A Case Study of Brgy. San Juan, Loreto, Surigao del Norte
A. Profile of Loreto
Loreto is approximately 40 nautical miles from Surigao del Norte, 10 nautical miles from Anahawan, Southern Leyte and 8 kilometers away from its nearest neighbor – municipality, Tubajon. Loreto is one of the seven municipalities of Dinagat Island, namely: Dinagat, Basilisa, Cagdianao, San Jose, Libjo and Tubajon. Dinagat Island has a total land area of 82,897 hectares and located on the northern part of Mindanao. It is part of Surigao del Norte and lies in the northern side of mainland Surigao City. The whole of Dinagat Island is a Mineral Reserve Area. This encourages the entry of different mining companies.
Loreto was first established as a town in 1841. In the old days, it was known as the town of Mabua, because of the ever-foaming river that runs into the heart of the commnity.
In 1881, the town was renamed Loreto, in honor of the wife of the Governor at that time, and was created as a municipality in 1898.
The physical attributes of Loreto consist of coastal plains, alluvial plains and valleys, indullating area, hills, crest and ridges. The dominant slope in the area is over 57%.
Loreto is the second largest municipality of Dinagat Island, with a total land area of 21,587 hectares. It is composed of 10 barangays, namely: Santiago, Carmen, Santa Cruz, Ferdinand, Esperanza, Magsaysay, Helene, Panamaon and San Juan.
B. Profile of Barangay San Juan: The SIAD Site
Barangay San Juan is one of the urbanizing barangays among the ten barangays of the Municipality of Loreto, Surigao del Norte. It has an estimated land area of 1,319 hectares occupied by 302 households with a total population of 1,498. It is bounded by Surigao Strait on the north; Barangay Ferdinand on the east; Barangay Carmen on the south; and the municipality of Tubajon on the west.
The barangay can be reached by a “lantsa” from Surigao City in approximately 5 hours. But travel time changes on weather’s condition. From other destination in the mainland Loreto, one can reach San Juan by a motorized vehicle. The barangay is dominated by Boholanos, Cebuanos, Warays and Ilongos.
The people’s income are mainly derived from fishing and farming but they are more dependent on the products of the sea than the agricultural products such as rice, coconut and vegetables. Women derive their income from mat weaving though it is seasonal and largely demand-driven.
The average monthly income is between P2,000 to P3,000. Income increases during dry season (March-September), due to the harvest of agricultural crops, abundant fish catch and copra sales. Expenses also increase during this period due to the end and beginning of school activities and annual barangay fiesta. During the rainy season (October-Febuary), fish catch is scarce and food is very difficult to get.
The Barangay Council of San Juan is led by the Barangay Captain and 8 Barangay Kagawads. In terms of decision making in the barangay, the people rely more on the Barangay Council. The Barangay Development Council was organized, with the help of Balay Mindanaw Foundation Incoporated (BMFI), in 1998. The different sectors of the barangay are represented and are now involved in barangay planning and decision-making for the development of Barangay San Juan.
C. The People’s Organization
Kahugpungan Alang sa Kalambuang Agraryo (KAKA) – Municipal Wide was established in 1998 because of the issue of land distribution in Loreto with the support of Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and Balay Mindanaw Foundation Incorporated (BMFI). The goal of the organization is to help in facilitating, educating and to play an active role in the process of obtaining security in owning the land they till, especially because Loreto is a Mineral Reservation Area.
In December 1998, PRA-BDPs were collectively formulated by the ten barangays of Loreto. These activities were attended by many of the people of the barangays. Barangay San Juan’s own Barangay Profile and Integrated Barangay Development Plan then became the basis of their five (5) year and one (1) year plan. After the Barangay Development Plan was dratted and accepted, the people have seen the need for a more stable and cohesive people’s organization that is based on the barangay. This was seen especially by the members of KAKA-Municipal Organization. Thus, KAKA- San Juan Chapter was created with the same goal as that of KAKA-Municipal. These are: helping the people finally own their farmlands and to be actively involved in identification and screening of qualified CARP beneficiaries. The vision of KAKA-San Juan is not only limited to land distribution but also the development of agriculture, livelihood, organization, environment and infrastructure.
II. INTERVENTIONS AND STRATEGIES
A. PO-BDC Networking
With the active participation of KAKA-San Juan, the face of Barangay Development Council has changed. The PO made an initiative to present to the BDC a system of institutionalizing the roles of the PO and other sectors in BDC of San Juan especially in planning for sustainable and integrated development. It was hard at first to push for the agenda, but KAKA-San Juan persevered and eventually succeeded in making the BDC understand and do their role in the barangay well. One strategy which proved to be effective was to invite and encourage barangay officials and members of BDC to participate in the activities and projects of KAKA-San Juan. Activities and projects of the PO either in agriculture, nursery, livelihood or micro-credit are reported, discussed and implemented in the context of the over-all BDC program so that the members feel a sense of ownership.
B. Integration of PO Plan in BDP
The PO Plan of KAKA-San Juan which was incorporated into the BDP has significantly contributed in making the Barangay Development Plan truly integrated and relevant. The plan includes Resource Tenure Improvement, Agriculture, Livelihood, Training and Seminars, and Organizational Development among others.
C. Sustainable Agriculture as Entry Point
Farming is a big source of income in Brgy. San Juan. KAKA-San Juan with the BDC and supported by BMFI launched a seminar on MASIPAG ORIENTATION. This was because the people have recognized that there is an urgent need for an alternative way of farming. The people realized that their present farming practices not only lead to large income deficits but also cause a degradation and irreparable damage to the environment. With this new knowledge in the principles and technology of Organic Farming, the PO and the members of the BDC are hoping that the lost culture of farming in Brgy. San Juan due to the Green Revolution will be one day be rediscovered. Some of these alternative practices are controlling and storing traditional varieties of rice, continuing research and study in the trial farms so that the farmer will be more analytical and be confident of him/herself, and the Diversified Integrated Farming System which provides food security to the community. The trial farm, with its principle “ To see is to believe”, is also a good tool in convincing the farmers that organic farming is an effective and viable alternative.
D. Area-Based Organizing
In the beginning, there were only few people who are willing to sincerely serve their community. This was n the observation of the BMFI Staff (SIADOs) assigned in Loreto. Eventually, the SIADOs’ presence, active participation and leaving with the community have somehow helped to encourage the PO and other local leaders to work and actively participate for the development of their barangay. There is a noticeable growth in the PO’s resoluteness and inspiration in pursuing their vision. Their activities which are community-based have become venues for them to show their care and concern for one another. The PO has in turn helped encourage the other BDC members to be more active and contribute their own share.
III. FACILITATING AND HINDERING FACTORS
A. Facilitating Factors
1. Active and strong leadership and members of KAKA- San Juan and BDC
One factor that has led to the forging of good relationship between PO and the other members of the BDC is the continuing efforts to strengthen the PO, BDC and other sectoral leaders. This is an important element in an organization. Leaders must know how to manage and be good examples to their constituents. By experience, it is also important that leaders are knowledgeable of the work in the organization and always encourage the members to be active even in times of difficulties and failures. The leaders and the members must go hand-in-hand in doing their activities in the barangay.
2. Support of the Barangay Officials and Other Sectors
The success of BDP depends on the work and support of the BDC members. Nothing will be done if there is no understanding among the people of the barangay. Brgy. San Juan needs the constant understanding and support of all stakeholders in order to implement their projects and make them successful. It is also important that all sectors in the barangay take part in the activities as the PO believes that “ If we work together we will easily achieve development”.
3. Clear Vision and Plan of both PO and BDC
Aside from the integrated plan, their simple vision of “Kalambuan makab-ot kung magkahiusa ang katawhan sa barangay” greatly helps in guiding and inspiring them. This has become their rallying point.
B. Hindering Factors
1. LGU support
The LGU-Municipal Level gives little or no support to the PO because of some doubts that there is an underlying political agenda of KAKA-San Juan. That is also why some of the barangay officials are less supportive or even antagonistic, to some of the PO’s programs and activities for the development of the barangay. Even with this hindering factors, the PO has not lost hope. They continue to try to explain their purpose to the community and continuously be active based on the learnings that the PO gains from the training and seminars they have attended and the various activities that they have initiated.
2. Support and Trust of some Brgy. Officials
Some of the barangay officials doubt the sincerity of KAKA-San Juan in its partcipation in the BDC. Their past experiences with other groups have shown that activities and programs did not last and eventually forgotten. They believe that KAKA-San Juan use the BDC just a tool in order to pursue its own agenda.
IV. GAINS AND LEARNINGS
When KAKA-San Juan was not yet organized, the BDC in Brgy. San Juan was hardly functioning. The BDC was only organized in order to comply with the requirements of DILG.
Because of the active participation of KAKA-San Juan in barangay governance for about one year and seven months, the people have seen the important role of BDC in making plans together with the other sectors of the community.
KAKA-San Juan also realizes that the BDC will be successful and accomplish a lot only if there continues to be active participation of the stakeholders in the barangay.
The PO believes that their plan is not only for the good of the PO but of the whole community as well. The issues of farmers are also the issues of the other sectors of the barangay. The integration of the development plan of KAKA-San Juan into the over-all plan of the BDC is the fruit of active participation and constant lobbying of KAKA-San Juan in the BDC. It is a victory for KAKA- San Juan that their PO Plan is taken as part of the Barangay Development Plan, especially on Resource Tenure Improvement, Agri/aquaculture, Livelihood, Infrastructure and Organizational Development.
As they continue to struggle within the BDC, they continue to earn small victories… and they continue to learn and grow.
In Resource Tenure Improvement, the people of Brgy. San Juan, especially the farmers whose lands are covered by CARP, see hope in finally owning the land that they till. In agriculture, slowly the farmers are starting to adopt the technologies of organic farming and to follow the principles of sustainable agriculture. The consciousness of the people on different issues like land ownership, agriculture, fishery laws and policies, economy, culture, politics and environment continue to rise.
The PO has learned that development could be achieved only if people actively participate and follow collectively-set policies and activities. Some of their small victories are: their micro-credit project with the PO and BDC members as beneficiaries is already on its second cycle and has a 95% rate-of-return; KAKA-San Juan now has enough funds to strengthen and expand their livelihood program; they also have 10 piglets which are distributed to 10 households; they purchased a sow from their savings for pig raising and production projects. Recognizing the efforts of the PO and the BDC, BMFI has also contributed some resources from the CAPP-SIAD Barangay Development Support Fund.
The Barangay Council and the BDC of Brgy. San Juan are now actively supporting KAKA-San Juan and other sectors of the barangay. They have also understood the principles of partnership.
KAKA-San Juan has also learned how to properly manage projects, constantly monitor such and to be transparent in all transactions and actions in their project.
V. CHALLENGES & PROSPECTS
The participation of KAKA-San Juan in the barangay has gained not only victories but also challenges. One major challenge is the seeming lack of interest of some government agencies in supporting the PO and implementing their projects and programs. The Department of Agrarian Reform for instance seems not concerned about distributing the lands and following the proper implementation of the program as set by CARP with its principle of “Land to the Tiller”.
Another major challenge is that KAKA-San Juan’s participation is limited only at the barangay level and has gained little recognition and support from the municipality. The low level of awareness and consciousness of some members and barangay- citizens particularly on the role of KAKA in Brgy. San Juan is also a major concern.
Despite all these, KAKA-San Juan continues to strengthen their organization, participate in BDC and continues to build capabilities by organizing and attending training and seminars. The organization has a plan to expand together with the fisherfolks and womens group. The PO also hopes to launch fishing and aquaculture projects. They also hope that fisherfolks will be organized and that mat weavers will be assisted in marketing their product.
KAKA – San Juan believes that development starts through small but effective citizens’ action in the barangay. The good relationship of PO and different sectors in the community in the Barangay Development Council and the democratic formulation of a Barangay Development Plan are also seen as the key sustainable development in the barangay. There may be many obstacles and problems ahead but these are not insurmountable.
VI. SUSTAINING MECHANISM
1. Organized Project Monitoring and Evaluation Committee
KAKA-San Juan together with the BDC, created a Monitoring and Evaluation Committee inside the BDC. The committee’s main duty is to periodically and systematically look into and monitor the projects in Bragy. San Juan. One of the members of the committee has already attended a training on Project Monitoring and Evaluation.
2. Organized Community Advocates
A group of Community Advocates has been organized and trained. These are Local Community Organizers, Paralegals and Farmer Technician. They are expected to possess enough knowledge and skills in managing and continuing the projects initiated. The Local Community Organizers (LCO) help in facilitating the development of the BDC, organize the community and review the BDP. The Paralegals, together with the BDC and PO, help in activities that pertain to access to justice concerns, legal and other meta-legal issues. The Farmer Technicians help facilitate and guide the barangay pertaining to the issues on agriculture, especially in promoting and facilitating the principles and practices of Sustainable Agriculture.
3. PO Strengthening
KAKA – San Juan plans to become a cooperative so that the projects and services of the organization may become bigger and wider in scope. The organization will also initiate the creation of a network of POs in the barangay. Lastly, the organization with other KAKA chapters in Loreto plans to establish a federation to help hasten the distribution of land in the municipality.
Happy indeed are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.