They offer more than what they can give. They work more than what they are required to. They sacrifice more than what other people expect. They strive to learn. They share what they know. They lead. They serve. They are the Cupis women.
Cupis is one of the 21 barangays of Conner, Apayao. Conner is a 2nd class municipality and has been implementing the Kapit-bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) since 2012 under the funding of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) through the Millennium Challenge Account Philippines. Kalahi – CIDSS is one of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)’s core poverty reduction programs alongside the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program and the Sustainable Livelihood Program.
Since the first year of the program implementation in Conner, the women of Cupis have shown overwhelming support to the project, exerted extra effort, strived to learn more, and strived harder to excel further than the men.
The Challenge as Women Leaders
Men taking the role as the leaders has long been the norm in Conner. “When Kalahi [CIDSS] started here, they were talking about engaging women as leaders. We always thought back then, being a leader feels like it was a very big shoe to fill in,” said BSPMC Chairperson Jocelyn C. Pascua in the vernacular. Jocelyn, 45, is also a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program and a program participant under the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP).
“Sobrang pasasalamat ko nga po sa DSWD dahil sa sobrang dami ng mga trainings at seminars ng Kalahi [CIDSS], Pantawid [Pamilya], at SLP, ang laki po ng tiwala na binibigay ng mga tao sa akin. Maka-ilang beses na po akong nagpa-training ng weaving sa kapwa beneficiaries sa loob at labas ng Apayao. Noong nakaraang taon, nakuha ko po ang posisyon na Vice President ng Kalipi Women’s Organization dito sa Cupis. At noong April po, isa po ako sa representative ng Conner para sa selebrasyon ng Women’s Month sa Luna, Apayao. Nakapagperform kami roon,” Jocelyn proudly
“All women here in Cupis are already empowered, all because of Kalahi [CIDSS],” shared BSPMC Chairperson Lilia L. Andaya in the vernacular. Lilia, 51, is also a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Program. Aside from taking the role as a Pantawid Pamilya Parent Leader of Barangay Cupis, she also bravely took the role as the Barangay Sub-Project Management Committee (BSPMC) Chairperson during the 2nd cycle of Kalahi-CIDSS in their municipality.
“Noon talagang mga kalalakihan ang nasa posisyon. Ngayon, makikita na yung balance sa parehong gender. Hindi na issue ngayon ang taas ng pinag-aralan. Ngayon, nakadepende na sa puso – hanggang saan ang kaya mong gawin para makapagsilbi ka sa kapwa mo, ano ang kaya mong ibigay para sa bayan mo,” Lilia shares her thoughts on promoting gender equality through the Kalahi – CIDSS project.
BUILDING THE CENTER FOR ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT
Through the remarkable engagement of women in the implementation of community-driven development (CDD), Conner was able to receive a gender incentive grant (GIG) from MCC. Through this additional grant and the local counterpart contribution (LCC) from the Local Government Unit and people of Conner, they were able to build a 126 sq.m. Women’s Center amounting to a total of PHP2.6M. The center has been completed in January 2015.
Today, the women’s center can now be used by various women’s group in Conner for Skills Enhancement Trainings which can help aide in their economic status. As soon as they were able to complete the project, these women’s groups did not stop there. They continued to plan and outsource some funding for them to acquire materials and equipment they can use in the women’s center.
“Yung mga natutunan namin sa Kalahi-CIDSS, hindi natatapos sa Kalahi-CIDSS. Ngayon alam na namin na mas marami pa kaming kayang gawin. Madami pa kaming pwedeng matutunan. Hindi kami pwedeng tumigil dahil lang babae kami. Kailangan naming magpatuloy ng nasimulan namin dahil tao din kami, babae o lalaki, kabilang kami sa barangay na ito, sa munisipyong ito. Hangga’t hindi kami umaangat, hindi kami dapat tumigil matuto, maging matapat, maging totoo,” Lilia said, sharing her commitment for change.
Jocelyn and Lilia are just two of the women of Conner who believed in the power of CDD. They bravely took the seats as one of the leaders of their community. They now believe in themselves – with what they can do today and more years to come. They continue to prove that they are the new heroes of this generation. They are the Cupis women. #DSWD-CAR, SOCIAL MARKETING UNIT, STRELLE C. QUEJADO