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No excuses for the PWD who makes things PosSIBOL

Naujan, Oriental Mindoro — “Tinitingnan ko lang po ‘yung picture, alam ko na kung paano gawin,” answered Ronjo Cayetano, the elected secretary of Creations SLP Association, when asked about his inspiration in handicraft making.

The association is a startup microenterprise established by 15 members based in Naujan, Oriental Mindoro. Colorful bags and wallets made of plastic straw can be found in their production center. Mga Likha ni Inay, Inc., the marketing program of CARD-Business Development Service Foundation Inc., is one of their target markets for their products. They have already made initial communication with the foundation to assist in product selling.

“Si Ronjo ang isa sa mga pinakamasipag na trabahador dito sa SLPA. Kahit na mayroon siyang kapansanan, tuloy-tuloy lang ang paggawa niya. Hindi siya dumadaing,” said Gliceria Castillo, the association president who supervises him at work.

“It was an Accident”

Everything was fine for Ronjo, 23 years old, until the year 2010. At that time, he was a 1st year high school student in Naujan. “Nakaupo ako sa garden kasama ‘yung mga kaklase ko. Naghaharutan at nagtutulakan sila ‘nung aksidente akong nabagsakan sa likod ng isa kong kaklase,” he narrated. “Kinapos ako ng hininga sa simula kasi yung likuran ko ‘yung napwersa. Tapos after noon um-okay naman na kaya akala namin wala ng problema,” he added.

Few months after, Ronjo transferred school from Naujan to Batangas since his brother based in Batangas will support his studies. Since then, everyday felt different for him. “Isang beses nagpunta ako sa kapatid ko tapos pagbaba ko ng jeep napaihi na lang ako sa shorts,” said Ronjo as he narrates how he lost his bladder control which he relates to his previous accident. “Nakauwi na ako sa bahay tapos kinabukasan paggising ko tatayo sana ako para pumasok sa school pero bumagsak na lang ako. Hindi na nakatayo tapos tuluyan na ‘yun,” he said. He was diagnosed with scoliosis and later on Pott’s disease, a form of tuberculosis seen in the vertebrae. The doctor advised him to undergo spinal bracing which costs Php 100,000.00, but he and his family had no amount of money then. “Natakot po ang inay dahil malabo daw ang chance na gumaling at makalakad pa ako kaya inuwi na lang ako dito sa Mindoro,” he narrated.

No Excuses

Ronjo got depressed for what happened to him which resulted to sudden weight loss. “Yung aksidente never ako nanisi ng tao sa nangyari sa’kin. Hindi niya sinadya. Iniisip ko na kapalaran ko ito at binigay sa’kin. Kelangan ko ito paglabanan,” he said. Watching online inspirational videos helped him cope with his depression. He also reads bible and became an active member of the church. 

Before the livelihood intervention of DSWD, Ronjo is already active in handicraft making, particularly origami. He learned this while browsing art magazines during his fourth grade. “Mahilig na talaga akong magkutingting kaya noong napilay ako, mas in-improve ko na lang ang mga nalalaman ko sa mga gawang-kamay,” he said. Some of his works include paper swan, pencil holder, minions, peacock, and flower vase. It was in 2015 when he totally pursued his craft. He messaged the page of Origami Pilipinas to ask for employment but instead the association provided him with a capital assistance worth Php 2000.00 for the materials needed in origami. He posts his creations in his Facebook page, Ronjo’s Paper Art.

Knowing his skills in handicraft making, his neighbor asked him if he is interested to join the Creations SLPA and he certainly enlisted for it. “Na-discover ko na marami na pala akong nagagawa kahit naka-wheelchair ako,” said Ronjo. Aside from handicraft making, he also enrolled in Alternative Learning System of Department of Education and attended trainings on basic accounting and bookkeeping. A few months ago, he also earned his Contact Center Services National Certificate (NC) II of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). “Malaki bagay para sa’kin na nai-involve ako sa mga ganitong bagay dahil alam ko na ‘yung gawa ko hindi pa best. May i-improve pa. Bilang may kapansanan, motivation ko ang family. Since then, pangarap ko na maiangat sila sa hirap pero nagkaganito nga ako. Sa kabila noon, nagkaroon din ako lakas ng loob na kahit ganito e kakayanin pa din,” said Ronjo.

As one of the agencies supporting the Republic Act 10524 or the act expanding the positions reserved for persons with disability, DSWD provides equal opportunity for employment to PWDs to assist them to become productive members of the society. The intervention of SLP in Ronjo’s passion in handicraft making also attests to the Solidarity and Innovations in Bridging Opportunities for Livelihoods (SIBOL), the brand awareness campaign of Sustainable Livelihood Program. ###

 

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No more classes under Banaba Tree

Ma’am Evelyn Urieta-Rivera, Principal of Sta. Lucia Elementary School in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro

When Evelyn Urieta-Rivera, 57, received her new assignment as an elementary school principal three years ago, she was ecstatic. On her 33rd year of service as a public school teacher, Ma’am Evelyn would finally set foot at Sta. Lucia Elementary School, a quaint learning institution situated at the center of Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro. This small school, oozing with that childhood energy and innocence, was built atop her family’s ancestral land.

“Kasi itong land area nitong school na ito, sa family namin nanggaling as donation. Kaya sabi ko nga, sa lahat ng school, ito ang pinakamahal ko (My family donated this land for the construction of this school. So among all schools, this is the one dearest to me),” she added.

In 2016, when Ma’am Evelyn reported for her first day however, a heart-wrenching sight welcomed her. Entering the school from the main gate, she saw a Banaba tree, and under its shade sat 25 or more Grade 2 students intently listening to their teacher.

Three years have passed and the Banaba tree has gone transformations to at least give some level of comfort to its 7-year-old patrons. First, a roof was built, then wooden walls and thin cement flooring were added to give the pupils a sense of a normal classroom set-up, she said.

In 2019, the community of Brgy. Sta. Lucia finally found a solution to address their problem. This community used cooperation and volunteerism to pave the way to finally end the years of having school children learning outside the four corners of a classroom.

CLASSROOM. This makeshift classroom under a banaba tree serves as the second home of the Grade 2 students in Sta. Lucia Elementary School.

Classroom Under a Tree

With a total land area of 2,188 sq. kms, Sablayan is considered as the largest municipality in the Philippines. Located at the central part of Occidental Mindoro, it is famous for the Apo Reef Marine Natural Park, the second largest contiguous coral reef in the world next to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

Sablayan may be blessed with a one-of-a-kind natural wonder, but this laidback town hasn’t been exempted to one of the most pressing problems of the Philippine education system – the shortage of decent classrooms for students.

“Andun sa puno lang [sila nagkaklase]. Kapag umuulan, kawawa talaga ang mga bata, tumutulo syempre (They were conducting classes under a tree. When it rains, the roof starts to drip.),” said Ma’am Evelyn, pointing to the make-shift classroom which houses the Grade 2 pupils prior to the completion of the new building.

There were more or less 30 students sharing in the small space under the sturdy Banaba tree, she said. Its large trunk, moreover, looked like the classroom’s centrepiece – a wooden column planted in the center of the room. The children’s future had been literally depending on its branches for many years.

Imagine being a wide-eyed 7-year-old kid staying under a tree for eight hours, five times a week, rain or shine, learning the difference between a noun and a pronoun.

“Kasi kung malalaki ung ilalagay namin doon hindi sila kasya kaya maliliit ung nilagay namin doon (We couldn’t give the makeshift classroom to older students because they wouldn’t fit.),” said Ma’am Evelyn.

These Grade 2 pupils were the perfect tenants then, small enough to fit to the small space provided, yet big enough to take care of themselves when the rain drips from the clouds to the leaves and eventually find their way on their thin cement flooring.

Building School, Building Future

TURN OVER: The newly-constructed 1 unit, 2 classroom building has been formally turned-over to Sta. Lucia Elementary School

“Sobrang thankful kami na nagkaroon ng Kalahi, sobrang tuwang-tuwa ang mga teachers eh, kanina binisita nila ‘yan, ay meron ng ceiling fan, makakalipat na kami (We are very thankful for Kalahi, the teachers are very happy. We visited the new classroom earlier, there’s a ceiling fan already, we may be able to transfer soon),” said Ma’am Evelyn, pertaining to the 1 unit, 2 classroom building sub-project of the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

To date, Kalahi-CIDSS has a total of 206 sub-projects in the province of Occidental Mindoro, 48 of which are in Sablayan. The poverty alleviation program which uses the Community-Driven Development (CDD) approach ensures that community members are in the heart of decision-making especially in identification, prioritization, establishment, and operationalization of the community sub-projects.

In July 2019, the makeshift classroom under the Banaba Tree finally ceased to shelter the Grade 2 students of Sta. Lucia Elementary School. Due to the combined efforts of the community, the school, and the barangay and the municipal local government unit, having classes under a tree is now a thing of the past.

VOLUNTEERISM. Community volunteer Juanita Jarabe proudly posed in front of the school building she helped build.

“Madami pong naitulong [ang Kalahi] at malaki talaga. Ang pangunahing pangangailangan sa community, natutugunan po talaga. Tulad nitong classroom (Kalahi has helped us a lot. With Kalahi, we were able to address our most pressing concern, thus, this classroom),” said Juanita Jarabe, a community volunteer.

Juanita, and the rest of the 16 active community volunteers of Brgy. Sta Lucia, has ensured the smooth implementation of their new classroom worth a little over PHP 1.5 million. Complete with amenities such as tables and chairs, fans, and own restroom, the classroom was constructed from the combined budget of the stakeholders.

Kalahi-CIDSS total grant was at PHP 780,000, to which the municipal LGU gave a counterpart of PHP 500,000, the barangay LGU at PHP 250,000, and even the school has set aside PHP 36,000 from their budget.

For Ma’am Evelyn, the help of the community volunteers and the LGU officials has been vital for the realization of their dream to provide the students the facilities they deserved.

“Nagpapasalamat talaga kami kina Juanita, isa rin sa nagpursige na magkaroon talaga kami nito, sa mga konsehal, sa lahat na nag-counterpart (We are extremely grateful to Juanita and to other volunteers for their efforts, to the councillors as well, to everyone who provided counterpart),” she said.

Juanita, whose youngest child is currently enrolled at Sta. Lucia Elementary School, claimed that she finds volunteer work fulfilling.

“Sabi ko nga sa mga kasama ko masaya ako at nakakatulong ako at nalalaman ko yung mga pangunahing pangagailangan ninyo para magawan ng ng paraan para makahingi ng mga pondo katulad nyang school building (I told my co-volunteers that I am happy for extending a helping hand. At least we’ve identified the major concern and we were able to address it, asking for funds, if needed),” she said.

More than the infrastructure, the lessons imparted by the program has made the community volunteers more devoted to volunteering.

“’Yung mga katulad namin na ordinaryong mamamayan lang ay na-empower po, natuto kaming ipaglaban kung ano talaga ang aming mga karapatan dito sa community (Ordinary citizens, like me, were empowered. We’ve learned to fight for our rights),” Juanita added.

The product of the community’s collective effort is a safer, more conducive for learning classroom for the students – something that Ma’am Evelyn would be thankful for forever.

“Sabi ko nga ma-itransfer man ako bilang principal…masaya na ako kasi makikita ko ang mga bata na maayos ang kalagayan (If ever they have me transferred to other schools, I would still be happy knowing that I would be leaving the kids in a better condition),” Ma’am Evelyn added. ###

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The Wharf of Bancalaan: Reaching the Heart of Balabac, Palawan

Community volunteer Diana Abdula, while cradling her daughter Fatima, narrates how the newly-constructed concrete wharf is helping the island barangay of Bancalaan in Balabac, Palawan.

For the longest time, Diana Abdula, 33, haven’t thought that her feet would be able to step on a hard concrete wharf in their far flung barangay in Balabac, Palawan. For the longest time, there’s no other way out but a 100-meter walk over a creaking – sometimes slippery – rickety wooden wharf under the scorching heat of the sun in summer or the cold needle-like piercing of raindrops during rainy days.

But Abdula, and the rest of the community members, proved that the people have the power to make their lives better.

For a short while now, the 100-meter stretch of hard cement stands proud and mighty – as if announcing to every person who alights from the passenger boats that it is a product of sweat, passion, and hardwork of the Muslim community of Brgy. Bancalaan, Balabac, Palawan.

The Wooden Wharf

The 100 linear meter concrete wharf which replaced the accident-prone wooden wharf that the barangay was using for the longest time.

The island municipality of Balabac is considered as the westernmost point of the Philippines, just a few kilometres away from Sabah, Malaysia. Due to its geographical location, it has long been deprived of easy access to government services and opportunity for growth and development.

To say that the journey to Balabac is rough is an understatement. One has to leave capital city Puerto Princesa in the wee hours of the morning – 2AM is safe, 4 AM is a risk – to travel 272.5 kilometers away to Rio Tuba in the municipality of Bataraza. From there, two passenger boats depart daily at around 11:30 AM.

But the beauty of the municipality is worth the whole day travel. Balabac is home to unspoilt long-stretch of white sand beaches and pristine clear waters.

So it has not been a surprise that this paradise is increasingly gaining attention from local and foreign tourists alike.

For the past years, however, the first thing that welcomed tourists to the municipality was a wharf made of wooden boards. The boards, which were around two inches apart, paved the way to reach the island after more or less 3 hours of sailing along Sulu Sea and Balabac Strait.

Safety, as expected, wasn’t guaranteed.

“Yan dati kahoy lang s’ya, so madalas yung maintenance, madalas masira. Nasa tabing-dagat kasi ‘yan, ‘pag yung pako kinalawang na, automatic ‘yun, luluwag na. Pag lumuwag na, makakalas na yung mga tabla tabla, tapos madalas, may mga nahuhulog, nalulusot (Before, the wharf was made of wooden boards, so the maintenance was frequent. Since it was near the shore, nails become rusty easily. When that happens, the wooden boards would then be unusable,and there were incidents of people falling down the holes),”said Rolly Reyes, Brgy. Captain of Bancalaan.

Maintenance cost for the wooden wharf was also a problem for the barangay due to frequent retro-fitting.

“Kapag may nasira doon, nabulok ang kahoy, di naman pwedeng ang papalitan mo yun lang, kailangan totally buuin mo lahat kasi mabilis lang din masisira (When one wooden board gets damaged, we couldn’t replace that specific board alone. So we usually overhaul the whole wharf or at least large segment of it),” he added.

The wooden boards, moreover, were bought from mainland Palawan adding more logistical costs. The price of the boards alone was estimated at around PHP 1,000 per piece. Add the transportation cost and the price ballooned to an amount that took its toll to the budget of the barangay.

Cementing the wharf, Cementing progress

Bancalaan Brgy. Captain Rolly Reyes

Home to 14,500 individuals, around 99% of whom are Muslims, Brgy. Bancalaan is composed of two islands. The wharf, which costs PHP 4,831, 623. 79, is situated in the major island is considered as the entry point to Balabac.

For Brgy. Captain Reyes, this wharf serves as the face of the municipality, giving tourists their first impression of what Balabac is and what it has to offer.

So when the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) of the Department of Social Welfare and Developmemt (DSWD) reached their municipality, the people of Bancalaan did not think twice on proposing a better, and definitely safer wharf.

Not only does this new wharf look so much better, but it also helps in the economic development of this far-flung community.

The 100 linear meter concrete wharf, completed on May 2019, eases some economic burden to the residents of Bancalaan.  For the longest time, they would pay the porters Php 30.00 per sack of goods that has to be carried across the wooden wharf up until it reached the beach area.

Abdula, born, raised and eventually started a family in Bancalaan, recalled how hard and expensive it has been for them to transport goods from neighboring town Bataraza to their barangay.

“Kapag galing pa sa Rio Tuba, namasahe ka na sa passenger tapos nagpa-estiba ka pa d’yan tapos namasahe ka pa sa motor. Kaya medyo mahal ang paninda dito (From Rio Tuba, you’ll pay for the passenger boat fare and then for porter services and then for tricycle. So the goods sold here are relatively more expensive than normal),” said Abdula.

Involving the community, Creating a legacy

The residents of Barangay Bancalaan waiting for the passenger boat to Balabac mainland. When the concrete wharf was constructed, motorcycles have been able to reach the docking area easing some economic burdens for the community. 

If Brgy. Bancalaan is the heart of Balabac, the community volunteers are considered as the heart of the barangay.

If not for them, we wouldn’t be able to step on a wharf made of hard concrete, said Brgy. Capt. Reyes.

The first-termer Brgy. Captain believed that the community’s involvement in the process of project development – from planning to implementation – has contributed a lot to the completion of the wharf which benefits all of the residents of barangay, neighboring barangays, and even tourists that are starting to flock their municipality.

“’Pag involved ang tao syempre mas aalagaan nila ang proyekto, ‘pag involved ang tao, concerned sila, ‘pag may nakita silang [mali], may mag-rereact. Kasi syempre, merong makikialam, merong makikiisa, ‘yun ang advantage talaga pag involved [ang community]. Saka sa lahat ng proyekto,  ‘yun ang tama, involve mo ung community (When the community is involved, they would definitely take care of the project, they are concerned so when they see something odd, they would react. There are people who would show no indifference, who would cooperate; that’s the advantage of community involevement. And that’s the right thing to do in project development),“ said Brgy Capt. Reyes.

In the Kalahi-CIDSS process, the beneficiary community are in the frontline. Community volunteers are chosen to execute the processes needed for project completion. Decisions for them are made by them. For Brgy. Captain Reyes, this has led to the community’s sense of ownership over the wharf.

“Amin ‘yan. Kami ang gumawa n’yan. Pinaghirapan namin ‘yan. Involved kami d’yan. Alaala namin ‘yan (That’s ours. We made that. We exerted effort for that. That’s our legacy),” he added.

From now on, for a very long time, the legacy of the volunteers of Brgy. Bancalaaan will surely be of great use to the community. The wharf, created with passion, vigor, and the undying hope to make life in the island easier, will let this generation – and the ones that will follow – boar the passenger boats safer and free of worry. #

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A Teacher’s Quest in Ensuring Education for the Disadvantaged

Geralyn Fajilan of Mabini National High School has been awarded as the Best Pantawid Focal 2019 on Education for her efforts beyond service to the children beneficiaries of the program

“Galing ako sa mahirap na pamilya kaya nararamdaman ko rin ang hirap na pinagdadaanan ng mga estudyante namin dito (I also came from a poor family that’s why I know the difficulties that our students are going through),” said teary-eyed Geralyn Fajilan, the Pantawid Pamilya focal for education in Corcuera, Romblon when asked about what keeps her motivated in encouraging children from poor families to pursue their studies.

For four years of being a Pantawid focal, Geralyn has been providing services to the beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program beyond her duty of monitoring the compliance verification of the program’s monitored children in Mabini National Highschool in Brgy. Mabini, Corcuera, Romblon.  Since she came from a poor family who depends on farming to finance their needs, she understands the challenges that the students have to face especially in financing their education. Therefore, she was glad when she was assigned as the Pantawid focal since she will be able to take part in the program’s advocacy in keeping children in school through provision of financial assistance.

“Napakalaking responsibilidad para sa akin ang maging isang focal ng programa dahil kinakailangan kong siguruhin na maayos na natatanggap ng mga batang ito ang tulong mula sa programa sa pamamagitan ng pagmomonitor ko ng attendance nila sa kanilang mga klase, (Being a focal of the program is a big responsibility for me because I need to ensure that the children will properly receive the aide from the program through monitoring their attendance to their classes),” Geralyn said. “Kaya naman hindi ko lamang silang gustong tulungan na makatanggap ng kumpletong cash grant kundi gusto ko rin silang tulungang mapabuti ang kanilang pag-aaral sa pamamagitan ng pagtuturo ko at ibang mga proyekto ko para sa kanila (That’s why I want to help them not only to receive their complete cash grants but also help them with their studies through my teachings and the different projects I develop for them)”, she added.

Through Geralyn, the 4Ps club in Mabini National High School was established and Pantawid student beneficiaries were prioritized in receiving other services that their school offers. Aside from mobilizing the student beneficiaries in participating actively in school and community activities, the club was also created to better monitor the compliance of the students to the program conditionalities.

 

Beyond Duty

In 2016, Geralyn was assigned by their school Principal, Ronald Famodulan as the Pantawid focal. “Nakitaan ko siya ng malasakit sa pagtugon sa pangangailangan ng mga estudyante dahil sa pangunguna niya sa aming proyektong, ‘Adopt-A-Child Program’ kaya siya ang napili kong coordinator (I saw how she cares for our students in attending to their needs due to her management in our project, ‘Adopt-A-Child Program that’s why I assigned her to become the coordinator),” Mr. Famodulan said.  As the coordinator of the said project, which was the initiative of the former principal of the school, she encourages the alumni of the school to become sponsors of children, whose grades are not lower than 85%, to help them with their financial needs. As much as she wants to help more students, there are only limited slots since there are limited numbers of sponsors hence, the students undergo screening to identify the deserving students. Currently, 24 out of 46 grantees of the project are Pantawid beneficiaries.

Geralyn believes that part of her responsibility as a focal is to ensure the welfare of the students through helping them appreciate the importance of education in attaining a better future.  Because of this, she is determined to exert efforts to help these children in uplifting their lives as well as their families.

Mahalaga na malaman ng mga bata ang kahalagahan ng edukasyon kaya kailangang bigyan sila ng motibasyon para ipagpatuloy ang pag-aaral at magtiwala rin sa kanilang sarili, (It is important for the children to understand the importance of education that’s why we need to motivate them to continue their studies and to become confident with themselves),” Geralyn said. This has inspired her to establish the 4Ps Club in 2018 to organize the 412 student beneficiaries of their school in strengthening the advocacy of the program. Through this club, Geralyn aims to strengthen the sense of responsibility and leadership of the students as well as boost their confidence of being a Pantawid beneficiary.

Geralyn organized the student beneficiaries of Pantawid to create the 4Ps club in 2018

Sa pamamagitan po ng 4Ps club, mas naging proud na po kaming mga estudyante na maging benepisyaryo ng 4Ps dati po kasi ay may mga nahihiya ‘pag sinasabing sila ay 4Ps (Through 4Ps club, we became more proud to be a beneficiary of 4Ps since before, there were students who were intimidated to tell others that they are beneficiaries of the program),” said Trisha Fampo, the president of the club.

The students nominated their officers and each grade level have their own representatives to make it easier for them to gather the members and keep them updated of the activities and the program’s advocacies. The club conducted a community clean-up drive and created an herbal nursery in school, which were all coordinated and organized by the officers of the club.

“Kami po ang nakikipag-usap sa Department of Agriculture para sa mga seeds o kaya sa barangay para sa iba pa naming mga kailangan (We coordinate with the Department of Agriculture for the seeds or with the barangay for the other things that we need),” Trisha said. According to her, the club has inspired them not only to become better students but also become better members of the community.

For Geralyn, the club has also become a great help for her as Pantawid focal since she is able to better monitor the compliance of the student beneficiaries as well as somewhat solve issues on non-compliance. “Mayroon silang peer counselling sa kanilang mga kaklase na hindi pumapasok o kaya naman ay palaging nagcucutting (They conduct peer counselling with their fellow classmates who have issues on absenteeism or on cutting classes),” said Geralyn. It has allowed students to easily seek help to their fellow classmates or beneficiaries and provide listening and support for those problematic students.

“Kapag may mga kapwa benepisyaryo po kami na nahihirapan na at hindi na po namin makausap, nirerefer na po namin ito kay Ma’am (When there are fellow beneficiaries who are having difficulties which we cannot handle, we refer it to our teacher),” said Trisha. She added that the officers of the club also coordinate with the Pantawid municipal staff in conducting counselling to the non-compliant beneficiaries.

The club has gained support of the school since it has also helped them in decreasing the numbers of students who are dropping out. “Dahil majority ng aming eskwelahan ay 4Ps beneficiaries, sa tulong ng mga pagmomonitor sa mga bata, bumababa ang kaso ng drop out sa amin (Since majority of our students are beneficiaries of 4Ps, the monitoring conducted has helped in the decrease of students who are dropping out of our school),” said Mr. Famodulan.

After a year of its establishment, the Municipal staff of Pantawid in Corcuera was inspired to introduce to other schools in their municipality the organization of a 4Ps club  for the next academic year through their meeting this May. On March 2019, Mabini National High School recorded a 96.60% compliance rate where 14 students were non-compliant.

 

Becoming an Inspiration

“Si Ma’am Geralyn ang nagbigay sa akin ng lakas na loob na kayanin ang isang pagiging lider sa lahat ng mga benepisyaryo ng 4Ps sa aming eskwelahan (It was Ma’am Geralyn who has given me the confidence to become a leader of all 4Ps beneficiaries in our school),” said Trisha. Trisha was able to develop her leadership because of being the president of the club since it was Teacher Geralyn who believed in her.

According to Mr. Famodulan, one of the greatest characteristics of Geralyn is her ability to inspire students to reach greater heights of performance and success. In fact, as the Grade 10 adviser, she has been able to motivate all of her students to graduate with honors for two consecutive years already.

Teacher Geralyn ensures that her students are inspired and motivated to finish their studies to achieve their dreams in life

Geralyn was motivated to extend efforts to the beneficiaries of the program because she understood the objectives of the program in educating the children. With her strong dedication and passion to help them, she is driven to continue helping the program towards attaining its objectives.

For Geralyn, it is not important to be recognized and appreciated as long as she does things which can benefit other people.

Through being a Pantawid focal, Geralyn said that she was able to be given a chance to use and develop her skills as a teacher to open the eyes of the children in understanding the importance of education in improving their lives, their families, and their community. With this, Geralyn assured that she will continue in becoming an inspiration to the students and in helping them achieve their dreams. ###

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Bridging Pantawid Community towards Good Health

Nelly Lusterio was awarded as the Best Pantawid Focal on Health of Pantawid Pamilya MIMAROPA

Binigyan tayo ng pagkakataong makatulong sa iba, kaya nararapat lang na gawin na natin ito nang buong puso at sa abot nang ating makakaya (We were given the opportunity to help others so we must do it wholeheartedly and with all our best),” said Nelly T. Lusterio, who makes this her personal mantra to continue doing her best in helping the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program beneficiaries in Bansud, Oriental Mindoro in improving their quality of life through complying to the health conditionalities of the program.

Aside from serving as a Midwife III in Bansud Health Station, Nelly was assigned as the Pantawid focal on health in the municipality since the start of the program in 2009. Throughout her years in service, she assures that the beneficiaries of the program will receive the right health services and attain knowledge on the significance of availing these services especially the Indigenous People (IP) beneficiaries who constitute a great portion of the families she monitors.

“Ako man ay hindi rin nakakaangat sa buhay, isang karangalan para sa akin ang mabigyan ng tulong sa kahit maliit na paraan sa mga pamilyang ito (I may not also be affluent in life, but it is an honor to be of help to these families even in a simple way),” she said.

Nelly is motivated to assist the beneficiaries of the program through exerting efforts in ensuring that the they comply to its conditionalities since she understands how important it is for these poor families to receive not only the complete financial assistance from the program but also to obtain the health services that they need to improve the health condition of their family. She provides services to the Pantawid beneficiaries not only because it is her duty as a health practitioner but also because she understands that provision of health care to the poor families is important in providing better lives for them, coming from a low class of the society, herself.

 

Descent

Nelly was born and raised in Sinait, Ilocos Sur. Her father was a farmer while her mother was a housewife who takes care of her and her younger brother.

Mahirap din ang aming buhay noon bilang umaasa lamang kami sa pagsasaka ng aking ama. Tuwing anihan lamang nakakaipon ang aming mga magulag para sa aming pang-araw-araw at sa aming pag-aaral (Our life was also difficult before since we only rely on our father through farming. It is only during harvest seasons that our parents can save money for our daily needs and for our education),” Nelly narrated.

Though they are only a small family, it had been difficult for her parents to finance their education. But through her dedication and her parent’s hard work, she was able to graduate at St. Rita School of Nursing and Midwifery in Metro Manila with a course in Midwifery. She was also fortunate to study Bachelor of Science in Community Health at the Trinity College of Quezon City through the help of the Integrated Midwives Association of the Philippines (IMAP).

After graduating, she met Erwin Lusterio and got married to him in 1984. Since then, they lived in Bansud, Oriental Mindoro, together with their three daughters.

To practice what she had studied Nelly applied for work in Bansud Health Station, where she has developed a strong dedication in providing health services to those in need.

Makikitaan si Tita Nelly ng kaniyang dedikasyon sa trabaho sa attitude pa lamang nya sa pagtanggap ng tungkulin at sa pagbigay ng serbisyo sa nangangailangan (Tita Nelly’s dedication towards her work can be seen through her attitude in accepting her responsibilities and in providing services to those in need),” said Dr. Mario O. Sales, their Municipal Health Officer. According to him, Nelly continuously provide her service even after office hours whenever she will be visited or consulted at home.

Nagsimula ako na mayroong maliit lamang na sweldo pero pinagpatuloy ko iyon dahil masaya ako sa aking ginagawa (I started with only a small compensation for my work, but I continued working because I am happy with what I do),” she said. They would visit remote sitios to offer health services especially that there are many IP communities in the area. They would walk 5 kilometers from one sitio to another to visit the IPs just to ensure their availment of health services.

“Doon din siguro nagmula ang motibasyon ko para tulungan sila dahil nakikita ko mula sa mga pagbisita namin sa kanilang komunidad kung gaano kahirap ang buhay doon at kung anong serbisyo ang maari naming maibigay sa kanila (Maybe that’s where my motivation in helping them started since I was able to see their situation during our community visits which determines what services we can give to them),” Nelly said.

Although her job requires her to spend more time and effort, Nelly’s family has been supportive to what she does and is proud of her for her commitment towards it. They understand the responsibilities of their mother since there are people going to their house to consult to her. If she’s not at home and her patients go there to seek for health assistance, her children will immediately call her so she can provide immediate response.

 

Compassion

Nelly is seen to be responsible, hard-working, and empathic towards the people she serves. Because of these traits, she was assigned as the Pantawid focal for health in 2009 when the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program started through the recommendation of Dr. Sales. According to him, because of her character, Nelly has already established her relationship with their patients. “Isa sa mga best characteristics nya ay may malasakit sya sa aming pasyente. Madali syang pakisamahan at approachable sa katutubo man or sa Tagalog (One of her best characteristics is she has concern to our patients. She is also easy to get along with and approachable to IPs or the Tagalos),” he said. Because of this, he knows that Nelly will be the best candidate for being a coordinator of the program.

As the focal on health, she ensures that the beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilya avail health services that they need

As Pantawid focal on health, she ensures that the beneficiaries comply on the health conditionalities of the program such as in getting regular preventive health check-ups and vaccines of children 0-5 years of age, getting deworming pills twice a year of children aged 6-14 years old, getting pre-natal care and post-natal care of pregnant women, and delivering of pregnant women by a skilled birth attendant.

“Simula nang ako ay naging Pantawid Focal Person, mas naging matibay ang aking kagustuhan na matulungan ang aking mga kababayan na higit na nangangailang ng tulong pangkalusugan (Since I have become a Pantawid Focal Person, the urge in me to help others in need of health assistance strengthened),” she said.

More than her duty in monitoring the Compliance Verification forms of the beneficiaries, she conducts home visitation to beneficiaries who are non-compliant to follow-up on the reason of non-compliance and to explain to them the importance of the program and its advocacies on helping them through investing on health and nutrition of their families.

One case she handled on non-compliance was a pregnant Mangyan couple who did not avail pre-natal services and did not want to deliver her baby in the health center due to their beliefs. She tried to persuade the couple to go to the center because the condition of the woman is sensitive and critical which may be life threatening to both herself and the baby if she was to give birth at home. After continuously trying, she was able to convince them. “Lubos ang pasasalamat sa akin ng lalaki noon dahil kung hindi ko daw sila sinabihan ay baka kung ano ang masamang nangyari sa kanyang asawa (The husband was extremely grateful because if I did not urge them, an unfortunate event might happen to her wife),” narrated Nelly. Since then, the couple convinced other IP couples to deliver their babies in the health center to ensure their safety.

Sumasama ako sa mga FDS upang maibahagi ang kahalagahan ng kalusugan at upang magbigay na rin ng updates sa mga benepisyaryong minomonitor ko lalo sa sa mga IP area (I join FDS to discuss the importance of health and to provide updates on the beneficiaries that I monitor especially in the IP areas),” she said. Nelly initiated efforts in visiting IP communities together with the barangay health workers (BHW) to educate them on family planning and ensuring the health of their children by availing check-ups especially for pregnant women. She encourages them to give birth at the health center to ensure safe delivery of their babies.

As a midwife, she collaborates with BHWs to identify who are pregnant to encourage beneficiaries to give birth in the health facilities to avoid pregnant women giving birth at home to lessen maternal and infant death, as well as morbidity cases.

Nelly ensures that the beneficiaries she caters are compliant to the conditionalities of the program

Ang maging isang Pantawid focal sa kalusugan ay napakalaking responsibilidad. Sa kabila ng dami ng aking trabaho, sinisiguro ko na nagagampanan ko at natutugunan ang aking responsibilidad sa mga batang Pantawid at mga miyembro nito (Being a Pantawid focal on health is a great responsibility. Despite my workload, I ensure that I fulfill and meet my responsibilities towards the Pantawid children beneficiaries and its members),” Nelly said.

Kumpara sa ibang mga focals na nagsheshade lang [ng CV forms], makikitaan si Tita Nelly ng concern sa mga benepisyaryo. Kung hindi niya masolusyunan ang non-compliance ng isang benepisyaryo, sisiguraduhin niyang ilapit muna sa amin ito bago niya gawing non-compliant sa form (Compared to other focals who only shade [CV forms], Tita Nelly has sincere concern for the beneficiaries. If she cannot solve the non-compliance of beneficiaries, she will make sure to bring the issue to us before listing them as non-compliant),” said Municipal Link Mary Joy M. Singsing in Bansud. According to Joy, Nelly has positive attitude towards the beneficiaries of the program which has helped her to easily encourage them to comply with the conditionalities on health even with the IPs, who find it difficult to visit health center due to their distance and due to their cultural beliefs. Because of this, beneficiaries in the areas she monitors have achieved a 100% compliance rate on health for 2 years.

 

Continuity

“Hangga’t andito ako, patuloy kong gagampanan ang aking responsibilidad bilang Pantawid focal para sa mga benepisyaryo ng Pantawid (As long as I am still here, I will continue perform my responsibilities as a Pantawid focal for the beneficiaries of the program)”, Nelly said.

“Masaya akong nagiging parte ako ng pagbabago sa kanilang buhay kahit sa maliit lamang na bagay na ibinibigay ko (I am happy to be part of the changes in their lives even with the simple things I give them),” she added.

According to her, she finds joy in the assistance she gives towards the beneficiaries of the program and she will never get tired of promoting the importance of health as part of the improvement of their lives. ###

 

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Massage on the Beach: A Sustainable Livelihood for a Working Mom

“Dito kasi sa trabaho ko, hawak ko ang oras ko. Hindi naman kasi lahat ng gustong magtrabaho ay applicable sa kanila ‘yung sabihin mong normal na office hours. Tulad ko na mayroong tatlong anak, hindi kakayanin ng oras ko na magfull-time lalo at nagtatrabaho din ang asawa ko. Walang mag-aasikaso sa mga anak namin. Kailangang gumawa ako ng paraan kung paano ako kikita na hindi napapabayaan ang mga anak ko. Naging posible ‘yan nang makapag-training ako sa SLP,” said Daisy Masendo, a Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) beneficiary and a massage therapist in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro.Despite the fact that a large number of Filipinos out-migrate to earn for a living, many Filipinos like Daisy still choose to settle in the country to seek for job opportunities even if the income is way lower, sometimes do not offer enough compensation. This manifests that priorities and considerations vary among individuals. In Daisy’s case, she has to find a job that has flextime and near her house so she can still take good care of her children. Wish granted for her when she entered SLP.

Daisy, 36 years old, works as a massage therapist for more than a year in White Beach Resort, a modest beach front in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro. Back in January 2018, she was given an opportunity to be a trainee on massage therapy through the intervention of SLP. Even before getting her National Certificate (NC) II, she was already accepting massage services along with her sisters who are also therapists. “May araw talaga na kahit maraming tao wala talagang gustong magpamasahe. Pag walang massage, nagbe-braid na lang,” she narrated.

“Dito sa Puerto [Galera], mayroon kaming asosasyon ng lahat ng masahista. Dati higit sa isandaan kami pero ‘yung iba tumigil na kaya 80 na lang kami ngayon,” narrated Daisy. “Isang requirement ng asosasyon ay ‘yung magsuot kami ng uniform, may color coding bawat araw para makilala kami na kapag nakasuot kami ng ganitong uniform eh malaman na lehitimong masahista kami dito. Pagkakakilanlan kumbaga,” she added. They apply for business permit worth Php 550.00 in the barangay yearly. They are also required to have sets of uniform for a week.

Daisy starts her day at six o’clock in the morning. She walks around the beach yelling “Sir, Ma’am, pa-massage na po kayo. Pa-braid po kayo,” while holding a piece of laminated catalog of various braided hairstyles where customers can choose from. This is her everyday script to ask for customers to avail the massage and braid services she offers. She usually wraps up the day at five in the afternoon and rushes her way home to prepare for dinner. “Pag peak season at maraming nagpapamasahe e 12 am na ako umuuwi. Sinasamantala ko lang yung pagkakataon na maraming customer at bibihira lang naman ito. Kelangan kumayod,” she said. During this season, she can accommodate ten customers for the whole day. The hourly rate of massage for Filipinos is 300.00 and 500.00 for foreigners since they have bigger body built. She provides for the beach towel, scrub suit, massage oil, alcohol, and sphygmomanometer for the customer.

“Hawak ko oras ko. Pupunta ako ng umaga [sa beach] tapos uuwi ng gabi. Malapit lang naman bahay namin dito. May time ako makapag-asikaso ng anak kaysa aalis pa para mag-abroad. Mas pinili ko ito dahil walang amo. Sakin lang ang kita ko,” she answered when asked about her reasons for choosing a job with a flexible schedule. “May araw na hindi ako pwede lumabas dahil kelangan ko mag-alaga ng bata, mag-asikaso. Tapos ‘pag may tumawag eh isa o dalawang oras lang naman, ihahabilin ko muna ang bata. Kung may amo ako eh hindi pwede. Ang nag-aalaga ay ‘yung anak kong panganay na 13 years old. Naturuan ko naman paano mag-alaga. Papakainin lang naman basta may luto na kaya na nila,” she added. Daisy stressed the importance of instilling independence to her children at a very young age especially that they are working parents. “Yung asawa ko naman eh ang trabaho niya nasa malapit lang. kapag break sinisilip-silip niya. Sanay sanay lang kelangan matuto at nagtatrabaho parehas kaming mag-asawa,” she explained.

“Yung kita nagagamit sa pagkain, baon ng estudyante, bayarin tulad ng kuryente at tubig, pati hulog sa card. Kapag mahirap ka, doon lang naman talaga umiikot ang kita mo eh,” Daisy enumerated where she uses her income from massage. Having another source of income helped the family provide for their daily expenses.

Daisy also explained the importance of resource allotment for a job like hers with no fixed income per month. “Ang sistema eh ‘yung araw na marami kang kinita e titipirin mo ‘yun para sa mga araw na wala kang kita. Sariling pagtitipid. Ikaw na lang ang magba-budget. Hindi ‘yung ubos-ubos biyaya. Kunyari kumita ka ng malaki ngayon, bibilhin ko na lahat ng pangangailangan tulad ng grocery, pagkain, mga basic needs. Tapos kunyari kinabukasan eh kumita ulit ako, ilalaan ko naman para sa school ng bata. Sa gantong paraan, hindi na ako mamomroblema kasi may bigas na, may pang-ulam na,” she expounded.

Also, Daisy and her co-workers make sure to contribute to the maintenance of the beach. Their association, along with the barangay officials, signed a resolution pertaining to the cleanliness of the beach. “Para makatulong sa kalinisan ng beach, yung asosasyon namin eh may regulation na dapat lahat ng masahista ay mag-contribute ng 100.00 sa loob ng tatlong buwan para magbayad sa tagalinis ng beach. Ito ay usapan kasama ang barangay, tulong sa pagpapanatili ng linis ng lugar,” she explained.

The story of Daisy proves that the program is true to its objective to create an enabling environment for accessing income-generating opportunities to address basic needs, thereby improving the socio-economic well-being of its participants. “Malaking tulong ang SLP dahil napagkakakitaan ko talaga lahat ng natutunan ko sa training. Hindi nasayang ang ginastos sa akin ng gobyerno,” Daisy said. ###

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How Community-Driven Development Flourished in a Small Town– The Calatrava’s Kalahi-CIDSS Journey

Calatrava is one of the partner Local Government Units of DSWD Kalahi CIDSS in MIMAROPA. They have implemented the program since 2012 under the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). Currently, the municipality has finished the Cycle three and Cycle 4 milestone 7 of the CEAC process implementation of DSWD Kalahi CIDSS under Community-Driven Development Program (KC NCDDP).

 

The Local Government Unit of Calatrava, saw community-driven development (CDD) as an opportunity to propel the development in their little municipality. Recognizing CDD as the suitable governance strategy towards inclusive community growth in Calatrava, the LGU supported the program beyond what is expected from a 5th class municipality. This commendable dedication to service and partnership of the LGU with the DSWD and other national program agencies have brought the town it’s well-deserved recognitions and praises.

Where it all started

From 2012, the Municipality of Calatrava was one of the randomly selected municipalities to implement the DSWD Kalahi CIDSS program under the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). Former Mayor Hon. Bong Fabella noted how the process of Kalahi CIDSS was new and very different from the standard LGU governance strategy that they used in Calatrava before.

Still testing the water, the communities in Calatrava, with the guidance of the LGU and staff from Kalahi CIDSS implemented the first cycle of the program. The community has already felt a sense of project ownership even though it is their first time implementing a project, let alone using the Community-Driven Development Strategy.

The municipality of Calatrava finished the implementation of DSWD Kalahi CIDSS under MCC in 2014.  As they transitioned to DSWD Kalahi CIDSS under NCDDP, the volunteerism spirit of the Calatravans continued to yield its gains from the previous implementation of MCC. The Barangay Assembly participation never went lower than the 80% Kalahi CIDSS requirement and the participation of the IPs, women, and Pantawid beneficiaries are always above 50%. This just shows how well-represented the marginalized sectors are during community assemblies.

KC-NCDDP Cycle 1 to Cycle 4 Data on Community Participation

Cycle Household Participation Women’s Participation Pantawid Pamilya Beneficiaries Participation IPs
1 85.14% 63.66% 66.54% 63.39%
2 85.24% 64.88% 69.26% 68.16%
3 83.40% 60% 72.81% 71.33%
4 82.88% 59.62% 74.92% 78.55%

Source: geotagging desktop-app

A hand that is always there to help

The LGU of Calatrava always provides technical assistance and support to the communities as they implement the Kalahi CIDSS project. All community Sub-Projects in Calatrava from Cycle 1 and Cycle 2 have passed the Sustainability Evaluation Tests (SET) with an average of 4.48. This means that all the projects are still in very good condition during the conduct of SET and are being effectively sustained by the formed O and M groups with the help from the barangay local government unit. The BLGU have even allocated 1% of their annual 20% development fund for the sub-project sustainability cost of the Kalahi CIDSS projects. The sub-projects underwent regular monitoring and inspection from the Municipal Engineering Office together with the Kalahi CIDSS community volunteers to ensure that the sub-projects meet the infrastructure standards of the municipality.

With this, the town of Calatrava has received numerous commendations from DSWD MIMAROPA including Model LGUs implementing Kalahi CIDSS in MIMAROPA, Kalahi CIDSS Best Municipality in Sub-Project Implementation, Two-time awardee of Best in Data Management, Awardee for Zero (0) Findings in Request for Fund Release, Best in Procurement with zero (0) findings in the No Objection Letter (NOL) documents.

The dedication and unwavering support of the Municipal Inter-Agency Committee (MIAC) to the community volunteers have earned the town of Calatrava these praises. Once the community has furnished the Request for Fund Release they forward it to the MIAC for review. During the MIAC technical review, the MIAC coach the community volunteers on resolving and preventing the technical findings. They also provide tips and techniques to the community volunteers on how they could improve the crafting and presentation of their RFRs.

The LGU of Calatrava has seen the effectiveness of using community-driven development in involving the people to active community growth. As Linelyn Juanzon, one of the Kalahi-CIDSS community volunteer from Calatrava said the people no longer shrug or passively accept projects proposed or given to them, they now take part in the decision making and planning on which projects they believe are the deem necessity of their community. The timid day care worker before is now one of the community volunteers who helps in mobilizing her community towards their community’s development.

The notable transformation of the people from merely recipients of projects to active participants in Calatrava’s trailblazing community development initiative has been noteworthy to the LGU of Calatrava which served as the epiphany to them on finally taking the steps of incorporating the community-driven development approach into their governance strategy. The current Mayor of Calatrava, Hon. Marietta Babera noted this progression that has happened in their town and is currently planning to conduct a learning visit to one of the towns in MIMAROPA that has embraced and institutionalized the process of Community-Driven Development—the Town of Sablayan in Occidental Mindoro. Mayor Babera wants to ensure that their transition to CDD process will be as smooth as that of Sablayan. This visit would be their first step in institutionalizing the CDD process in Calatrava.

LGU’s Innovations in DSWD Kalahi CIDSS program implementation

One of the innovations contributed by the town of Calatrava, in order to effectively implement the Kalahi CIDSS program is the provision of higher cash counterpart than that of the program’s requirement. From their implementation of Kalahi CIDSS MCC to Kalahi CIDSS NCDDP, the town of Calatrava never fails to provide more than 30% of the total project cost.  The provision of the said cost enabled the town of Calatrava to prioritize more barangays in sub-project implementation as they believe that all the sub-projects proposed during the Municipal Inter-Barangay Forum are necessities of the communities. It is also a way of boosting the morale of the community volunteers to ensure that their flame of volunteerism is still ablaze. Each BLGU, on the other hand, provide their in-kind counterpart through the purchase of gravel and sand, warehouse, and other construction support.

KC MCC and KC NCDDP Funding and Local Cash Counterparts provided by LGU

Fund Source Total Cost KC Fund Local Counterpart
KC-MCC  

14,145,479.99

 

9,601,114.39

 

4,544,365.60

 KC-NCDDP  

33,534,176.00

 

 

21,706,800.00

 

11,827,376.00

Source: geotagging web-app

More so, the LGU’s hiring of full-time Municipal Coordinating Team allowed the Calatrava to religiously follow the program implementation timeline because these staff are dedicated to monitor, do parallel implementation, and provide support to the Area Coordinating Team of Kalahi CIDSS in Calatrava. This practice also ensured that the LGU are always updated and informed on the real-time status of the Kalahi CIDSS program implementation.

 

Result of the LGU’s implementation of DSWD Kalahi CIDSS program

The constituents of Calatrava expressed improved confidence in community participation because they have learnt that their opinions and insights mattered in addressing issues and problems in their barangays.  Having experienced the KC process that promoted transparency and accountability, they have built more trust to the LGU and expects that the same (CDD) process be used in the future projects (Municipal Talakayan FGD 2016).

The municipality has a population of 11,477 and a total of 1,459 target household beneficiaries in its seven (7) barangays. For the three (3) RS cycles of MCC, nine (9) sub-projects were delivered to the communities and 1 sub-project from incentive grant, which improved the lives of 2,802 households. Under the KC-NCDDP, fourteen (14) sub-projects were funded in 4 cycles. Eight (8) of these were already completed. Six (6) remaining sub-projects physical accomplishment as to date range from 62% – 98% wherein the Municipality targeted to finish all the implemented sub-projects by end of February 2018 until March 2018. The first two (2) cycles target 1,459 household beneficiaries.

The spirit of volunteerism was uplifted in the Municipality of Calatrava as 683 community volunteers were mobilized to conduct various activities under KC Being chosen by the community as the main project implementers of the program, the community volunteers were expected to showcase their passion and their unwavering service to their community. Many volunteers have gone beyond what is expected of them and therefore they serve as a pool of potential future leaders in Calatrava. Being said, twenty (20) community volunteers have been barangay councilors in Calatrava. Also, many of them were employed by their barangays as barangay treasurers, barangay health workers, or barangay secretaries because the BLGU recognized their leadership potential and capabilities.

The formation of the operation and maintenance groups with the guidance and supervision of the LGUs have helped the community to effectively organize and mobilize the community in participation and bayanihan. Bayanihan is a Filipino culture that has been practiced less and less in the communities. As Kalahi CIDSS revived the spirit of bayanihan through a day non-paid labor, the LGU of Calatrava has shown to their constituents that the practice should be revived and strengthened in their town. One notable instance of this is when the LGU started clearing the lot where the project will be placed and soon afterwards the people followed.

Presently, the LGU has adopted the process of participatory situational analysis of the Kalahi CIDSS process during their crafting of the annual comprehensive development plan. Ensuring that all the sectors, emphasizing the presence of the marginalized ones, are being well-represented.

As one of the advocates and champion of community-driven development, Mayor Marieta Babera envisions the town of Calatrava to continually progress together with its empowered citizens who steer the town towards their desired development. She also influences the other Local Chief Executives of MIMAROPA to provide their utmost support to the Kalahi CIDSS program by exemplifying how the people in the town of Calatrava have became active agents of development during the Local Chief Executives Fora and during Regional Program Review and Evaluation Workshops.

###

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The Town That Made CDD Institutionalization a Reality– Sablayan

Nature enthusiasts and adventurers at heart may know this town in Southern Luzon as home to the prestigious Apo Reef, the second largest contiguous reef collection next to Australia’s the Great Barrier Reef. Lies between the Mountain Rages of Iglit and the West Philippine Sea, the wonder-filled town of Sablayan is not only known for its natural resources, but it is also known to be the first in MIMAROPA to adopt the process of Community-Driven Development (CDD) in their local governance strategy.

Sablayan is home to various ethnic and indigenous groups in the country which includes migrant Ilocanos, Cebuanos, and Visayans and the native Alangan Mangyans of Mindoro. Agriculture is the primary source of income of the people. The waters of Sablayan is home to massive schools of tuna fish and now it is competing with General Santos City as the Tuna Capital of the Philippines.

Despite being a first-class municipality, Sablayan has a high poverty incidence compared to its neighboring towns. This was the reason why it was selected to implement the first leg of DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS under KKB: Kapangyarihan at Kaunlaran sa Barangay (KKB) in 2003. The communities in the town built a total of ten projects in the span of seven (7) years.

Later in 2011, the town also received funding from DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS under the Millennium Challenge Corporation Makamasang Tugon. It was a bonus one-year modality for municipalities that implemented the KKB.

The participation rate of the community volunteers from the two mentioned modalities of Kalahi CIDSS averaged 70-80% per cycle. Nevertheless, Dionisio Recente, one of the first community volunteers from Brgy Batong Buhay admitted that it was never easy to build the trust and encourage the people to attend the community assemblies. “Nagpapa raffle ang barangay noon para lang mahikayat ang mga tao na dumalo kasi kung walang mga ganoong pakulo ay nako, paniguradong kami kaming mga volunteer lang rin ang andun sa BA [The barangay would had raffle draws to encourage the attendance of the people because without those strategies, only the community volunteers will attend the BA.]”  enthused Dionisio.

These strategies, nevertheless, was effective as there has been a growth on people’s participation in the Kalahi CIDSS program. Soon, there are no more raffle draws to entice the people and yet they continually attended the Barangay Assemblies.  Salvador Quinio, a resident of Barangay San Agustin said “Nakita namin yung kagandahan ng pag punta sa mga patawag ng barangay na pulong kasi napapakinggan yung mga pangangailangan namin at pag sinuswerte ay nakakakuha ng project para sa aming barangay.”

The LGU found the acceptance of the community to participatory development process as noteworthy. Municipal Councilor of Sablayan Hon. Walter B. Marquez saw how the LGU realized the true meaning of participative governance when they witnessed how the community worked hand-in-hand with the LGU in implementing the Kalahi-CIDSS project.

Being a Community Volunteer himself before venturing politics, he saw how the CDD strategy unites the people to improve their community by addressing their basic needs.  “Ang LGU ay katuwang ng mga tao sa pag-unlad. Mas mapapaganda ang pag hahatid ng serbisyo sa mga tao kung aktibo silang nakikilahok para masabi kung ano ang pangangailangan talga ng kanilang barangay, at ganoon na nga ang nangyari sa Sablayan.” [LGU is partner of the people in development. The delivery of the service to the people will be better if they will actively participate and voice out the needs in their barangay, and that is what happened in Sablayan.] Said Hon. Marquez.

The LGU of Sablayan broadened their experiences and learning on participative governance from their implementation of Kalahi-CIDSS. In order to sustain these gains, Sablayan issued series of executive orders and legislations anchored in the principle of PTAS (participation, transparency, accountability, and sustainability) principle such as the following:

  • SPECIAL ORDINANCE 2014-006: “ An ordinance institutionalizing strategy for rural development, strengthening volunteerism and for other purposes in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro.”

 

  • General Ordinance 2015 GO007: “Ordinance mandating all contractors that will undertake any government projects within the territorial jurisdiction of Sablayan, should hire 40% of their labor requirements from Pantawid Pamilya Beneficiaries

 

  • EXECUTIVE ORDER 2014-002

“Amending Municipal Development Council (MDC) composition” Community Volunteers represented in Local Special Bodies, BDC and MDC.

 

  • ANNUAL BUDGET ORDINANCE

“Institutionalizing the 50% of 20 % MDF to Municipal Community Driven-Development Project since 2011 up to present.”

 

  • EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 2015- 004

“Creating and organizing the Local Project Monitoring Committee (LPMC) in the Municipality of Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro.” Includes membership of the Community Volunteers

 

  • EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 2011- 02

“An order mandating the establishment of a Citizens’ Charter for the Municipality of Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro and creating the steering committee and task force for the purpose.”

 

More so, the municipality enacted supportive policies to prioritize the empowerment of the marginalized groups to ensure the inclusion and protection of the marginalized groups. Sablayan also institutionalized IP representation in local legislative councils (Sangguniang Bayan, Sangguniang Barangay, Local Special Bodies).

They also recognized transparency and accountability as salient points to development effectiveness. It has established accountability mechanisms within the systems of the MLGU such as the implementation of Full Disclosure Policy and establishment of a Citizens’ Charter for the Municipality of Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro and creating the steering committee and task force for the purpose (Executive Order No. 2011- 02 and Ordinance Approving the Citizens’ Charter of the Municipality of Sablayan).

To further show transparency and accountability in the local governance, they created the Publication Unit under the Office of the Municipal Mayor (Executive Order No. 2011- 008). The MLGU is now operating the Tinig ng Bayan Radio Program (DWME 103.3 Radyo Natin) and publishes a Quarterly Newsletter. Sablayan has also implemented Seal of Good Barangay Governance (SGBG) 2015 through Executive Order No. 2015- 003.

“Arbor Day” is also institutionalized wherein Pantawid Pamilya Beneficiaries planted 36,000 coconut seedlings /trees and 60,000 malunggay branches for 3 years. The beneficiaries planted the seedlings in order to have livelihood opportunities aside from the aid they acquire from the government. Renan Bergornia, a Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary and Kalahi-CIDSS community volunteer said that the Arbor Day will not only help them at present but will also benefit the future generations to come.

Through all these initiatives, the Municipality of Sablayan has raised the standards in improved local governance high for the other municipalities in Occidental Mindoro. They were granted various recognition and awards: Gawad Pamana ng Lahi, Seal of Good Housekeeping, Seal of Disaster Preparedness, Excellent Anti-Red Tape Act – Report Card Survey, Most Supportive LGU (DSWD), Kahanga-Hangang Bayan, Top 7 Government Efficiency Award, and Seal of Good Financial Housekeeping.

 

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