THAT is not a statement that should be interpreted by fools.
It is not about being just a nice guy either. It comes from mountain folks who have taken on “the doctrine of the strenuous life, not the ignoble ease.” They share and speak out the phrase to encourage and inspire others.
In Pongayan, Kapangan, Benguet, last week, different leaders of the community joked and seriously expounded about it but what they said meant the same thing. “They are smart who share their talents, strength, and resources to build the community and solve its problems.”
The occasion of this sharing session was during the pre-implementation and consultation meeting, right after the groundbreaking ceremonies of five rural infrastructure subprojects in different areas of Barangay Pongayan under the CHARMP2 Scale-Up. These projects will be simultaneously undertaken to start this last week of September and will require the community’s full attention and support, along with their municipal and provincial local officials and executives.
In restating what they said in this article, I find their theme was a call to the strenuous life that we all need in our time, which is really smart. Ms. Jean Okubo, executive assistant, Office of the Provincial Governor, Benguet, opened my mind to it when she talked about the indigenous ways of the Igorot. During calamities, she said that it has always been considered taboo by indigenous peoples (IP), particularly Igorots, to leave their tribemates, clan, and relatives who are suffering to the care of others.
That is the reason why even until now, the idea of having community evacuation areas to be supported and cared for by other people are not established in most mountain communities.
A local official also talked about the 4 P(s) program of government that needs further re-orientation to really help people become self-sufficient and autonomous, not indolent and dependent on aid.
He noted how some development, even farming in some areas, are finding it hard to acquire labor because people simply are waiting for their monthly 4Ps aid from the government.
“In our communities, we should take the 4Ps program as a reward for our efforts as a community to overcome our dire situations and make our barangay self-sufficient and abundant in food, to be peaceful, and to be safe and progressive. The program should help us to live and become better citizens by being engaged in building our communities, he said.
There was also a discussion on whether railings should be constructed along with the cementing of a footpath project. Having railings is a good idea but in the end, it has to give way in favor of a longer cemented footpath. Besides, drunken men deserve less care than children who needed to walk fast to school.
If it is a doctrine, this strenuous IP life calls us out of our pursuits for a life of ease, comfort, and not carrying any burdens for others. These ways have been drilled into our consciousness by the ways of this present age.
The smart then are those who are dissatisfied with the status quo and want to connect with the real world through a better analysis, understanding and mastery of the situations in the environment, connect with the best of the old ancient ways, and are involved in the acquisition of new and old skills that empowers people to re-build their communities into resilient ones.
Barangay Pongayan occupies a wide stretch of gently rolling slopes on the side of the mountain. Much of it was used for rice farming decades ago, but almost all of the farms now have been converted to the production of vegetables, particularly green pepper.
The community folks with support from the CHARMP2 Scale Up, municipal, and provincial LGUs, and DA will undertake livelihood, agroforestation and infrastructure projects amounting to about PHP 28 million in 2018 to enhance and improve their living conditions. All of these projects will have to be completed this year.
The simultaneous launching of five crucial projects along with their on-going livelihood projects is a rich man’s challenge. Under our harsh environment, an individual with such problems are blessed and are honorable indeed, especially when it comes once in a while, you will make the most of it with everybody.
And so the Mayor and all local officials of the town of Kapangan, the contractors of the projects, the Punong Barangay and his Kagawads, the men and women of Barangay Pongayan will all behave as smart leaders and followers at the same time, all these remaining months of 2018 to get the projects done. If they overcome their problems, and there are many right now, and succeed, they will have written and contribute a great story on our mountain and rural development pursuits under a domesticated but faltering landscapes.
For that very reason, we do pray that our scale-up barangays will succeed because we need their stories to challenge and inspire others to be smart in rebuilding their own communities that are resilient under our challenging times.