MAY 2023-COTABATO CITY. For some whom we met and talked with for a while, the program gives them hope in life despite being detained in jail for a crime committed.
This is through the Bangsamoro Scholarship for Technical Vocation Education and Training (TVET) of the Ministry of Basic Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE) BARMM.
Sixteen persons deprive of liberty (PDL) benefited from the program and have undergone training on Electrical Installation and Maintenance (EIM NC-II).
Under the program is the integration of the Values Transformation Training (VTT), a three-day activity that promotes and teaches faith-based values towards self-change and personality development.
The Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) facilitated the VTT for the PDLs on May 2-4, 2023 at BJMP Cotabato City.
“We are very thankful for giving us this opportunity. We are confident that when we will be freed, hopefully, we have this knowledge and skills that we can use to get a job or earn income for our family”, a PDL said.
Enlightened by the teachings during the VTT, the PDL stated “I admit that when I was outside, before being here in jail, I spend mostly of my life for worldly desire. Here, I was enlightened, through this program”.
According to the jail officer in BJMP, they plan to conduct similar activity for the PDLs monthly and shall coordinate with the BDA Inc., who is official facilitator and resource person of the VTT.
It was in 2019 when BDA Inc. signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the TESD of MBHTE-BARMM for the implementation of VTT intended to instill the importance of faith-based values as foundation in developing a mass of individuals, professionals and leaders in the Bangsamoro.
APRIL 26, 2023. In the low-land and marshy village of Barangay Balong, Northern Kabuntalan, Maguindanao located in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), fifty households have just returned home from months of stay at the evacuation centers, and are currently struggling to recover and rebuild their lives from the effect of recent armed conflict due to rido (clan feud) in the place.
Sittie Guiadel, 55, a mother of eight in the village, told us their story of rising up from the said calamity and how are they living right now.
“Livelihood is affected because of what happened. Fishing and farming (a primary source of income to many) become difficult because many of our men are still not confident to go out because of safety and security”, Sittie stated.
She recalls the days at the evacuation center where they were not able to bring anything because of fear during the conflict.
“We have nothing. We can only rely from the assistance handed to us. We are thankful that there were people and organizations who immediately acted to our needs during that time”, she told.
Sittie’s family and many of their neighbors found refuge to nearby barangays where they stayed over three months while the armed conflict was happening.
When they return, a month ago, it was hard to recover and bring back to the natural state in the community.
“The experience was tough. It is still fresh for us, being in that situation. Livelihood were interrupted. Education of the children was affected. Some men who joined the battle were dead. Some properties were destroyed”, Sittie said.
Sittie and other neighbors have recently received food packs (25 kilo of rice, three kilos of sugar, oil, and coffee) as part of the program during the holy month of Ramadhan.
They expressed their gratitude for this blessing that bestowed upon them in this time of crisis in their lives.
“Shukran for this ridzki (blessing). We really need help because we are indeed in a difficult state, right now. We hope and pray for your help”, Sittie pleaded.
Meanwhile, in the nearby town in Brgy. Upper Taviran, Kabuntalan in the same province, Tarhata Midzakal, 26, lives by her family of four: two young kids and her husband.
Tarhata does laundry in the neighborhood where she earns money to help sustain the family. Her husband is a carpenter and a fisherman, both a low-income type of job.
"Life is very difficult. My husband is a fisherman and sometimes, there is no catch for him to bring something for the family back home”, she stated.
Her husband would do carpentry works if there is no chance for income from fishing.
For Tarhata, it would be a lucky day if someone from the neighbors ask her to do a laundry where she gets P150.00 pesos per basket.
Aside from the less chance to get a regular job, Tarhata cannot leave her children yet since they are still young, who needs immediate care from their mother.
She was very thankful for the food pack received and hopes that there will be more to come.
For her, it is a big blessing that will help her and the family during this Ramadhan.
This food items, according to her, can last a month for her family.
Abdulraof Gumising, 37, also in the same village is thankful as beneficiary of the food pack.
He has four children. He is a fisherman from which he earns barely enough for his family.
Abdulraof’s wife is a full-time mother, taking care of the children.
Sometimes, his wife would sell local goods, but most of the time would prioritize the little kids who are still young.
Abdulraof shared how hard life is, especially when he has nothing to bring home for his family.
"Whatever I earn a day, I just make it work. What hurts most is whenever there is no catch to sell for income”, he stated.
He is deeply grateful for the food packs received during this holy month, that can sustain the needs of the family for a number of weeks.
This year, the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) has delivered 200 food packs for Ramadhan 2023, in selected communities of Cotabato City and Maguindanao province. It is sponsored by the Weltweiter Einsatz fur Arme (WEFA), a partner foundation in Turkey.
Every year, BDA Inc. implements Ramadhan Program, through provision of food packs to poor families in the Bangsamoro Region. This program has become helpful for the family-beneficiaries to supplemental to their daily needs, which are usually barely enough or lesser due to poor life conditions.
Ramadhan is a holy month in Islam. It is when Muslims perform the 4th pillar of Islam. It is the month when the doors of jannah are opened. It is when rewards to good deeds are multiplied.
In this blessed month, employees and volunteers of the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) got together and broke fast together on April 7, 2023 at Em Manor Hotel, Cotabato City.
Everyone was joyful for this gathering of past and present volunteers of BDA Inc., who have met once again now that many of them are already working in various ministries and offices in the Bangsamoro Government and in different private institutions and outside the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
In his message, Dr. Rizaldy Piang, current minister of the Ministry of Health (MOH-BARMM), was grateful for the chance to see each other again, and for the time given by everyone to gather in this activity.
“This meeting is relieving like the good old times. We thank those who came from a distance”, Dr. Piang stated.
He added, “Let us strive to improve our bond for the sustainability of the Bangsamoro Development Agency.”
Ustadz Mohammad S. Yacob, member of the parliament of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) and the minister of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrariar Reform (MAFAR-BARMM), highlighted the achievement of the BDA as an agency recognized for its capacity as stated in its slogan “building people who will build the nation”.
“BDA has produced professionals who are among those, helping the current Bangsamoro Government, one is through the Values Transformation Training (VTT)”, Minister Yacob remarked.
He added, “VTT becomes the strength of BDA to remain standing because it is relevant to the advocacy on moral governance by the Bangsamoro Government.”
Yacob recognized the commitment of volunteers that is relevant to the sustainability of the BDA, as agency of the MILF.
He further encourages the BDA family to remain positive and that they, who are in the Bangsamoro Government now, are open to listen and help the agency.
“Do not be hesitant to approach us, because we are family”, Yacob ended.
For many, the gathering was indeed a reconnection for those who have seen each other for the long time.
Hashim Manticayan believes that this is very effective because brothers and sisters in this family meet each other again and relieve the past.
Guiamaludin Sampulna, is also glad for the chance to see each other in this event.
“The knowledge we have and the place we are at present is all due to BDA”, he stated.
Rhadzni Taalim, the current executive director of BDA Inc. is pleased and touched by the attendance of everyone.
With this gathering, BDA Inc. is more motivated to pursue the plan for a general assembly of BDA Family.
BDA is a development arm of the MILF established in 2002 and has emerged as duly registered non- government organization in 2019 with the official name, BDA Inc.
Over the years, it has been working for the relief and rehabilitation of underserved communities guided by its core values towards sustainable service in the Bangsamoro.
MARCH 2023/ UPI, MAGUINDANAO-BARMM. Coming from uphill village of Brgy. Romongob, Upi, Maguindanao, these group of women who belong to the indigenous people (IP) sector get together regularly to plant a seed of hope towards better life for their families.
They are organized through the project SUBATRA-ECSO: Enhancing CSOs Capacities for Inclusive Development Intervention in BARMM in Support to Bangsamoro Transition, in desire to help improve their access to basic services wherein they were provided with skills training on vegetable production, a potential livelihood for local economic development, and is suitable with the good soil and weather condition in the area.
Bellalyn Dalimbang, 36, is a mother to two children. Her husband works as security guard in a local hospital while she, does planting with some farm animals.
Rebecca Arig, is a widow providing solely for her children. Perlita Dominggo provides for her two children who are both schooling. Erma Labaydaga, 54, has two children studying in college. Liezel Sariguit has the same story prioritizing the education of their kids.
All of them have the same vision for their children to finish studies. They hope that there will be available educational assistance because according to them, it is really hard to provide for the school fees.
“We really hope for support like scholarship. Usually, we can afford their education from elementary to secondary, but it is really hard when they reach college because there are many fees to settle which is hard for us”, these mothers stated.
In joining their group for this project, all have the same response that is in hope to get support for better life, especially for the education of their children.
“We are poor, life is difficult. We really hope that our children will complete their studies because that is their chance to better future”, they said.
These women group are thankful for being part of the project, wherein they are continuously learning new techniques in planting, where they get source of income for their families.
Some of them are coming from remotest part of the village, walking three- hours to reach their vegetable production site in Sitio Kulati of Romongaob.
“It is hard but we are willing to sacrifice and be patient in hope that we will soon reap the fruits of this labor”, the IP women remarked.
Under the SUBATRA-ECSO Project, vulnerable groups such as women and IPs are prioritized to receive assistance. One of this is the support on skills training from which they are provided with necessary capacity building relevant towards social enterprise development.
For the group in Brgy. Romongaob, beneficiaries underwent training on vegetable production with the Magungaya United Farmers Association, Inc. as service provider and resource person.
Overall, there are six IP communities covered by the project. In Romongaob, 90% of the eighty identified beneficiaries are Teduray.
SUBATRA-ECSO is funded by the European Union and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation.
COTABATO CITY/ March 31, 2023. Cooperatives in communities within the identified camps of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) received farm machineries as part of the support relevant to assist them become more productive and progressive members of the society.
In Brgy. Sandab, Butig, Lanao del Sur- Camp Bushra, the handover ceremony of 2 units of farm machinery with harvester was on March 29, 2023, as received by two cooperatives namely Bangsamoro Unified Team into Growth (BUTIG) and Poktan Bangsamoro Rehabilitation Farmers Marketing Cooperative.
In Brgy. Dungguan, Datu Montawal, Maguindanao- Camp Rajamuda, the hand-over ceremony happened on February 28, 2023.
Kudal- Dugguan Farmers Fisherfolks Association received one rice combine harvester machine.
“I thought of how can I help those in-need, so I pursue forming this association though my knees are getting older” Margian Dataya stated. He is the president of said association.
The barangay local government unit remarked that: “We are very glad that the community focused on development at the barangay level through the efforts of our community dwellers because we crave for development.”
In Brgy. Tamparan, Munai, Lanao del Norte- Camp Bilal, the handover ceremony was conducted on March 7, 2023.
There were two cooperatives who received the support namely Pagnawan Bangsamoro Agriculture Cooperative and Alhajj Bravo Macapaar Coperative.
Key officials from partners attended the event like Cesar D. De Mesa, executive director of the Bangsamoro Transition; BGen. Cesar B. Yano (Ret.), GPH Implementing Panel Chair for then GPH-MILF Peace Accord and; Dir. Farrah Grace V. Naparan, chief of staff of the Joint Normalization Division of OPAPRU.
Also present were officials from the Joint Task Forces on Camps Transformation (JTFCT), Task Force for Decommissioned Combatants and their Communities (TFDCC), local government unit, and community members.
“Let us help each other, we will continue supporting communities who also help themselves” Chairman Yano said.
“Our project PROACTIVE is under the normalization track. It covers the six major camps and are working to turn these communities into a peaceful, productive and developed communities” Melanio Adao, Project Analyst of UNDP stated.
The ceremony highlighted the passing of the responsibility to the cooperatives who will manage the operation, maintenance and sustainability of the machineries.
The provision of farm machineries is part of the intervention relevant to the Programme on Assistance for Camp Transformation through Inclusion, Violence Prevention and Economic Empowerment (PROACTIVE)- a collaborative programme of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP – Philippines) and the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) under the European Union Framework for Assistance to Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Mindanao Peace and Development Programme - Peace and Development in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (MINPAD-PD BARMM).
MARCH 16, 2023/COTABATO CITY. In September 2021, the project SUBATRA-ECSO: Enhancing CSOs Capacities towards Inclusive Development Intervention in BARMM in Support to Bangsamoro Transition was successfully launched and has formally kicked off for its full blast implementation.
The project generally aims to contribute to peaceful transition in BARMM and works for the Component 4 of the entire SUBATRA Programme that is on “Justice and Society Project- The capacity of civil society to contribute to a peaceful transition to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) is enhanced.”
Now on its second year of implementation, the project wanted to evaluate its performance and partial result particularly in the aspect of engaging the Bangsamoro CSOs to enhance their capacities as they fulfill their relevant role towards peace and development, especially in the current transition in the Bangsamoro.
For this purpose, the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) as implementing agency of the project gathered its partner CSOs on March 10, 2023 at Pagana Resto in Cotabato City for a story telling about the experience and evaluation of the SUBATRA-ECSO.
For the League of Bangsamoro Organization (LBO), a network of over 600 CSOs established in 2014, the project is helpful in enriching the knowledge of CSO members. Its member organization, the TABED (Talainged Alliance of Brotherhood for Empowerment and Development, Inc.) headed by Baddy Ebrahim replicated the training on human rights and integrated risk and resilience management to its members.
Efren Butuan of LBO through his own organization, the Bangsamoro Magungaya for Peace and Development, Inc. (BMPDI) lauded the BDA Inc. for its transparent implementation of the SUBATRA-ECSO.
Amir Hamza S. Mama of the LBO- UNYPAD (United Youth for Peace and Development) in Lanao del Sur conveyed that the training attended from the project was helpful for his professional growth.
“The book on project development and management was indeed helpful for us. It has become our reference when we do project proposals. Also, by having one of the participants to the development of manual on HR, I was asked to join and help in our office for the formulation of the manual with our current project”, Amir stated.
Florante Dela Cruz and Maria-Victoria Balatucan of Raja Mamalo Descendants of Southern Philippines, Inc.- a non-government organization established for the welfare of indigenous people, are convinced that the project has helped them reach more IPs that they could not do before.
“Through the SUBATRA-ECSO, we were able to realize our dreams, to reach those communities we could not visit due to some limitations of our organization” they reported.
Representatives from the Taga Youth Concerned Association from the island of Basilan said that their organization is established to help youth be enlightened about the importance of education and be prevented from the threat of being recruited to armed groups prevalent during the past years.
Tawab Kararon manifested that all its pioneering members are all professionals and working in various fields at present.
“Taga Youth continue to organized youth in our community to train the next generation with social activities like the civil society”, he said.
His colleague, Arsim Alih believed that CSOs are the voice of the people to speak with the government.
Baiselyn Utto and Nashiba Abas from the Kapagawida Development Services Association, Inc. (KDSAi) are grateful that the training on human rights through the SUBATRA-ECSO helped them become more equipped with knowledge and information that enable them to respond to common questions at the grassroots level.
They are likewise glad that with the engagement for the implementation of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) wherein they can use their experience to cater the needs of those sectors in the camp communities.
KDSAi commended the fair selection of learners for the implementation of the ALS in the camps.
“It was really based on the list of learners from previous project and not based on personal recommendations of camp leaders”, they stated.
The Ittihadun Nisa Foundation, Inc. (INFO) manifested that they looked up at BDA Inc. in terms of capacity building. The trainings provided through the project was relevant to them particularly on administrative and financial management, which they adopt for accounting and documentation.
Overall, partner CSOs for this project hope that more assistance will be available to serve more communities. They believe in the significant role of the CSOs in the current transition in the Bangsamoro having established the trust and confidence of the people.
“People put their trust more to the CSOs compare to government. They saw that CSO-implemented projects become a reality, while many of government funded projects are often delay or not completed at all”, partner CSOs reported.
In September 2021, BARMM Chief Minister Ahod B. Ebrahim recognized the relevant role of the CSOs: “CSOs have played an important role in the Bangsamoro peace process. The CSOs were vital in the eventual passage of the legislation calling for the extension of the Bangsamoro Transition Period. That alone speaks highly of CSOs power and capacity to make lasting social change”.
(FEBRUARY 28, 2023/ PAGALUNGAN, MAGUINDANAO-BARMM). “While there was armed conflict, I as a mother was also in battle to secure my kids from famine and war”, Babu Ina ni Gunda said as she recalls life during war years ago.
Babu (Maguindanaon term for elderly woman) Ina (mother) ni (of) Gunda with the complete name Mondingan Kagui Kabasalan is a 71-year-old widow from Brgy. Kilangan, Pagalungan, Maguindanao- a community within Camp Rajamuda (one of the MILF’s six major camps as identified in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro- CAB).
During the war in the past years, before this present peace in the land, Babu Ina ni Gunda has had three children. Her husband is among the ‘mujahiddeen/ warriors’ who were fighting those days. Hence, she had to take the lead for the survival of the children.
She recalls that “instead of taking care of the laundry, education and leisure time of my children, I was in a battle to secure my kids’ from famine and war.”
She said that in order to get food from their cornfield, they sneaked at night time travelling kilometers after kilometers of cold, dark and fearful land. They have to cross bodies of water to secretly harvest corns from the field and carried them back at the evacuation center where her children are waiting for her to bring foods.
“It was really hard for us mothers being an evacuee especially when you have children”, Babu Ina ni Gunda stated.
She said that they have been into the same situation due to protracted conflict in the past, since 1972, until peace and development has started reigning in the Bangsamoro.
Now, Babu Ina ni Gunda is 71 years old, with ten (10) children and twenty (20) grandchildren.
She is happily taking care of her backyard garden in their village in Camp Rajamuda.
“I really love gardening, that is why if you don’t mine, I will show to you my small garden so that maybe you give some vegetable seed” she uttered with a genuine smile on her face.
Babu Ina ni Gunda’s grandson is among the members of the Sustainable Farmers Agriculture Association in their village. She is always eager to listen and attend to community meetings and especially this day when she learned that the topic during that day was about livelihood.
“So then, I joined the association”, she happily said.
The association was selected as one of the recipients of the PROACTIVE: Programme on Assistance for Camp Transformation through Inclusion, Violence Prevention and Economic Empowerment.
PROACTIVE is a collaborative programme of the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP – Philippines) and the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) under the European Union Framework for Assistance to Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Mindanao Peace and Development Programme - Peace and Development in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (MINPAD-PD BARMM).
Through the program, the association of Babu Ina ni Gunda along with other organizations across the six major camps of the MILF will get assistance to prosper, which will be relevant to help them become productive.
(MARCH 6, 2023/ TAWI-TAWI-BARMM). Eddinaira Mercera, 31, is a housewife and a mother of two living in Brgy. Malacca, Panglima Sugala Tawi-Tawi.
Her husband died in 2022 and together with her mother, she struggles to provide for their family by managing a small sari-sari store in their community.
Eddinaira is also working hard to pursue with her education and is hoping to become a teacher one day.
When her husband died, she chose to continue the battle in life.
"I will continue to fight because this is our Qadr (fate). What I am looking right now is my children, because they are all I have and they are my strength," Eddinaira said.
As one active woman in their community, Eddinaira joined the organization of women formed in the village when the SUBATRA-ECSO Project came in 2022.
SUBATRA-ECSO: Enhancing Civil Society Organizations’ Capacities for Inclusive Development Interventions in BARMM in Support to Bangsamoro Transition is a project that provides inclusive assistance to vulnerable groups in the communities across BARMM that includes the women and the widows.
At first, Eddinaira was a secretary to the organization and has been elected as president of the group.
The organization has recently undergone skills training from the project wherein hey learned about 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”, she remarked.
Eddinaira was in tears and was repeatedly expressing gratitude because the women in their community were given an opportunity to become more productive.
"We are very happy because, through this, women in our village will have more freedom towards progress”, she said.
Meanwhile, Tarhata Haraji from Brgy. Pasiagan in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi is also delighted by the learning acquired from the skills training.
They also learned about preparation of native delicacies that are unique in this island province.
"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”, Tarhata said.
According to her, the process 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.
Life in Tawi-Tawi is simple, most of the people's occupation is fishing, planting, and harvesting seaweeds is common source of income in the island province of Tawi-Tawi.
Through the SUBATRA-ECSO, the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) is hoping to help these communities maximize their potentials by using available resources locally towards social enterprise development.
BDA Inc. is coordinating with BARMM agencies for more support to these local organizations to improve further their operation and become more sustainable.
SUBATRA-ECSO is being funded by the European Union and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation.
(February 27, 2023/ COTABATO CITY-BARMM). Members of cooperatives in the camp communities of the MILF planned together recently to determine potential livelihood that may be responsive to the priorities and needs in their villages.
This was through the Community-based Enterprise Planning Technique (CEPT) facilitated by the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) in relevance to the implementation of the PROACTIVE: Programme on Assistance for Camp Transformation through Inclusion, Violence Prevention and Economic Empowerment.
In Brgy. Kilangan, Pagalungan, Maguindanao- Camp Rajamuda, the organized group is the Sustainable Agriculture Farmers Association.
“I joined this kind of activity because I like to learn more knowledge especially about socio-economic” Mondingan Kabasalan, a participant from the Camp, stated.
In Brgy. Kakal, Ampatuan, Maguindanao, Yasir Managu of Ampatuan Kalilintad Agriculture Cooperative said that he joined the association hoping that if those farming machineries or tools will be given to them it will be a big help to them as farmers.
For Abubakar Akmad of Sitio Malabaw Agriculture Cooperative in Brgy. Sifaran, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao, the establishment of the cooperative is inspired by their aspiration that this will give them more opportunities for assistance from both the government and non-government organizations.
There were twenty-four (24) participants per camp for the CEPT.
During the activity, members and officials of the said cooperatives or associations raised their concerns and recommended solutions through by identifying the appropriate enterprise for the group. This shall be based on the available raw materials in the community from which the product to be marketed for income shall be made from.
According to BDA Inc., the concept of CEPT is to assist the locals in each village by producing goods out of the raw materials available in the community, which can result to potential source of income helpful for their families, and eventually to the entire community.
The tool has been used during the previous projects of BDA that helped communities become more productive up to present days. It was also adopted for the on-going initiatives related to the Bangsamoro Transition; wherein significant results are achieved.
CEPT is also being prepared for community recipients in the other camps like Camp Abubakar, Bilal and Bushra to be conducted in the following days.
PROACTIVE is a collaborative programme of United Nation Development Programme (UNDP – Philippines) and the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) under the European Union Framework for Assistance to Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Mindanao Peace and Development Programme - Peace and Development in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (MINPAD-PD BARMM).
This joint programme 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.
(Camp Badre/ 20 February 2023). Datukan K. Ebrahim, 58, is among the decommissioned combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chosen to undergo various support activities towards transformation and progress.
He is a father of nine (9) children, some of which are married already from whom he has grandchildren.
His source of income is through farming of corn and native bananas. This farming may not give luxurious life for his family but it’s his way to survive their day-to-day needs.
Commonly known as Bapa Thoks in their community at Brgy. Datalpandan, Guindulungan, Maguindanao, he recalls the past where the battle to peace was elusive and life was indeed hard.
“At the young age, I was already among the evacuees due to violence and protracted conflict”, Bapa Thoks said.
There is no further elaboration of his difficulties in life during those days but his appearance and sense of understanding to his responsibility as a ‘mujahideen’ manifest his life experience of courage and dedication to the Bangsamoro cause.
Bapa Thoks is the caretaker of the farm machinery provided by the current project on camps transformation, the PROACTIVE: Programme on Assistance for Camp Transformation through Inclusion, Violent Prevention and Economic Empowerment.
“Like the previous projects given to us, these are really beneficial to the community specially the road project, warehouse, and solar drier. These have huge impact in our community”, he stated.
Growing old to this journey in the Bangsamoro, Bapa Thoks is a witness of how peace is gradually taking place in this land through various support from partners.
“This peacefulness in the community is priceless that even if they give me a million in exchange of peace, I would not accept the money. Because peace gives more significance to the community greater than the money”, he said.
Bapa Thoks is happy that more than five years since the previous projects were implemented, it is still operational and serving the needs of the community.
“In managing these projects, we are not paid and sometimes we used our own pocket. But that is because we wanted to ensure that what were given to us will prosper and be sustainable” he stated.
According to Bapa Thoks, the organization has a maintenance fund being used for any problem encountered e.g., farm machinery. The fund comes from the income of the operation of the farming machine collected whenever a member utilizes the unit.
The group of Bapa Thoks, named as Kalilintad People’s Organization is selected as one of the recipients of the PROACTIVE, a collaborative programme of the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP – Philippines) and the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.) under the European Union Framework for Assistance to Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Mindanao Peace and Development Programme - Peace and Development in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (MINPAD-PD BARMM).
Under the programme, the organization of Bapa Thoks is expected to undergo various assistance intended towards the goal on camps transformation and development such as support for agriculture-based enterprises and alternative/ vocational livelihood programs; market linkage support; livelihood capacity building support for groups and individuals and; micro-grants for scaling up or diversification of livelihoods.
With this PROACTIVE, Bapa Thoks is hopeful for better life ahead. Witness of war in the past, he is committed with his current task as caretaker of the project that will help keep peace in the community. (S.Zacaria/BDA Inc.)