Archive | December, 2021

Leadership at an appointed time

The isolation facility sits along the main road of barangay San Luis in Malitbog, Bukidnon. Its doors are open where people go in and out to attend to their duties. It’s not always like that a few months ago. The five-room facility was incessantly occupied by travelers and returning overseas Filipinos required to undergo the mandatory 14-day quarantine. It also accommodated COVID-19 positive patients with mild symptoms. “Sagang gyud mi.” (We really need to tighten up), said one barangay official.

Her name is Felinita P. Venus, barangay kagawad, who chairs the Committee on Social Services. A retired midwife, little did she know that her experience as a health personnel will play a key role as she holds public office for the first time. The pandemic hit and the barangay council faced an ordeal.

“Manguli man gyud ang mga tawo. Katong mga naa’y gibati, asa man nimo ibutang? dili man nimo siya pwede ibutang bisan asa. Isolation facility gyud ang kinahanglan karong pandemya.”

(People would eventually travel back home. And for those who are sick, where will you accommodate them? They can’t just be lodged anywhere. An isolation facility is the primary need during this pandemic)

The municipality of Malitbog is under the KALAHI-CIDSS National Community-Driven Development Program (NCDDP) extension in 2020. Using the Disaster Response Operations Modality (DROM), 11 barangays in the municipality, including San Luis, implemented COVID-19 response sub-projects geared towards health, water and sanitation, and economic recovery.

Establishing the isolation facility did not come easy. Some were apprehensive about its location while others wanted a different project. “i-fight gyud ninyo na isolation [facility]. Kay sa musugot ta’g sa dili, atong problema is pandemya man” the Municipal Health Officer advised Felinita.

(Push for the isolation facility project, because whether we like it or not, we are facing a pandemic)

Barangay San Luis covers half of the entire municipality, and despite having a high number of population, they have kept their COVID-19 cases at bay. “Katong panahon nga daghan pa kaayo ang kaso, gamit gyud kaayo ang facility. Nahimo siya’g usa ka simbolo nga naka-away ang San Luis sa COVID-19” Felinita said.

(At that time when there was a surge of cases, the isolation facility is ready for use. It became a symbol of how San Luis fought against COVID-19.)

Today, the barangay is seeing high vaccination turnouts as people have been educated on the importance of vaccines. Along with rehabilitation of the old barangay hall turned isolation facility, KALAHI-CIDSS also provided personal protective equipment, supplies, and a set of audio speakers to aid their information, education, and communication activities.

“Sayo sa buntag mag announce na mi sa mga pahimangno ug mga advisory, kay farmers baya ang mga tawo diri. Naa mi mga trumpa bisan sa mga lagyo nga sitios.” Shared Felinita.

(We do public service announcements and advisories early in the morning because residents here are mostly farmers. We have set up speakers as well in faraway sitios.)

There are only two isolation facilities in Malitbog. The municipal isolation unit and the one in San Luis. In retrospect, Felinita shared how difficult it must be for their community to handle the COVID-19 situation without the isolation facility.  Felinita faced many crossroads in life, and fighting for the establishment of the isolation facility was one of them. A decision that she and the people behind her did not regret.

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Volunteer hones leadership potential through CDD

When it comes to organizing events and functions in his barangay, Brendo Quitat is a household name. But when KALAHI-CIDSS came in his community, becoming involved in sub-project management is a chance he did not miss.

It was year 2018 when the water system from KALAHI-CIDSS has started improving the living conditions of residents in barangay San Antonio West, Don Carlos, Bukidnon. After years of not being prioritized in the Municipal Inter-Barangay Forum—an event wherein volunteers of KALAHI-CIDSS presented their sub-project proposals, the water system project for San Antonio West was realized. Today, 10 tap stands located in various areas are providing sufficient potable water for the community.

Brendo served as the bookkeeper who managed records and important documentary requirements. Despite being busy as a farmer, Brendo makes time to manage the sub-project together with his fellow volunteers and BSPMC Chairman. According to him, being active in the community is something he takes from his relatives who are public officials in their barangay. But Brendo takes a different perspective.

“Dili na kailangan og posisyon aron makatabang ka sa katawhan. Ang pagka volunteer, usa na ka pamaagi nga naka serve ka, labi na kung para sa kaayohan.” (You don’t need to have a position to help out. Being a volunteer is already public service, especially if it is for the welfare of all.) Says Brendo.

This year, the additional financing of KALAHI-CIDSS in Brgy. San Antontio West will give the residents another opportunity to participate in community-driven development. Brendo says the approach is more people-centered and encourages bayanhihan. “Lahi ra man gud na’ng ma inform ang tanan, unsa’y gikinihanglan, para maka sulti mi, “unsa ma’y among ikatabang?” (It spells a big difference when everyone is informed, the needs are laid out, so we can say “what help do you need from us?)  

The community has proposed 14-units of solar street lights, solving concerns over safety and potential street crimes. This time, Brendo heads the Barangay Development Council-Technical Working Group (BDC-TWG) for the sub-project. “Si KALAHI, ga respond siya sa needs sa community. Kung nahimo namo sa water system nga imposible kayo to, why not kini karon.” (KALAHI responds to the needs of the community. If we were successful with our previous sub-project, why not this time?) Brendo said.

“Ang KALAHI, lahi gyud siya. Bahalag kuti. Ang mga vouchers, mga papel, plastar ug dayag. Pinaka na appreciate nako na… Mas mayo awaton sa barangay para secure ang project, ang [implementing] office ug community.”

(KALAHI stands out from the rest. Despite its rigorous process; the vouchers and paper works are intact and transparent. That’s what I appreciate most… It would be beneficial if the barangay adopts the same process so that every project is secured, the implementing office, and the community.)

Brendo gets a little help from his friends on their ongoing sub-project implementation. “Mga batan-on kasagara ang volunteers karon. Dali ra mabunlot. Naa na pod sila’y mga committee.” (Our volunteers now are mostly young people, they are easy to tap whenever needed. They have their own committees.)

When the pandemic discouraged community events and gatherings which Brendo and his youth group used to organize, they have shifted to working for their community’s development.

“Mas naikag ko kay naa na mi tubig, karon madugangan na pod ang among solar street lights, ug excited mi kay mas kusog gyud daw ang siga sa KALAHI.” (I am more eager to lead because we already have potable water, and now, our existing solar street lights will have additional units from KALAHI, which they say are a lot brighter than what we have at the moment.)

“Kung unsa’y output, dili raman pod ni para sa amo, para man sa tanan. Kung unsa’y success namo, success pod sa tanan.” (Our output will benefit not only a few, but the majority. Our success is the success of all.)

Volunteers like Brendo are motivated by several reasons: they want to improve the well-being of their community, they welcome challenges and personal growth, and they want to influence others. Brendo’s experience with KALAHI-CIDSS is a springboard to more leadership opportunities in the future—the empowerment that the Program aspires to see from all who take part in it.

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December 2021