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SANDAYONG, HAVEN TO SUBANEN INDIGENOUS PEOPLE

Sandayong and Jerry Libulong had a history together. Born at a time when Sandayong was formally became a Barangay, the thirty-five year old Subanen knew every single corner of this village and so with the needs for basic services in their community.

Located 26 kilometers away from the municipal proper, Sandayong is the farthest barangay in the Municipality of Naga, Zamboanga Sibugay. An uphill village composed of 95% Subanen people and can only be reached through motorcycle or locally known as “habal-habal”.

Farming has been the primary source of living for Jerry and the rest of the people of Sandayong. Occasionally, they would bring farm products downtown, but for most they would store it for supply.

Before Jerry became an active volunteer, he had doubts on joining the program, thinking “Hindi pa kami sanay sa ganitong mga activities. Sa opinion ko lang, parang impossible talaga dahil sa laki ng proyektong pinag-uusapan”, (We are not used to these kinds of activities. In my opinion, it seems impossible considering the volume of the projects being discussed).

Aside from these, they (Subanen) were reluctant to participate in any of the government initiated activities.

But this has caught Jerry’s attention, the reason why he volunteered to join Kalahi-CIDSS was because of their problem with water.

Kapit-bisig Laban sa Kahirapan –Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services  (Kalahi-CIDSS) employs community-driven development (CDD) strategy that gives people power to decide for their community in ensuring that their needs are addressed and empowering them to become active citizens of the country.

He sees this as an opportunity to give his Subanen brothers access to safe drinking water. And his sense of commitment motivated the people to reach out to the program as well. Unfortunately it didn’t pass the potability test and instead they swapped their sub-project to school building in time for the MIBF.

Jerry Libulong only managed to finish high school and this is the why they opted to build school building for the Subanen kids in the village. Since most of their students would attend school at distant barangays.

One of the most active volunteers of Sandayong, he had held two positions, the BRT Chairperson and Procurement Team Chairperson. He exercised leadership in the entire process of mobilizing community members in community problem analysis, project development and project monitoring. In a number of times, he had dipped his hands in actual labor work in the construction of barangay Sandayong’s sub-projects.

Under Jerry’s leadership, Barangay Sandayong clinched the top spot in both the 1st and 2nd cycle MIBF-prioritized list of sub-projects, with its  1-Unit 2-Classroom Elementary School Building and 1-Unit 3-Classroom High School Building, respectively.

In addition to these, Barangay Sandayong had also breezed through the implementation of 3 KC-PAMANA sub-projects, namely Community Security Outpost, Balay Husayanan (House of Tribal Justice) and Tribal Hall – community-initiated projects that are designed to promote local security, participation and general well-being of the Subanen indigenous people that Jerry, a Subanen, represents in many forums.

He is also an eloquent public speaker. As a volunteer, he has done project proposals, sub-project monitoring, procurement and community mobilization – making him an all-around volunteer.

Although it was really challenging on their part, he admitted “Mahirap siya para sa mga katulad naming volunteers na karamihan ay hindi nakapagtapos ng pag-aaral. Mahirap lalo na pagdating sa paperworks. Pero gaano man iyon kahirap, kung i-rate natin ang programa ng Kalahi-CIDSS, anumang paghihirap ang maencounter ng mga volunteers, iyong rating natin ay excellent pa rin kasi tatayo ang project natin, talagang hindi pwedeng hindi matapos, kung may problema man pilit hinahanapan ng solusyon, kasi part yan ng training”.

(It is really hard for volunteers like us who didn’t finish their studies. It is really difficult when it comes to paperworks. But no matter how hard it is if we are to rate the program of Kalahi-CIDSS, whatever hardships that we may have encounter, we’ll still rate it as excellent because the project will stand, it cannot be left undone, and if there maybe problems, we will try to find a solution because that is part of the training).

He also expressed how valuable were the sub-projects of the other modality like KC-PAMANA,”Doon nga sa tribal learning center/tribal hall na iyon, parang nanumbalik doon ang relasyon ng lumad sa gobyerno natin na meron pala”. (With the Tribal Learning Center/Tribal Hall, it rekindles the relationship of the Lumads to the government which they once had).

And through the tribal learning center, he believes it has once again lifted the culture of the Subanen Indigenous People.

More so, he was thankful for the experiences he had while journeying together with the program. He confidently responded “Sa sarili ko, iyong kakayahan ko ay mas naenhanced, nadeveloped iyon, nagkaroon ako ng kaalaman sa technical. Kahit ngayon kung i-actual mo ko pagawan ng porma ng building, kaya ko ngayon. Kung kinakailangan na tayo ang magprepare ng mga papers, kaya na”.

(Personally, my capability was enhanced, developed, I have gained technical knowledge. If you’ll ask me to create an actual building form, I can do it right here, right now. If there’s a need for me to prepare the papers, it’s manageable).

Jerry also provided detailed changes with his community. With the coming of Kalahi-CIDSS in Barangay Sandayong, what used to be a threat in their security for being a former camp of the lawless elements, has now been neutralized with the construction of the Community Security Outpost.

“Kung dati-rati may mga alitan sa mga kapit-bahay, walang office ang barangay kung saan i-hold iyong sinasabi nilang amicable settlement. So ngayon, meron na. Dahil meron na tayong Barangay Justice Hall”, (Whenever there used to be trouble in the neighborhood, there’s no office in the barangay that holds settlement. Now we had a place for it, we now have the Barangay Justice Hall).

With great pride he gladly shared “Kung dati-rati marinig mo lang na Subanen ang nakatira diyan, ngayon may identification na ang Subanen people sa Barangay Sandayong kasi nakatayo na iyong Tribal Learning Center natin. Ito iyong nagiging landmark, nagpaalala sa mga Lumad, sa lahat ng mga tao sa Sandayong na nandito itong tribal center dahil Subanen ang nakatira dito. Ito ang mga pagbabago dito sa barangay naming, napakalaking empowerment para sa mga kapatid namin na mga Subanen”.

(They would just hear about Subanen living in this village, but now we have imprinted our identification as Subanen Indigenous People of Barangay Sandayong because here stood our Tribal Learning Center. This has been a landmark that reminds the Lumads, and all the people of Sandayong that here stands a Tribal Learning Center because Subanen people lives here. These have been the changes in the barangay, great empowerment for my Subanen brothers).

And above all, they were grateful to the program for realizing the construction of school building. For paying attention to their problem on education, this has given the Subanen children the opportunity to become competent. “Dahil sa Kalahi-CIDSS ang pangarap ng Subanen ay naisakatuparan din”, Jerry ended. (Because of Kalahi-CIDSS, Subanen’s dream has been realized).

The Subanen Indigenous People of Sandayong who used to be so hesitant and passive has now become participative and responsive in both government and non-government affairs. They have become assertive in advancing their welfare by way of community participation not limited to Kalahi-CIDSS program alone. #

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