Dumagat-Remontado women chasing a goal for their community
As mothers, 44 Dumagat-Remontado women from Brgy. Cuyambay in Tanay, Rizal only dreamt of having food on the table daily.
“Kuntento na kami na makakain ng tatlong beses sa isang araw,” shared Ma. Cristina Mallabo, who added that most of them stayed at home and relied on their husbands’ seasonal income to provide for the needs of their family.
Monaliza Turiaga shares that this mindset is common in their tribe as most of their parents and elders have raised them with this in mind.
Eight years later, however, Cristina, Monaliza and the rest of the Dumagat-Remontado women are engaged in various income-generating activities in their community. This change in their lives results from finally learning how to dream.
“Tinuruan kaming mangarap para sa pamilya namin, hindi lang mangarap kundi gawin ito,” shared Cristina.
One step at a time
According to these women, their bigger dream started when they became beneficiaries of the national government’s Modified Conditional Cash Transfer (MCCT) program in 2014.
The MCCT is a program under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program designed for families with special needs such as homeless street families and indigenous peoples in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas. Like the regular conditional cash transfer (or the Pantawid Pamilya), the MCCT supports the needs of families for the health, nutrition and education of children zero to 18 years old.
“Naging malaking tulong sa amin ang cash grant dahil nakabili na kami ng uniform na bago, nabibili na namin ng vitamins ang mga anak namin at ibang pangangailangan tulad ng bigas at pang-ulam,” shared Cristina.
Conrado Juco, a mother of one and a wife of a Dumagat-Remontado, shared that the cash grants they received enabled them to save money and allot this for their other needs like building a house of their own.
Other than the cash grants, the Dumagat-Remontado women are grateful to the program for teaching them a lot of things.
“Noong una, hindi kami sanay na makiharap sa ibang tao. Sa totoo lang, nagtatago kami ‘pag dumarating na ‘yung Community Facilitator (DSWD worker) kasi mahiyain kami. Hinihimok kami na pumunta sa court para mag-aral,” shared Cristina.
She added that other people would bully them when they go out.
“Hindi ganito ‘yung itsura namin. Wala kaming malinis na damit. Nilalayuan kami kasi mabaho daw kami,” said Cristina.
Today, all of them have found their confidence. And this confidence has brought them a long way.
One group at a time
A special component of the MCCT is the provision of support services and interventions to household-beneficiaries to help them improve their living conditions.
In 2017 and 2018, the beneficiaries identified swine raising and crop production as livelihood projects respectively. All the beneficiaries were provided with skills training and a start-up capital.
“Nakabili kami ng dalawang baboy at ‘yun ang pinagsimulan namin hanggang sa nagtuluy-tuloy na,” shared Conrada.
Most of the swine raising projects of the beneficiaries prospered; however, the swine flu outbreak in 2019 had forced them to convert their livelihood into something else.
Cristina started raising ducks and culturing fish while Monaliza started a sari-sari store and purchased a tricycle (habal-habal). Others converted their livelihood into other projects such as starting a lomihan business and vegetable farming.
“Dahil sa mga livelihood, unti-unti akong nakapag-impok para sa pangangailangan ng aking mga anak,” shared Monaliza, whose eldest child is in college now.
As mothers who have begun earning for their families, they started dreaming bigger not only for their children but for the whole Dumagat-Remontado community.
“Bumuo kami ng isang samahan na ang layunin ay para umasenso kaming lahat. Nagsimula kami sa pagbibigay ng limang pisong butaw kada buwan hanggang sa naisip naming magsanib-puhunan mula sa aming kinita sa swine raising,” said Cristina, who is now the president of the Samahan sa Cuyambay ng mga Dumagat-Remontado (SACUDURE) with 44 members.
Each member contributed PhP5,000, which they used to start a lending business in the community.
Conrada and the other members of the group and other residents of the community availed of the loan from the SACUDURE to start livelihood projects, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Seeing how an organization is more beneficial for women like them, they worked towards registering and accrediting the SACUDURE.
“Sa isang samahan, mas madali po kaming nakakalapit sa ibang organisasyon katulad ng pagbibigay ng training at iba pang livelihood,” shared Cristina.
Today, the SACUDURE is recognized as a civil society organization by the barangay and the Municipal Government of Tanay, registered under the Securities and Exchange Commission and accredited by the Department of Labor and Employment, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Agriculture.
“Maganda palang nangangarap na may kasama at nagkakaisa. Gusto naming panghawakan na kaya naming tuparin ang aming mga pangarap nang sama-sama,” shared Cristina, who is proud to share of the other plans of the organization such as expanding their business into food processing and soon converting their organization into a federation and a cooperative.
Cristina can never be prouder of all the Dumagat-Remontado women, who, from being shy housewives and mothers, are now active players in the development not only of their families and their tribe but also of the rest of their community.***