KALAHI-CIDSS brings relief to Ata women of Talaingod
by Jeanevive Duron-Abangan
Talaingod, Davao del Nore (6 July) -- They walk with loads of household goods stacked upon their heads and a baby strapped at their back. They follow the commands of men in their band as they seek for a place to settle for a while; till a land to raise food they can take in their next trip to nowhere.
With memories of the past nomadic life still vivid in her mind, Marcela Unana, 59-year-old Ata Manobo resident of sitio Tibi-tibi in Talaingod shared her experiences of an itinerant life with members of the media who recently visited the KALAHI-CIDSS (Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services) housing project.
"Kapoy lagi, sige lang mi ug lakaw. Puyo lang kadali manghipos na pud, lakaw na pud. (It was tiresome; we're always on the walk. We stayed for a while, then gathered things up, then went walking again.)," she said.
Unana recalled how she, her family and the rest of their band depended so much on nature for food they got from wild plants and trees. They used to slash and burn forest area to plant root crops for their subsistence.
Aside from enduring a nomadic way of living, the Ata-Manobo women used to serve as workhorses in their families. They ran all household errands as well as worked in the farm.
"Igo lang na magtindog tindog ang mga lalaki; magdala dala ug bangkaw. (The men were just simply standing by, carrying spear.)," Unana said.
Despite their heavy workload on top of their responsibilities as mothers, Ata Manobo women were used to having no voice in decision-making at home and in the community--- both of which were dominantly ruled by men.
But Unana can now express a sigh of relief, giving thanks to the KALAHI-CIDSS which has opened up opportunities for Ata Manobo women to air their opinion on matters at home and in the community. The anti-poverty alleviation program has also put an end to their roaming for a living; now that they own a house they can call their home.
"Makatrabaho na mi sa among uma. Makaatiman ug ayo sa mga anak (We can now concentrate on our farms; properly take care our children," Unana said.
Though the Ata-Manobo women of Talaingod are still tied with their families and farm-work, they are now taking part in community consultation processes, and are taking roles in home decisions.
KALAHI-CIDSS municipal coordinator Allan Causing who is a pure blooded Ata-Manobo, has noticed the transformation of tribal women's role from a silent work-horse to an empowered partner since KALAHI CIDSS came in 2003.
Causing said he had not seen women taking part in community meetings before KALAHI-CIDSS was introduced in Talaingod, and that men usually domineered in decision-making process.
"Karon mangutana na ang mga kalalakin-an kung unsa ang gusto sa kababayen-an," he said.
Causing has not only seen women as partners in community activities but also in family affairs. He has noted observable household "peace" as husbands and wives come to terms on how to run family affairs.
As what Unana puts it "wala nay kahiubos." She's now being consulted by her husband on major decisions to make at home, and she's now allowed to go out and be part of community
Causing calls this transformation as women empowerment, a process of building capacities of women to become development partners.
Causing attributed this to the series of gender sensitivity training that KALAHI-CIDSS program has introduced as part of the community preparation mechanism before rolling out sub-projects in Talaingod.
Talaingod was part of KALAHI-CIDSS Phase II implementation that was launched in July
2003. A total of 24 sub-projects were implemented in the area within three cycles that were wrapped up in December 2006.
Aside from establishing tribal housing units, KALAHI-CIDSS also brought into Talaingod potable water system (level II) project; common service facilities such as corn mill, single motorcycle; and a community library.
There were series of capability building trainings conducted through KALAHI-CIDSS especially on sustainable agriculture.
As the local government unit (LGU) of Talaingod has adopted KALAHI-CIDSS as a local poverty alleviation strategy, the program has been carried on through the so-called "Makamasang Tugon" which the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) XI explained as KALAHI-CIDSS project implementation managed by the LGU.
DSWD XI information sheet showed that as of May 2010, a total of 39 KALAHI-CIDSS subjects were implemented in Talaingod, directly benefiting a total of 3,820 households. (PIA XI) [top]