“Angga,” a 42-year old mother of five youngsters had always been an incredibly shy member of indigenous peoples (IPs). She never spoke and would shield her face when addressed during community meeting discussions.
However, over time, she slowly opened up and became comfortable enough to speak up.
“The thought that an IP woman has the voice in decision-making never crossed my mind. I thought that a ‘Lumad (ethnic minority)’ like me should think and speak less in any public assembly as I lack education and knowledge,” she said in ‘Binukid’ dialect.
Angga is a Kalahi-CIDSS (Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services) program beneficiary who lives in a farming neighborhood of barangay Palacpacan—an isolated village in San Fernando town—where most of the residents are of Matigsalug tribe.
Like other tribes in Bukidnon, most of them have minimal support and nominal access to basic social services due to road inaccessibility, remote areas, poor infrastructure, or simply the fact that there is no system in place. With this, their only priority is to eat and survive.
Building better lives
While life remains difficult, Angga said it was much harder during those years before the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) implemented the Kalahi-CIDSS Community-Driven Development (CDD) program.
The DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS-CDD is a program that empowers communities.
It uses CDD as an approach to let communities identify problems, needs, use available resources, and decide what will work best for the entire community.
CDD is a unique component of Kalahi-CIDSS. Through it, folks will learn how to speak out and give details of the communities’ needs by participating in the local development processes with the help of non-government organizations, local government units, Area Coordinating Teams (ACT), Sub-Regional Project Management Team (SRMPT), and Regional Project Management Team (RPMT) and ensure that the villagers are actively involved.
Angga, who is also a Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiary, said the program is a good venue for boosting her self-confidence as it empowers her to make decisions, especially those that affect her social and economic living.
“Now I can open my mouth to share my opinions and views without any fear of intimidation,” she said.
Changing the face of poverty
Jeraline Arion, is an active Matigsalug parent leader of 4Ps and Sustainable Livelihood Program Association (SLPA) organizer who strives to help the community by helping the government in carrying out its duty to provide basic social services in remote Palacpacan village.
She is also the Barangay Sub-Project Management Committee Chairperson (BSPMC) of Palacpacan, where the government implements a 390-meter road concreting project.
For her, DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS-CDD is the first government program that gives her and the Lumad community the opportunity to make decisions that affect their daily living.
The program is a good venue for learning different skills such as financial management, environmental and social safeguards, social development, construction management, basic legal documents, and other things that could help villagers, especially women, boost their confidence and self-reliance.
In one of the sessions, however, participants disclosed that they hurdled all the training not without challenges. They encountered difficulties when they started out in drafting the Minutes of Meeting, Payroll Preparation, Payment and Inventory for construction materials and all other things needed to be submitted to the training facilitators.
“We are all grateful that our facilitators were very patient in teaching us how to overcome such obstacles. We really felt that we belong. It is here that we, the Lumad women, can help change the face of poverty in our village,” Jeraline said.
Learning the skills to achieve economic independence
“Being a Lumad Kalahi leader is not easy. We are not used to addressing a lot of people because we lack knowledge that is usually acquired in schools. An ethnic minority also leans on traditions that a woman should just stay at home, do the chores, and take care of the kids while her husband works in a farm as the sole provider of the family. But because of the meetings and training afforded by DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS-CDD and the implementation of our Farm-to-Market Road sub-project, I am now eager to harness my potential as valuable member of a Lumad community,” Jeraline said.
This 390-meter road concreting sub-project construction program requires women workers to promote gender equality. Hence, 30 percent of the labor force are women.
Jeraline narrated that Kalahi-CIDSS proves that women can do what men can.
Inspired by the community empowerment and gender equality perspective of the Kalahi-CIDSS program where she learned life skills, she continued her schooling and graduated in the K-12 program of the Department of Education at Halapitan National High School in San Fernando.
Now, Jeraline is a leader and role model in the community who helps Lumad women flourish and be part of nation-building.
Working effectively with indigenous communities
Secretary Rolando Joselito Bautista, Jr, a retired general of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said DSWD has myriad of programs for indigenous communities and this Kalahi-CIDSS-CDD is just one of those that helped women like Angga and Jeraline who gained emotional confidence and community support.
“The Filipino practice of mutual cooperation or ‘Bayanihan’ is already embedded in the innermost of our being as Filipinos. This is more exemplified in the relentless contribution of our community volunteers in almost all facets of services to the poor and needy. Our staff and community volunteers on the ground have been our indispensable partners to the effective implementation of the Kalahi-CIDSS program,” the Secretary said.