Archive | KALAHI-CIDSS

When it rains, it pours

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NO MORE FEARS. Residents of Brgy. Remedios I no longer fear about their safety going to and from their community because of this cable bridge they have built together through DSWD’s Kalahi-CIDSS.

In a barangay only accessible by foot, residents have learned to adapt to whatever resources are available to get by.

For several years, the residents of Brgy. Remedios I in Mauban, Quezon Province have learned to set aside their fears of crossing two wooden hanging bridges to get to and from their barangay. School children, on the other hand, suffered from attending classes in their cramped barangay hall.

Despite their dreams to change the situation, progress seems to be far from reach.

However, looking at Brgy. Remedios I today, the fears and suffering of the residents are replaced with high hopes and dreams for the future.

This, according to them, is made possible by the countless opportunities that came to their community.

Identifying the needs of the community

Soledad Ureta, the former barangay captain of Remedios I, shared that the residents, in a barangay assembly, have agreed that the most pressing concerns of their community are the lack of classrooms for their elementary school and the stability of their hanging bridges, which provide primary access to their barangay.

In 2014, the residents had the opportunity to address these problems when the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan—Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) came to their community.

In the Kalahi-CIDSS, the residents are involved in the local development process from the identification of their pressing needs up to the planning, implementation, operations and maintenance of the projects.

“Gusto talaga naming magkaroon ng dagdag classrooms para sa mga bata pero masyadong mahal ang pondo na kailangan para rito. Kaya pinili namin ang proyektong hanging bridge dito sa aming barangay,” said Soledad, who acted as the head of the volunteers during its implementation.

Improving access in the community

Reaby Oliveros, also a Kalahi-CIDSS volunteer, described their wooden hanging bridge as a threat to the safety of the residents not only of their barangay but also of their neighboring barangays who use the same bridge to get to the town proper.

“Yung tulay namin ay dating marupok at gawa lamang sa kahoy. Delikado talaga ito lalo na sa mga bata. Dahil sa tulay na pinagtulungan naming gawin, madami ang nakikinabang. Wala na kaming agam-agam sa tuwing tumatawid kami sa tulay,” shared Reaby, who is a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, another program of the DSWD that provides conditional cash grants in support for the educational and health needs of children zero to 18 years old.

Reaby recalled how hard it was to work as part of the Project Preparation Team in charge of the proposals and documents of the project especially that she had a newborn child during the project implementation.

“Kahit mahirap, nagsakripisyo ako. Naalala ko na tinuturo sa amin sa Pantawid Pamilya na ano ang magiging silbi mo sa barangay kung hindi ka tutulong,” Reaby shared with pride.

In the Pantawid Pamilya, parent-grantees are also encouraged to actively participate in their community which is being strengthened through discussions in Family Development Sessions (FDS).

The FDS is a monthly gathering of parent-grantees that teaches them on various family enhancement topics including strengthening marital relations, child’s rights, financial management and disaster preparedness among others.

In March 2016, the PhP461,046-worth hanging bridge project has been completed and is now being used even by the residents of Brgy. Remedios II, their neighboring barangay.

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BETTER EXPERIENCE FOR THE STUDENTS. Teacher Liza Diasanta of Remedios I Elementary School shares her gratitude to the Kalahi-CIDSS and the community volunteers because of the three-classroom school building that is ready to be used by the students this school year.

More blessings for Remedios I

The realization of the cable bridge in the barangay has been a big achievement for the residents; however, it also meant the end of their dreams of new classrooms for their children.

“Napakaswerte namin at tuwang-tuwa kami noong nalaman namin na popondohan din ang school building dito sa aming barangay,” said Soledad.

The DSWD has submitted the school building proposal of the residents for possible funding. In 2015, the project was funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Australian Government, a development partner of the DSWD for closing gaps in education facilities in poor communities.

The project was provided a grant of PhP2.4 million which was spent for the construction of a three-classroom school building complete with chairs, furniture and comfort rooms for the students.

“Parang rags to riches ang k’wento ng school namin dito. Mula sa pagsisiksikan ng mga bata sa barangay hall, nagkaroon kami ng school na may tatlong classrooms. Ngayong pasukan, dahil sa Kalahi-CIDSS, mayroon na kaming anim na classrooms na sapat para hindi na maging multi-grade ang mga klase,” shared Liza Diasanta, a teacher in the elementary school.

She also added that having enough classrooms for their pupils will make both the learning for the students and the teaching for the teachers easier.

“Parang ito na ‘yung simula ng pag-abot ng pangarap naming mga guro at ng kanilang mga magulang para sa mga bata,” said Liza.

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FOR THE CHILDREN’S FUTURE. This school building, with three classrooms, will ensure a better learning experience for the children. Starting this school year, children will no longer attend multi-grade classes in this school.

Only moving forward

The implementation of the two projects in the barangay, according to the residents, have brought them together and made their dreams closer.

Marilou Delos Santos, another Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary who volunteered for the Kalahi-CIDSS projects, shared that they are working together to take care of these blessings.

“Tumutulong ang mga beneficiaries ng Pantawid Pamilya sa maintenance ng mga proyekto. Mayroon kaming monthly cleanup drives at tumutulong din kami sa Brigada Eskwela sa school dahil kami rin naman ang nakikinabang dito at ito rin ang maisusukli namin sa pagtulong sa amin ng programa,” shared Marilou.

To date, there are 50 household-beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilya in the barangay.

Today, the residents of Brgy. Remedios I have only gratitude towards the progress they are experiencing in their community. And what makes them happier is that they know that they have all been a part of realizing this change.#

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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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Building roads, not lies

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BETTER ACCESS ROAD. Vehicles can now easily pass through Brgy. Villa Padua in Gumaca, Quezon Province after the residents have completed concreting the critical slope area in their community through the DSWD’s Kalahi-CIDSS program.

Of the many projects they have worked on as on-call construction workers, Nestor Macarilay and Pancho Ona felt that they were building lies instead of infrastructure.

At work, whenever they see and hear suspicious deals around, the two felt disappointed for working for people who manipulated the project budget and kept money for themselves. For them, these people were simply satisfying their personal interests even to the point of sacrificing the quality of the projects.

“Ganoon na yata talaga ang kalakaran sa construction,” said Pancho, 46.

Despite this, the two had no other choice but  continue working in this kind of business as this is one of their main sources of income for their families.

“Bukod sa pagsasaka ay ito lang din ang alam naming trabaho. Kailangan naming kumita para matustusan ang pangangailangan ng aming pamilya,” added Nestor, 43.

However, last 2014, their judgment changed when they worked for a farm-to-market road project in their village of Villa Padua in Gumaca, Quezon Province. The two realized that a corruption-free project is possible for people with greater interest – the interest to improve their community.

“Posible pala na magkaroon ng transparency sa construction kapag mamamayan mismo ang nagplano, nagpatakbo, at nagsagawa ng proyekto. At ‘yun ang nangyari sa proyekto namin,” shared Pancho, who is also the Brgy. Capt. of the village.

The farm-to-market road is a project of the Villa Padua residents through 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). The Kalahi-CIDSS aims to empower residents to engage in the local development process of their community for a transparent implementation of projects.

Nestor, who became the head of the project implementation, said that this process was greatly appreciated by the residents.

“Sinuportahan ng mga mamamayan ang Kalahi dahil naramdaman nila na para talaga sa kanila ang proyekto. Walang labis, walang kulang,” said Nestor.

Kalahi-CIDSS as a community-driven program

As a community-driven program, the residents themselves are given the power to prioritize the project that will address the needs of their community.

They decided to concretize a critical slope of their road to have easier access to their barangay. They are provided with PhP587,156 grant for the project.

“Tuwing umuulan, sobrang maputik ang kalsada namin. Hindi nakakadaan ang mga motor lalo na sa parteng paliko ng kalsada. Kaya nilalakad lang namin ito, lalo na ang mga bata na papasok sa school,” shared Nestor.

To ensure that most residents are involved in the project implementation, they were organized as community volunteers who were in charge from the planning, construction and the preparation of the maintenance plan for the project.

According to Nestor, they were trained on each step of the implementation such as proposal development, financial planning and community procurement that have guided them in properly managing their project.

Further, other residents were hired as laborers during the construction of the road and were paid with PhP250 to PhP350 a day. Brgy. Capt. Pancho shared that different residents were employed per week to give everyone a chance to earn even for a short period of time.

“Meron ditong kumikita lang ng 50 pesos sa pamamasura na kung bibigyan mo ng pagkakataon ay kaya namang magtrabaho at kumita ng mas malaki para sa pamilya niya. Kung baga, hinikayat namin ‘yung mga talagang walang-wala para mabigyan sila ng pansamantalang pagkakakitaan,” shared Brgy. Capt. Pancho.

He added that women were also welcomed to work in the construction to show that gender does not define what a person can do for the community.

Nelia Talabia, 61, is one of the women volunteers who worked for the road. She had offered a space in her house to store the construction materials for the project.

“Alam ko naman kasing may patutunguhang maganda ang pagtulong ko. Isa rin naman ako sa lubos na makikinabang dahil nasa tapat lang ng bahay namin ang proyekto,” shared Nelia.

Last September 2015, the Villa Padua residents have successfully completed the 448 square meter road project. Now, they have a better road in their barangay.

Greater opportunities

According to Nestor, the road gave greater opportunities for the residents, especially for the farmers.

As the president of the farmers’ association in their barangay, Nestor is glad to see that they no longer need to carry their sacks of harvest and walk for an hour just to bring their goods to the market. Tricycles can now pass through their barangay and directly pick-up the products.

With the tricycles, transportation time is cut short. The goods are now delivered fresh to the market early in the morning. This doubled the monthly earnings of the farmers.

“Nakatulong ang proyekto para masiguro ang magandang kabuhayan naming mga magsasaka at maggugulay dito sa Villa Padua,” Nestor said with a smile.

Nestor added that children now have a more comfortable travel to school. Whenever it rains, they can already wear their shoes and uniforms starting from home without the fear of getting dirty and muddy along the way.

“Nung ako’y estudyante pa, naka-short lang kami kapag papasok kasi putikan talaga kami. Ngayon, sosyal na ang mga bata kasi kaya nang dumaan ng tricycle sa amin at pwede na silang sumakay,”  Nestor shared in laughter.

Taking care of their efforts

To ensure the sustainability of the road, the barangay council created an ordinance wherein 10 to four wheeler trucks are not allowed to pass through the road. Hence, they developed a by-pass road for these types of vehicle.

Also, the council allotted PhP20,000 a year for the maintenance of the project.

“Kapag hindi mauubos ang budget kada taon, maiipon ito na pwedeng gamitin para dugtungan pa at pahabain ang kalsada,” added Brgy. Capt. Pancho.

On the other hand, the farmers’ association led by Nestor was in charge of the overall operations and maintenance of the road. Every day, a member is on duty to monitor the vehicles passing through the road. They also conduct clean-up drives together with the beneficiaries of the DSWD’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program on a monthly basis.

“Maganda ang naging impact ng Kalahi sa aming mamamayan. Naging malaking tulong sa amin ang kalsada at higit sa lahat, natuto kaming magkaisa para sa ikakaayos ng aming pamayanan,” Nestor said proudly.

With all these, Pancho and Nestor realized that a clear and collective goal can oppose personal interests to arise. For them, it is much satisfying to work on a project not built with lies but with perseverance to improve the lives of the people. #

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20 Kalahi-CIDSS classrooms in Quezon ready this school year

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NEW CLASSROOMS FOR GUINAYANGAN STUDENTS. Three newly-built classrooms in San Roque Elementary School in Guinayangan, Quezon Province await grades five and six pupils this coming school year. [Photo Credit: MEJalla]

Twenty (20) newly-constructed classrooms or eight (8) two to three-classroom buildings in six municipalities in Quezon Province are ready to be used by children this coming school year. These classrooms are constructed under the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) program.

The said school buildings, worth PhP14.07 Million in total, are constructed in Brgys. Amot and Poblacion in Burdeos; Brgy. Madlangdungan in Calauag; Brgys. Arbismen and San Roque in Guinayangan; Brgy. Remedios I in Mauban; Brgy. Pinagtubigan Este in Perez, and; Brgy. Almasen in Unisan.

Further, there is a PhP784,495-worth day care center constructed in Brgy. Dungawan Central in Guinayangan.

The said classrooms are to benefit children from around 2,500 households in the said communities.

These are funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) of the Australian Government, one of the Kalahi-CIDSS’ development partners that builds school facilities in areas with significant gaps in education to provide better access to basic education services.

In a project turn-over ceremony in San Roque Elementary School in Guinayangan town last April, Teacher Isagani Arida shared how thankful he is for the new school building as they no longer need to hold multiple-grade classes in one classroom. He added that this could inspire children to study well and engage more in class activities.

Their school is provided with a three-classroom school building worth PhP2.27 Million, fully furnished with tables, chairs, shelves and other furniture and fixtures.

“Kami po ay taos-pusong nagpapasalamat dahil napakalaking bagay nito sa mga bata, maging sa mga magulang na nagnanais na mabigyan ng magandang edukasyon ang kanilang mga anak,” said Arida.

In the implementation of the said projects, the community-driven development strategy of Kalahi-CIDSS is applied wherein the local residents themselves are engaged in the local development process. They are organized as community volunteers who plan, implement and manage the operations and maintenance of the projects.

According to Annaliza Capule, the Municipal Monitor of Kalahi-CIDSS DFAT projects in the CALABARZON Region, the people are engaged in the process to encourage them to become active members of their communities.

“They look after their projects and keep track of every transaction to ensure that the funds and resources are used well. That’s why in this process, the success of the projects really depends on the participation of the people,” added Capule.

Regina Bautista, one of the community volunteers in Brgy. San Roque, shared that she appreciates such process as it made her realize that she can contribute something good for her community.

“Kahit maraming gawa at inaasikasong mga dokumento, naitaguyod at natapos pa rin namin ang proyekto dahil sa pagtutulungan naming mga volunteers. Hindi namin akalain na kaya pala naming magpatupad ng ganitong proyekto kaya talagang napakasarap sa pakiramdam,” said Bautista.

The Kalahi-CIDSS is a poverty reduction program of the DSWD that aims to improve the delivery of social services in poor communities by empowering the people to be involved in the development process of their communities.

This 2016, the program is implemented in 22 municipalities in Quezon Province with a total of 643 need-responsive community projects including farm-to-market roads, water systems, school buildings and health centers among others.#

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Pitogo residents prioritize 7 community dev’t projects through Kalahi-CIDSS

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CALL FOR A CELEBRATION. Community volunteers cheer altogether as their proposed project of concreting their pathway in Brgy. Burgos Ilaya is announced to be one of the prioritized projects for funding under the DSWD’s Kalahi-CIDSS program during the Municipal Inter-Barangay Forum-Participatory Resource Allocation in Pitogo, Quezon Province held last April 6-7, 2016.

Residents of Pitogo town in Quezon Province are set to implement seven community development projects amounting to PhP8.5 million under 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).

More than 150 residents from the 39 barangays of
the said town prioritized these among 39 proposed community projects through the Municipal Inter-Barangay Forum-Participatory Resource Allocation (MIBF-PRA) held last April 6-7, 2016.

The MIBF-PRA is one of the community empowerment activities of the Kalahi-CIDSS where representatives from each barangay convene to present, prioritize and vote for the projects to be funded with the Kalahi-CIDSS grant based. This aims to promote inclusive decision-making among local residents towards the development of their communities.

The selection of prioritized projects was based on the criteria the residents formulated prior to the activity. Criteria include the number of direct project beneficiaries, environmental safeguards on the project site, sustainability project plan and the participation rate of the residents in all Kalahi-CIDSS activities.

Based on the priority ranking during the MIBF-PRA, seven projects were selected including two farm-to-market roads in Brgy. Soliyao Ibaba and Brgy. San Roque worth PhP1.39 million and PhP1.69 million respectively.

Other projects include the PhP1.93 million water system with sanitary toilet in Brgy. Saguinsinan, PhP1.76 million evacuation center in Brgy. Osmeña, PhP500,730 seawall in Brgy. Mayubok and two pathway concreting projects in Brgy. Burgos Ilaya and Brgy. Cometa worth PhP727,500 and PhP497,000 respectively.

“Ngayon na maaayos na ang kalsada sa amin, makakatulong ito para lumakas pa ang turismo sa amin at matulungan ang kabuhayan ng mga residente,” said Reycee Elchico, a community volunteer working for the farm-to-market road project in Brgy. Soliyao Ibaba.

Meanwhile, Luzviminda Dela Cruz, Kalahi-CIDSS Sub-Regional Program Coordinator in the CALABARZON Region, encouraged the volunteers who worked for the project proposals that were not prioritized for funding under Kalahi-CIDSS to submit their proposals to other programs such as the Barangay Bottom-Up Budgeting (BUB) for possible funding.

The municipality of Pitogo implements the Kalahi-CIDSS program for the first time. This year, there are 14 other towns in Quezon Province implementing Kalahi-CIDSS and are allocated with a total of PhP138 million grant for the implementation of their need-responsive projects.

The Kalahi-CIDSS aims to empower ordinary citizens to engage in the local development process through implementing need-responsive projects in their communities. The residents or community volunteers are trained on proposal development, construction estimates, and community finance and procurement to equip them with skills in implementing their identified projects.#

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‘I am Victoria’ — Building a name for the Aeta tribe

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Victoria Rejano-Organo is glad that the Aetas are able to help in the development of their community through their cooperation in the construction of the water system project in Brgy. Del Rosario.

Her name is Victoria.

However, the locals know her by a lot of other names—usually references to her physical appearance.

“Nung bata pa ko, tinatawag ako ng mga kaklase ko na bagnot (a name call meaning dark and filthy). Sinasabayan pa nila ng pangungutya sa pananamit ko dahil gawa lang daw sa katsa,” shared Victoria Rejano-Organo, 49, an Aeta from Brgy. Del Rosario in Buenavista, Quezon Province.

The Aetas are indigenous peoples (IP) living in the mountainous areas of Luzon. In Buenavista town, there are 126 IP households where half of them reside in Brgy. Del Rosario.

As a minority group in the village, the Aetas are often teased.

According to Victoria, they feel intimidated by how they are treated and keep themselves distant from other people in their community. She added that this is also one of the reasons most Aetas are not attending school.

But unlike others, Victoria had a strong will to study. She made sure to finish elementary.

“Nagsikap akong makatapos ng elementarya dahil alam kong ito ang susi para maibangon ko ang sarili ko. Gusto kong makilala hindi bilang bagnot pero bilang isang Aeta na nakapag-aral, na alam ang mga karapatan bilang tao at hindi basta-bastang maloloko,” shared Victoria, who is now the tribal chieftain of the Aeta group in the said village.

One community

As the tribal chieftain, Victoria wants the best for her tribe by giving her fellow Aetas with opportunities to improve their living condition. She realized that for this to be achieved, they need to cooperate with local officials and residents to lobby their concerns and needs.

“Ang pag-unlad ng aming tribo ay nakasalalay din sa pag-unlad ng buong barangay. Kailangan naming matutong makisalamuha at makiisa sa ibang ka-barangay para maisakatuparan ito,” said Victoria.

Victoria’s will to work with the locals towards their tribe’s development was fulfilled when a community-driven program was introduced to their village in 2013 through the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS).

Here, she worked with the locals in analyzing the pressing problems of their community and in coming up with possible infrastructure projects that can address these.

Of all that they have discussed, they prioritized implementing a water system sub-project to have a regular potable water supply in the community.

According to Victoria, the Aetas get their main water supply for drinking and general use from the river, which gets muddy every time it rains.

The locals experience the same, too. Sanilyn Balonso, one of the locals, shared that several children suffer from diarrhea because of this.

“Marami na ang namatay dahil sa diarrhea. Kaya naman ginusto namin na magkaroon ng malinis na patubig para masiguro ang kaligtasan at kalusugan ng mga tao dito,” shared Sanilyn, 46.

The community of Del Rosario was granted with PhP700,000 to implement the sub-project. Residents were organized as community volunteers and were trained on proposal development, construction estimates, and community finance and procurement.

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Sanilyn Balonso (left), the head of community volunteers, and Tribal Chieftain Victoria Rejano-Organo (right) are able to unite the locals and the Aetas to make their water system project a success.

Sanilyn became the head of the community volunteers while Victoria took the lead in persuading her fellow Aetas to help with the project for additional workforce.

At first, Victoria admitted that it was hard to bring the Aetas closer to the locals. But she kept convincing them that their participation will be of great help for the whole community.

“Sinasabi ko sa kanila na tulungan nila akong ipakita na kaming mga Aeta ay hindi dapat minamaliit dahil may magagawa din kami sa komunidad. Ako ang nangunguna sa pagtatrabaho para sila’y sumunod,” said Victoria.

During the construction, the Aetas worked for free as their form of in-kind counterpart for the project. This was greatly appreciated by the locals, especially Sanilyn.

“Napadali ang trabaho dahil sa tulong ng mga IPs namin. Lubos ang pasasalamat namin sa kanila,” said Sanilyn.

Now, the residents of Brgy. Del Rosario enjoys a regular potable water supply. Their water system includes a water reservoir, distribution lines and 11 tap stands installed in the different parts of the barangay.

The community volunteers also formed the Del Rosario Water System Association (DELROWASA) to manage the operations and maintenance of the water system. Caretakers are assigned to each tap stand who oversee the water distribution and collect maintenance fee worth PhP50 per month. Meanwhile, the Aetas are in charge with the cleaning of the main reservoir since it is located near their area.

“Napakaganda ng proyekto dahil lahat ay nakinabang at nagtulungan maging ang mga IPs. Nagkaisa ang mamamayan,” Sanilyn said with a smile.

Continuous development

Now that the Aetas are exposed to community works and development, Victoria believes that for them to be continuously empowered, they should be given access to basic education.

According to Victoria, most of the Aetas are insecure because they do not know how to read and write. Thus, she lobbied this concern to their local government and was able to bring the Alternative Learning System (ALS) schooling in their community, which will start this June 2016.

Further, the Aetas have proposed a tribal hall sub-project in 2015 and they were provided a Kalahi-CIDSS grant worth PhP697,272. At least 30 Aetas are now managing the implementation of the sub-project, which will serve as their classroom for the ALS schooling.

More than 60 IP households are expected to benefit from this sub-project

Filled with pride and joy, Victoria is thankful for all the opportunities.

“Unti-unti, kinakaya na naming lumaban sa mga hamon ng buhay. Kahit kami’y mga IP, may kakayahan din kaming umunlad,” Victoria proudly said.

In the end, Victoria did not let those name calls and criticisms define her. Once called as “bagnot,” Victoria has now built a reputation as an Aeta tribal chieftain who steered change in their community.#

Posted in KALAHI-CIDSS, News, UpdatesComments Off on ‘I am Victoria’ — Building a name for the Aeta tribe

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