My Iligan

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Friday, January 30, 2009

the ropes of life


Barangay Maligang in Kiamba, a town in the province of Sarangani, is experiencing the difficult road connecting them to the nearest market---the common problem in the upland communities. The village has about 261 families and mostly indigenous people, and farming is their livelihood. The area is highly suitable to abaca production.

The FIDA, a government authority on fiber, opened Kiamba for Abaca production, however, unfortunately, their first attempt to organize failed. In 2001, UDP rekindled the interest in Tinagak making, using the knotted abaca fiber, into fabric, and other handicrafts. The UDP had worked closely with the FIDA in conducting skills training and exposure trips; thereafter a Tinagak producers association was formed and despite their lack of capital ventured on Tinagak making.

The village is on undulating hills with rivers to cross, and its roads are hardly passable on rainy days---the slippery stretches, and the gullies. But these didn’t hampered the productivity in the village, while farmers are growing abaca, their women, youth, and even elders are preoccupied into tinagak making, as additional income for their families.

Abaca, the primary crop grown by farmers in Maligang, can be considered a viable enterprise for them.

The odds…

The nagging road problem is among the many struggles of the community. The deteriorating quality of abaca due to age and diseases is also a serious concern to sustain the enterprise. However, the people are unfazed with these odds that they even work harder to achieve their goals.

The knotted strength…

From its lowly beginning, the association is now known as United Maligang Farmers Cooperative with 181 members accumulating a capital of some P38, 000.00 pesos. It has also increased its production of tinagak from 8.35 kilos in 2001 to an average of 140 kilos per month, employing about 115 people, mostly women, youth, and elders. The enterprise has contributed an increase in household income of about P700.00 to P5, 000.00 pesos monthly. The growth of the coop can be seen in the participation of the community, and the assistance from local governments and funding agencies.

The Task...

However, the small gain by the coop in trading isn’t good enough. They still need to strengthen themselves by building skills and right attitude, that in realizing the dream to improve their lives, they must also take care of the environment.

Bringing development to Maligang is a formidable task but seeing how it gradually changes their lives is inspiring.

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