The value of teaching independence in advocacy programs


My team and I at Alexa Mira Society visited our community at Barangay Palatiw, Pasig today. We talked to our community members and oriented them with the program that we planned for them. So far, they mentioned that they’re willing to take part and devote their time to make it successful. It’s a sigh of relief, because now we have a better gauge of what they think about the program and if this will be truly helpful to them in the long term. Our program essentially has three main parts: a livelihood, urban farming, and feeding program.

But I want to share more of the biggest observations and takeaways I have from today’s visit.

Several of the families know how to maintain a vegetable garden

This tells us a lot about what the families know to do. Since they know some basic farming, we might as well help them further by introducing new and low-cost urban farming methods.

This is why, through the urban farming program that makes use of hydroponics and aquaponics, we aim to augment the produce being grown by the families. Hopefully, this reaches a point wherein apart from addressing their daily sustenance needs, they can also sell excess vegetables to the nearby market. Therefore, it becomes an entrepreneurial endeavor apart from just subsistence farming. The good thing is that the families are open to the idea and would also like to increase the number of vegetables they’re producing.

Some of them earn additional income by selling biscuits and managing a sari-sari store

They don’t know it, but the families are very entrepreneurial because they went to these means to address their needs. Simply put, the circumstances of their lives forced them to go into these additional income sources, but at the same time, in it’s essence, they are also being entrepreneurs. This is very good news, because we get an idea of what the families know to do.

Through the livelihood program, the families will be taught other ways to earn money. In this particular program, we will be teaching them how to make and sell dishwashing liquid and fishballs. They can sell these to their community, and, when their income grows bigger, they can expand into other kinds of livelihood.

Some of the families still haven’t received their benefits from the government’s 4Ps program

The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program of the Philippine government mainly aims to do one thing: help poor Filipino families if they help themselves first. The idea is that if the families follow a set of conditions such as the following:

  • Pregnant women avail of natal care
  • Parents attend family development sessions
  • Children ages 0 to 5 receive regular health check-ups and vaccines
  • Children ages 6 to 14 receive deworming pills twice a year
  • Children beneficiaries aged 3 to 18 must attend schools

…then they will recieve corresponding cash benefits. However, some of the families haven’t recieved theirs yet.

The land that they currently and indefinitely live in is owned by a rich family in Pasig

Big lands owned by big, rich families in the country have been an issue for a long time now. Since the land where the families in Barangay Palatiw currently live in is owned by a big family, we can only do so much in terms of setting up basic infrastructure like the improvement of their houses.

Palatiw, as well as other nearby areas, are lesser known areas in Pasig that need to be exposed

The Pasig you know is a rich place–one that they call a “green city.” But what about areas like Palatiw? It’s still part of Pasig, isn’t it? People need to be more aware of these places.

Personally, I’m not a fan of people saying “Grabe may mga lugar pala na ganito. Hindi ako makapaniwalang malapit lang dito yung mayaman na lugar ng Pasig.

It’s a passive statement that doesn’t spark movement and mindset change. What we need to realize is that yes, these places do exist. As Filipinos, I think we’ve already established that. It’s just that many Filipinos still tend to be devoid of the truth and stay in their comfort zones and bubbles. Yes, guys, these places are real, and we have to find a way to help the people in them.

We hope to bring better days ahead for these families through the program

At the end of the day, we just want to bring hope to these people that they can have better lives. We’re not forcing them into anything. We want to make sure that they themselves are willing to change to improve their lives.

Because in the long term, it’s not about us staying in their community to attend to their needs all the time and make them dependent on us. It’s about teaching them to lift themselves up and look towards better days through their individual efforts and actions. I think this should be the essence of advocacy projects.

Let’s take the conversation forward. Find out how we can collaborate for a sustainable future:

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