BUTUAN CITY – Over 250 delegates from 14 regions gathered and participated in the 3rd National Community Volunteers’ Congress and 5th National Bayani Ka! Awards of the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) on August 13 to 15 at Almont Inland Resort, Butuan City. This national event was hosted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development – Caraga (DSWD Caraga).
This year’s national community volunteers’ congress is anchored on the theme, “Padayon, Kalahi-CIDSS!”.
The National Community Volunteers’ Congress is a yearly gathering of remarkable and extraordinary community-level stakeholder-leaders from the different parts of the country to share their experiences in the program implementation, learn from each other, work together to create solutions to address issues faced by other municipalities, and strengthen the practice of community-driven development in the country. While the National Bayani Ka! Awards is the annual recognition of DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS to exceptional community-based groups in the country for their efforts and initiatives on community development and nation-building.
The event kicked off with the 5th National Bayani Ka! Awards on August 13 wherein community volunteers and stakeholders, dressed in filipiniana and ethnic attires, received their awards. DSWD Secretary Rolando Joselito D. Bautista, together with Kalahi-CIDSS National Program Manager Janet P. Armas and Caraga Regional Director Mita Chuchi Gupana-Lim, led the awarding ceremony.
The national awardees were from the community groups who won during their respective Regional Bayani Ka! Awards. The Bayani Ka! Awards was composed of nine categories, namely: Gender and Development, Environment Protection, Promotion of Just Peace, Indigenous People’s Welfare, Elderly, Youth, Persons with Disability, Improved Local Governance, and Sustained Community Volunteers’ Group.
In his message, Secretary Bautista said that the continuous project implementation of the Kalahi-CIDSS have created an impact to many lives and communities. Without the efforts and contribution of the community volunteers, these changes would not have been made possible.
“Karapat-dapat lang na kayo ay parangalan. Hayaan niyo sa aming pamamaraan nang pagpapasalamat sa inyong aktibong pakikilahok at pagpapakita na ang lahat ay may gampanin sa komunidad. Marami na tayong natagumpayan sa mga nagdaang taon. Kaya gawin natin itong inspirasyon upang pagsikapan ang mga proyektong makakabuti sa ating pamayanan (With all your efforts, you truly deserve to be applauded and commended. Allow us to show our appreciation for your active participation in the program implementation and for showing us that everyone has a role in the community. We’ve already accomplished a lot in the past years. Let us make this as an inspiration to pursue and persevere more on projects that would be improve our society),” Bautista said.
During the second day, an exposure visit was conducted in the municipalities of Carmen, Agusan del Norte, San Agustin, Barobo, and Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur to maximize the learning opportunity of the participants. Prior to the this activity, an ocular inspection and validation was initiated by the National Program Management Office (NPMO) and the Regional Program Management Office (RPMO) to identify municipalities, including barangays and sub-projects, which were successfully implemented.
As part of the learning visit, a focus group discussion was conducted involving the delegates and the community volunteers and barangay-level leaders. The discussion was focused on the challenges encountered by the volunteers and stakeholders in the program implementation and the resolutions they came up with, the influence brought by the program in their lives, and the impact made by the CDD approach in their communities.
Knowing that the Kalahi-CIDSS Program is about to close, community volunteers strongly expressed their hope for the government to continue the program as it provides the community several opportunities. “Unta dili pa maputol ang Kalahi-CIDSS kay nangahinanglan pa gyud mi sa among komunidad. Aron sab magpadayon pa ang kalambuan sa matag usa ka lugar ug sa laing pang lugar sa Pilipinas (We fervently hope that the Kalahi-CIDSS Program will continue its implementation because our community is still in need of it. Sustaining the program will also allow every community in the country to continually improve and progress),” Delfina Grol said. Delfina is a member of the Bayogo Tribal Community – a community volunteer group from Brgy. Antao, Carmen, Surigao del Sur.
After attending the group discussions, the delegates were able to visit the sub-projects in the barangays they were assigned. And as a treat to the community volunteers for all their hard work, the participants were also given time to explore the tourist spots in the municipalities they were assigned to.
On the last day of the national congress, the delegates were tasked to synthesize and present their learnings and experiences during the field visit. Through the help of the assigned social marketing officers per team, the participants were able to present their outputs creatively.
The plenary was followed by the presentation of the Kalahi-CIDSS updates by National Program Manager Janet P. Armas. Armas, who showed to the delegates the program accomplishments and plans for the institutionalization of community-driven development (CDD) in the country. In line with this, she also said that a draft bill has already been submitted in the congress and senate for the regularization of the CDD.
“Isapuso natin na ang bawat aksyon o hakbang na gagawin ay dapat laging sa kabutihan ng pamayanan, pamilya, at sarili. Itaguyod natin ang sama-samang pagkilos nang may malasakit (We must take to heart that our every action is for our welfare, the people, and the community. Let us promote a caring and collaborative movement towards progress),” she said.
With the aspiration to institutionalize CDD in the country, the community volunteers were also given an opportunity to write letters to local government officials, legislators, and even to Pres. Rodrigo Duterte appealing to them to deem and support this action. The delegates agreed in unison that the Kalahi-CIDSS Program should become a regular program of the government.
Further, House Deputy Speaker Johnny T. Pimentel of the 2nd District of Surigao del Sur graced the 3rd day. Being the first and only CDD Champion for the Provincial Local Government Unit Category in 2015, Pimentel manifested his interest and support for the regularization of the CDD. He strongly advocates for the program as he was able to personally witness the significant changes it brought to various communities.
“I really came here to convince the leaders of this country that we must continue the programs of Kalahi-CIDSS because it has given solutions to the problems of the smallest barangays. Aside from the unconditional cash transfer (UCT), I think this is one of the best programs that we have ever implemented in our country,” Pimentel said.
The three-day activity ended with the community volunteers making their own paper “bancas” or boats as a symbol for their commitment in supporting CDD institutionalization. The origami boat is a reminder that like a banca, the program must continue sailing to achieve its purpose and reach its main destination of success and progress.
With the success of the 3rd National Community Volunteers’ Congress and 5th National Bayani Ka! Awards, the community volunteers and the Kalahi-CIDSS management hope that this would create a huge and astounding influence to the institutionalization of CDD in the country. Once the CDD becomes a law, communities will be provided with better opportunities and access to quality infrastructure and services.# (CLEA MARIEL C. MALUNHAO/Social Marketing Section/DSWD Field Office Caraga)