Issue of February 18, 2018
Mt. Province

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Senior citizens take actions to pave roads

They may be physically weak but this did not hinder them from helping in the development of their community. The senior citizens of Pongayan, Kapangan, Benguet proved that age is just a number.

Like the rest of the senior citizens in Pongayan, Kapangan, Syria Mapanao, 76, wishes to walk on paved roads in her barangay before she dies.

“It’s a big challenge for senior people like us to walk on unpaved and muddy roads. We have to walk slowly with the support of a cane to protect us from slipping,” she said.

She added that senior citizens who attend activities at the town proper would usually endure long hours of travel to the venue because of the poor condition of their road.

Barangay Pongayan’s road is a one-way dirt road and residents have been perenially plagued by the road’s poor condition especially during and after heavy and continuous rains.

During the barangay consultations facilitated by the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Kapit-bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS), majority of the residents identified the improvement of the road as their most immediate need.

Since the Kalahi-CIDSS applies the community-driven development process, a committee of community volunteers was organized and mobilized.

Mapanao said that she was eager to join the roster of community volunteers to realize her dream of walking through a paved and safe road.

She agreed to chair the community volunteers in the the barangay while being the president of the Pongayan Senior Citizens Association (Posca).

Under her leadership, community volunteers crafted the proposal for the improvement of their road, which was submitted to the local government unit and DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS.

Mapanao, however, said they did not succeed in their first attempt.

“In 2015, during the first cycle (of Kalahi-CIDSS), we fell short on our participation rate which is one of the major criteria for a community to be prioritized.”

Representatives from the different barangays of Kapangan have agreed that for communities to be prioritized in the implementation of projects, the residents must attain at least 80 percent participation rate in barangay assemblies.

Challenged more than despaired, the Posca planned and implemented strategies to boost their participation rate during the second cycle of DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS Program in 2016.

“After understanding how Kalahi works, the senior citizens agreed to attend every barangay assembly,” said Posca secretary Amparo Comila.

Because the elders have set an example for the younger members of the community, the barangay’s participation rate in 2016 reached 84.79 percent compared to their 52.96 percent participation rate in during the first cycle of the program in 2015.

Because of this, Barangay Pongayan’s proposal for the concreting of their road was prioritized during the second cycle of the Kalahi-CIDSS.

The senior citizens helped in the actual implementation of the project until it was completed.

“Since we are not capable to join the labor force during the construction of the road, we agreed to provide rice, vegetables, and other materials we could give. We volunteered to cook for the laborers,” Comila said.

Younger members of the community also helped in the identification, planning, and implementation of the project.

“We always advised them that they will reapthe benefits of the road improvement since it will be easier for them to transport and sell their farm products in Baguio City or at the (La Trinidad) Trading Post,” said Posca member Oscar Banciong.

Due to their efforts, an increase in women participation in paid labor was also noted.

On Oct. 25, 2017, the 552-meter farm-to market-road was turned over to the barangay.

The community now wants the three kilometers, which remain as a dirt road, to be improved sooner than later.

Residents are hopeful that the remaining dirt road will be improved through the Department of Agriculture’s Second Highlind Agricultural Resource Management Project.
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