A flood-free Pinagtalleran

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Francisco Bondeci explains that the canals have concrete covers that not only prevent clogging but also serve as pathway for the residents in the community.

Being a public servant in their barangay for more than 25 years, Francisco Bondeci is proud of finally resolving the flooding problem in their community.

What makes him even prouder is that the way towards solving their long-term problem is a collective effort of the members of their community.

“Noong nabigyan kami ng pagkakataon na magsagawa ng proyekto para masolusyonan ang pagbabaha, naging madali ang paghihikayat sa mga tao na makiisa dahil gusto na talaga naming matapos ang problemang ito,” shared Francisco, 65, the former barangay captain of Brgy. Pinagtalleran in Calauag, Quezon Province.

Francisco and 25 other residents of Brgy. Pinagtalleran are the organized community volunteers who implemented the 155-meter-long drainage canal system in their village. They have implemented the project through the Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS), a community-driven program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Through Kalahi-CIDSS, the local residents were given the opportunity to plan, decide and implement their identified drainage canal project. They were trained on proposal development, construction estimates, finance and procurement to help them all throughout the project’s implementation.

Taking full responsibility as community residents

In the project implementation, Francisco said that their decisions and suggestions about the project were always considered. This made them feel that their voices are important in improving their community and had empowered them to take full responsibility of the project.

“Kinakausap namin mismo ‘yung engineer para sa disenyo at detalye ng drainage canal at talagang pinapaliwanag namin ang terrain ng lugar. Kapag may malasakit ka kasi sa baranggay mo, lahat pakikialaman mo mapaunlad lang ito,” he proudly said.

Given a PhP356,438 grant, the community volunteers procured the needed materials such as pipes, hollow blocks, bags of cement and other construction supplies. Francisco shared that they ensured every peso was well accounted and properly used.

“Isa rin sa dahilan kung bakit hindi namin maresolba ang problema sa baha ay dahil maliit lang ang budget ng Sanggunian at hindi makapagpagawa ng mahaba at maayos na drainage system. Kaya napakalaking tulong ng Kalahi sa baranggay namin,” he humbly said.

In just a month and a half, the community volunteers have finished constructing the 155 meters drainage canal project, which has concrete covers to prevent trash from clogging it. With such design, the canal also serves as a pathway for the 116 households in the barangay.

According to Francisco, the construction of the canal was finished ahead of the given two months-timeline. This was because of the additional workforce provided by the beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, another DSWD program for poor households.

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Flordeliza Anda, 76, is thankful for not experiencing kneel-level flood anymore whenever it rains since the construction of the drainage canal last February 2016.

More than 20 Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries helped in the construction of the canal for free.

Yolanda Canas, 47, one of the Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries who worked in the drainage canal project, shared that she really wanted to help in solving this problem in their community. She added that this is also her way to give back the benefits she receives from the Pantawid Pamilya program.

“Naglaan talaga ako ng oras para makatulong. Ayaw ko na rin kasi ng baha dahil delikado lalo na sa mga bata. Ang iba nagkaka-dengue pa. Kaya mahalaga na hindi na kami babahain pa kapag umulan na naman,” shared Yolanda.

Enjoying the fruits of their labor

Since the project’s completion in February 2016, the barangay never experienced flooding again whenever it rains.

Flordeliza Anda, one of the beneficiaries of the project, is thankful for not suffering from flood anymore.

“Umaabot hanggang tuhod ang baha sa loob ng bahay namin dati. Saglit na pag-ulan lang ‘yun. Ngayon, kahit malakas na ulan pa ay hindi na talaga bumabaha dito,” shared Flordeliza, 76.

Now that their problem is resolved, Francisco said that they must focus on ensuring the project’s sustainability so many residents would still benefit from it in the future.

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Portions of the canal have removable covers so the residents can still clean the drainage. They conduct regular canal cleaning every second and last Sunday of the month.

The community volunteers formed the Pinagtalleran Multi-Sectoral Organization that will oversee the operations and maintenance of the project.

The organization now has 35 members who conduct drainage canal cleaning every second and last Sunday of the month.

“Malaking bagay talaga ang proyekto para sa amin kaya pangangalagaan talaga namin ito,” Francisco said.

After all his years in public service, Francisco confessed that it is just now that he felt genuine happiness with an achievement. For him, it is very rewarding to work hand in hand with the residents in fulfilling their dream for the community.

“Sa pagtutulungan naming mga residente, natupad na ang matagal naming pangarap na hindi na malubog sa baha ang aming barangay,” Francisco said with a smile.#

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