BDA Communications

BDA Communications

June 6, 2024/ SULU-BARMM. Jintan, 15, lost her mother when she was still young. Their father remarried and now with his new family.

Together with her younger sister, Jintan is currently under the guardianship of their aunt who supports their education and living at Brgy. Timbangan, Indanan, Sulu, Bangsamoro Region.

Jintan is in Grade 8 while her sister is in 6th grade of studies.

They are grateful to her Aunt’s family for the love and care they receive, as if they are not strangers.

Her aunt helps at the school canteen and sometimes sells assorted items in the neighborhood, while the husband is a laborer.

Jintan told that when the BARMM has come, they are automatically included whenever there is a program like provision of basic services.

“Through this project and the BARMM, we experience being a beneficiary, receiving assistance that is beneficial to our life and education”, she reported.

Jintan hopes for further support like scholarship to ensure continuation and completion of education with her sister and the other less privileged youth in the community.

Jintan and the other orphans and youth were the recipients of food packs and educational kit during the recent Community Assembly with Provision of Services in Timbangan.

Organized by the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) together with partner CSO Kabalikat CIVICOM, this event was successfully conducted in support of the Bangsamoro Government and the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).

From the BARMM through its provincial offices in Sulu Island were the Bangsamoro Human Rights Commission (BHRC), Bangsamoro Youth Commission (BYC), Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR), Ministry of Social Services and Development (MSSD), Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism (MTIT), Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and the Ministry of Labor and Employment (MOLE).

Office of Matarul Estino of the BTA through its official representative graced the assembly and complemented the food packs provided to the people.

There were 80 families who received food items and there were 100 youth offered with educational kits.

The beneficiaries who were pre-profiled belong to the vulnerable groups such as women, widows, orphans, youth, (PWDs) person with disabilities, indigenous people, transitioning combatants, elderlies and others.

Abdulrakman Ali, 40, a PWD is among the recipients of this assistance. He is grateful for the help. His parents are old already and it is his siblings who work for living for the family’s daily sustenance.

“This food pack is a big help for us. At least, our meals for one to two days is secured with this blessing”, Abdulrakman stated.

Meanwhile, Nurisa, 39, a mother of six shares their hard work in the family to suffice their needs with the daily income of P400.00 by her husband as a jeepney driver.

“We do our best for this amount to be enough for our family. We are able to send our children to school, with our eldest who is now in college level of education. We really wanted them to finish their studies”, she conveyed.

Another story we learned from Sulu is about Nurmirin, 37, a widow in the same village.

Selling local dishes at the community level while being a member of the village council is the source of income for Nurmirin to provide for her two children alone, since she lost her husband who was a tricycle driver.

Nurmirin holds a degree in education but was not fortunate to land a professional job. Despite this, she remains strong and hopeful.

 “I am doing everything for my children to not feel the absence of their father. It is not easy to be a solo parent but this is my fate. I have to be strong”, she emotionally expressed.

As a mother, Nurmirin aspires for her children to complete their education, “for them to experience better life that I could not provide”.

Nurmirin is an active member of the People’s Organization formed in Timbangan who received training on coconut processing with provision of tools and equipment.

The group produced various food items from coconut that they sell to generate extra income for their families.

Timbangan, Indanan Sulu

Growing up in their village, Jintan is aware of the living condition of the people in Brgy. Timbangan.

“Here in Brgy. Timbangan, people are into farming (e.g., coconut), labor works, while others do part- time domestic jobs to some households in the village”, Jintan said.

Nurisa talked about the poor conditions of the village before BARMM.

“Now, we have better roads, solar street lights and accessible potable water source”, she stated.

On the other hand, Nurmirin spoke that “When the BARMM came, we see hope. Before, the poor get poorer. Now we gradually feel the services and we pray for more aid towards continuing change in our community”.

Through the collaboration of the civil society organizations (CSOs) in the Bangsamoro, support to communities has becoming extra relevant to the overall progress of the people and the society.

For the BDA reaching numerous villages within and outside BARMM, is crucial and significantly contributes to the current transition in the Bangsamoro, and to the peace and development in the region.

Through the project SUBATRA-ECSO: Enhancing CSOs Capacities for Inclusive Development Interventions in BARMM in Support to Bangsamoro Transition, there were 24 communities who have benefited of various development assistance on basic social services and protection, livelihood, capacity buildings, among others.

Launched in 2021, the SUBATRA-ECSO  is a project funded by the European Union European Union in the Philippines and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation AECID Philippines.(BDA Communications 2024)

June 2024/ COTABATO CITY-BARMM. For a 24-old youth Ale, peace is when people are helping each other towards goodness and when people are upholding unity.

An Ustadz (teacher of Islamic education) named Muntasir, believes that peace is when people can freely practice religion, able to do livelihood, when the children can avail education and when there is an absence of fear.

To a combatant’s wife and a mother of seven, Fatima, peace is the absence of conflict. Peace is when there are development projects coming in the community and when people enjoy freedom to do things.   

Ale (Alleah T. Mama) is from Kinebeka, Datu Odin Sinsuat in Maguindanao, a village covered by the MILF Camp Badre.

She came from a separated family and she desires to be reunited with her other siblings. Living with her elder sister, Ale had to pause her studies due to health condition. However, she chose to be an active youth by joining community organizations.

“I join the community group to build my confidence, be able to stand and speak in front of the people. I am here with the hope to be aware of social issues like the gender sensitivity, conflict management and among others, which can be beneficial to me in the future” she said.

Ale looks forward to be a social worker, someday to be able to help the people in need.

Muntasir S. Salih, 28, is from Brgy. Tuayan Mother, Datu Hoffer Ampatuan, Maguindanao del Sur (Camp Omar).

He recalled that during the past years, whenever people see or hear the military trucks, they felt the fear. But now, people in the community can look for livelihood, with the improved peace and order in the village.

Muntasir, however reported the minimal conflict in the community, which they pray to be settled soon.

As a local Islamic educator, Muntasir is committed to impart his knowledge to the people and the children.

“The first reason why I teach in the Madrasah (Islamic school) is because when a person has knowledge of Islam it is his obligation to share his knowledge, help people and guide children who wanted to study. Lastly, I teach in desire for the reward from Allah (subahanahu wa taallah)" Muntasir said.

With a Master’s Degree in Arabic, he has a secondary level of regular education. According to him, financial constraint as well as the unstable peace and order hampered his access of formal schooling, a common story of youth in the camp communities.

On the other hand, Fatima A. Ali, 52, from Sifaran Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao del Norte (Camp Badre), is a daughter of a fallen warrior who fought the battle in 1979. She was married to a combatant and had seven children.

For seven years, Fatima had to solely look after the kids when her husband took job overseas due to financial responsibility for the family.

However, those challenges did not stop Fatima to take active role in their community. She joined the MILF’s Social Welfare Committee- the women wing of this revolutionary organization.

With her experience in the organization, Fatima was able to form a cooperative of women in their village.

“I pursue the cooperative through the SWC because this will enable us to receive assistance that will benefits us a lot. We will help one another to sustain the project, not only for our family, but for the whole community”, she said.

Fatima encourages the women to participate in community and social activities so that they will learn and won’t be left behind.

Camps transformation and development

The signed Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) in 2014 between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) covers Annex on Normalization that states about the transformation and development of camp communities.

Under the CAB, there are six major camps identified namely Camp Abubakar as Siddique in Maguindanao, Camp Badre in Maguindanao, Camp Bilal in Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur, Camp Bushra Somiorang in Lanao del Sur, Camp Omar Ibn al-Khattab in Maguindanao and Camp Rajamuda in North Cotabato and Maguindanao.

In 2018, the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) has started reaching the camp communities with support from donor partners, national and local stakeholders of peace and development. These interventions are significant in the transition of the camps from conflict to peaceful and progressive communities.

 At present, BDA implements various programs and projects that benefits the communities in the camps. Ale, Muntasir, and Fatima are members of the local social formation groups organized through the PROACTIVE: Programme on Assistance for Camp Transformation through Inclusion, Violence Prevention and Economic Empowerment.

PROACTIVE is being implemented in support to camps transformation and development. It aims to aims to contribute in enhancing local capacities to facilitate transition and transformation of the six (6) acknowledged camps of the MILF into peaceful and productive communities.

The project is funded by European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), implemented in collaboration with the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) and UNDP-Philippines.

May 2024/ COTABATO CITY-BARMM. It was in 2018, we were traversing a rough road in a remote village in Maguindanao of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), with a woman of war and struggle, who was recalling those hard times during the battle in the past years.

She joined our trip to an uphill community, to meet the indigenous people (IP) in the area, that day.

On our way, this woman who is a wife to a field commander of the armed forces of the MILF, was telling us stories during the times of war. She would compare the tough road then, to the present condition as we were passing by. She would point us to some spots, which are memorable to them e.g., where they get water and food, or stood for a while to hide or rest from running due to war.

“There were no vehicles then. We walked through this land. I have vegetable gardens there. I was very serious about planting. I loved it, those days”, she told giggling.

“And those banana plants”, she added, were very important those days. My husband would really tell his men to plant and plant banana, because according to him, in times of war, we never know what happens. So when we run and hide, and get hungry, we can eat through the bananas, it’s a survival.”

When we finally arrived, we met women in the village. It was in Brgy. Datalpandan, Guindulungan, Maguindanao, a community located in Camp Badre- one of the six major camps of the MILF as identified in the Normalization Annex of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

We talked with IP women who descended from their uphill community of the barangay. Accordingly, they walked hours from their home to reach the center of the village, where we met.

The IP sector in the camp has received a farm facility through a project implemented that year (2021). According to them, the corn sheller given to them is indeed a big help.

“We process our corn products manually at home, almost everyone in the family work together. It took us days or a week before we can finish”, they stated.

(IN PHOTO: An IP woman from Camp Badre posed with a farm machinery provided to them in 2020, significant to ease their farm processes in the upper hill village of Brgy. Datalpandan, Guindulungan, Maguindanao).

Based on data of the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.), selected communities in the six major camps of the MILF including the Brgy. Datalpandan have been receiving development projects such as warehouse with solar dryer, water system, road projects, community learning centers, solar panel, agri-trading and production facilities, health facilities, road projects, tribal hall for the IPs, including support on various capacity building activities.  

There was also the implementation of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) and livelihood support to organized groups in those communities.

From 2021 (last quarter) to present, the project in support to Bangsamoro Transition covers areas in the camps to sustain the milestones on transformation and development. It is funded by the European Union and the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation Agency (AECID).

There were 342 completers to ALS who are now formed as people’s organizations to undergo skills training towards social enterprise development.

Early in 2022, another program was launched related to camps development with fund source from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and EU. In the camps are cooperatives, people’s organizations and local social formation groups who are being supported by the program. Various infrastructure projects will also be constructed through this program.

Mid of the same year, the project on camps transformation kicked off carrying various services for the camps people.

All these development interventions, already implemented and still being worked out are all beneficial to the community beneficiaries, helpful in improving the life conditions of the people in those remote areas.

(IN PHOTO: Women, widows, elderlies were among the completers of ALS in the camps that gave them the chance to get education through the program. A chance that was once elusive due to conflict in the past years.)

In Camp Rajamuda, among the ALS completer in August 2022 was a widow who was very happy completing her basic education through the program. She is solely providing for her eight children and being able to study was a big accomplishment for her.

Also in this camp is a high hope for the farmers who will be receiving warehouse with solar dryer.

"With this project, our farming process will be easier”, the farmers expressed.

In Camp Omar, the organized PO is thankful for the continuing aid, through the skills training to help them establish local business.

The tribal hall being constructed at present gives joy to the IP community in this camp.

“There will be more benefits from this tribal hall. We can use this during community gatherings, local occasions, meetings, cultural activities, others”, the IP group said.

In Camp Bilal, a hopeful mother named Racma Baluwa, 30, recall that “I was a child then. We were evacuees. We heard the bombings and saw the explosions. Now, I join this cooperative hoping that it will bring income for my growing family.”  

A youth in the same camp, was happy for being able to continue her studies through the ALS.

In Camp Bushra, a hanging bridge has connected the isolated community in Brgy. Butig, Lanao del Sur through the project implemented in 2021.

In Camp Abubakar, the experience of war becomes the strength of the people to be united and welcome the development coming in to their community.

“It feels good that those we thought impossible are happening now. Life was hard, in the past years. We were very far. There was no stable peace and order. Frequently, there were threats, doubts, and fears. Now, we live with peace”, a woman stated.

One BIAF member shared that their village in the camp was once isolated, with only one or two houses to be found. But, now more people are coming, building their homes, for good.

Data shows that 2018-2019 camps project benefited 51, 410 people with an overall total cost of Php 57M. From 2020-2021 there were 3,471 people served by the project that spent about Php 27M. In 2021, through the Camps of Learning Project (CLP), there were 480 learners of ALS and beneficiaries of skills trainings for livelihood support. In August 2023, there were 342 ALS completers in the camps. And there are 24 cooperatives, 26 people’s organizations and 24 local social formation groups established in relevance to the on-going camps project.

The Normalization Annex of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front states about the need for development assistance in the communities that were once centers of battlefields in the past years. These interventions shall be significant to help them transition from conflict to peaceful and progressive communities.

The BDA Inc., as development agency of the MILF, now operating as non-government organization has been a partner towards this mission as the quest for long-lasting peace and development goes on.

(IN PHOTO: Students in MILF Camp Abubakar As- Siddique now enjoy better access to learning through the library project implemented through the PROACTIVE in April 2024.)

May 10, 2024. Data shows that for the current year, there are 510 decommissioned combatants who completed the Values Transformation Training (VTT) as integral course required in the process of Normalization- a term used to define the transitioning of conflict communities, from years of battles into peaceful and progressive society in accordance with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) of GPH-MILF in 2014.

Decommissioned combatants are those who are selected to undergo decommissioning- a relevant part of the Normalization process where former combatants are selected to undertake various activities essential to build and develop their capacity through trainings and education.

One strategy adopted is the Values Transformation Training (VTT) that teaches the combatants the importance of faith-based values as foundation towards self-change and personality development.

VTT believes in the integration of values to the process of change, which shall start at one’s self. The training teaches personality development of an individual by reflecting on his strengths and weaknesses, values and faith, therefore enabling him to identify ways to improve as a person. With this, he/ she would become a better being, which would manifest in his/ her actions to others and in the society.

For the decommissioned combatants, it is expected that they would live by the faith-based values as they transition into normal and productive civilian life.

“One important thing I learned from VTT is being consistent in self- discipline. This training adds to my learnings about values and faith”, a 42-year old participant told.

The on-going VTT for the decommissioned combatants is relevant to the project SPAN: Support to Peacebuilding and Normalization Project funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with the Task Force for Decommissioned Combatants and their Communities (TFDCC), Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) is the official training facilitator of the VTT.

According to BDA, there are two more batches of decommissioned combatants who will undergo VTT in the next coming days.

BDA is the development arm of the MILF established in 2002, and is now operating as duly registered non- government organization in 2019 with the official name, BDA Inc. (BDA Communication 2024)

 

May 8, 2024. Farm sector in the country has been among the marginalized groups, despite the fact that they are the backbone of the nation. This is a reality that remains with us up until to present era. In rural areas where villages have been a battlefield, or have been affected by the armed conflict in the past years, worse condition is expected for our agricultural sector, for instance in the Bangsamoro Region.

However, with the present progress of peace in the land, the situation has been improving. Specifically for the communities in the camps, where war occurred in the past, development has been happening through various programs and projects being implemented across the six major camps of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) namely Camp Abubakar as Siddique in Maguindanao, Camp Badre in Maguindanao, Camp Bilal in Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur, Camp Bushra Somiorang in Lanao del Sur, Camp Omar Ibn al-Khattab in Maguindanao and Camp Rajamuda in North Cotabato and Maguindanao, as identified in the Normalization Annex of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) of the GPH-MILF in 2014.

Recently, farmer cooperatives in Brgy. Kakal, Ampatuan, Maguindanao under Camp Omar and Brgy. Kibayao, Carmen, SGA-BARMM- Camp Rajamuda have received combine harvester with implements from the program that supports the camps transformation and development.

The recipient, Ampatuan Kalilintad Agriculture Cooperative expressed thanks for the assistance received, “We are very thankful for this opportunity to see the fruit of our sacrifices. Our battle is not for this world, but for the hereafter”.

For the Sustainable Agricultural Farmers Marketing Cooperative in Kibayao, the farm machinery manifests compassion to the farmers, and the community that is significant towards peace and progress.  

In April this year, farmer groups in Sandab, Butig, Lanao del Sur- Camp Bushra, Panggao, Munai, Lanao del Norte- Camp Bilal, Tugaig, Barira, Maguindanao del Norte- Camp Abubakar and Sifaran, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Mag del Norte- Camp Badre also received farm machineries.

The constructions of warehouse with solar dryer in Brgy. Panggao and in Camp Badre (Brgy. Datalpandan, Gundulungan, Mag del Sur and Brgy. Sifaran) were likewise, officially started in the same month.

In Camp Abubakar, the agri facility was completed, turned over and is already benefiting the community of farmers in Brgy. Tugain, Barira, Maguindanao.

All these development aid for the farmer cooperatives and many others is relevant to the on-going implementation of the PROACTIVE: Programme on Assistance for Camp Transformation through Inclusion, Violence Prevention and Economic Empowerment.

Support to farmers is expected to be of high significance in improving their agricultural activities and productivity, where they rely mainly for living. Through the PROACTIVE, farmer groups in the camp communities were formed into a cooperative and provided with various trainings, equipping them of necessary knowledge and capacity to manage and operate their organization and the assistance given to them.

Farmer cooperatives who received support in 2023 have reported relevant income by operating their machineries where members become more productive for their families and the community.

PROACTIVE launched in 2013 aims to contribute in enhancing local capacities to facilitate transition and transformation of the six (6) acknowledged camps of the MILF into peaceful and productive communities.

The project is funded by European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), implemented in collaboration with the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) and UNDP-Philippines.

May 7, 2024. Specific intervention for the communities in the camps falls under Output 4.6 Strengthening CSO-initiated projects in support of Normalization of the SUBATRA-ECSO: Enhancing CSOs Capacities for Inclusive Development Interventions in BARMM in Support to Bangsamoro Transition.

Through this component, the project was able to contribute to the on-going transformation and development of camp communities, relevant to the Normalization in Bangsamoro as informed by the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) of 2014 that identifies the six previously acknowledged camps of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) namely: Camp Abubakar, Camp Badre, Camp Bilal, Camp Bushra, Camp Omar and Camp Rajamuda.

With the SUBATRA-ECSO Project, there were 342 who completed basic education in 2023 through Alternative Learning System (ALS). Completers were those whose education was interrupted by protracted conflict in the past years resulting to poverty and less access to basic social services. They are those who belong to marginalized sector such as the women, widows, person with disabilities (PWDs), elderlies, out-of-school youth, transitioning combatants and indigenous people.

The implementation of the ALS in the camps was closely coordinated with the Bureau of Alternative Learning System (BALS) of the MBHTE-BARMM and with Department of Education (Region XII and X) for areas outside Bangsamoro Region.

Collaboration with partner CSO, the Kapagawida Development Services Association, Inc. was also significant in implementing ALS in the camps.

The SUBATRA-ECSO organized the ALS completers into people’s organization (PO) and were provided with various skills trainings to assist them with livelihood activities they identified.

The training came with complete package of tools and equipment that served as starting capital for their chosen community-based enterprises.

These POs in the camps were already producing their own products that they sell to earn supplementary income for their families. The project continues to assist them for their registration at the MOLE-BARMM to have legitimate identity as organization and be qualified for further assistance from the government.

More on support to camps development is the on-going mapping and planning for assistance to transitioning combatants of the MILF.

According to Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.), the implementing partner of SUBATRA-ECSO, the project intends to reach out to those combatants who were excluded from the decommissioned combatants.

BDA has recently met with the Joint Task Force on Camps Transformation (JTFCT-MILF) for consultation and planning of appropriate support to the target groups as they transition their lives to peace and development.

In March this year, PO members together with JTFCT and other stakeholders in the camps learned relevant insights about entrepreneurship.

As of this writing, BDA has organized an educational tour for the POs in the camps and JTFCT members where they are visiting social enterprise groups in Mindanao to learn from the experience, struggles, stories and triumph of these establishments in operating their businesses while extending community services.

BDA as development arm of the MILF, that has emerged as duly registered non- government organization has been a relevant partner in bringing development projects to the camp communities since 2018, and to the conflict-affected areas in Mindanao since 2002 with support from the Philippine Government through the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation an Unity (OPAPRU, then OPAPP) and from donor partners in peace and development.

It recognizes the need for continuing assistance to these underserved communities crucial to the Normalization in the Bangsamoro, and to the on-going transition in the Bangsamoro, towards peace and development.

 

(February 2024). Every day, Myrna Imamil, 45, rises up as early as 4:00 in the morning to prepare local dishes that she sells in the neighborhood in Brgy. Pasiagan, Bongao, Tawi- Tawi. In selling, Myrna earns money to help her husband sustain their family of seven.

Her husband who is a former government employee now trades seasonal fruits in a nearby markets in Bongao and Panglima Sugala, Tawi-Tawi Province, Bangsamoro Region.

“Life is exhausting”, she stated with teary eyes.

“Actually, the family can manage the daily life but I just hope that it gets better”, Myrna added.

Income on daily basis is indeed a challenge for families even at the rural areas in the region.

“From a little earning, we could have the allowance of our children to school. What is left will be used for the expenses at home and as funds to produce dishes we sell for the following day”, she told.

Aside from vending, Myrna grows kalamansi (lemon) at their backyard where she produces supplemental income for the family.

Myrna is specifically worried about the education of her elder daughter (1st year college in nursing), who has to stop due to financial incapacity of the family.

“As parents, we just wanted our children to finish their studies and it’s sad that we could hardly provide that for them”, she emotionally expressed.

The family is not stopping though, by asking help from government offices in hope for support like scholarships.

Myrna is glad that she was able to report her concern for the education of their children to the ministries providing assistance like study grants, during the Community Assembly conducted in January 2024 in their village, Pasiagan.

 Basic social services in the village

According to the local government unit of Brgy. Pasiagan in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi, the estimated population of the village is around 6, 000 individuals.

The barangay is primarily dominated by Muslim populations (Sama tribe) with a minority number of non- Muslim families.

Located in a coastal area, many families does seaweed farming and fishing from the sea as means of livelihood.

Some are farmers of local crop such as cassava, kalamansi and other homegrown vegetables. There are families managing small businesses, or selling local products. Some men are carpenters.

The BLGU told that the barangay needs support on infrastructure development like covered court and footbridges, and livelihood support for women groups.

It was reported that the distribution of food packs with hygiene kits and education supplies during the Community Assembly in January 2024 was the first time experience for the whole community. There were eighty families who received such assistance.

Health facility is available, so as a school catering to the education needs of the children in the village.

Ulmila Musa, 15 is a hopeful youth whose dream is to finish studies and become a police officer. She is a diligent student who ranks 8th in their class, Grade 10.

Another young girl is a non-Muslim whose family is from Zamboanga and has decided to move in Tawi- Tawi for reasonable living. She dream to be part of the armed forces of the government to continue the legacy of his elder brother who died as military.

Local women of Pasiagan

Paksa Mukatil, 56, president of Pasiagan Women’s Organization reported that it is the first time that women in their village is organized through the project SUBATAR-ECSO, for the purpose of helping them become more productive.

For them, they joined and participated to the project since most the women have less productive role.

In this seaside village, it is noticeable, however, that at daytime, men are rarely visible because it is the time when they sleep, since at night time, they go out for fishing, so women take the active role during community activities like the case when we were preparing for the venue of the Community Assembly conducted.

Through the project, Paksa told that women have become more united in learning and working together to produce the native delicacies that carry the identity and culture of Tawi-Tawi.

Paksa is a mother to fourteen children, with her husband as a carpenter. Eight of their children are already working, and are helping the family sustain the living. They also provide support to the education of their siblings who are still studying.

Support from SUBATRA-ECSO Project 

In 2021, Brgy. Pasiagan was selected as one of the beneficiaries of the project that supports the Bangsamoro Transition named SUBATRA-ECSO. Eighty individuals were profiled by the project as priorities for the assistance from the SUBATRA-ECSO. These 80 were composed of those who belong to vulnerable groups such as women, widows, solo parents, orphans, elderlies, person with disabilities (PWDs), transitioning combatants, indigenous people (IP), others.

These groups were the priority recipients of food packs and educational kits distributed on January 31, 2024 during the Community Assembly with Provision of Services together with the Office of Hon. Eddie Alih of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) and various MOAs of the Bangsamoro Government, Tawi- Tawi Provincial Office such as the Tabang BARMM, Bangsamoro Human Rights Commission (BHRC), Bangsamoro Youth Commission (BYC), Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR), Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE), and the Ministry of Labor and Employment (MOLE).

Marjorie Dela Cruz, a non- Muslim from Zamboanga City, is a mother who received the food packs and hygiene kit from the project. Her daughter got the educational kit. Marjorie does laundry services to help provide for the family. Her husband is a security officer.

Al-aziz Sahipa, 25, is born with polio. He was among the priority individuals of the assistance distributed.  They are six children in the family. His father is a police officer while the mother is a housewife. Al-aziz only reached Grade 10 level of education due to his health condition.

Intan Kamlon, 63, is thankful for the support received from the project. She has six children. With a little earning as utility personnel in a local restaurant, she could not send her kids to school, which she feels sorry about.

A senior member of the community, Hadji Musa Mukattil, 81, he witnessed the adversity of life in Brgy. Pasiagan, thus he hopes for more assistance to the village.

Hadji Musa is a widower, and was doing seaweed farming, in early days for his 10 children, who are all grown- ups. He is among the respected elderlies in the community and is the imam (prayer leader) in the barangay.

SUBATRA-ECSO has brought various development assistance to the identified beneficiaries of Brgy. Lilod like trainings on basic human rights, integrated risk and resilience management (IRRM) and the most exceptional is the skills training that came with complete set of tools and equipment.

The women in the village was formed into a People’s Organization (PO) and the project assisted them in identifying livelihood program, which is the processing of native delicacies.

"We chose to make native delicacies because we know one day it will be known not only in Tawi-Tawi but in different places”, Paksa and the women stated.

They added that “we want to introduce these native delicacies, especially now that the province of Tawi-Tawi is receiving more tourists where we can sell and generate income helpful for our families”.

Accordingly, the producing native delicacies is known to some senior members of the community but they wanted to learn more especially for the young generation to promote and preserve these traditional dishes such as lara-lara (sili-sili), batang buruk, jintan, panyam, panganan, bawlo, hantak/kukus, doughnut-doughnut, jah, tapa-tapa and tok-ki.

At present, Kapsa and the organization produces delicacies on weekly basis, which they sell at the pasalubong center in a local airport and in local stores in the community.

They are also working independently for the temporary storage of the tools and equipment provided to them by the project.

The group hopes to have the permanent production facility where they can work and produce better, while improving their organization to grow and be sustainable.

Their products have been saleable during the Product Expo in August 2023 in Cotabato City. 

With the formation of their group named as Pasiagan Women’s Organization, they are now earning income from producing native delicacies.  

At present, the registration is of the PO is underway to the MOLE-BARMM with the guidance and supervision of the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.).

Registration to MOLE-BARMM would formalize and legalize the existence of the PO that qualifies it for furthers assistance from the government and other private organizations. This will be helpful to improve their group and products and become successful and sustainable.

The group has also completed training on social enterprise and on self-help, which are significant for their development as on organization (BDA Communications, 2024).

Wednesday, 24 April 2024 07:43

Ramadhan in Bangsamoro (2024/ 1445)

April 2024. Each year, Muslims around the world welcome and live by the spirit of the holy month of Ramadhan. Ramadhan is the 9th month of Hijri Calendar. It is a season of fasting prescribed to every Muslim worldwide. This year, Ramadhan period was from March 10- April 9, 2024.

In the Bangsamoro Region, southernmost part of the Philippines, people surely have stories to tell about their practices and distinct observation of fasting.

The most remarkable highlight of the Ramadhan in Bangsamoro is the Ramadhan Lights that attracts people at night. It is installed at the Bangsamoro Government Complex, the seat of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) located in Cotabato City.

This attraction is a gift of the Bangsamoro Government to its constituents to have a safe place to enjoy at night with their families, friends and loved ones during this sacred month.

Ramadhan nights has become more illuminating with the program on Qur’an Reading at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex in Cotabato City. Contestants were coming from various local Islamic institutions in the provinces of the Bangsamoro Region.

This program helps in the preservation of the religious practice particularly in reading the Holy Qur’an. It helps popularize the holy book that communicates the teachings of Islam. The program aims to call upon the parents and the youth to engage in Qur’an Reading as an act of faith.

Symposiums related to Ramadhan and Islam were everywhere during the month. In urban and rural areas, on-air and online. Government and private institutions have also initiated lectures for their employees relevant for their spiritual, mental and emotional beings.

Similar with other Muslims in other places and countries, individuals, groups and families in the Bangsamoro Region likewise did charity works such as giving of free food packs for the fasting Muslims or organizing free Iftar (breaking of fast) in their localities.

Some known leaders and local government units have even prepared Grand Iftar during this holy month, as joined by thousands of constituents and also non- Muslims who are partners in peacebuilding.

Non- government organizations distributed food supplies to selected communities with the support of humanitarian foundations from the other countries.

This year, the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) has delivered food packs to hundreds of families in selected areas in Bangsamoro Region. There were also families who have received zakat as sponsored by a partner organization from Turkey.

Feature story

Shaida Watamama, 17, shares how her story of Ramadhan this year being away from her family for the first time. She is from Barangay Kidati, Talayan, Maguindanao del Norte.

In May 2023, Shaida in desire to help her family decided to work in the city as house helper. She is not studying anymore due to workload at home, where she aids her mother to take care of younger siblings.

Away from her family since then, this year, Shaida spent Ramadhan in the city (for the first time), where she is currently working.

She helps in family of six where both the spouse are working, three kids studying and the youngest being left at home whom she takes care of.

Despite the distance from her own family, Shaida is happy to help. She is delighted that her family has become a recipient of the food pack (25kgs of rice with assorted grocery items) and of zakat (financial assistance) during Ramadhan.

Ramadhan in Bangsamoro is a regular documentation activity of the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) every year to capture highlights of practices observed during this sacred month.

March 12, 2024. In the distant community of Barangay Buan, Panglima Sugala in Tawi-Tawi, Bangsamoro Region, are the Sama people who lives along the seashores in this island province.

At the young age, a Sama child is being trained and exposed to the sea for fishing and for farming activities, a primary source of living for the people in this coastal village.

Alrashel Julaid, 43, is born to a family and community of seaweeds farming. He was young when his father was bringing him to the sea.

Being by the or in the sea is popular identity to the Sama people. It is their home where they are born and raised.

Alrashel grows seaweeds to sustain his family of seven. Their two children are in college taking education course.

Similar to all other fathers, he wish for his kids to complete studies as their key to success in life.

His wife takes mostly of the reproductive role with the younger kids at home.

Basic social services in Brgy. Buan

Brgy. Buan is home to thousands of families who are Sama and lives by the faith based on Islam religion.

Despite the distance from the mainland and the center of development in the Tawi-Tawi province, the barangay has available services for its people such as basic and secondary schools, justice hall, water system project, and a health facility.

Families in the village are beneficiaries of the 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program) through the Ministry of Social Services and Development (MSSD-BARMM). Elderlies also received assistance from the senior citizens program of the government.

However, all these require for upgrading and further support towards improved services to the people.

For instance on education, youth who wishes to pursue college needs to move in Bongao (the center of Tawi-Tawi Province), since there is no higher education institution established in rural areas of Tawi-Tawi. And for most families, sending their kids from the island to mainland Bongao requires bigger financial responsibility for allowance, accommodation, transportation, meals, school fees, etc.

In this case that many of the aspiring youths could not make it to education, like Alshayma Juhang, 40, who only reached second year level in college and opted to went back home to Brgy. Buan where she married and build a family.

She helps her husband does seaweed farming for their family of five.

As their source of living, seaweed farming is like a whole day of going to a regular job. Everyday after breakfast, her husband leaves to go farming and to catch fish, too and other sea foods, which they sell for income.

At home, Alshayma would prepare some local dishes that she vends into the neighborhood for little sales, helpful for the family’s daily sustenance.

Seaweeds farming in the community

On January 31, 2024, a simple dialogue between farmers and fisherfolks of Brgy. Buan and the government institutions like the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR Tawi-Tawi Provincial Office) and Mindanao State University (MSU- Tawi-Tawi) happened particularly in Sitio Biha of the said village.

Both parties were able to expressed and report their concerns related to aquaculture practices in this island community.

Among the concerns raised was the use of fertilizer for seaweeds farming, which according to MAFAR and MSU Tawi-Tawi is not encouraged due to its potential harmful effects to human health and the environment.

The farmers conveyed that they are using fertilizers for rapid growth and harvest of seaweeds, and therefore a rapid income to provide for their families. 

Both parties acknowledged each struggle and agreed to work on unified actions to resolve such realities on aquaculture in this island village, and help advance the economic conditions for the entire community.

Also reported by the farmers and fisherfolks was the prizing of seaweeds as dictated by traders e.g., from P140.00 to P45.00.

The group likewise appeals for the the high price of seaweed seedlings that they needed to begin their farming.

The Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) through the project: "Building Resilient Livelihoods and Communities through Climate-Smart Aquaculture Value Chain in Tawi-Tawi and Sulu Archipelago” under the program “Strengthening the implementation of regional and local peace and development agendas in Mindanao (SPADe) has been conducting a baseline study related to aquaculture in the Bangsamoro Region.

It focuses on seaweeds farming in Brgy. Buan, Panglima Suga in Tawi-Tawi and on lobster fishing in Brgy. Sucuban, Omar, Sulu.

The project is co-funded by European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) implemented by German International Cooperation (GIZ).

Support from the project 

The project has various plans to aid the beneficiaries advance their aquaculture practices like trainings to educate them the modern, environmental and practical manner of growing, harvesting and marketing their products.

This action also comes with an infrastructure development. On January 31, 2024, the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of seaweeds dryer with mini solar dryer has been successfully conducted in Brgy. Buan through the support of partners from MAFAR Tawi-Tawi and MSU Tawi-Tawi.

The construction of lobster aquaculture facility in Brgy. Sucuban has also been started, which groundbreaking ceremony was attended by partners from BARMM through its Sulu Provincial Offices like the MAFAR and Cooperative and Social Enterprise Authority (CSEA), MSU- Sulu and the Philippine Army. 

At present, BDA Inc. is managing the procurement of required building materials for the said infra projects through its field staff in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

 

“Maganda itong Values Transformation Training (VTT) kasi ang tunay na pagbabago ay magsisimula sa sarili natin mismo”, said Nasip Mascara, 53 years old, member of the cooperative from Brgy. Mamaanun, Baloi, Lanao del Norte (Camp Bilal).

Members of cooperatives and people’s organizations in the camp communities underwent Values Transformation Training (VTT).

The VTT was simultaneously organized from March 6, 2024 in the 12 communities within the six (6) previously acknowledged camps of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

This training aims to revitalize the values of the beneficiaries and develop internal obligation within themselves to become more responsible as the projects will be entrusted to their organizations.

VTT is part of the capacity building for the beneficiaries under the Bangsamoro Camps Transformation Project (BCTP).

BCTP is supporting the Normalization efforts in the camps that aims to improve access to socio-economic services and basic infrastructure in the six (6) previously acknowledged MILF camps.   

It is implemented by the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) in partnership with Community and Family Services International (CFSI).

BCTP is one of the projects funded by the Bangsamoro Normalization Trust Fund (BNTF) administered by the World Bank.

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