September 12, 2022. Amilhamja U. Sarael, 37, is a tricycle driver in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi. He lives by his wife and three children.
Amilhamja once worked in Malaysia for better sustenance of his family. However, soon enough, he decided to go home to be with the family.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, Amilhamja’s family felt the difficulty. From a daily income of Php 1, 400.00, he only gets 300 pesos, a smaller amount to provide the needs of his family.
One day, Amilhamja couldn’t help but cry over their situation. He could not provide well for their children, and sometimes he could not go with his tricycle because there is nothing to pay for fuel.
With the current recovery from the pandemic, this father of three is glad of the gradual improvement in their place. Public vehicles are not anymore limited thus increase in number of passengers, and income for Amilhamja as tricycle driver.
"I'm happy because I see that my children are happy, too since now, they get what they need”, he stated.
Amilhamja told that situation in the province gets even better with the availability of more flights to and from Tawi-Tawi.
“There are more tourists, there are more commuters, so we get higher income”, he said happily.
Flight to and from Cotabato and Tawi-Tawi opened in June 2022 that is significant for eco- tourism boost in the Bangsamoro region, particularly for this remotest island province.
Another father is Saridjil Enggi, 40, who shares his lost during the pandemic and the fire incident in their public market in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi.
He is a mango vendor, providing for the needs of his family with seven children.
Saridjil is fine with his noble work as fruit vendor.
According to him, life was good because he can sustain for the family. It was during the pandemic happened when they felt the hardship.
He used to get income from Php 300.00 to 500.00 pesos every day before the pandemic. But during the crisis, he only has 100.00 each day. There were few buyers, some people have left.
This situation got worse when the fire incident happened in the public market where Saridjil sells fruit.
He is among those who were relocated for selling due to the fire, that affected his sale.
“My regular buyers have a hard time looking for me to buy, so the income decreased”, Saridjil told.
Nevertheless, Saridjil was thankful because of the assistance received from the Bangsamoro government during that time.
"We received food and financial assistance, so somehow we felt the hope to continue with our life”, he said.
Saridjil also told us of the concrete road in their barangay constructed by the BARMM, which made the transportation easier for everyone in the community.
He shared gratitude and high hopes that despite living in an island province, the Bangsamoro Government is not forgetting them.
BARMM has turned over multimillion peso worth of projects in remote island towns of Tawi-Tawi province in July this year, for the improvement of government services and also of economic growth in this part of the Bangsamoro Region.
Meanwhile, employees of BARMM under the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR) in the BaSulTa (Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi) recently underwent Values Transformation Training (VTT) facilitated by the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA Inc.), the development arm of the MILF established in 2002, that has emerged as duly registered non-government organization in 2019.
Also, for Tawi-Tawi, are two of its barangay (Pasiagan, Bongao and Malacca, Panglima Sugala) are selected for the project SUBATRA-ECSO “Enhancing CSOs Capacities for Inclusive Development Interventions in BARMM in Support to Bangsamoro Transition”, being managed by the BDA Inc. Under this, vulnerable groups in each village are targeted for social services, human rights advocacy, social enterprise development, community- feedback mechanism, and among others.
One human rights training participant expressed thanks for the education on HR, recently conducted by the project.
“We are lucky to be chosen for this training. Most of us do not know about HR. We thought that to live is enough already”, she said.
Another participant told that “We learned a lot from this training. Through this, our lives may change. We can make our lives better, compare to what we are used to. There should be equality”.
For the project activities in Tawi-Tawi, BDA Inc. is working with the League of Bangsamoro Organizations (LBO) through its member organization UNYPAD.
SUBATRA-ECSO works for the Component 4 of the SUBATRA Programme that helps BARMM lay the foundation for lasting peace and development in the region by strengthening the capacities of its institutions to establish an enabling democratic governance environment during the transition period.
The Project generally aims to contribute to a peaceful, cohesive, secure and inclusively developed Bangsamoro. It specifically intends to enhance the capacity of the civil society to contribute to a peaceful transition to BARMM.
It is funded by the European Union (#EU), and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (#AECID). (R.Adam)