It is known that Maguindanao province, with biggest land area together with Lanao del Sur in the proposed Bangsamoro Core Territory, is one of the conflict affected areas in Mindanao. Numerous incidents of war and violence are recorded in the province, the all-out war in 2000, Maguindanao massacre in 2009 and Mamasapano clash in 2015 to name the few.
This reality is one of the major factors why development may remain passive in the province. Maguindanao ranked No.3 in the 2012 poverty incidence in the Philippines as cited in the Bangsamoro Development Plan (BDP 2014). Two of Philippines’ five poorest towns are found in the province according to Philippines Statistics Authority (PSA) as published in The Manila Standard in January 2016. In 2015, the total population in the province is 1,173,933 also according to PSA.
Many families in Maguindanao rely in farming and fishing as source of income to sustain their daily needs.
One of them is Naga Marindi, an Iranun, 46, with two wives and eight children.
They live in Baragangay Nabalawag, Barira Maguindanao, one of the affected communities by the all-out war in 2000 between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Accordingly, it was part of the Camp Abubakar before (major camps of the MILF), and now one of the influenced areas in the base camps.
Nabalawag is one of the barangay-recipients of the Bangsamoro Assistance for Development Community and Empowerment (BM-ADVANCE) program being implemented by the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA).
Naga expressed “we really thank BDA and MTF, some of our dreams will come true” referring to the project on construction of warehouse with solar dryer.
Just like any other Bangsamoro family, Naga dreams of a long-lasting peace in Mindanao particularly in conflict-affected areas.
He leads the People’s Organization (PO) created through the program in their barangay.
“First, we really appreciated BDA for organizing us here in Sittio Madalum, Brgy.Nabalawag”, Naga stated.
“Dito kami unang namulat na mayroon pa lang tinatawag na People Oraganization (PO) (Here, we were enlighten that there is this what we called People Organization) “, he uttered.
Accordingly, lack of farming facility is indeed a problem in their community.
“Kaya po noong tinanong kami kung ano ba talaga ang makatutulong sa amin na mga farmers , pinili namin itong solar dyer with warehouse kasi walang wala talagang ganoon dito sa aming baranggay (When we were asked if what could really help us as farmers, we chose solar dyer with warehouse)”, Naga said.
He added that “there is no safe place for the storage of our crops, and a place to dry our products”.
Naga relates their experiences during milling of rice.
“Pumupunta pa kami ng ibang baranggay para magpagiling ng palay na ipapakain sa aming pamilya. Isinasakay lang namin ito sa kabayo dahil yun lang ang sasakyan na pwedeng pumasok dito sa lubak lubak naming lugar (We need to go to neighboring barangay for rice milling for our family’s consumption. The mode of transportation is horse-back riding since it is the only way to access the road)”, he expressed.
Full of hope, Naga expressed “Magkakaroon na rin kami ng warehouse na maiimbakan namin ng mga produkto at solar dryer na patutuyuan ng mga ito In Shaa Allah”(At last we will have our warehouse for storage and solar dryer for drying our crops).
Barangay Nabalawag is one of the 16 project sites of the Bangsamoro ADVANCE in Central Mindanao.
Bangsamoro ADVANCE is conceptualized in support to confidence building measures of the GPH- MILF as provided in the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB). This was also in respond to the clamour from the communities especially on the implementation of basic services including livelihood opportunities.
The program is supported by the MTF with various donors such as such as the European Union, the Swedish International Development Agency, the Australian Embassy Philippines, Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development of Canada, the United States Agency for International Development, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the World Bank which also serves as trust fund secretariat.
(BDA Communication Group-Central Mindanao)