Community-driven development provides new opportunities for Surigao del Sur village

Barobo, Surigao del Sur – In her simple attire, no one paid attention to Precila M. Cabillo, 47, even with the bright piece of paper with the word ‘Volunteer’ pinned on her shirt.

All eyes gravitated toward her, however, once she tells her story on how the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services-National Community-Driven Development Program (KALAHI CIDSS-NCDDP) was able to help transform the lives of the residents of Barangay Javier.

Barangay Javier became one of the model communities of KALAHI CIDSS-NCDDP’s Grassroots Participatory Budgeting Process (GPBP) implementation  in CARAGA.

KALAHI CIDSS-NCDDP uses the community-driven development (CDD) approach to ensure that citizens become actively involved in local decision-making, even as they are provided the opportunity to have improved access to basic social services.

GPBP, formerly known as Bottom-Up Budgeting (BUB), is a strategy of the government for the citizens, particularly the poor,  to participate in the local budgeting process to ensure that programs and services are responsive to their needs.

Being a CDD program, the involvement of people is critical to KALAHI CIDSS-NCDDP implementation. This is a problem that first-time program implementers at the grassroots level usually struggle with, especially when it comes to participation, as people do not know for sure whether or not the system actually works.

For Brgy. Javier, this was not a problem as the villagers worked together almost from the beginning when KALAHI CIDSS-NCDDP entered the community.

“Gikan sa sugod, dili lang isa ka binuhat ang nag-desisyon kundi ang kadaghanan miapil sa pag-ila unsa gyud ang dakong gikinahanglan sa komunidad (Even from the start, one person did not make the decision, but rather almost the entire village joined in identifying what is the most pressing need of our community),” Precila said.

When asked why, she said that most villagers got interested in KALAHI CIDSS-NCDDP because it introduced a new system of realizing projects, one that includes community-level decision-making, even those from the grassroots. Their interest in CDD enabled them to easily adjust to KALAHI CIDSS-NCDDP, despite its meticulous requirements.

Another factor that got them interested in the program is that it enabled them to learn not only about each phase in implementing community projects, it also allowed them to know about the status of their village. They were also able to develop certain skills, including but not limited to the areas of fund management, procurement, and construction work.

Precila said that volunteers first trained before they implemented the project. This experience was priceless for the volunteers as they were able to discover their skills.

“Ang kalami sa proseso sa Kalahi kay ang paghatag ug usa ka butang nga dili gyud kabayran ug sure jud nga magpabilin, mao kana ang kahibalo (What is good about KALAHI CIDSS-NCDDP is that it gave us something that cannot be bought by money and something that will stay with us – knowledge),” she said.

Love for knowledge

It is Precila’s love for knowledge that spurred her to become involved in KALAHI CIDSS-NCDDP.

Javier residents identified the construction of a day care center as their project because their old one was already dilapidated and placed right along the road, putting pupils at risk of accidents.

Despite not having any children of her own who would benefit from the day care, Precila continued to serve as a volunteer.

As she said to her fellow villagers, “Wala man ko anak, pero nakasabot ko sa gibati sa mga ginikanan nga gusto pud nila ampingan ilang mga anak (I don’t have a child but I understand that these mothers in the neighborhood want to protect their children).”

Her dedication to the project is the reason why she was chosen as the Barangay Project Management Committee (BPMC) Chairperson, the de facto leader of the KALAHI CIDSS-NCDDP volunteers in March 2013.

She opined that part of the reason why she was chosen as the leader was because she served as a community organizer for Indigenous Peoples in a non-government organization in the past.

For the other residents, however, it is because of her sense of volunteerism and leadership skills that got her voted as the BPMC Chairperson.

“Abtik man gud siya ug naa jud siya potensyal nga mahimong lider (She is active and she has the potential to become a leader),” said Maritez L. Delos Santos, one of Precila’s fellow volunteers.

Serving in a different capacity

In October 2013, Precila decided to serve her community in a different capacity. She ran for – and won – as a Barangay Councilor.

Winning the elections, however, meant that she had to give up her position as the BPMC Chairperson, which went to Allan Adlawan, another active volunteer of KALAHI CIDSS-NCDDP in Javier.

“Naglisod ko sa sugod kay nipuli ra ko ni Madam Precila, pero ni-suporta ra man gihapon siya sa amoa (It was hard for me at first because I only replaced Madam Precila, but she remained supportive to us),” said Allan.

Even if she was no longer the BPMC Chairperson, Precila continued to actively support the construction of their KALAHI CIDSS-NCDDP day care center, as she said that she made it her commitment to do so.

“Bisan dili na ako ang BPMC, pero volunteer ra gihapon ko ug nagpabilin nga lumulupyo sa Javier (I may no longer be the BPMC, but I am still a KALAHI CIDSS-NCDDP volunteer and I remain a resident of Javier),” Precila declared.

The Javier residents, including Precila, were pleased when their day care center, which had a total cost of P774,058, was finally completed in January 2014, especially upon seeing its colorful furnishings inside.

The pupils in particular were excited to study in their brand-new room, a big improvement from the dilapidated structure they previously studied in.

This day care center is expected to benefit the 380 households in Javier, 257 of which belong to the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, the conditional cash transfer program of the DSWD.

“Magtudlo-tudlo na gani akong anak nga dira daw siya mag-school kay nindot daw (My child pointed out the building while saying he wants to study there),” shared Sarah Madelo, the Project Implementation Team Chairperson, one of the volunteer sub-committees for KALAHI CIDSS-NCDDP in Javier.

Precila, together with her fellow KALAHI CIDSS-NCDDP volunteers, considers the construction of the day care center a great accomplishment for them.

Precila said that every one who took part in the project’s completion feels proud and fulfilled upon seeing the output of the unending assemblies, meetings, and unlimited paper works.

She that the bayanihan spirit is something that is innate in every Filipino’s heart,  it  just needs to be awakened.

Ang proyektong ito ay nagpapakita ng pagkakaisa ng mga mamamayan at lokal at nasyonal na pamahalaan tungo sa pagbabago (This project reflects the unity of the residents and the local  and  national governments towards positive change),” Precila stated.###