GREATER responsibility was put on the shoulders of first-termer Sibulan village captain Christine Rose Abalayan as their village had been declared the first organic zone in the entire Davao City.
Sibulan is one of the far-flung communities in Davao City located in Toril District. Because of its location, insurgency used to be one of the many problems of the barangay. It came to a point that people would be hesitant to visit the barangay for fear of encounter with rebels.
“Mas dako gyud ang challenge sa akua as a first termer, as a young leader na naglingkod under a new administration. Taas man gud akong panglantaw nga maabot ang panahon na ang Brgy. Sibulan ma-free siya sa insurgency,” Abalayan said.
She added that during the start of her term, she decided to connect more with her constituents and develop a stronger connection and camaraderie with the Philippine Army assigned in their area.
“Brgy. Sibulan has a big area of responsibility. It takes five hours padulong baktason para maabot namo ang last sitios, five hours pabalik subay sapa ug kabukiran. Every month naga visit ko not only sa layo but also diri duol to know different problems or unsa ila gusto matabo sa katawhan (you have to walk for five hours to reach the last village and five hours in coming back while crossing a river and mountains),” Abalayan said.
She said through this communication with the people, she learned that sources of income and good infrastructures like farm-to-market roads are essential for the community. These facilities, she said, will be helpful to address poverty in their community. In turn, it slowly addresses the problem of insurgency. In partnership with the Philippine Army, she said they have conducted a number of community support programs.
In 2018, the city government of Davao acknowledged the organic farming practices of Brgy. Sibulan and finally declared it as an organic zone, the first in the entire city. According to Abalayan, 60 percent of the residents are already organic practitioners and she aims for at least 90 percent of this before her term ends.
She said she is very proud of this distinction for their barangay, however, she understands that this would also require a lot of work and more responsibility on her shoulders. She is grateful, however, for the guidance of her mother Rosita P. Abalayan, the former barangay captain of Sibulan.
“There’s no glory without sacrifice and I need to conquer myself. Dili nako ginaisip na lisod lalo na naa ko adviser (I didn’t think it was tough because I have an adviser), my Mama who always guides me in every decision, in every plan. Of course, experienced na siya with 18 years of experience as a public servant (She has an 18-year experience),” she said.
The young barangay captain also said that the declaration of their barangay as an organic zone is very important for them as organically-grown crops are very beneficial to their health.
“Proud ko kay first barangay man siya na gi-declare. Although naa’y big responsibility na akong atubangon, naa na mi planning gihimo. Nagsugod na mi panghatag og IEC (Information and Education Campaign) materials regarding organic. Nag undergo pud ko training unsa gyud ang organic kay bago ko magpasabot sa tao, una dapat ko. Isip inahan, kabalo ko unsa ang mga organiko na pamaagi (I’m proud because it’s the first barangay to be declared as organic zone. It’s a huge responsibility but we already have plans. We started giving IEC materials on organic. I also underwent organic training so I could better educate others. As a mother of my barangay, I should know the organic ways),” she shared.
Abalayan pushed for organic farming not only for further recognition from the city but she understands that it will also help with the preservation of the quality of the lands of their ancestral domain given that 98 percent of the barangay are members of the Bagobo-Tagabawa tribe.
“Gusto ko maila mi dili tungod sa red area o rank #1 sa list of insurgency mi kundi kay ang Brgy. Sibulan consists of many tourist spots, falls, rivers, virgin forest, and view of Apo Sandawa. Dili lang sa organic kundi maila pud mi sa turismo (We want to be known as number one in insurgency since Barangay Sibulan consists of tourist spots, falls, rivers, virgin forest, and view of Apo Sandawa. We want also to be known in tourism),” Abalayan said.