BSPMC Chairman Rey Jaboneta [leftmost] confers with project workers and community residents as he monitors the construction of the 200 linear meter drainage canal in Barangay New Panay.

MARAGUSAN, COMPOSTELA VALLEY -Poverty — A never ending battle for the residents in Maragusan, Compostela Valley way back then. Hope, to some of the residents, seemed to be unattainable and far beyond their reach.

Most of them are dreamers. Parents long to provide quality education for their children, farmers yearn to have better facilities for the convenience in delivering their products to market. Residents, like everyone else, dreamed to have a better livelihood for their family.

On the other hand, the lack of resources and drive in pursuing these dreams hindered the residents from believing that it is achievable.

When Kalahi-CIDSS (Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of Social Services) came to their Barangay to initiate sub-project implementation to fight against poverty, it did not just change the lives of the families, but it gave a chance of empowerment and sense of belongingness to a person, who was once deprived of life’s vast opportunities.

Born with Polio, Rey Jaboneta has experienced discrimination from people around him. At his young age, fate pushed him to learn things the hard way.

Trying years

From South Cotabato, Rey grew up poor. He has 12 siblings. The source of income of his father is from being a tenant. “Life was indeed hard for us. Our parents could not afford to send us all to school,” recounts Rey.

His younger brother became his other leg. His brother would sacrifice to carry Rey on his back, walked extra miles, crossed rivers, all in the name of helping his brother with disability to learn and gain knowledge.

Kay wala man mi kwarta ipa eskwela, mag sit-in nalang ko sa klase sa Grade 1 aron naa ko matun-an. Maayo nalang, naay dakong kasing-kasing ang mga maestra na paapilon ko para makapaminaw sa klase (Since we didn’t have enough money for schooling I had to enlist as ‘sit-in’ student for me to be able to learn. Luckily, teachers were kind-hearted and would allow me in their class so I could listen).”

Most often, his classmates would bully him. They would often question his ability and torture him with hurtful words that he will never have the chance of standing on his own.

The trials that he encountered as a child motivated him to actively participate in class even if he was not officially enrolled.  He motivated himself to pursue his dreams because he knew that one day, he will have the chance of helping those who are in need.

Teachers were astonished of how eager Rey was as a pupil. Inspired by his enthusiasm, his parents worked even harder and enrolled him the following year.            

“Dili ko gusto na pas-anon ko pirmi sa mga taong nagmahal nako, gusto nako maningkamot ko og mangandoy nga naa koy kapasidad na maedukar ug makatabang sa laing tao  (I don’t want to be dependent forever. I want to strive on my own as I look forward to finish my education and be of help to others).”

This time, he made his own crutches that would serve as his strength in his journey.

His battles prevailed but he didn’t allow his disability to let him down because he believed that he has the competence to lead others. He persisted even if he had a hard time working normally due to his illness. In the end, he achieved his goals.

He attended the seminary for two years where he learned that helping others in his community doesn’t necessarily require money, that, it is all about passion and strength in motivating others to be empowered.

He eventually left the seminary because he felt that he could do a lot of community service outside of it.

Rey pursued his education and enrolled in General Radio Communication Operation. He passed the board examination and went on to become a disc jockey.

His extensive experiences propelled him to become an effective leader. He started to value the importance of helping others and speaking out in behalf of others’ concerns.

Not everyone has the courage and compassion to be able to stand up for other people’s wellbeing. Rey believes that the strength he gained from his trials serves as his ticket towards achieving his life-long dream of helping others.

Empowerment through participation

When he transferred in New Manay, new doors of opportunity opened up to him especially when the community elected him as BSPMC (Barangay Sup-Project Management Committee) Chair for Kalahi-CIDSS.

He attended various trainings such as Project Development Workshop, Pre-Implementation Workshop, Participatory Situation Analysis wherein community and local leaders worked together in determining their main problems.

Through these workshops, Rey was able to understand the situation of his community and he was able to pin point what help and support he needed to exert, in uplifting the status of the residents.

He actively participated in the construction of the 200 linear meter drainage line canal initiated by Kalahi-CIDSS. He also attended programs for PWDs (persons with disability) as he wanted to help people like him with impairment, to open their minds and embrace change.

Various projects have been materialized, more than uplifting the community’s way of living.

For someone who’s been judged as less capacitated to help, Rey boosts the morale of the community and motivates others to take part in Kalahi-CIDSS projects.

His community, like Rey, seemed disabled for the longest time since the villagers were resigned that they could only do very little in improving their way of living.

They felt degraded and insignificant since most of them weren’t able to finish school. But now, they have started to work together to uplift their condition by participating in building various sub-projects.

Kalahi-CIDSS imparted to the villagers a sense of ownership and responsibility towards their projects.

In Kalahi-CIDSS, communities and Local Government Units (LGUs) are guided to choose, design and implement sub-projects that address their most pressing need. From the possible sub-projects, the community will determine which must be prioritized for immediate implementation.

Women, on the other hand, are now being motivated to expand their horizons as they participate in Trainer’s Training on Dress Making/Tailoring with Non Formal Education on Embroidery and Interior Designs.

The community is slowly getting out of the norm and starting to create a new progressive one.

People see Rey as an inspiration because he did whatever it took to prove that he can also be a key player toward change despite his disability.

The residents were enlightened that through their participation in Kalahi-CIDSS, they can unleash their full potential and can be change catalysts in their own right. (DSWD)