It was the sounds of gongs that woke up this cold December night in the village of Padangaan. Here in Besao, Mt. Province as well as in other parts of the Cordillera, the gongs or gangsa echo beats of triumph or celebration for all other communities to hear. People come together to celebrate a union of a man and a woman, the birth of child or even in death to celebrate the life of a kailyan (kinfolk).
In this night however, it was neither a wedding nor a festival that these gongs echo for. The loud beats fill the new day care center built by the community through the KALAHI-CIDSS Project. Men and women dance around the building in synchronized rhythms of the metal instruments.
The community is celebrating progress.
In April 2010, the municipality of Besao began its first cycle of the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services or KALAHI-CIDSS, the community driven development program of the DSWD that brings empowerment and development directly to the people in the barangay. In 2010, Besao was the only area to implement KALAHI-CIDSS for 2010 and was still under the funding of the World Bank.
“Undeniably, people’s participation in development planning and implementation is very low…” said Modesto Gaab, the Municipal Planning and Development Coordinator (MPDC) of Besao in his report on their first cycle of KALAHI-CIDSS implementation. “In terms of project planning and implementation, they are left with no options but to accept whatever is given them. “It’s practically a ‘damn if you do and damn if you don’t’, situation, “he added.
Against this backdrop and on foresight, the entry of the KALAHI-CIDSS would radically change the community dynamics and project development landscape of the municipality.
In just nine months of implementation and even at its first cycle, the nine prioritized communities were able to complete all sub-projects and finish in record time. Much of this success can be attributed to the unique indigenous values of the people that paved the way to this major accomplishment.
Indigenous Music in Harmony with Development
In the Cordillera, indigenous community values have always been a stalwart foundation of the people’s success. The famed Banaue Rice terraces in Ifugao is an example of how communities come together to work for the good of everybody in the village. The people see the value of working, even for free, if it would benefit the whole community.
The values of ogogbo and galatis are two of the main indigenous principles that the people of the region used to follow in terms of working for development. “The values of Ogogbo or simply sacrificing for the common good of the community and Galatis or volunteerism for the common good are still practiced to some extent in the locality,” said Gaab.
Before KALAHI-CIDSS, other development projects that were implemented in the communities have hindered the reliving of these values. The community may have limited or even no participation in the implementation of projects and they lose touch of the importance of working for the welfare of the community.
When the Municipal Orientation was conducted, the common reaction from the community representatives was a “wait and see” attitude. While the facilitators put great emphasis on the project as being participatory and transparent, there were participants who were still in doubt and had “to see is to believe” reservations.
“This is a normal reaction expected from people who had been used to “broken promises” brought about by past development programs and projects,” narrated Gaab.
With the KALAHI-CIDSS participatory and empowerment structure however, the people have found themselves reviving these age-old values even more. The people of Besao found the project to be a way for them to “own” the development that would come to their communities. It has radically turned the tides around for how they perceive development in their barangays.
Singing the Same Song
In Padangaan, the people found these indigenous values relevant for them to successfully construct their needed day care center. The community came together to discuss the project.
“Before our children had to walk to the old multipurpose center which served as the day care. The center had no fence even if there was a landing beside it and the men usually had drinking sessions at the near dap-ay that added to the noise and danger to our children going there,” Jane Liwan, Barangay Sub-Project Management Committee chairperson for the project narrated.
The people responded to the call and laborers from the barangay, men and women, came in to pitch free work as their barangay counterpart to the project. Even members of the local police, the army and the bureau of fire protection came in to lend a hand.
“I approached the police and the army to ask them if they could help with the hauling of sand and gravel from the town center. We started with four policemen and soldiers coming every day to haul aggregates. But they suddenly found the value of the work being done here so suddenly we had 10 service men not only carrying sand and gravel but also doing some masonry and carpentry work. The BFP also came to do the electrical wiring for the lights and plugs,” added Liwan.
Other members of the community also came in to give their support to the project. In the community accountability reporting of Padangaan, the people donated more than P50,000 worth of food for volunteers and construction supplies while implementing the project. They saw that a little sacrifice in any form is important to complete their goal. It almost came in naturally to the people to come together. Liwan said, they just needed something to boost them.
The music goes on
During the barangay accountability reporting, the children lined up and performed for the audience. It was a song of gratitude. It was a song that thanked the people who worked hard for them to have a place to sing.
The day care center is now the second home of the 16 children in the barangay. The now concrete structure protects them from the rain or harsh sun and makes sure that they only focus on making their minds and their futures brighter.
The municipality, together with the residents of Padangaan, was also able to provide new chairs and materials to improve even more the services of their new center. The day care center breathed a new life to these children’s path to learning.
The beats of the gongs now echo a different harmony, one that is of progress and hope. It is the music of the children coming to day care every day without mothers fearing for their safety.
Now, they can sing their songs and learn their ABCs without having to worry about the changing ambiance outside. It is the hope that their community came together to do something not only for themselves but also for their children. It is the music that goes on and on. A song they will always sing from now on.