Nurturing Basiao: A Mother's Story

 She dreamt of becoming a mother when she was just a young girl. For Juliana Calomot, it is every woman’s dream to carry a little soul inside her womb; that maternal instinct to nurture and care. This was the same reason why she married Jovito when she was just nineteen. Right after their wedding, she already planned their family and the number of chuckling kids she wanted to see playing around their house. But fate could be very unpredictable. Having her own kids has always been a teenager’s unanswered prayer.

Not until she entered Kalahi-CIDSS as a community volunteer.

“Karuyag ko duha la nga anak, usa nga lalaki ngan usa nga babaye pero waray man hira ihatag ha akon [I only wanted two kids, a boy and a girl but they were never given to me],” Juliana or Julie, now 43, said in a shy manner. Though she was never given the chance to become a mother, Julie never complained because she knew something will come that can fulfill her wish.

A Volunteer more than a Treasurer

For more than a year now, Julie has been an active volunteer of the Grassroots Participatory Budgeting Process (GPBP) initiative being implemented through the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi –CIDSS) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Julie recalled that there was nothing really happening in Brgy. Basiao before Kalahi-CIDSS. No projects, no development. It was only the barangay officials who were aware of the project and how funds were spent. What was worst, according to Julie, was when the people were no longer allowed to ask. They were not allowed to question.

“Kun may bag-o nga proyekto it brgy.diri lugod nalilipay it mga tawo kay maaram kami nga mayda naman ito pulitika ha luyo hito. Mas maupay pa lugod kun waray project para waray makakawat [Our people were not happy if there is a new project because we knew that there was politics behind it. It is better if we don’t have a project, at least there is nothing to steal from],” Julie explained.

But their local administration changed when Kalahi-CIDSS entered the picture.

“Tungod han proyekto han Kalahi-CIDSS, nagkamay-ada na kusog it mga tawo kay naihahayag it proyekto hit gobyerno. It mga babaye, dire la kita tubtob dida. May-ada pa ngay-an durudako nga mabubuhat naton. Bisan high school la ako, maaram ako nga kaya ko [Through the projects of Kalahi-CIDSS, people are already empowered because government projects are exposed. Women are no longer restrained. There are even greater things that we can do. Though I was just a high school graduate, I know I can do it]”, Julie proudly stated.

Kalahi-CIDSS uses the Community-Driven Development (CDD) strategy which puts power back in the hands of the people by providing trainings so they can gain knowledge and skills which can help them manage resources and implement projects that will address needs identified by the communities themselves. Aside from Kalahi-CIDSS’ primary objective on community empowerment, local governance in Brgy. Basiao improved a lot because of its focus on the principle of transparency and accountability.

“Pag-abot han Kalahi-CIDSS, waray na color coding hit paghatag hin projects kay kami naman nga mga tawo it nag-bubuot. Tapos it mga tawo ngadi may-ada income hit ira labor [When Kalahi-CIDSS entered, there was no more color-coding on the grant of projects because it is the people who decide. People are already earning their own income because of their labor]”, she added.

For Julie who spends most of her time with her community, she wanted to be recognized by her neighbors as a community volunteer and not just a Brgy.Treasurer. She shared, “Mas karuyag ko unta tawagon nga volunteer kay it akon pag-suporta ngan pagtrabaho dire kay tungod nga mag-ada ko honorarium komo ka treasurer. Bisan mahuman na it akon term, diri ko babayaan it Kalahi-CIDSS [I prefer to be called a volunteer because I work and support the project not for the sake of my honorarium as a treasurer. Even after the end of my term, I will never leave Kalahi-CIDSS].”

Something for the Kids

Though Julie and husband Jovito are childless, the couple were very happy when the proposed construction of their Brgy. Daycare Center was prioritized. “Bisan waray namon anak, nalilipay kami nga may-ada na bag-o nga eskwelahan hit mga bata ha daycare [Though we do not have a child, we are still happy because the children here have a new daycare school]”, Julie proudly shared.

Julie explained that the old daycare center which was located below the barangay hall can no longer accommodate the children of Basiao because of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program which is a conditional cash transfer program of DSWD. One of the program’s conditionalites is sending children to school, a major reason why the number of daycare enrollees increased in the said barangay.

According to Julie, although there are still some people in their barangay who question the Kalahi-CIDSS process, they can always deal with it. She even stressed out that they are not afraid to disclose any information because they are guided by the Kalahi principle of transparency.

She said, “Diri kami nahadlok pagbaton it mga pakiana kay waray man namon gintatago. [We are not scared to answer all inquiries because we have nothing to hide].” Julie even added that if people ask, they see to it that every detail that they provide could be easily understood by their communities. They even provide visual aids or info graphs made from scrap materials in order for the people to understand the implementation process of the sub-project and the total cost behind it.

A Mother of Basiao

Juliana believes that there is a reason for everything. She knew that there is a reason why she was not given the special gift to have her own baby. This is because she has a greater purpose more than she had ever dreamed of; that is to nurture a bigger family, her own community.

“Pag lumagas kami, may-ada nam itutudlok nga parte kami hito nga proyekto, parte kami hito nga pagpakaupay hit amon barangay [When we get older, we have something to look back and point into that we are part of that project, that we are part of something that can improve our barangay]”, Julie said tearfully.

When asked if she still prays for a child, she just smiled timidly then she answered, “Baga hin nanay naman ako tungod hit Kalahi [I am already a mother because of Kalahi].”

Julie’s work as a volunteer has also inspired her husband to support their project. Though Mano Jovito is a busy fisherman, he has also devoted his time helping his wife do some paper works and coordinate with their local community.

Julie believes that her role as a mother was fulfilled because of Kalahi-CIDSS and her dreams for her barangay is starting to be realized. “Simple la it akon usa nga hingyap, basta tagan la kita hin lawas nga maupay. Diri na ak naaro hin anak. Siguro amo na ini an akon misyon nga kaya ko magbag-o ngan maghatag hin pagbag-o ha iba nga tawo, asya amu na ini an ginhatag ha akon [I only have one simple wish and that is good health. I am no longer asking for a child. Maybe this is my mission, that I can make a change and spread that change to other people, that is why it was given to me]”, Julie concluded with pride. #