One of the farmers tending to a rubber seedling.
New Manay, Maragusan — In this far-flung barangay, community residents have encountered disasters like typhoons and landslides that wreck homes and crops. The adversities that occurred have made the poverty situation worse in the area.
“Life was difficult in the area. No matter how we tried to achieve a better life, the force of nature was always a hindrance from achieving it,” shares Welencio T. Magbutang, farmer for almost 30 years.
Farming is the main source of livelihood here. Albeit the effort of the farmers, their income remained unstable because of the difficulty of transporting their crops such as vegetables and banana to the market.
Farmers walked miles from home to their farm. They worked non-stop from morning till afternoon. This has been their way of life since the time of their fathers and they could not muster enough resources to improve on this.
Logging activities in some parts courted disasters like landslides which ruined their crops.
For them, thier situation was an imminent disaster. In fact, they already refrained themselves from pursuing a better life. Because of their struggle against poverty, their children were also affected. For one, parents could hardly send their children to school due to budget constraints.
On December 4, 2014, when Typhoon Pablo hit the area, it destroyed almost everything that they have worked hard for. The devastation became their eye-opener to make a change.
In May 2013, DSWD KALAHI-CIDSS PAMANA entered New Manay. From then on, things began to change. Residents were hesitant at first to participate because most of them don’t have any formal education. The lack of self-esteem hindered them to believe that they too, can take part in change. This became the barrier between the residents and authority.
“Residents believed that only “persons with authority” have the right to lead and decide for their well-being,” Magbutang said.
KALAHI-CIDSS PAMANA is a program developed to improve access of conflict-affected barangays (CABs) to quality basic social services and responsive, transparent and accountable local governments. The project invests in empowering people and in advancing peace-promoting community initiatives.
Having undergone the distinct KALAHI-CIDSS social preparation phase which involves orientation, community assemblies, participatory situation analysis, and validation, residents agreed on a project that would provide them a long-term income and help preserve the environment at the same time.
The Capacity Building on Rubber-Farming Technology with Soil and Water Conservation Approach radiated a sense of optimism to the farmers of New Manay.
In partnership with the Department of Agriculture (DA), farmers participated in field exposures in rubber plantations and they trained on proper planting of rubber seeds and managing rubber seedlings. Indeed, the program lifted the barrier between the local officials and the community.
Rubber trees are known to prevent landslides and one tree holds up to 75,000 liters of water.
“Rubber is more sustainable in nature, though we still have to wait for six years before we can utilize it,” shares Magbutang.
On the side, farmers were taught to implement inter-cropping rubber with other farm produce such as corn, vegetables, coffee and banana. With this technology, farmers can earn an estimated income of Php 200 pesos a day while waiting for the rubber seeds to grow.
To date, there are 80 beneficiaries cultivating a total 500 rubber seedlings through the help of KALAHI-CIDSS PAMANA. They now have four model farms in the area for residents to learn from in terms of proper ways of planting and growing rubber seeds.
Aside from the income that they can acquire from the rubber seeds in a few years’ time, this project secures their safety from upcoming calamities.
Residents, on the other hand, are immensely thankful for this project. Magbutang said that they have become resilient in dealing with disasters.
“Kaya ko ang pagbabago dahil sa pag-asang ibinigay ng proyektong ito. Hindi lang ang aming kaligtasan laban sa mga sakuna ang maidudulot nito sa amin, kundi ito’y makakatulong rin bilang panghanap-buhay,” he added.
Indeed, the project does not only alleviate the well-being of the residents of New Manay. It also protects the environment, the community’s source of livelihood and shelter. DSWD