This article was written with reports from Olympus Colcol, the Community Development Specialist of CFSI under the Mindanao Trust Fund-Reconstruction and Development Project Phase Three (MTF-RDP/3)
Perla Ganti Labina, or “Ina” as the villagers call her, is considered a mother for the Indigenous People (IP) community of Barangay Kinebeka in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.
At the age of 74, she remains spry, cultivating a track of land and taking a leadership role in her community.
In an area where men are traditionally recognized as leaders, Perla is accorded respect as a Lupon for the Tedurays in the barangay, projecting women empowerment.
“Whenever there are plans in our community, the tribal members always seek my advice and they always follow it,” Perla said.
Following the proposal of instituting new ventures under the Mindanao Trust Fund-Reconstruction and Development Project Phase 3 (MTF-RDP/3), the community leaders went to Perla to ask for her blessing.
“I cannot refuse to join an endeavor which will not only benefit our IP community but also give us a chance to showcase our own products,” she said.
Barangay Kinebeka is one of the target sites of MTF-RDP/3, a project partnership agreement between the Community and Family Services International (CFSI) and Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA). It is a farming community that produces crops, mainly rice and corn.
The MTF-RDP/3 is set to construct a multi-purpose center with trading facility at Kinebaka to help farmers and villagers host large scale activities related to trading and display their products.
The IP community will also be granted three units of corn sheller to be distributed in three different sitios.
Farming is what Perla’s family does for a living. They cultivate five hectares of corn and rice fields.
“Ina Perla” recalls how this community embraced her and her family after they have returned from 30 years of running away from armed conflict in the area.
“We were afraid to come back at first knowing the fact that we are going to be treated as strangers once again,” she said. “But our judgement was wrong. They accepted us like we are one family with them despite our differences. They treated all the residents equally.”
Perla expressed optimism at the projects being undertaken in her community. She said this was what peace-building through development was all about.
Barangay Kinebeka was also the recipient of the eight units solar dryer constructed under the previous MTF-RDP/2. Three of these were for the IP communities
A ground breaking ceremony for the multi-purpose center was conducted on 21 January 2021. This was followed by capacity building activities such as a sectoral training workshop with operations and maintenance, and the project management training on 25 January and 2 February, respectively. Perla served as a participant in these activities as an elected officer of the People’s Organization.
Being one of the goals of the project to engage members of the communities from all sectors, the women, youth, PWDs, the elderly, and farmers were equally represented during the events. This was conducted by BDA’s Camps Project Support Team of Camp Badre and the CFSI.
MTF-RDP/3 was brought out from the gains of the previous MTF ventures in line with the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro which aims to enable identified communities in the conflict-affected areas of Mindanao to access socio-economic opportunities as well as basic services.
This project’s third phase, scheduled until the end of March, seeks to foster participatory governance mainstreaming through purposeful engagement with several line ministries of the BARMM government.
The 19 socio-economic sub-projects including health sub-projects will be built across the six previously acknowledged camps of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) such as Camp Abubakar as-Siddique, Camp Badre, Camp Bilal, Camp Bushra Somiyorang, Camp Omar, and Camp Rajamuda, the service areas of the MTF-RDP/3.
The MTF facility recently concluded the phase two of the project, known as MTF-RDP/2, managed by the same implementing agencies. A total of 39 infrastructure projects were delivered to the service communities under the said completed project for both stage one and two.
The MTF is a multi-donor trust fund supported by benefactors such as the European Union, the government of Sweden, Australia, Canada, the United States, New Zealand, and the World Bank. CFSI functions as Trust Fund Recipient of the MTF.