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A Place for Every Juan in Dipolog City

“At an early age, about six, I experienced being in a war with my family. We were about to go home from Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte, to Iligan City when suddenly somebody declared war and in a minute a house was burned, followed by another and so on. Knowing that I’m only six and witnessing these acts that disenfranchise us of the right to life, I was hysterical. I couldn’t internalize everything but my parents were beside me, never left me behind and showed to me that they’re strong and firm and that we could survive it. And yes we did. We were able to ride a native boat safely out of the place.”

This was an excerpt from the first essay contest I joined about five years ago, crafted from the experience as a child victim in armed conflict about seven years ago.

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‘Bayanihan’ in Sindangan

“With great power comes great responsibility.” This mantra holds true to Spider-man, to the super humans we have come to know and to the people who holds certain position, understanding their responsibility to protect and further human kind. But what if there is no attribution of power given and relies only on the idea of participation and collaboration.

The municipality of Sindangan in Zamboanga del Norte has long established their civil society organization (CSO) since the 1990s. It has actively participated in society in terms of transparency, good governance and towards social development.

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Siay and Ayan (Siayan) of Bravery, Love, and Respect

Based on the National Statistical Coordination Board’s (NSCB) 2009 Small Area Estimates (SAE) of poverty among population, Siayan, Zamboanga del Norte is the poorest municipality/city in the Philippines with a poverty incidence of 79.9 %.

Given this condition, the people of Siayan takes pride in the way Mayor Flora L. Villarosa addresses the poverty incidence by giving the net proceeds of her salary to 22 barangays and using it as a start-up capital in organizing cooperatives. These newly-formed cooperatives are then accredited by the Department of Labor and Employment and other recognized agencies and thus having legal personalities.

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The DRRM Revolution

“Isa talagang malaking sampal sa mukha namin yung disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) dahil sa Yolanda.” (DRRM was really a huge slap in our face because of Yolanda.) Kuya Mifael, an area coordinator for Eastern Visayas Network (EVNet) remarks, reminiscing about his experience when typhoon Yolanda, one of the strongest typhoons in recorded history, hit his hometown of Eastern Visayas in November 2013.

Disaster preparedness was never really a priority for the people of Eastern Visayas, confessed some civil society (CSO) workers. And who could blame them? With the region being one of the poorest in the country, livelihood, housing, and education were more pressing concerns. Yet this time, the CSO community is determined to change this mindset with a revolution of their own; one that would put DRRM as a priority for every one – governments, families, and individuals alike.

The People’s Budget

These days, Visayas is not only home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. It is also the site of a budding civil society and civilian movement. As such, civil society organizations (CSOs) and local government units (LGUs) in many communities are collaborating to come up with an innovative way of budgeting.

The Grassroots Participatory Budgeting Process (GPBP) or Bottom-up Budgeting (BUB) is one of the reforms introduced by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). Under this alternative budgetary process, a community’s budget is created with a bottom-up approach, wherein members of the community, through different civil society organizations, come together in an assembly to voice out what they believe are the most pressing needs of the community. The body then deliberates on projects and issues, which they believe, should be prioritized in their area. A list of this is then submitted to the LGU, and this is used as the basis for creating the budget the community will receive from the national government.