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The hard choice that matters

“Bakit? Papayag ba yan na maging volunteer kung walang sahod? (Why? Would he like to volunteer without receiving any form of compensation?)”

That’s how some residents of Brgy. Cawit Proper, Magallanes, Sorsogon would gossip about Randy Manere, 34.

Randy, a college undergraduate, has been working as a Brgy. Secretary since 2011.

At first, he was hesitant to accept the offer to become a volunteer because of his current responsibility, he thought he cannot manage additional work loads.

In 2013, he was convinced by their Brgy. Captain to become a community volunteer because there was nobody who wanted to get involved. He accepted it because it was also an opportunity to help the village to construct the projects they need.

He was right, the tasks of volunteers were complex and exhausting to acclimatize with most specially at the beginning. As a member of the Procurement Team, he did the minutes of their meetings. He rewrote the manuscripts when there were corrections. He is compelled to complete the task despite of painful hands after a long period of writing.

Randy was also tasked for the bidding process legwork requiring him to get to Sorsogon City, an hour away from Magallanes. He admitted that there were sacrifices. He needed to adjust his schedule and finish the tasks within the day because he has no extra money to spare if he returns the next day to Sorsogon City. He would wait for the bidding documents to get fully accomplished and he would immediately retrieve these the same day.

In 2014, he walked about two kilometers to search for potential bidders because his allowance was only sufficient for his roundtrip fare. He cannot afford to buy himself a ride within the city or even purchase a meal leaving his stomach empty until he reached home.

The following year, he even got drenched in the rain and crossed a flood after retrieving the forms to catch the last trip back to Magallanes.

Randy would go home home feeling hungry, tried and wet after a hectic trip for the project their village will construct.

But the worst is yet to come. Some of the residents and even the members of the Barangay council doubted him.

He can still remember what others said to him: “Bakit? Papayag ba yan na maging volunteer kung walang sahod? (Why? Would he like to volunteer without receiving any form of compensation?)”

They accused him of receiving a kickback by increasing the prices to which he vehemently refuted.

He answered them back: Kung may duda kayo sa akin, pwede niyo puntahan at tanungin ang mga suppliers tungkol sa presyo na nilagay nila sa canvass forms at kung may usapan ang supplier at Procurement Team tungkol sa kickback (If you doubt me then you can go and ask the suppliers about the price they have written on the canvass forms and confirm to them about the kickback arrangements between us).”

Later on, he learned to ignore them though it was punitive for him to get wrongfully accused when his main purpose is to perform his part as a volunteer and think of his neighbors’ welfare.

Despite of these, Randy derived strength from other volunteers who believed and trusted him.

“Ano mang unos o problema na hinaharap ko ay aking nalagpasan dahil sa tulong ng kapwa ko volunteers at iba pang tao sa komunidad (I surmounted the problems with the help of my fellow volunteers and others in the community).”

He is grateful of the people who recognized his consistent dedication for the completion of their projects. He compared his colleagues to a “”walis tingting”” because Randy who belonged to a group of volunteers is united to build their community sub-projects.

“Parang sa Kalahi-CIDSS, nagkakaisa ang mga tao para hindi matinag at lalong lumakas ang pagsasama para matapos ng maganda at maayos ang proyekto (Just like in Kalahi-CIDSS, we are indomitable and solid when we work together to complete the project)”

The opportunity he was forced to accept onset was also the window to altruism. Money did not matter. Randy was fulfilled and elated to contribute for his village’s development.

Their drainage canal was repaired and another one was constrcuted wherein PhP600,000.00 was poured in to the Brgy. Cawit Proper. Lamp posts were constructed with a total grant of PhP300,00.00 while the construction of their new evacaution center is underway with an amount of PhP2,165,000.00 from Kalahi-CIDSS.

Kalahi-CIDSS- Kapit- Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) is a DSWD program that seeks to help alleviate poverty through community-driven development (CDD).

The operations of the community-driven development (CDD) approach expanded into a national scale, which was tried and proven effective by Kalahi-CIDSS. 101 poor municipalities in Bicol are under its expansion from 2014 to 2019 with a total of grant of Php4,497,448,178.

Community-driven development (CDD) puts power back in the hands of the people by giving them the opportunity to make informed decisions on locally identified options for development and manage resources to implement sub-projects that address needs identified by communities themselves.

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