Bontoc, Mt. Province– It all started with a legal complaint against the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Bontoc that a convergence project was born.

In 2012, a case for the issuance of a Writ of Kalikasan was filed by the Kalinga Anti-pollution Action Group (KAAG) against the municipality of Bontoc due to the latter’s open dumpsite situated at Sitio Matotoy-ok. This 2nd class municipality is geographically bounded on the northeast by Tinglayan, Kalinga,

Because of the compromise agreement which became a court resolution, the LGU of Bontoc had to rehabilitate and re-vegetate the area. And on 22 August 2013, the LGU was able to close the Matoytoy-ok Dumpsite.

However, despite the LGU’s massive information and education campaign regarding garbage segregation and ecological solid waste management, the closure of the community dumpsite opened another concern for the LGU. It was then that the people of Bontoc realized that they should address the concern on waste management together. Thus, the idea for the Bontoc Senior Citizens’ Sustainable Livelihood Project from residual wastes was born.

Steps to progress

The project named as Pathways to Progress: Eco-brick and Eco-block making for Residual Wastes was then proposed to be funded by the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

The project was then approved and funded under the Bottom-Up-Budgeting (BUB) process which is an approach used by the Government to provide opportunities for localized decision-making and community empowerment. Under the BUB, LGUs are allowed to prepare budget proposals for community identified projects.

The Bontoc Senior Citizen’s group through the LGU was granted Php 200,000.00 seed capital for the said project. Out of the grant, they were able to construct an eco-park and purchase a plastic shredder and metal forms for the production of eco-blocks and eco-bricks. To complement this, the LGU requested a bottle crusher from the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The LGU also procured a glass cutter to complete the equipment needed for the project. With the additional resources from the LGU and other NGAs, the Senior Citizen’s venture has now a project cost of Php 1 million.

To further ensure the success of the project and to inculcate the practice of proper waste management, the municipality launched its Oplan Pera sa Basura (OPSB) wherein all elementary and high schools in the municipality collected recyclable wastes. Schools that were able to collect the most number of waste materials were given cash prizes which are being used by the school administration, Parents Teachers Associations (PTAs) and student bodies for their projects. The collected materials are used as raw materials for the senior citizen’s livelihood project. In partnership with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), out-of-school youth (OSY) were hired by the LGU under its Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES) for the preparation of the materials for crushing or shredding and for the storage of the end products. And the Federated Association of Senior Citizens in Bontoc inked a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the LGU of Bontoc whereas the latter would be the provider of raw materials for the senior citizens’ project.

“The OPSB is now on its’ second year of implementation. Aside from the fact that it helps us in ensuring that we have enough raw materials for this recycling project, what is more important is that our students here are taught proper waste segregation,” Bontoc Mayor Franklin Odsey shared.

Building blocks

To materialize the project, the Senior Citizens’ association also signed a MOA with the Provincial Jail allowing the inmates to serve as the project’s labor force in the production of eco-bricks and eco-blocks. The inmates are paid Php 2.00 for each piece that they produce. Through this action, the inmates have been provided physical exercise while earning some income for their personal needs.

Noon wala pa itong project na ito, mas madalas ang away dahil wala kaming pinagkakaabalahan. Pero ngayon, inilalaan na lang namin yung  oras namin sa paggawa ng eco-blocks at eco-bricks, nakakapag-exercise na kami, may nagagawa pa kaming produktibo,” one of the inmates shared.

This has been attested by Jail Officer William Maske Jr. “Bukod sa nagbago ang attitude ng ating mga inmates, natulungan din kami ng project na ito dahil hindi kami nahihirapang i-manage sila dahil nagkakaisa sila sa pag-tratarabaho sa project,” Maske added.

In support to this project, the LGU has bought around 17,000 eco-blocks to be used for the DSWD’s Core Shelter Assistance Project (CSAP) in Barangay Caneo benefitting 79 households including 17 Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program partner beneficiaries. The CSAP is implemented by the DSWD in partnership with LGUs to provide safer homes to families who have been identified by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau to be residing in hazardous areas.

The LGU further plans to require the use of eco-blocks and eco-bricks in LGU-funded infrastructure projects. And to ensure the continuous development of the Project, Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program Parent Leaders were tapped and capacitated by the LGU to serve as force multipliers by being advocates and co-manager of the Project. The Parent Leaders now promote the products and help the Senior Citizens in managing the project.

The project that originally aimed to help address waste management issues has now produced greater impact to the community. Apart from providing income to the senior citizens and maximizing their management skills, the Pathways to Progress Project is now a major convergence activity for the people of Bontoc. It has been providing a source of livelihood to the often neglected sector of the community- the inmates, while providing them a worthwhile pursuit. Same is true for the hired OSYs who might have better chances of going back to school. National government agencies like the DENR, DSWD, DTI, and DOLE have come together to support the community’s endeavor.

This convergence effort among the various stakeholders of Bontoc proves that even a simple cause can bring enormous impact for the community. For Bontoc, the contribution of each stakeholder be it big or small, when put together, create building blocks to the community’s progress. # DSWD-CAR, Social Marketing Unit, Nerizza Faye G. Villanueva


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