SITIO Madaja is located at the northern portion of Barangay Buenavista in Himamaylan City in Negros Occidental with a distance of approximately 15 kilometers away from the city proper.

The terrain characteristics of this place are mostly hilly, muddy, and mountainous. The area was once inhabited by the rebel groups and prone to the “clustering” or “leapfrogging” methodology of the rebels in organizing the masses.

Problems such as illiteracy coupled with the lies and deception of the NPA organizers put the community vulnerable to the New People’s Army (NPA)’s - Arouse, Organize and Mobilize (AOM) strategy.

Despite the geographical location of the area and the risk that continues to hover, the Association of Negros Producers (ANP), Hope Builders Organization Negros Island Inc. (HBONI), and CPSU Radyo Muscovado Sweet FM conducted a simultaneous activity on Entrepreneurial Mind-setting with Basic Financial Recording Talk for the profiled “tikog” weavers on August 13, 2022.

A health and sanitation talk and tutorial session for the children of the sitio who are struggling with literacy and numeracy were also conducted.

Villagers are really into farming but only limited for their consumption and not designed for commercialization or for selling purposes.

But, since some elders of the community can weave different products out of "tikog" and other raw materials available in the area, about 20 “tikog” weavers were invited to convene at the residence of Wilme Garlet to attend the activity.

Spearheaded by ANP External Affairs Manager Sybel Nobleza, the activity aims to equip the weavers with knowledge as to the proper costing and marketing of their products.

Some 25 children were also invited to join the one-on-one tutorial session with the assistance of four volunteer-teachers coming from the Department of Education and some youth volunteers from Hope Builders Organization Negros Island Inc.

During the Entrepreneurial Mind-setting with Basic Financial Recording talk, weavers extended their heartfelt gratitude to the ANP for the opportunity to be mentored and for helping them to market their crafts not just on a local scale but in an international perspective of upscaling.

A month ago, the team did an initial assessment and the results blew the minds of the entire group as the community is only generating an average income of P1, 000 a month.

After the assessment, the ANP intervened and brought a sample product to the Negros Showroom in Bacolod City and started to market the product.

Today, the community already received plenty of orders for their “tikog” products amounting to P15,000 and above.

On the part of the children during the tutorial session, they were astounded by the vast possibilities that they might attain soon.

Shortly after the training, the team distributed 38 plastic food packs and 47 sets of school supplies to prepare the children for the opening of classes this school year.

For a small but thriving Sitio of Madaja, lies a rich cultural imprint that is worth sharing and bragging about. Nonetheless, the protracted nature of conflict affects the future of the entire community.

With limited access to education, livelihood, health and other basic services coming from the government and other civil society organizations, a generation of children and community living in conflict will grow up without the skills they need to contribute to the country’s success but might become the country’s liability, exacerbating the already identified infiltration of unrecognized presence and citing of some communist-terrorist group in the community.

In addition, electrification and accessible farm-to-market roads are the main concerns of the community and other neighboring sitios.

After the activity, the ANP, Radyo Muscovado Sweet FM, and HBONI vowed to further bolster ties with the 94th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army headed by Lieutenant Captain Van Donald Almonte to help and capacitate the organization’s adopted community at Sitio Madaja.

Also present during the visit were Reymund Titong, HBONI’s Head for External Affairs; Kenneth Bacala, HBONI’s Founder and a public school teacher; Warren Geronca, HBONI’s Board of Director and a public school teacher; Riza Carasaquit, also a public school teacher; and Rengie Apatan, a volunteer-teacher.

Youth volunteers who were also present during the visit included Aldin Yanos, Mark Lorenz Bendol, Apple Joy Hechanova, Erica Salazar, and Vincent Diesta.