Supertyphoon Lawin, with international name Haima, made landfall at Peñablanca, Cagayan on October 19, 2016 causing massive damage in its wake, Northern Luzon receiving the most extensive damage in infrastructure and agriculture. Delfin Albano, Isabela, located 56 kilometers from Peñablanca, was not spared as its local government struggled to rehabilitate the community and provide basic social services to its affected population in the succeeding months, however limited it may be.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development in Region 2, aside from the provision of the Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA), encouraged the community of Brgy. Ragan Sur to establish a communal garden through the Cash-For-Work program on December 2017. This was to also address the low food supply in the area.
With the consultation between the Municipal Action Team (MAT), Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) of Delfin Albano, Isabela, and Mr. Jay Caliguiran, the Punong Barangay of Ragan Sur, a lot was provided to be developed for the communal garden.
On January 2018, members composed of 47 Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries decided to maintain the communal garden. The Municipal Action Team (MAT) of Delfin Albano coordinated with the Municipal Agriculture Office (MAO) for the provision of the necessary technical assistance as well as the supply of planting materials. The group was supplied with free seedlings composed of squash, okra, tomato, bitter gourd, string beans, eggplant and upo.
Groupings were devised to maintain the garden at least once a week, scheduling monthly weeding and daily watering. With the onset of the dry season, everyone became more vigilant, exerting extra effort in providing makeshift shade for the younger plants using banana leaves while increasing the water supply for the plants.
Harvest started as early as February of this year. A sharing agreement has been reached between the members of the group including supplying the barangay with vegetables each time the barangay hosts visitors. Surplus produce is also given to the Barangay Day Care center as the group’s contribution to the feeding program activities of the local government and a strategy to combat malnutrition.
A site visit was conducted by the MAT of Delfin Albano on March 7, 2018 to monitor the progress of the community garden. Parent Leaders shared feedback about their experiences with the community project. One of which is the onset of the dry weather and how much it affects the growth of the plants, but with the technical assistance from the MAO and barangay officials, mitigation measures were put in place.
Positive feedback was also shared not only by the Parent Leaders but the local chief executive himself. He lamented that the monthly group activity provided a healthier avenue for the beneficiaries to exchange stories and encouragement while being productive with their time.
Future plans of the “Gulayan” include marketing opportunities for the surplus produce and setting up a communal fund to augment Pantawid activities.
### Story by Wilma M. Pascua-Nicolas and Jeanet Antolin-Lozano