“Ti pakakitaan ti abilidad iti maysa nga tao, babai wenno lalaki, ket saan gayam nga ti pisikal a kinapigsa, kinangato ti pinagadalanna wenno iti kaadu iti sanikuwana no di ketdi iti kinapudno a panagserbi iti padangatao.” (The measure of one’s ability, either a woman or a man isn’t the physical strength, educational attainment or financial capacity; it is her or his genuine drive or intention to serve her or his fellow.)

This testimonial came vocally from a 46-year old woman who has developed an attitude that is far from what she had before.

Lourdes Poclis of Barangay Besao West, Besao, Mt. Province said that she used to be a shy person, a very quiet woman that she didn’t disclose much of her feelings even to her husband. Though she rarely talked about her aspirations for her family, her hard work and determination say it all. “Uray no kasaanu ti kinarigat ti biag da, ni Lourdes ket naanus nga agpanunot iti nadalus a pamusposan tapnu matulongan na ti asawana nga agsapul para iti pamilya da ken tapnu matungpal ti arapaap da a makaturpos dagiti dua nga annak da” (Though [Lourdes’ family] know how hard life is, Lourdes is patient to think of ways on how she can help her husband on their family income in order to achieve their dream of having their two children graduate in school) her sister-in-law remarked.

Aside from her household works from waking up early to cook for their meals, cleaning their house, laundering their used clothes to other responsibilities at home, Lourdes still works in the farm with her husband. This is her way in helping her husband for their children’s education. According to Lourdes, her children will have better future with education unlike for her who once desired to finish her studies but wasn’t able to due to her family’s financial condition.


Awakened awareness

Though she kept mum on things she observed in their community while working, her mind kept on thinking and hoping for possibilities. Some questions boggled her mind such as why women are treated differently, why women workers in their barangay only receive Php 150 a day compared to the Php 200 salary of men on the same labor they did or why women seemed to have many duties in their everyday lives. She wanted to raise these concerns to their barangay or to her husband but she did not have the courage to discuss such matters.

When Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan- Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) came and started its implementation in their municipality, Lourdes was one of the residents who became community volunteers.  For Lourdes, being a member of the group where she can participate, listen, talk sometimes and learn were the only roles of a community volunteer. But as time progressed, she experienced how community volunteerism really works.

For the first cycle or year one of Kalahi-CIDSS’ Community Empowerment Activity Cycle (CEAC), their proposed communal irrigation system was not granted or prioritized.  Just like other volunteers, Lourdes was upset but she remained hopeful that there’s another cycle to be implemented.

Fortunately, in 2011, the second cycle was implemented. “Dyay cycle 2, nakita me no kasatnu dagiti community volunteers tayu nga situtulong da ti pag-andar dyay proseso ti Proyekto” (During the cycle 2, we saw how cooperative our community volunteers are in making the process of the Project works) the community facilitator recounted.

Lourdes voted as Participatory Situational Analysis volunteer during their second cycle. “Sakbay na ket agduadua ti panunot ni Lourdes nu awaten na ti posisyon na, ta mabuteng gapu ta baka di na ammo ti araramiden na ngem pinapigsana laeng ti riknana” (Before Lourdes accepted her position [as Participatory Situational Analysis volunteer], she was doubtful of her capacity that she might do wrong or can’t do her duties well but proceeded believing her guts on it) her co-volunteer confessed on how she reacted on her first position in the Project.


Imminent leadership and responsibilities

Little by little through the trainings she experienced under the Kalahi-CIDSS Project, Lourdes gained self-confidence.  She started to raise issues on her observed inequality to women in their barangay which other women supported. With this, they decided to request from their barangay for an equal compensation for labor to which their Barangay Captain responded. “Ditoy nga napaneknekan ni Lourdes nga nabileg gayam ti puwersa ti babai nu agmaymaysa kami” (Because of what Lourdes did, we proved that if us women will unite, we are stronger) their community facilitator said.

On the other hand, Lourdes admitted that with her community role which consumed her time, she encountered problems on how to balance it to address her responsibilities in their house. But she was thankful to her husband and children because they supported her. They helped her with the household chores. “Iti uneg iti maysa nga tawen a kas volunteer ket nakapag-adjust ak met” (I was able to adjust as a volunteer within a year), she shared.

After that, she slowly learned some characteristics of a leader. Because of their trust on her, they chose her to lead the Project Implementation Team (PIT) for the implementation of their drainage system project. She described the obligation as PIT volunteer bigger as it involved the monitoring of the sub-project’s implementation development which as the community said was the first time they had a woman did such work.

When they lacked workers for the sub-project, Lourdes’ leadership was tested. According to Area Coordinator Gemmuel Daria, she helped in mobilizing the community especially the women to join in the sub-project implementation in order to avoid its delay.

“Ammo tayu met nga aduti kabaelan iti maysa nga babai akas iti panag-hauling ken dadduma nga paset ti konstruksiyon ta saan laeng nga agtagibalay ken agtalon ti kaya ti babai nga aramiden akas pagarup dagiti lallaki nu di ketdi pati iti panagtrabaho iti konstruksiyon” (We knew that a woman can do many things, even hauling and other construction works because a woman is not just a housekeeper or a farmer, she can also work in construction), Lourdes explained on her side as one of the laborers.

With the active participation of Lourdes’ community, they had their cycle 3. She turned to volunteer herself as head of the Procurement Team which the rest of volunteers agreed to. With this position, she learned to manage the volunteers’ honorarium and the procurement of construction materials.

“Kas met laeng nag-graduate ak iti kolehiyo gapu kadagiti trainings nga inatendarak kasla dyay Procurement Training, Financial Management and Auditing. Tatta, ammo kon nga i-budget ti pundo ti maysa nga banag ta ngamin nu lumabeska iti nai-budget ket agkaproblema ken mabalin ko metten nga usaren iti uneg ti pagtaengan mi daytoy a dakkel a nasurok”(As if I was a college graduate because of the trainings I participated just like the Procurement Training, Financial Management and Auditing. Now, I know how to budget our funds, because if you exceed to what was allotted, definitely you’ll have a problem, and I can also use what I learned here our house.) Lourdes related.

Aside from her learning in procurement, Lourdes also learned on how to read program of works and plans of their sub-project. “Saan laeng gayam nga lalaki ti mabalin nga makabael no di ket mas nalalaing kami sa pay” (I just realized that, it’s not only for man, but I guessed we [women] can do it even better), Lourdes jokingly uttered.


True Leader

Currently, Lourdes is also a member of Kalipunan ng Liping Pilipina (KALIPI) to continue helping and supporting her town’s advocacy for development especially for women. She is not just a volunteer now, but she has also engaged in an organization which also pushes the advocacy she once initiated. From being a leader in her barangay, she now stands for a whole sector- the women’s sector.

Definitely, Lourdes evolved into a woman she didn’t think she could be. Unconsciously, as their barangay went through every cycle of the Project, she also went through her own phases of personal growth. As their sub-project was completed, she too achieved something – the learning and experiences which to her were her triumph in life. She just not acquired knowledge and skills, but she has transformed into a leader in her own ways.  #DSWD-CAR, SOCIAL MARKETING UNIT, MAYROSE URBANO-CARIŃO

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