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The Gentlemen of Volunteerism

The Gentlemen of Volunteerism
Nido Timagos together with her daughter talks about their experience with Kalahi-CIDSS

Nido Timagos together with her daughter talks about their experience with Kalahi-CIDSS

 “Di mi kaligu, wa mi isabaw sa among nilungag, di mi kahugas plato ug sanina. Samut kalisud gyud sa una. Tanan mi tubig gud ang problema.” (We couldn’t bathe, cook, and we couldn’t even wash our clothes and dishes. It was really hard then. Apparently, water was everyone’s concern then.) Nido Timagos blurted when asked about the usual problem they encountered in their community before a life-changing experience.

Nido Tamagos resides in Barangay Tagulo, Tukuran, a 4th class municipality of Zamboanga del Sur. One of the most important industries here is fisheries. Its long stretch fine black sand lures the dwellers in the nearby municipalities to spend their weekend getaway. It seems so ironic for a place surrounded by water to have lack of access to safe and potable water.

Nido is a father to 2 children with ages 6 and 3 years old. His wife, Liza is a housekeeper. Nido earns a little through farming, and that’s the only source he and his family lean onto. Though he is sometimes called to do electric repairs, he can’t fully count on this since he doesn’t have complete electronic equipment.  “Wala jud trabaho nga maincoman nimu. Mau na’y lisud diri. Kung naa lang ani dunay ku mupakaun sa akung pamilya, kung wala, samut gyud kalisud!” (There’s no regular job here that you really can count on to earn. That’s the problem here. If there’s harvest then that’s when I have something to feed my family, but if none, that’s when it gets worse.)

In spite of being a man, Nido had been so sensitive about the dilemma that his family and the whole community have had faced and endured. He emphatically shared how people were tormented of their everyday ordeal on water supply. According to him, the villagers had to stride a kilometre stretch to fetch water and what makes it harder is that they have to get there on time to catch the water ration scheduled within an hour.

“Sa una, dunay mi gravity type nga water system . Magbantay gyud mi sa schedule kay usa asta duha ka orasa lang man tu muagas sa usa ka-adlaw. Human mga 200 ka panimalay ang mu depend didtu.” (Before, we had a pressurized and Gravity type water supply system. We had to watch out for the schedule of the water ration every day since it only allowed us to fetch water for a short period of time. Usually we are only given 1-2 hours. And there are about 200 households who rely on that source.)

The challenge doesn’t stop here. It gets even more difficult on their way back, as they needed to carry back the full containers to their homes.

“Katung di kabayad pliti sa mga motor para ikarga ang ilahang mga tubig, lakaw lang gyud sila. Maluuy na lang ta. Na human ang mga laki man gyud ang muadtu, magkarga sa mga gallon, magpila. So wala jud sila mahimu lain, di sila makapanrabaho, wala pud sila ma-income.” (Those who have nothing to pay for their fare in ferrying their water-filled containers, they were forced to walk. So usually it’s the head of the family who used to do this. And when they are stuck lining up to fetch water, that’s when they miss a day to earn.)

Struggles faced in the community and family had never become a reason for Nido to fight and continue to move forward. Though not a local of their barangay, Nido was not unlike the inhabitants of Tagulo who hoped of a better place to live in.

He pauses, tries to recall something with a beam on his face and continues, “Sa usa ka takna, tanan nabaylo. Murag kagahapon lang man to ningtambong mi ug pipila ka barangay assemblies ug sa karon nia na! (pointing to the top stand) Dili gyud ni namu mahitabu kun dili tungud sa Kalahi.” (Everything had changed in an instant. It seems to me like it was only yesterday when we were attending series of Barangay Assemblies, and now there it is! (pointing to the top stand) We wouldn’t have achieved this if it wasn’t for Kalahi.)

Nido with his wife Liza and two children showing the tap stand project of Kalahi-CIDSS

Nido with his wife Liza and two children showing the tap stand project of Kalahi-CIDSS

Like an answered prayer, Kalahi-CIDSS came to Tukuran in April 2013. Nido was one of the community volunteers who made the installation of the water system in their barangay a streaming success. Not only a volunteer, but he was chosen as the Barangay Sub-project Committee Chairman.Like other community volunteers, Nido was hesitant at first and was so anxious that his knowledge might not be enough to carry out his roles.

High school graduate lang man ku mam. Kabalu ku kay dili sayun mahimu ug BSPMC. Dili lang kay kinahanglan nga makig uyon sa lain laing klase sa tawo kundili kinahanglan sad nga naa kay abilidad teknikal arun matuman ang usa ka proyekto nga ug tungod aning bahina nabalaka ko. Sa unang pipila ka semana nabalaka ko ug wa nasayod aa akoang gibati nga ila kong gipamirma ug gipagunit ug dagkong kantidad nga mga cheke. Ang proseso taas ug apiki pero dako jud amuang pasalamat nga si sir moner walay paglubad sa pagtabang ug pag giya sa kada lakang. Gi tudluan mi, napailalum sa mga pila ka workshops kung aha mas labaw mi mas ganado mi mutrabaho ug mas maayo.” I was only a high school graduate. I was so much aware that being a BSPMC is not easy. You don’t only have to deal with different kinds of people but practically you have to possess the technical skills to implement a project, and that’s what I was so much worried about. In the first few weeks I felt indifferent as they made me sign and hold huge amount of   checks. The process was a bit lengthy and intricate but we were just so thankful that Sir Moner (Moner, KC Tukuran Area Coordinator) was there to guide us in every step of the way. We were trained; we’ve undergone series of workshops which motivated me, us even more to work harder.”

As of this writing, there are 17 units Tap Water Stands installed in barangay Tagulo to cater 184 households. The residents of Tagulo can readily fetch water anytime of the day without necessarily walking several kilometres and spending the whole day lining up to be able to bring home a pail-full of water for bathing, cooking and washing.

“Para sa aku, importante gyud na ang tubig. Kay kini gyud ang atung gina. Magpasalamat gyud mi kay nakita ni sa kalahi (-cidss).” (For me water is really important. We use it in almost everything we do and it affects nearly every aspect of our lives, our health and our economic condition. And we are just so thankful that kalahi-cidss saw this vital need.)

Roseller Abale chats with his co-KC volunteers

Roseller Abale chats with his co-KC volunteers

Unlike Nido who considers water as a source of life, Roseller Aballe saw it as a threat to everyone in their community.

Barangay of Pantad is bordering on coastal waters in the municipality of Dumalinao, Zamboanga del Sur. This makes fishing and seaweeds farming as barangay’s top economic activities. Roseller shared that most of the residents here run to the sea to sustain a living for their family. But most of the time, it is the sea that they had to run away from.

“Nung hindi pa nagawa yung daan, ang mga bata, mga studyante kailangan pa nilang sumakay ng bangka para tawirin an ang tubig, makapasok sila sa kwela. Mas mahirap na pag high tide dahil ang tubig umaabot talaga sa haddanan ng kanilang bahay. Bubuhatin pa sila ng magulang nila, samahan sila sa skwela. Bantayan talaga sila lagi.” (When the road wasn’t rehabilitated yet, children and students had to ride a Bangka (boat) to cross the water and reach their school. It was so difficult especially when it’s high tide because the waters really reach the steps of the pathway. So the parents needed to carry their children, accompany them to school and look after their children all the time.)

Barangay Pantad CIRCA 2011

Barangay Pantad CIRCA 2011

Drenched with water and surrounded by marshes and spongy land, Pantad was then not a conducive place to live in. At least once before kalahi-cidss came to them.

Kalahi-CIDSS started in April 2012 in Pantad, Dumalinao. The implementation of the program in their barangay was not that plain seafaring. The residents were sceptical that Kalahi-CIDSS can give them the convenience they have been hankering to have, a concrete pathway as Roseller said, “Nung una, lahat hindi sigurado, ayaw magvolunteer. Wala talaga may gusto. Parang negatib ba sila na matutuloy ang project. Pero nung nagmeeting, ineksplika ang proseso, naisip namin hindi talaga malulutas ang problema naming kung hindi kame tutulong.” (At first, everyone was hesitant and no one wanted to volunteer. As in literally, no one. Some are pessimistic about the completion of the sub-project until the whole process was explained to us and we realized that if we will not cooperate then there’s no other way that our problem can be solved.)

Roseller lives in another purok, where his family was not completely affected by the problem that their community was facing. But this didn’t become a reason for him not to support and volunteer himself to be part of the sub-project implementation. “Naisip ko, parang swerte na kame na hindi namin (kami) magtiis sa problema na ito tulad ng iba. Kaya ko naman tumulong, so bakit hindi?” (I thought to myself that we are lucky that we don’t have to face this problem everyday unlike the others. I have the strength to help, so why not?)

The Community Empowerment Activity Cycle that   kalahi-cidss uses continued. The 280 meters stretch of concrete pathway was completed in roughly 2-3 months. Roseller happily shared how the lifestyle of the residents had improved.

 “Yung mga napansin kong bago, pagbabago ay yung mga tao dito, lalo na ang mga studyante nagsasapatos na sila pag alis sila nag bahay. Noon kasi, tanggalin pa

Roseller with Pantad Barangay Chairman and co-KC volunteers stand on the concrete pathway project by KC while having a small talk

Roseller with Pantad Barangay Chairman and co-KC volunteers stand on the concrete pathway project by KC while having a small talk

nila ang sapatos nila, tapos itaas ang, kanang pantaloon para hindi sila mabasa ng tubig o madumihan ng putik.” (The first thing that I noticed was that the people living here, especially the students can already wear their shoes when leaving their houses. Because before, they still had to take   off their shoes, fold their pants up so that they will not get wet or mudded.)

The Barangay Sub-Project Committee and Volunteers have undergone several capability trainings and seminars to instil necessary skills and right values to      carry out the activities effectively. With this, Roseller expressed how Kalahi has become an instrument and a bridge in re-uniting and empowering the people to be more resilient, participative and productive.

“Hindi lang nagging maayos ang kalagayan naming ditto sa Pantad, tinuruan din kami ng kalahi mga bagay na hindi naming natutunan sa skwela, kasi halos lahat kami hidni natapos mag-aral.” (Kalahi didn’t only improve our condition here in Pantad, but they also taught us things that we have not learned in school, since most of us were not able to finish our education.) Said Roseller.

Nido and Roseller are epitomes of a real gentleman and a hero to their citizens who holds the comfort of other people above their own in the name of community development through volunteerism. #LMSM

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