Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Bringing water closer to upland homes and hearts

How can a government institution further express its love for the community?

For the employees of the Home Mutual Development Fund or Pag-IBIG, they make homes more complete —and they do not do this by just helping finance the construction of houses.

Officials and members of the Home Mutual Development Fund (Pag-IBIG) and its employees’ labor association with Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) and Sayaw Farmers Association recently turned over a spring box water system in barangay Tabunan of Cebu City on December 2.

This is the highlight of a series of activities Pag-IBIG held with PBSP, which included a read-along session and the distribution of food packs, snacks, school supplies and toys to 48 Grade 6 pupils of Cantipla Integrated School, still located in Tabunan.

 “As a financial and housing institution, we always stress how we maximize our efforts of completing a home by not only providing affordable shelter to our less-privileged communities,” Pag-IBIG Fund Cebu Branch Manager III Rio Teves stated during the turnover.

The Sayaw Farmers Association Spring Box Project is an offshoot of the PAG-IBIG Fund’s 143 Program, the institution’s flagship initiative aimed at funding long-term projects to adopted needy communities as its expression of corporate social responsibility.

This is the first time Pag-IBIG initiated a project under the program, led by its Cebu branch. This is also the first effort Pag-IBIG initiated in adopting a community to pour all its CSR efforts to make the impact of their projects more effective.

Funds used for the spring box project pegged at PHP 60,000.00 were sourced from the budget allocation of PHP 500.00 per employee of the Branch.

“We are trying to show a new face of Pag-IBIG by not only helping people through our jobs, but by sharing a bit of our own personal resources to help those that are in most need of basic services,” Teves added.

Stressing the importance of water through reading
For as long as he could remember, eleven-year-old Rodrigo Tecson would always watch his parents leave in the wee hours of dawn to collect water miles away from their home. It was only when he assumed the water-fetching task himself did he realize how arduous it actually was, prompting him to regret every last drop of water he wasted before.

“It’s no joke when we say we walk for at least 30 minutes before we reach a water source. And we return to that place more than once because we have to store enough water we need for a day or two,” he stated.

Now he realized the absurdity of their situation: how they, residents of Tabunan—considered the water basin of Cebu—still experience difficulty acquiring that water themselves.

This was just one of the things he learned during the read-along session he attended with his classmates. The session introduced them to books such as “The Munting Patak-Ulan” (The Little Raindrop) by Gloria Villaraza Guzman and “Lilay” by Becky Bravo to show them the importance of water.

Through the stories and the spring box turnover he witnessed, he was even more grateful for the assistance given.

“I’m happy they (PBSP and PAG-IBIG) invited us here for the turnover and read-along session. We’re not only excited to use the spring box; we also learned a lot about the importance of water and our place,” he added.

Barangay Tabunan is located within the Central Cebu Protected Landscape (CCPL), a 27000-hectare expanse composed of five watershed and protected areas. It is Cebu’s major source of potable water as well as home to a number of native and endemic plant and animal species.

To protect the potent resources found in CCPL, massive reforestation efforts and water system constructions organized by groups such as Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) had been going on for years, where community-based groups are tapped to be its partners in protecting these watershed areas.

Despite these efforts, access to water for these communities still remain scarce. This is a gap PBSP has been trying to bridge with help from other institutions such as the Pag-IBIG Fund.

“PBSP implements these water projects for various purposes. First, water is a basic human need and it is every household’s right to have access to safe drinking water. Second, water is integrated in our education projects because sanitation and hygiene is both a need and a discipline that must be understood by our young ones. Third, water fuels agriculture, thus, appropriate water systems are needed by communities to generate good income from their crops. Fourth, water may also be a good enterprise and incomes may be derived from its good management. And finally, water is a resource that must be sustained through simple technologies and holistic measures,” PBSP Visayas Executive Committee member Rogelio Lim stated.

“Now that these residents were given access to potable water with the help of Pag-IBIG, our next step is to ensure that they do not waste this resource, and one of the best ways to address this is to educate the younger people the importance of saving water through read-along sessions like this,” PBSP Senior Program Officer Olivia Jabido stated.

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