Poverty is one, if not the biggest, challenge in the country that many Filipinos suffer from. In fact, on its second round of assessment, the Listahanan, a database management system of the DSWD that identifies who and where the poor are, identified over 5.2 million households as poor. This pressing problem stems many other problems such as problems in education, health and nutrition that make Filipinos even poorer.

One of the country’s efforts in addressing these issues is by creating a mindset of positive outlook and assisting the poor households by providing them cash grants through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. The beneficiaries were introduced to several components of the program that may help them uplift their lives from survival state to self-sufficiency.

The Bio-Intensive Gardening (BIG) was launched to further assist the beneficiaries in their needs particularly on nutrition and extra income. Several initiatives by the members were also noted along with the launching of this endeavor.

The Kayaban Group from Barangay Palomoc, Titay, Zamboanga Sibugay was  established for one simple goal –that is to plow a communal garden that could provide sufficient and nutritious food for its members, generate  additional income & savings, and develop positive outlook among the 308 family beneficiaries in the area.

As recounted by the members themselves, sweat and tears were invested to establish the group and encourage a behavioral and lifestyle change. Parent Leader Lucila Banuag together with 15 other members never let go of their grip on hope and persevered to influence one another to  be able for them to succeed and achieve their goal.

Parent Leader Banuag regularly checked the attendance of the members while they sought the help of their Municipal Link (ML), Ramoga to encourage more members to join their group. The ML assisted them in the establishment of the garden particularly on the coordination with the LGU for possible support such as vegetable seeds.

As days and months went by all of the members noticeably appreciated and now actively participate in their communal garden with the commitment to spend time despite their individual responsibilities to their families and other livelihood activities.

In December 2017, the group was able to see the fruit of their labor. The group has generated their first income and agreed that a portion of it will be used in their group Christmas Party and some will be kept as an additional capital for their project.

Back in the days, when a household beneficiary experiences financial difficulty, the immediate answer to such problem is a loan shark or a lending company that offers money with high interest in return.

Their BIG project has opened doors for them and let them explore many other alternatives in addressing financial issues –alternatives that are even healthy.

In January 2018, the group received vegetable seeds from the Municipal Agriculture which helped them save some amount for other cultivation materials. At present, the group members already opened their own group bank account and deposited a pretty decent amount from their communal income and continue in their income-generating activity.

Everyone shows dedication and commitment in maintaining their communal garden as the source of their additional income. The ML has observed that the members developed a sense of responsibility and accountability as they take on their individual roles in the group.