June 20, 2024

Talk is cheap. It’s so easy saying that we care for our fellowmen but do nothing about it. Most of us, including this near-sighted Ibaloy writer, act like politicians at times. We say things without meaning them. We pay a lot of lip service. We take the path of least resistance by lying through our teeth. That makes us human, I guess. Nobody’s perfect, after all. However, that does not erase the fact that words do not solve problems, meaningful action do. Again, talk is cheap.
It’s great to know then that there are persons of action or doers like Department of Social Welfare and Development Asec. Jose Antonio Hernandez, who oriented members of the City Anti-drug Abuse Committee (Cadac) recently at City Hall on the DSWD’s Yakap Bayan Framework of Intervention program that aims to reintegrate drug surrenderers into mainstream society and transform them into community leaders.
Also present were Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan, Councilor Benny Bomogao and representatives from the Baguio City Police Office, other concerned offices, agencies, and civil society organizations including religious groups. The Cadac is chaired by Mayor Benjamin Magalong, another man of action and not all talk.
A Baguio native, Hernandez said the program, developed by his department in 2016, uses a whole-of-nation approach to transform recovering persons who used drugs (RPWUDs) from surrenderers into advocates, volunteers, and eventually productive community leaders.
“The Yakap Bayan program weaves together the readily available resources of the local government units, national government agencies, academe, civil society organizations, and religious groups in order to provide support services and aftercare to RPWUDs and their families,” he said.
He said 13 million Filipinos or about 12 percent of the country’s entire population of 107 million are directly affected by illegal drugs.
The official explained that the program ensures effective reintegration of RPWUDs to their families and communities through four major components: mechanisms for reintegration, client’s self-management/mastery, family strengthening, and community support.
Strategies for LGUs to implement include giving a clear trajectory and direction; ensure that culture is integrated into solutions; and use available resources and programs.
“The RPWUDs, during their rehabilitation and aftercare, are provided with support services such as medical services, health and fitness therapy, counseling sessions, spiritual interventions, detoxification, skills training, and capacity building,” Hernandez said.
He added that families are also involved in counseling sessions, spiritual gatherings, and the reintegration planning of the RPWUDs.
Hernandez said the program has been adopted by several LGUs at the provincial, city and municipal level like Ifugao, Quezon, Lucban (Quezon), Davao Oriental, Davao City, Compostela Valley, Santol (La Union), Talisay and Lian in Batangas; and Tagudin, Ilocos Sur.

Here’s “Invisible, part VII” by Gabriel Baban Keith: “Are you an Ibaloy in Baguio?/ Then, how does it feel to be invisible/ in the former land of your brave/ but short-sighted/ ancestors?/ How does it feel to be treated/ like second, even third-class citizens/ in your original home?/ (Kahit hindi obvious at times)/ How does it feel to be noticed and/ treated seriously (kahit kunwari lang)/ only during elections and/ Ibaloy Day?/ How does it feel to see some areas of/ your former home-sweet-home/ squatted upon by more united,/ well-connected, imaginative,/ aggressive, outsiders?/ Sorry ka na lang./ Inggit ka lang./ That’s life./ Since you belong to an invisible, fractured,/ shy mangu (unless drunk), minority,/ marginalized, tribe,/ all you can do is drink tapuy, eat wat-wat,/ do the tayaw and line dance,/ dress like cowboys, have selfies,/ beat the solibaos and gong at the/ Ibaloy Heritage Garden (Reservation?)/ smile shyly, act compliant, be quiet,/ shut up and just bear it.”

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May our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ continue to bless and keep us all safe.