BUTUAN CITY – It has been seven years since a once reticent Virginia Carreos, 54, first commanded the stage and grappled with her confidence to speak before a large crowd and deliver their barangay’s sub-project proposal. It’s also her seventh year of serving as the Barangay Sub-Project Management Committee (BSPMC) head witnessing those proposals realized and successfully raised in their community.

The rest of the barangay has always known her as a born leader.

All these years proved to be a fruitful streak for Virginia especially in her development both as a leader and as a person. This she owes to what she considers as the two defining values that every volunteer should possess – dedication and determination. A dedication to that single idea and constant spark of interest even if only a thread is the only thing that’s holding up the very core of their community’s existence. She always gets irksome faces for this kind of philosophy to which she would courteously retort, “Surely, you’ve never been to our community.”

Barangay San Vicente is a coastal village located in the municipality of Jabonga, Agusan del Norte which is a 59-kilometer-bus ride from Butuan City and bordering Surigao del Norte. As one of the farthest villages in Jabonga, reaching it would cost you time and energy and not to mention the skills one would need in haggling for the habal-habal fare that costs around Php300 – Php500. But with the rainy season that mostly occurs all year round, penetrating the village could be tricky what with its steep and slippery road.

Then Virginia started to contemplate on these unfortunate conditions and luckily for their community, Jabonga was chosen by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to be the pilot area where the government agency would carry out its implementation of Kapit-bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services: Kapangyarihan at Kaunlaran sa Barangay (KALAHI – CIDDS: KKB) – the flagship anti-poverty program of the government – in Caraga Region. The project launching was done in January 2003 with no less than former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo gracing the occasion.

Brgy. San Vicente proposed their San Vicente Marketing Center and it certainly got implemented.

Another mark of a true leader is seeing what’s best and beneficial to the rest of the residents. In the second cycle of sub-project implementation, the barangay didn’t make it to the list of prioritized barangays however the Municipal Mayor Glecerio Monton regarded their barangay as one of the finest implementors of the project that their proposal was lobbied to the provincial office and next thing they knew, the KALAHI process was replicated by the LGU and their dream of a barangay hall was erected.

In concurrence to the 2006-2007 KALAHI Executive Report, Jabonga demonstrated of not just a timely but highly effective completion of both the social preparation processes and so with the corresponding sub-project implementation. As a matter of fact, Jabonga was way ahead the national timeline when it beat Dolores of Aurora, Quezon in the wrap up and completion of Phase 1 implementation last June 2006. Dolores is the first pilot site in the country.

Their barangay’s KALAHI implementation was so successful that it became the basis for another grant, the LGU-led Makamasang Tugon (MT) project, also from DSWD. MT aims to harmonize the Community-Driven Development (CDD) technology employed by KALAHI with the local planning processes of the pilot LGU.

Virginia could have never been happier.

This time, at the recent Municipal Inter-Barangay Forum – Project Development Participatory Resource Allocation (MIBF-PDPRA) last December 6, 2010 the barangay once again proved that their philosophy truly is a marvel. Proposing a multi-purpose hall that shall house their barangay’s general assemblies for all the programs they have, they placed first in the prioritization.

As the empowered BSPMC chairperson and a tested spirit for leadership, Virginia can safely brag that they got the first spot with the help of KALAHI’s principles of participatory, transparency and accountability which she highly thinks goes with their community’s philosophy. With the sub-project implementation on its way, Virginia and other volunteers are busy preparing necessary documents for the release of funds.

Virginia sometimes wonders if her community has that belief others would call a stern and imposing philosophy much more a disposition others would label a fleeting shot at glory – those stuff that great tyrants of the world possess that clearly lead to their downfall.

I think not.

It’s what we call devotion and it even echoes those transcendent words of Margaret Mead that once mused never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.

If I may use Mead’s words, indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. ### (Social Marketing Unit)

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