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A community’s united effort to change everyone’s life.

She grew up using a wooden footbridge over the river to go to and from school. She remembers her fears crossing the river as the bridge was unstable and the path was too narrow.

But the fear was short-lived. Just like the rest of the residents in their community, Maria Leny Datu got used to using the bridge. Despite all their fears, the inconveniences and the danger, every resident of Brgy. Tikay in Guinayangan, Quezon Province accepted their fate. After all, their life must go on. The children need to go to school and the farmers need to bring their crops to the market.

Now 35, Leny is glad that their community has taken action. Rather than simply accepting their fate, they all worked together to finally have a concrete footbridge that is safe and convenient for everyone.

Working together for a safer bridge

“Tatlong barangay ang dumadaan sa tulay namin para makapunta sa school, o sa bayan. Talagang delikado ang tulay lalo na sa mga bata at matatandang tumatawid,” shared Leny.

Even when the barangay converted the wooden bridge into a concrete one, the problem remained the same. The path was still narrow and still unsafe for all those who use it.

“Ang pinagkakakitaan po naming mag-asawa ay paggawa ng pawid. Pinapasan naming mag-asawa ang sako-sakong sasa papunta sa aming bahay. Mahirap at talagang nakakapagod,” she shared.

Other than Leny’s family, residents of Brgy. Tikay and their neighboring barangays suffer the same fate, especially farmers who need to transport rice, coconuts and other crops to the market. Not only was the process inconvenient and dangerous, but the quality of the crops suffered and so as their prices.

In 2018, all the residents in their community spoke their minds. United, they all wanted to end their fears, the dangers and the problems brought by their bridge.

“Nagbotohan kaming mga residente dito na gumawa ng mas maayos at mas magandang tulay na magagamit ng lahat, ‘yung tulay na mas ligtas ang mga bata at matatanda at hindi na mahihirapan kaming mga naghahanapbuhay,” shared Leny.

Their community-identified project was funded by the Department of Social Welfare and Development through the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS).

The Kalahi-CIDSS program follows the community-driven development (CDD) process in the implementation of projects that address the most pressing needs of poor communities. The CDD approach engages all community residents in all levels of the implementation of the project including the identification of the needs of the community, the preparation of the proposals, the procurement of materials, the actual construction of the project and later on, the operations and maintenance of the project.

Leny, for instance, was a member of the procurement team.

“Pumupunta kami sa bayan at sa Calauag (a neighboring town) para mag-canvass ng mga materyales na gagamitin sa tulay,” shared Leny, who added that she decided to help in the project because she wanted to help the barangay, especially in making it safe for the children and the elderly.

Her commitment in the project did not end with her tasks in the procurement team. She was also involved in the hauling of the materials to the site.

“Sa Aloneros (a neighboring barangay) ibinabagsak ang mga nadeliver na materyales dahil hanggang dun lang abot ang mga regular na sasakyan. Isinasakay namin sa skates para madala sa aming barangay. Mula sa babaan ng skates, hinahakot pa namin (around a kilometer distance) papunta sa mismong site ng proyekto,” related Leny.

Since her family owns a skates, she offered the use of these for the hauling of the materials. Besides operating the skates, she also helped in the loading and the unloading of these materials.

“Mahirap ‘yung buong proseso. Mapagod at mainit. Pero masaya kaming lahat na magkaka-barangay. Lahat kami natutuwa na magkakaroon na kami ng maayos na tulay para sa lahat,” she shared.

For Leny, the commitment of her co-residents became even more evident with their agreement to offer two days of free labor for the construction of the bridge.

“Sa anim na araw na trabaho namin dito, apat na araw lang ang hinihingi naming bayad. Lahat naman ng ginagawa namin ay kami rin ang makikinabang sa huli,” she added.

‘Sulit ang lahat ng pagod’

The residents of Brgy. Tikay has completed the construction of the footbridge in May 2018. The DSWD grant costs PhP 957,970.76 with counterparts from the municipal government (PhP5,254.00) and the community (PhP5,775.24).

As Leny checks out the new bridge every time she crosses it, she is happy with every process they went through.

“Sulit ang lahat ng pagod namin. Napapakinabangan namin ang tulay at ligtas na ito para sa lahat. Halimbawa na lamang sa amin, hindi na namin pinapasan ang mga sako ng sasa, nakakagamit na kami ng karil (cart) para mas madali at maginhawa ang paghahakot,” she shared.

The railings in the bridge also makes it safer for the kids and the senior citizens. This gives peace of mind to the parents and the rest of the residents. The wider path allows motorcycles to pass through as well, which makes access to their barangay more convenient for a lot of them.

Comparing the new bridge with the old one, which they did not demolish, Leny knows that she has been part of the change. She still uses the old bridge from time to time just so she can relive the old days and appreciate the development better.

Leny, together with the rest of the residents who built the bridge, is hopeful that as the residents, especially the children, see the two bridges, they will be reminded of how a united community can make things possible and how ‘working together’ can contribute to the development of their barangay.#

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