The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) through its Field Office in Region XII earlier this month turned over a total of 200 horses to poor B’laan households in the mountain village of Daan Suyan, Malapatan, Sarangani, as part of its Modified Conditional Cash Transfer (MCCT) Program.
According to DSWD Assistant Regional Director Gemma Rivera, staff from the field office conducted an assessment of the program beneficiaries in the tribal village and found out that they are in need of further assistance aside from the package of services under the MCCT. MCCT provides shelter assistance, and access to social services and economic opportunities for the improvement of the beneficiaries’ living conditions including those in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDA).
“Horses are the number one means of transportation among the residents of Daan Suyan, as the village is located in the mountain. Those who do not have a horse will have to rent one or walk for hours just to go down the barangay and reach other villages. This is why we thought of giving horses to the beneficiaries, which they agreed,” Asst. Dir. Rivera said.
“Members of the tribe also use horses to transport sacks of rice and other goods from their farms to the trucking point. Now that they have horses of their own, they will not have to contract and pay horsemen to transport their products anymore,” she added.
Apart from being the main means of transportation, horses also play an important part in the culture of the B’laan tribe. Horses, or kura as they call it, are valued as a game or sport animal. Horse fighting is usually conducted during festive occasions, such as weddings or feasts.
DSWD Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo explained that the Department is strengthening its efforts to reach more communities of Indigenous Peoples (IP) in the country and provide them all the assistance that are within the means of the DSWD to give, and also based on what the communities themselves demand or need.
“The DSWD was instructed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte during his first State of the Nation Address to provide social services to the IP sector in the country. We show our commitment to implement this directive by working with different organizations of IP groups to determine the assistance that they need in their communities. Our officials and staff have also started to go to different IP communities to personally determine their condition and initiate dialogues with leaders of organizations regarding what the DSWD can help them with in terms of livelihood and emergency assistance,” Sec. Taguiwalo said.
Last month, the DSWD signed a memorandum of understanding with the PASAKA Confederation of Lumad Organizations for the provision of social services to the Lumad community in Mindanao. ###