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Pathways to Leadership: How one woman’s journey with volunteerism changed lives

Rising from the ashes of war, Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte, is now a thriving municipality and home to empowered communities.


Gina M. Pagente, 42 Kalahi-CIDSS BSPMC chair Brgy Poblacion, Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte

Gina M. Pagente, 42, of Barangay Poblacion, Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte, is known to be the town’s resident manicurist who is also well-loved by her neighbors and community. A wife to Rolly M. Pagente, 46, and a mother to 17-year-old Rolly Jr, Gina was really used to just being a housewife and doing manicure jobs for her “suki” (loyal customers) neighbors until she volunteered for the sub-community projects of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS).

A natural leader as her friends commended, Gina was also the President of the Sunriser Women’s Association in the community for 5 years.

“Sa ikaduha nga barangay assembly, nakaselect na sila nang committees, naa nay nagvolunteer, ug ako ang napili nga Barangay Sub-Project Management Committee (BSPMC) chairperson” (During the 2nd barangay assembly, they have already selected committees, and some already volunteered, and they elected me as the Barangay Sub-Project Management Committee chairperson).

Gina reveals that she was very hesitant at first but later realized that she could make an impact to the community by helping as the BSPMC chairperson “dili ko kay dili ko kabalo, di nako kaya, ako silang gipangutana nga unsa may buhaton ana” (I don’t want to because I didn’t know how, I cannot handle it, I asked them what needs to be done there). “Siguro, dako ilang pagsalig sa ako, mao nang tanan meetings sa mga committees ako nang ga-apilan, mao nang kabalo gyud ko sa tanan buluhaton” (I think, they have great trust in me, that is why I attend all committee meetings, that’s how I know all that needs to be done) Gina continues.


Gina M. Pagente as the community manicurist

Gina said that her husband, who works in the security services industry, and the community understand her obligation and commitment as a volunteer in the projects.

Volunteers are mostly women, mothers in the community. Gina said that they need understanding, love and respect not only within the family but within the community as well.

One of the most meaningful projects that Gina and the community involved in is the construction of pathways in the different areas of Poblacion Kauswagan.

“Sa amo, pag taas sa tubig dagat, magtaas pud ang tubig sa among lugar, taman tuhod, di na mi makaagi” (In our place, when the sea water level rises, our paths also fill up with up to knee-high water, and we can’t pass through) says Gina. “Pag naa ko’y customer, di na sila kagawas diretso kai taas na man ang tubig, pati mga bata luoy, dili makagawas sa ilang panimalay para muskwela tungod niini” (If I have a customer, they can’t go out immediately because of the water, even the kids, they can’t go out from their houses to go to school because of this) says Gina.


Gina presides a meeting with fellow Kalahi-CIDSS volunteers, initially discussing the next cycle of sub-community projects

With the pathways already constructed in their community, Gina also revealed that they can now move around their community without worrying, and that there are also similar pathways have been constructed in other areas including a pathway to the lake where there are also residents in the area.

A seawall project is also in its finishing phase in construction, Gina enthused that the structure is really helpful to the residents who are near the shores, “pag dako sa balod, parehas adtong bagyong Pablo og Yolanda, nangaguba ang mga balay didto dapit sa dagat” (when there are big waves, like that of Typhoon Pablo and Yolanda, their houses, situated near the shores were really destroyed). “Pagconstruct sa seawall, nalipay na gyud ang mga residente kai makatulog na kuno sila nga walay kakulba” (When the seawall was constructed, the residents were really happy and said that they can now sleep without worrying too much), enthused Gina.


Volunteers put on finishing touches to the 60.1-meter community sub-project project in Brgy Poblacion, Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte.

The construction of the 60.1-meter project, in May of this year, amounted to a total cost of Php 1,612,332.00, wherein Php 1,586,431.05 is Kalahi-CIDSS funded while adding a total contribution from the barangay and municipal local government units amounting to Php 25,900.50.

This also paved way for the men and women in the area to further commit themselves to volunteering in projects, and actively engage in the community.

Gina also enthused that all of this is also possible with the support of the local government unit, headed by Mayor Rommel C. Arnado. She said that aside from the Kalahi-CIDSS projects, women in the community also actively participate and engage in livelihood programs, trainings and other worthwhile activities.

“Kung wala ang Kalahi-CIDSS, basin housewives lang gyapon kami karon, daghan mig natun-an ani nga programa” (If there is no Kalahi-CIDSS, we would all still be housewives today, we learned a lot from this program) Gina said.

On a lighter note, Gina recalls her first speech as a BSPMC chairperson, and when she was through – people congratulated her and cheered her on.

Gina manages her time well and goes by the saying “time is gold”, she said that the moments she always treasures are the long walks in the locale’s boardwalk with her husband and spend good, quality time.

Gina concludes that it is in volunteering for the Kalahi-CIDSS programs that her vision now includes a better community for all and how they can sustain it for everybody’s future.

Written by Shaun Alejandrae Yap Uy (DSWD)

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December 2015