Rey E. Jaboneta speaks during a Kalahi-CIDSS barangay assembly in Barangay New Panay.

Maragusan, Compostela Valley – “I know my disability will limit my ability to do service that demands physical strength. However, that doesn’t mean that my capacity to dream and pursue my goals will be limited as well,” asserted Rey E. Jaboneta, 42, a Kalahi-CIDSS volunteer.

Another good thing about Rey is that he also didn’t stop at simply doing his community work. In fact, he excelled in it. Last January 2015, he bagged the Best PWD (person with disability) Volunteer during the Kalahi-CIDSS 1st Bayani Ka Awards held in Makati City.

This recognition project of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD), through Kalahi-CIDSS (Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services), aims to acknowledge outstanding community volunteers and initiatives and build a pool of champions for positive change.

Rising to the situation

Notwithstanding his polio, Jaboneta has been an active volunteer of Kalahi-CIDSS PAMANA since 2012, leading the sub-project implementation in Barangay New Panay.

He got elected as Barangay Sub-Project Management Committee Chairman during the 1st barangay assembly of Kalahi-CIDSS in the village.

“His role is to take care of the overall management of Kalahi-CIDSS sub-project together with other elected committee members,” said Helenbergs J. Tulang, Kalahi-CIDSS Area Coordinator in Maragusan.

Jaboneta recounted, “Nakulbaan ko pero nalipay sa responsibilidad nga gisalig sa akong mga kauban sa barangay sa akoa (I was anxious but happy at the same time with the responsibility entrusted to me by the community), adding that, he is grateful to community facilitators of Kalahi-CIDSS who were always supportive of his endeavors.

Born with polio, Jaboneta grew up poor. His father would make ends meet with a measly income from being a tenant to provide the needs of his mother and his 12 siblings.

Growing up, he experienced discrimination from people around him. “They would often question my ability and hurl insensitive comments about my disability.”

Instead of being taken aback, he anchored on these negative vibes as challenges to motivate him in pursuing his goals of helping the community.

Upping the morale

Barangay New Panay is almost a five-hour ride from Davao City. It is one of the barangays in Maragusan where delivery of basic social services is hindered due to lack of cooperation from the community.

“They felt demoralized and insignificant since most of them weren’t able to finish school and were more focused on how to earn and provide for their family. Community works and volunteerism were not their priority,” shared Lyre Divine A.  Balili, Kalahi-CIDSS community facilitator.

Jaboneta said through Kalahi-CIDSS, the villagers were guided to choose, design and implement sub-projects that address their most pressing needs.

For someone who’s been judged as less capacitated to help, Jaboneta used his disability to boost the morale of the community. Demonstrating sheer determination, he moved forward as he joined barangay assemblies and capacity building sessions, unmindful of his condition.

He believed if he can do a lot, the people around him could do so much more. They then started to work together, gradually building various successful community sub-projects.

Done and counting

With Jaboneta at the helm, Barangay New Panay has realized construction of a drainage canal and a community E-library. Also conducted was a non-formal education curriculum on embroidery and interior design. All these have benefited 1,389 residents.

“Through Kalahi-CIDSS PAMANA, Barangay New Panay now has the opportunity to generate more income and establish a school facility for the children in the community,” said Maragusan Mayor Cesar M. Colina.

DSWD XI Regional Director Priscilla N. Razon emphasized that persons with disability (PWDs) should have equal access to training, inclusive planning and basic social services.

“We want to guarantee that persons with disability will have the same opportunities to be empowered as others. We help everyone and everyone who wants to help will be prioritized.”

“I am thankful that DSWD gives equal opportunities to people with impairment like me. They opened opportunities for us and they made us feel that after all, we have a part and we can contribute to the development of our community,” conveyed Jaboneta.

With the scale-up of Kalahi-CIDSS into a national program, it targets to cover 29 more municipalities in Region XI by 2019.

Rey Jaboneta, who was once deprived of vast opportunities due to his impairment, is now living his dream through Kalahi-CIDSS. (DSWD)