Javier, Leyte—Six months after Typhoon Yolanda hit Eastern Visayas, a small village called Casulongan in this town has shown signs of recovery, proving true to its name which means ‘to move forward’.
Thanks to the villagers who continue to demonstrate their positive attitude to rise above their deplorable condition after the destructive typhoon.
Barangay Casulongan is located in the interior part of the town which is 2.5 kilometers from the highway where farming and fishing are the residents’ only source of livelihood.
Though used to be known as the poorest barangay in the town, Brgy. Casulongan has since disproved this reputation as villagers have learned to push for the development of their community.
Today, aside from putting back the pieces in their respective families, the villagers are also on their way to bringing normalcy back to their community by repairing the infrastructures damaged by ‘Yolanda’ through the Kapit-bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Kalahi-CIDSS provides funding for community-driven infrastructure projects such as school buildings, health stations, farm-to-market roads, foot bridges, and water systems, among others.
The community through the Barangay Sub-Project Management Committee (BSPMC), organized under Kalahi-CIDSS, submitted their proposal to DSWD for the repair of the barangay health station.
The health station was constructed in March 2012. The construction was well participated by the community as they were able to finish the project within 49 calendar days.
With the approval of the proposal, the BSPMC will be working again from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for 38 days to fix the health station’s roof, windows, gutter, painting and signage.
Among the six barangays with sub-projects assessed for repair and rehabilitation, the BSPMC of Casulongan was identified to be the lead barangay as voted by barangay officials because of its ability to implement projects within the timeline.
“Balik todo-todo nga trabaho na liwat kami nga baga han mga robot kay kinahanglan magsunod kami kon pira la dapat ka-adlaw an pagtrabaho para mas ganahan pa an gobyerno nga magbulig ha am. Salit, an Casulongan para ha amon in an “pagsulong” or pag-abante (We will be working back like machines again because we need to follow the standard number of days to finish the project so that the government will be more interested in helping us. That is why, Casulongan for us is to move forward or abante),” Barangay Treasurer Rosemary Merilo stated with a smile.
Brgy. Casulongan has 93 households with a total population of 385. The villagers have spoken for themselves about their learnings and realization on their struggle to lift themselves up from poverty.
“Ha una kay makuri gud pag-aghat ha mga tawo nga bumulig para mahitindog an amon hingyap nga magkamay-ada hin Health Station amon barangay. Pag nagpapatawag hin meeting, masiring pa nga, attendance la ito, di gad ito matatabo nga makapagpa-tindog kita hin health station kay waray man kita hito sarabutan (At first, it was really hard to convince the people to help us build a health station in our barangay. Every time we called for a meeting, they would be hesitant to participate saying that it would not happen anyway),” related Barangay Councilor Ranil Belleza.
Yet, after the health station was built, the attitude of the people has changed.
Belleza added, “Nakita man gud han kadam-an nga kaya ngayan namon pina-agi han pag giya han mga Kalahi CIDSS staff. Tanan ha sulod ha barangay maski an hagrani nga mga barangay in napakanhe para makatagamtam han mga serbisyo ha panlawas ( Majority saw that it can happen through the guidance of the Kalahi-CIDSS staff. All residents in the barangay, even from nearby barangays came to avail of health services).”
Barangay Secretary Lilibeth Ocampo also shared her story of how she learned to make and process documents, inculcating in her the value of transparency and good governance. Ocampo did not go to college, that is why she is thankful that at least through the implementation of the health station, she was able to acquire the skill of making and processing proposals as well as finance and procurement documents.
“An magpapabilin ha akon nga hinumduman kun waray na Kalahi-CIDSS, an akon mga nahibaru-an han sinisiring nga transparency tikang ha decision-making ngadto ha pag proseso han mga dokumento. Tungod hini nga amon proyekto, nahibaru ako nga kinahanglan nakapag-canvass gud ha tulo nga suppliers. Amu ngayan ito it nga pamaagi han gobyerno (What I would remember most about Kalahi-CIDSS is the transparency in processing documents. Because of our project, I learned that you need to canvass from three suppliers. This is how the government does it),” said Merilo.
Aside from the repair of damaged structures, villagers are also doing clean up around their community through the Cash-for-Work (CFW) program of the DSWD and the local government unit.
Remedios Pintogo, 37, a solo-parent and beneficiary of the CFW and also a cash grantee of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program said, “Makuri man pero malipayon kami nga maupay an natatabo ha amon barangay kay tungod nga kami in nagkaka-urusa pagsalbar han amon kahimtan (It may be difficult yet we are happy with what is happening in our barangay because we work together to move forward from our depressing situation),” she said.
Together with her fellow Pantawid Pamilya and CFW beneficiaries, they work to beautify their community. Their activities include backyard gardening, proper waste segregation, planting flowering plants along the road and vegetable communal gardening.
These may be small steps but for Brgy. Casulongan, these would lead to bigger strides as it continues to remain true to its name. ###