rin po pangdagdag sa aming kinikita para sa aming mga anak,” Jenalyn explained.
She added that they wanted to continue farming as they wanted to venture on another business in buying and selling rice.
“Bukod din po sa kinikita namin dito, nakakatuwa po dahil makikita na sama-sama kaming mga katutubo sa pagtatrabaho para sa sari-sarili naming kapakanan,” she said.
The Pantawid Pamilya and the SLP continuously monitor both projects in order to empower the IP beneficiaries by bringing economic development to their lives. ###
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