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Tubig Guinoo Women sets Social Change through Collective Action


Through Kalahi-CIDSS’ CDD (Community-Driven Development) Approach, women are given equal opportunity to work and earn in the construction of their community projects

History tells that subordination of women remains to be the basis of their exclusion in the development sphere. But today, it is only an empowering sight to see women give their unparalleled power for the community’s growth through DSWD’s Kalahi-CIDSS program.

In Barangay Tubig Guinoo, Kawayan, Biliran, a group of women pioneered collective action in order to resolve their most pressing needs.

 

Women and Water in Tubig Guinoo

Barangay Tubig Guinoo is situated at the foot of Mount Panamaw, the source of bountiful water that gives supply to other barangays. It is named ‘Tubig Guinoo’ for the same reason. However due to its location, residents living within are always at a perilous situation. When bad weather hits, the water in the area overflows, leaving them with no option but to evacuate. Thus,the construction of flood control system was seen by the community as an intervention needed to be prioritized to address their long-time problem.

 

However, there was initial hesitation when Kalahi CIDSS started in the community. For years, Tubig Guinoo lost their trust on government agencies that promised them aid.

All residents were doubting the program and where hesitant to participate in the activities. Most of them were afraid that it might only be the same with other agencies which promised them change but with unfulfilled result.

Yet, Barangay Sub-Project Management Committee Chairperson Corazon Pardenas, a woman whose passion is to serve her community, encouraged people to work with the program. Through her persuasive efforts and leadership, the community successfully completed the construction of a 55-linear meter flood control for Cycle 1 and 235 linear-meter Flood Control from its original Sub-Project of 155 linear-meter with a PhP 2.9 million Kalahi-CIDSS grant for Cycle 2 implementation. In addition to, only 90% of its total fund was utilized which was accomplished before the target date of completion.

BSPMC Pardenas even took the courage to present during the Barangay Assembly another sub-project using the excess materials from their previous Cycle 2 sub-project, to construct an Open Canal in Tubig Guinoo Elementary School. Even though there were no longer available funds for labor,  Pardenas presented that female community volunteers will pursue through Bayanihan in order to realize the proposed project. Barangay Local Government Unit (BLGU) officials witnessed their dedication; they offered free snacks for the volunteers during the working days. The 30-linear meter Open Canal was completed for only a week and this noteworthy initiative of Kalahi-CIDSS volunteers now protects families from the threat of soil erosion.

 

Women on Social Empowerment

On the process, the community most especially BSPMC Chairperson Corazon Pardenas came to love Kalahi-CIDSS’ Community-Driven Development (CDD) strategy. She said it is inclusive, participative and empowering most especially to women. For her, CDD gave women the equal opportunity to challenge their stereotyped reproductive roles, and experienced social and economic development.

BSPMC Pardenas asserted, “Kung unsay matrabaho sa lalaki, matrabahu sad diay sa babae. The process improved the confidence of women to do manly work because of the experience during project implementation; pag-masa, pag-ayag sa buhangin, mag finishing… During sa open canal implementation, kung unsaon pag put-up sa hollow blocks, mag socking sa baras, maghakot sa baras pag dayong dayong og uban pa. [Women can perform jobs that are expected to be performed by men. The process improved the confidence of women to do manly work because of the experience during project implementation; We can do masonry work. During sa open canal implementation we can carry sacks of sand so we can put up hollow blocks, and other tasks].” BSPMC Pardenas shared that all female community volunteers became more confident of themselves now that they can decide and implement sub-projects, far from when they usually do in their households.

 

Corazon Pardeñas also added that being a BSPMC enables herself to assume a leadership position and manage an organization. Through her involvement in Kalahi-CIDSS, she realized her potential and abilities in financial management, community procurement and project implementation. But above all, she now discovered that she has the capacity and passion to lead. Through Kalahi–CIDSS’ provision of skills training and other capacity building initiatives, Corazon and the women of Tubig Guinoo can now say that they can do greater things for their community with their collective action.

 

Women and the voice to Influence

Liramae Catalvas, a former Community Empowerment Facilitator of Kawayan, Biliran also expressed her appreciation and gratitude to the community volunteers of Barangay Tubig Guinoo especially for their commitment and active participation in the program.

“The community volunteers can conduct special sessions on their own. Their initiative to address community concerns immediately is what I appreciate most in this barangay”. She added that BSPMC Corazon volunteered to be a spokesperson of Kalahi CIDSS to other barangays of Kawayan wherein her primary task is to advocate and promote the gains and impact of CDD and encouraged all sectors, most especially women, to put forward their voice and ideas.

She asserted, “Ako sila gi-ingnan nga expected sa mga kababaihan ang naa lang sa balay pero natuo ko nga kada baji duna nay ikacontribute nga ilang skills dili unta sila mahadlok nga ishare kini og gamiton ilang kakayanan og boses para makatabang sila sa igkasi katawo. [I believe that although women are only expected to stay at home, they can contribute their skills. They should not be afraid to share their strength and voice in order to help other people. That is what I usually tell them]”.

Community volunteers’ direct management of sub-projects and their acquired knowledge on Kalahi-CIDSS process gave them the technical know-how in the planning, budgeting and construction of a 30-linear meter open canal on their own. Kalahi-CIDSS’ activities serve also as an avenue for women to participate through barangay assemblies and meetings where their presence and opinions matter.

It is undeniable that because of patriarchal structures, it hinders women to get involved in decision-making processes but this yet again was conquered by the women of Tubig Guinoo. Through Kalahi-CIDSS, women were able to present and speak their minds in a political discourse and able to “set agenda”.

BSPMC Pardenas took pride of the sub project, “women can now have the ability to be a leader [to lead and decide], ability to let our voice be heard.”

Women reliving the Bayanihan Spirit

It is very apparent that bayanihan was demonstrated by the women of Tubig Guinoo when they worked in unison for the construction of an Open Canal, without expecting anything in return.    But BSPMC Pardenas shared as well how the collective action of Community Volunteers, BLGU and community has been the key for successfully realizing their sub-project for Cycle 1 and Cycle 2, including the women-initiated Open Canal.

BSPMC Pardenas stated, “The community volunteers are actively participating in the whole Kalahi-CIDSS program implementation. Everyone is committed to their responsibility and to the whole program in general.”

 

She added that Community Volunteers maximized their resources to complete their deliverables in a timely manner. Part of the volunteers’ strategy is to work closely with barangay council members. Community Volunteers were even grouped according to the existing zones of Tubig Guinoo where they were assigned to each barangay councilor, specifically for information dissemination and CDD advocacy.

 

She also emphasized,  “Ipadayon ang kooperasyon, open nga komunikasyon ug aksyon para sa komunidad. Kung unsa ang nasugdan dapat po nga mapadayon.[We should continue our cooperation, open communication, and collective action for the community. We will sustain what we have started].”

 

Though Brgy. Tubig Guinoo was not prioritized during Cycle 3 resource allocation, their BSPMC office is still functional and BSPMC Pardenas still regularly attend and participate during barangay sessions. At present,  Community volunteers also helped the Brgy.  Committee on Infrastructure through the conduct of a monthly project inspection and clean-up drive when necessary. They also function as community spokespersons where they provide information and feedback to Barangay Council regarding sub-project status for Operation and Maintenance purposes.

 

Philippines is continuously improving its efforts towards addressing gender-based issues. Kalahi-CIDSS program, through its CDD strategy, is raising awareness and at the same time providing opportunities for inclusive empowerment especially to marginalized sectors of the community, including women. Kalahi-CIDSS program takes action for equal development while sustaining social change.

To date, there are 48, 578 female BSPMC Chairpersons in Eastern Visayas. The figure alone tells us that women can lead, decide and initiate for development. Through Kalahi-CIDSS, women are not only nurturing mothers but active workers for social change, not only for their families but for the community as well.

As part of its mandate to empower women, Kalahi-CIDSS ensures that 30% of the total workforce hired for the construction of a community infrastructure should be allocated to women through paid labor.

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