VISION: A DYNAMIC AND VIBRANT CHURCH OF CARING, WITNESSING AND MISSION-ORIENTED COMMUNITIES.
The Pangao Community
By Mark Na-oy
Pangao was once a hunting ground for wild animals due to its virgin forest. As years passed, the areas planted to vegetables in the nearby communities increased, and people started practicing the kaingin of “slash and burn” system in this hunting ground. The place suddenly became a vegetable-growing area due to its good climate and the fertile soil. Eventually the place was converted into a Sitio named Pangao and became part of Barangay Bangao of Buguias municipality in the province of Benguet.
Some of the first settlers or families who started the kaingin practice in this place were the Botiwey and Boc-ong Family (source Kagawad Avelino Cabinta) and they started selling improved lands to interested individuals, thus leading to the increase in the number of households and populace in the1990’s.
There are around 29 households residing in this community. Most of their livelihood is from vegetable gardening although not all of them own land. Some work as hired labor on lands owned by others.
In the 1970’s, the road to this community starting from Barangay Sinto in Bauko, Mountain Province and proceeding to Amlimay, Buguias and Tinet Ifugao was built by the people themselves. Since the road condition was not good enough for the settlers of Pangao to transport their products to the town center, they started improving the road by contributing their efforts and their funds to haul mountain sand from Barangay Maba-ay, Bauko. Later, some portions of the road was cemented through the assistance of Eng’r Abraham Akilit and and also from Barangay Funds. Since this community is located in the tri-boundary of Benguet, Mountain Province and Ifugao; and perhaps also because of its small population, community development efforts were not exerted by politicians nor elective officials.
The water system being use by the community was installed by the Boc-ong family by tapping the spring located at a mossy mountain about 2 (two) kilometers away. This is now reserved as their watershed to supply not only Pangao but also nearby Barangays of Mountain Province. Later on, the only son of this family claimed that the hose was for their use, thus creating misunderstanding in the community. This was brought to the attention of the Barangay officials. As a result, the people contributed towards the payment of the old hose amounting to P 15,000.00 (fifteen thousand pesos). This is now being maintained by the community. However, there is a shortage in the supply of water specially during the summer season.
In 2010 Deacon Allan Gallas who was assigned in this community, called our attention and asked how the CBDP program could assist this community, particularly on improving the water system. After fulfilling all Diocesan requirements, the Diocesan CBDP responded by conducting community consultation meetings in the area.
The first community visit
The people were hoping that after these seminars, they are expecting that assistance would soon follow. They had, at the outset, wanted assistance towards constructing their water system.
During this time, however, the CBDP had started using the Asset-Based Community Development Approach. Community Research Volunteers were chosen from among the residents of Pangao, namely Mr Inocenso Kimao, Eddie Ulbano and Edwin Sadley. They, along with other CRVs from different communities in Luzon, were participants in the Training-Workshop held at St. James High School in Besao in August 2011. Here, the CRVs learned to lead such activities as conducting the household survey and the asset-mapping. Other skills, knowledge and attitudes were passed on to the CRVs.
After the training, they went back to their communities and did their best to undertake the tasks that had been assigned to them. They facilitated in community consultations and led in the conduct of the asset mapping activities.
They also assisted in the conduct of trainings. Here in these photos, during the Training on Health and Sanitation, they were also taught the preparation of herbal medicines for minor illnesses. They learned how to prepare ginger tea which would be useful especially during cold and rainy days when the people suffer from coughs and colds.
On the Gender Sensitivity Training, this helped open the minds of the men-folk especially regarding division of labor in the home and on the wages paid to women laborers whose rates are lower than those given to male laborers. During the training, it was unusual that after the women had prepared the meals, the men did the washing of the dishes.
After several activities in the community, on June 18, 2012, the community held another meeting. This time, they withdrew proposal for the construction of a water system during the second year of their Community Development Project. They had the following reasons:
- 1.The communities were not able to finish a Feasibility Study for a livelihood venture using available assets in the community.
- 2.They had reviewed their proposal for a water system and decided that they would maintain their existing plastic hose for some time. They wouldmanage the water source and install the proposed impounding tank and the distribution tank by having each household contribute towards the cost on a staggered basis. They figured that they would be able to save up the money and finish the water system in two years time.
When I interviewed the 3 CRV’s, they said “we have done our very best to apply what we have learned on the Asset Based Community Development Approach. Sometimes we have frustrations and we would laugh at ourselves especially when we did the household survey. We also had difficulty conducting community meetings especially because our fellow-Gardeners are time-constrained. They wake up very early and return home late in the afternoon, thus they sometimes leave us to decide on matters. We did not feel good about this.”
“Whenever you come to conduct meetings with them, all are quiet because it is to us (CRV’s) that they express what they want to happen.” (One of the Benguet people’s characteristics is that they are quiet and unexpressive of their opinions.) “This is one reason why we could not comply with some of the components of the ABCD such as the conduct of Feasibility Study. We were not able to establish our organic vegetable gardens but we will continue with the tree nursery for the improvements of our water shed.”
“Last meeting, we have decided not to pursue the proposed water works projects. We are willing to do the improvements as planned in the proposal, but we will do it in two years. Here, we can see the application of what we have learned in the Asset Based Community Development Approach. We would, therefore, ask that the funds requested for be passed on to more needy communities. We will invited you once we have finished our water system.”
For me, this shows that some of our communities have the capacity to undertake community projects with a little technical support from us. Thus, I shall continue working with this community and learn from them.