Malabbaga is one of the barangays in the municipality of La Paz. It is home to 312 households whose main livelihood is rice farming and trading, and animal husbandry. It hosts an elementary school and a day care center with total enrollees of 240.

Time and again, the community suffered from walking through unpaved and usually muddy road within the barangay. In a group interview with Grade 6 pupils, they recounted that they would always reach school or get home with muddy footwear.

Lorna Belena, principal of Malabbaga Elementary School also recalls “one night when I was rushing to attend a wake, my sandals were stuck on the mud so I opted to remove my shoes and walk barefooted.”

Now that the road from Sitio Salindeg to Malabbaga Elementary School is concreted, the Grade 6 pupilscheerfully expressed that they can reach school clean and dry after the road concreting.Some of them stated that they don’t have to worry carrying their younger siblings during the rainy season when the road gets worse.

Belena also said that she is happyand confidentwalking through the road even at night.“Dagitoy ubbing ket haandan nga marigatan magna ti rough road nga umay ditoy eskuwelaan ken haan dan nga nagrugit no agay-ayam da man dita kalsada (It is not difficult for these children to walk through rough road to come to school now and they don’t are not soiled even if they play along the road)”,she added.

Barangay Captain Romulo Now, the community is grateful that they can walk through the road with their heads high.

Also, Community Volunteer Jovy Ola recalls that there was a time wherein a woman in labor was being rushed to the hospital but with the unpaved road, the tricycle has to be pushed by couple of men.

Ola, a plain housewife said that she became a volunteer because sheearnestly wished that her community can walk on better road. “Kayat ko nga mayat  ti pagnaan mi ti isasangbay na nga baro nga tawen tapno haan kamin nga maitibtibkol (I want our road to be fixed already before new year so we will not be tripping anymore)”, she expressed.

For the people of Malabbaga, apart from the changes mentioned above, the road transformed their access to education. It also connected the houses to the farm-to-market road which made it faster to transport their products to town.

However, achieving these changes was not a bed of roses as they have to go through several challenges which they successfully overcame.

Tenacity is what matters

The community has submitted a proposal to Kapit-bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services( Kalahi-CIDSS) Project but did not make the cut for the priority list in 2012 and 2013.

Kalahi-CIDSS Project is one of the core poverty reduction programs of the Philippine Government which aims to empower poor communities through the Community-Driven Development (CDD). This is an approach that gives control over planning decisions and investment resources for local development projects to communities. It follows the Community Empowerment Activity Cycle (CEAC), a tool being used to empower communities. Each cycle lasts for a year.

Most of the community members were already discouraged and didn’t want to pursue their proposal anymore. Di naabak kami ti Cycle 1 and 2 ket kasla naawanan dan ti ganas (When we lost during Cycle 1 and 2, it’s like the community has already lost their spirit)”, Espiritu said.

“Ti panag-convince ti tattao nga ag-volunteer ti narigat ta(Convincing people to volunteer for this project was the real challenge)”, Espiritu said. He lamented that when he calls for an assembly, most of the community members do not attend since they don’t believe that it will be approved.

Espiritu admitted that they thought of not joining the MIBF in 2014 but he still mobilized his people to dramatize their situation during the Municipal Inter-Barangay Forum (MIBF).Gapo ta sakitek met, sinmali kami manen ket kaasi na iti 3rd cycle ket nag-number 2 kami idiay prio (Since I care for it, we joined again and by grace we made it to number two in the priority list during the 3rd cycle)”, he beamed.

MIBF is part of the CEAC where project proposals are prioritized and approved by the communities themselves.

They received PhP 1, 266, 166.74 from Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) through KALAHI-CIDSS program of DSWD and PhP243, 115.72 from the Municipal Local Government Unit of La Paz totaling to PhP 1, 509, 282.46.

During the implementation, Malabbaga had problems on the procurement but despite that they were able to complete their project. True enough with the wish of Jovy Ola, the community was able to say goodbye to muddy slippers before Christmas and New Year.# DSWD-CAR, SOCIAL MARKETING UNIT, Jasmin Kiaso

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