Poetry stirs interest of villagers to participate in DSWD's anti-poverty program

Kaingon ko ba ang panahon way kapakyasan,
Abi ko ba nga ang adlaw ray musalop ug unya musubang;
Ingon man diay niini ang ugma dali rang makalimot,
Mga saad ug panumpa gihabulan sa imong kamot.

(I thought time does not fail,
That only the sun sets and then rises;
But love is like this—it easily forgets,
Promises and oaths are clothed by your hands.)

Rustico Mallosa, the barangay councilor of many verses, recites as he sits outside the barangay hall in the boondocks of Zamboanguita in Negros Oriental while a kundiman (a genre of Filipino love songs) plays in the background.

This was not the first time that Rustico used poetry. In fact, he is known for reciting balak, or Bisaya poetry. In their farming village in Barangay Najandig, Rustico uses his poetic words to catch people’s attention and lobby for community participation.

It was partly through this that he was able to inspire people to join Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS), one of the poverty alleviation programs of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), in order to get his fellow residents to help the program teach them to help themselves.

Kalahi-CIDSS is a DSWD program that seeks to help alleviate poverty through community-driven development (CDD), an approach that puts power back in the hands of the people by giving them the opportunity to make informed decisions on locally identified options for development and manage resources to implement sub-projects that address needs identified by communities themselves. It has since been scaled up into the KALAHI CIDSS-National Community-Driven Development Program (KALAHI CIDSS-NCDDP).

As a community, the residents of Brgy. Najandig chose the construction of a small road that will lead from their village to the Zamboanguita town proper. Their reason for picking this was simple: owing to the difficult and uneven terrain, with several large rocks along the path, only horses or people going on foot could pass through there. When it rains, the road becomes even more treacherous, as it becomes wet and slippery, making it more likely for travelers to get involved in accidents.

Knowing just how important it was for the road to be improved, Rustico actively promoted Kalahi-CIDSS in their community, and he encouraged the residents, usually by way of using the balak, to participate in the program’s activities in their barangay.

“Gipaspasan gyud namo ang MOA sa barangay aron ang mga proyekto malampuson. (We expedited the processing of Memorandum of Agreement [MOA] in the village to make the project a success),” Rustico said.

He was also one of those who pushed that a large part of the barangay’s money from the Municipal Development Council be used to increase the funding for the road project implementation before.

Rustico’s motivation was simple: as an elected official, he believed it was his duty to help his fellow villagers.

“Isip usa ka konsehal, maningkamot gyud ko nga matabangan ang mga katawhan sa barangay. Kaniadto, mahadlok ko mohatod og pasyente sa lungsod pinaagi sa akong motorsiklo. Karon makatabang na ko kay makahatod na ko dayon tungod sa mas maayo nga dalan (As a councilor, I strive to help the village constituents. Before, I have apprehensions in bringing the sick to town with my motorcycle because the road is very dangerous. Now, I can already help them get medical attention because the road to town is better),” Rustico proudly said, explaining that motorcycles can now traverse the road, allowing faster, easier access to and from Brgy. Najandig.

Furthermore, the farmers can now bring more goods to the market, allowing them to earn more, unlike in the past wherein they only could bring one sack at a time because they had to carry their products on foot.

The village’s appreciation of their new road is such that they are taking the steps necessary to ensure that it is taken care of. The maintenance of the completed road is always given time in the council’s barangay development meeting. Part of the council’s proposal is to impose a toll fee to big trucks that pass by the road.

Of course, it seemed only appropriate for Rustico to use the balak as a medium to express his appreciation for Kalahi-CIDSS, even as he used it to encourage the participation of people.

“Si Rustico Mallosa iyang ipaabot ang mga mihuras nga proyekto nahatag sa Kalahi-CIDSS pinaagi sa balak aron madungog sa tagtungod ug sa katawhan ang dako niyang kalipay sa maong proyekto sa Kalahi-CIDSS nga proseso (Rustico Mallosa uses poetry to demonstrate the improvements given by Kalahi-CIDSS so that those in the program and the public may know of his happiness in Kalahi-CIDSS’ process),” Glenda Gajelloma, a Kalahi-CIDSS volunteer describes.

Rustico was quick to explain what he appreciated about the DSWD program.

“Kung wala pa ang Kalahi-CIDSS, wala siguro mi paglaum nga mobarog pa. Among damgo nga makaabot og luwas ug mas dali sa lungsod dili gyud unta namo makita (If not for Kalahi-CIDSS, we may not have hope to improve. We wouldn’t see our dream of reaching town safe and fast),” Rustico said with a smile.

The arrival of Kalahi-CIDSS in their community is such that Rustico and the other local officials and residents have become encouraged to explore more options in pursuing their village’s development.

“Tungod sa Kalahi-CIDSS kami sa konseho nadani usab nga mas mo-implementar og lain pang mga proyekto para sa among barangay (Because of Kalahi-CIDSS, we in the council are also encouraged to implement other projects for the village),” Rustico said.

For example, Rustico, together with the rest of the barangay council and the Zamboanguita local government unit, invited Tubig Pilipinas, Inc., a non-government organization, to conduct a feasibility study to enable them to have a better water system in the future.

Through the efforts of the residents and local government of Brgy. Najandig and in partnership with Kalahi-CIDSS, the village may very well be on the path of progress, which while not as dramatic as Rustico’s beloved balak andkundiman, can still lead to changed lives in the community.###