The inauguration of the concrete access road sub-project recently in the small indigenous village of Binatadan at Puguil, Santol, La Union turned into a celebration of perseverance and cooperation among the locals.
The said sub-project was implemented by the community with the assistance of the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 1 (DSWD FO 1).
(Left Photo) BSPMC Chairperson Larry Alejo and DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS through Regional Program Coordinator Virginia P. Sesay, also the OIC-Chief of Promotive Services Division of DSWD Field Office 1, turn over the responsibility of the operation and maintenance of the finished sub-project (Right Photo) to Puguil Indigenous Upland Farmers Association, Inc. through its representative, Romando Dangle.
For many years, the people of Binatadan had to walk roughly 4 hours through muddy and slippery pathways to go to the town proper.
“Nagrigat ti biag idi. Marigatan kami nga isalog dagiti apitmi idiay market. Saanmi nga maitaray a dagus diay hospital nu adda agsakit (Life is difficult before. We had so many difficulties bringing our harvests to the market. When someone is sick, we can’t bring the person immediately to the hospital,” Larry Alejo, the Barangay Sub-Project Management Committee (BSPMC) Chairperson, said.
Even when road network to the far-flung villages of Santol was opened and slowly developed in the early years of this decade, Binatadan was still few kilometers away from the paved road in the nearby sitio of Puguil in Deccan.
“Marigatan kami latta ta adayu met latta diay pagnaen aglalo dagiti estudyante nga mapan agbasa (We were still faced with difficulties especially the students because we still had to walk a few kilometers,” Selda Faustino, one of the community volunteers, added.
Though Binatadan can be reached through a single motorcycle during summer, crossing the road was risky since it was steep and still slippery.
In the spirit of “bayanihan”
It was during the third cycle of DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS implementation in Santol in 2018 when the proposal for the sub-project was prioritized and funded under the National Community-Driven Development Program (NCDDP).
Hungry for a better-paved road leading to their village, the community worked in the spirit of “bayanihan” and volunteerism.
BSPMC Chairperson Alejo revealed that everyone in the village participated in the concreting of the road with some even sacrificing their field works in order to finish the sub-project before the rainy season.
“Nagtrabaho ti amin, pati babbae. Bassit kami laeng ditoy lugar mi isu nga agkuti kami amin. Kasapulan a malpasmi sakbay ti panagtutudo (Everyone has worked including women. This is a small village so everyone had to act. We had to finish the sub-project before the rainy season),” the BSPMC Chairperson explained.
But things did not go well as planned as they were plagued with hindrances. The hauling of heavy materials became difficult because vehicles carrying these had to pass through ravines and narrow roads which afterward delayed the sub-project.
The sub-project had to be delayed even further when the community could not collect enough water to be used in mixing cement, sand, and gravels.
But with the support of the barangay and municipal officials of Puguil and Santol, respectively, they helped solve the problems and works had to resume immediately but it had to be extended until the rainy days.
“Kasla saan kami nga maaw-awanan ti problema ngamin idi manen panagtutudo ket bigla nga adda immay a bagyo. Naanod dagidiay naurnong a darat ken bisil. Nabasa ken timmangken dagidiay semento (It seemed like we never ran out of problems because when the rainy days came, a storm had passed by that washed out the sands and gravel that we had collected. The bags of cement got wet and hardened),” the BSPMC Chairperson exclaimed.
According to him, though with dampened spirits, there was never a time they thought of giving up. The series of events made them even more determined to finish the sub-project until it was completed earlier this year.
When the inauguration took place under a small waiting shed near a solar dryer while raining heavily, it was no surprise that everyone was on high spirits with wide smiles on their faces. Stories of how they triumphantly overcame the challenges and their sacrifices filled the air.
In a cracked and shaky voice while holding back his tears, Arnel Peralta, one of the community volunteers shared, “Pagyamanak unay ta napapintas ti kalsada nga agturong ditoy ket saan kamin a marigatan nga bumaba diay ili, nangnangruna dagitoy ubbing nga mapan agiskwela (I am very thankful because the road in our place was concreted. We will no longer be having difficulties going to the town proper, especially our children who are going to the school).” (by Ruperto A. Sabalo, Jr., Social Marketing Officer, Kalahi-CIDSS)