Barangay Catengan, nestled in the southwest of the Municipality of Besao, is a community that has undergone a remarkable transformation. From a place with limited opportunities to a thriving hub of entrepreneurship and community development. Through the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) – Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, this barangay has witnessed significant changes, impacting not only its members but also the entire community.
Before the intervention of SLP, life in Catengan was quite challenging. Majority of its residents relied on rice farming, earning a meager monthly income ranging from PhP1,000 to PhP3,000. Some months brought no income at all, forcing families to depend solely on what they could grow for sustenance. Weaving skills were present but lacked the raw materials, and backyard swine raising was hindered by the absence of a hog feed supplier in the area. Catengan was a community facing adversity, and government grants and projects were the lifeline for its people.
In 2018, Catengan Small Raisers Association, a Sustainable Livelihood Program Association (SLPA), was formed to implement their chosen livelihood project – retail of sale of feeds to boost their backyard swine industry. Their chosen livelihood was challenged when an outbreak on African Swine Fever affected the sales of feeds due to the prohibition of import and export of hogs and pork products. Despite this, the Catengan Small Raisers Association persevered and managed to save an impressive income of PhP219,658.62 as of August 14, 2022. By the end of 2022, they even managed to distribute a profit share of Ph 2,755 to all its members. To proliferate the market and propel the sales of the SLPA, they decided to use 30% of the savings to procure additional stocks such as commercial rice, LPG tanks and additional brands of feeds. Similarly, the supply of hog feeds became available within the community sold at reasonable prices. The project addressed the demand for hog feeds and eased the burden of traveling especially for handicapped persons and elders just to buy from the nearest business capital in the province, Municipality of Bontoc
The second tranche of the project saw the introduction of rug weaving, opening new doors for Catengan. From March to June 2023, they built a substantial income of PhP240,699.00. Their products reached markets in Baguio City and Sagada, Mt. Province, gaining attention for their authenticity and quality. Catengan even participated in the Sustainable Livelihood Program National Launching event at MOA Arena in May 2023 to showcase their exquisite products.
Unity, active participation, and transparency among members have been the foundation of Catengan’s success. The SLPA maintained meticulous records of their financial transactions and have obtained registrations and permits to ensure the legitimacy of their enterprise. The members transformed from rice farmers with minimal incomes to entrepreneurs who learned valuable business skills by instilling a sense of ownership over their livelihoods.
The community’s active participation in festivals, events, and school activities has made them a recognized and respected group in the region. Their future holds promise of venturing into more complex designs and wider markets, both locally and nationally, as they continue to prosper and inspire.
Starting from a humble beginning, from retail sale of agricultural products, which brought the community’s needs closer to them during the time of crisis, they were able to explore their skills in weaving that helped them sustain their livelihood. Weaving, deeply rooted in their culture, has not only been preserved but has also become a source of better income. Through the SLP-PAMANA, these artisans were able to find their hidden skills and have woven their dreams into reality, creating a brighter future for themselves and their beloved barangay. #DSWD-CAR, Jezebel L. Gumatay, SLP Social Marketing Officer and Elizabeth Atiteo, Implementing Project Development Officer