Grassroots participation: Bridge over troubled water

Out of a million impossibilities, there is always one way that gives humans the will to stand strong amidst all problems being faced.

To reach Barangay Sipaco, people must travel for two (2) hours from Naga City to Goa, another town adjacent to Lagonoy. They will take a two-hour boat ride from Tamban port, 28 kilometers away from Goa’s poblaciĆ³n,

The journey is not easy as travelers deal with strong currents especially in the afternoon.

Accessibility has been noted as one of the major problems of the community making it difficult to haul products and deliver services from the central business district.

According to Ulysses Buela, 43, a community volunteer of Barangay Sipaco, students are very prone to danger who cross the river to attend classes. There were reported cases of drowning due to unforeseen flooding.

Seeing this as a need to settle, the community decided to construct a cable-bridge sub-project through the Department of Social Welfare and Development Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS).

Even Erson Barera, 33, Community Empowerment Facilitator (CEF) of DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS shared his dreadful experience while traveling from Barangay Sipaco to Tamban Port.

“Biglang nagkaroon ng sama ng panahon noon sa sobrang alon akala namin hindi na kami makakadaong kaya linabas ko ang rosary kaya patuloy kaming nagdarasal hanggang makarating kami sa Tamban (Due to unexpected bad weather, the waves are too strong. We thought we won’t be able to make it, so I get my rosary and keep on praying until we reach the Tamban port),” Barera recounted.


Just like the big waves of the ocean, the Sipaco community also has been washed away with issues in the implementation of the sub-project.

“Nagkaroon ng isyu sa mga responsibilidad ng mga community volunteers at barangay dahil sa hindi naiitindihan nila ang grassroots participation (We have an issue on the responsibilities of community volunteers and the barangay in implementing the cable bridge sub-project since they don’t fully understand the grassroots participation of the program),” Buela said.

To sort out the issue of misconception between the barangay and community volunteers, the community conducted a barangay assembly where the technical staff of DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS explained thoroughly the features of the program.

“Nagkaliwanagan ang bawat panig sa mga responsibilidad ng community volunteers at barangay sa proyekto (Both sides have fully understood the responsibilities on the sub-project implementation),” Barrera also explained.


Other than the sub-project, the community gained more than what they have thought such as knowledge, organizational management and unforgettable experience.

“Dahil sa proyektong ito, naka-survive ang mga tao dito dahil makakatawid na ang mga estudyante ng ligtas at mas mapapadali din ang hanapbuhay namin(Due to this project, we have survived because the students can cross safely and our livelihood will be also easier),” Buela happily stated.

“Mas napalakas pa ang samahan namin sa komunidad at nag-enjoy sila sa pagiging volunteers dahil sa marami silang natutunan (Our bond together became stronger and they [residents] enjoyed as community volunteers because they’ve learned a lot),” the volunteer added.

Despite the life-threatening experience, Barera sees his work as a path to help more communities.

“Para sa community, gagawin mo talaga para makatulong ka, isusugal mo talaga ang inyong sarili anuman ang kalagayan sa gitna ng dagat (For the community, you will really do your best to the point, you have to gamble with your life whatever happens in the middle of the sea),” the facilitator said.

About DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS

Camarines Sur has implemented DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS in 34 municipalities with a total implementation grant of Php 724,329,777.44 and local counterpart contribution of Php 35,285,663.94 from barangay and municipal local government units (LGUs) to fund community-managed sub-projects.

DSWD had allocated Lagonoy with Php 70,314,730.00 and local counterpart contribution of Php 5,977,970.00.

The construction of the cable bridge was completed on December 13, 2018 with a total project cost of Php 9,604,503.75 that will benefit 150 households.