Every year, the municipality of Asipulo in Ifugao celebrates their town fiesta called Kulpi’d Asipulo by showcasing their culture and tradition.

This year’s theme is​, “Celebrating culture and community development”, a declaration of their triumphs in community-driven development (CDD), which they experienced through their implementation of Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS), a program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

The ‘little people’ and CDD

Asipulo’s Kalahi-CIDSS journey began in 2003 when they first engaged with the program. Since then, they became a partner and active implementer of CDD.

CDD is a development approach that provides control of process, resources and decision-making to communities. It is the strategy employed by Kalahi-CIDSS.

Director Benilda “Chi” Redaja, National Program Manager of Kalahi-CIDSS was invited as a keynote speaker during the Kulpi. As part of the celebration, Dir. Redaja visited Barangay Nungawa for the turnover and  the installation of ceremonial marker for their Amduntog-Duit core road improvement project, which was constructed through Kalahi-CIDSS and built through the volunteerism and hard work of the villagers.

Lakay Salcedo, one of the village volunteers,  defined his CDD experience as “life changing”. He expressed that they nearly quit on Kalahi-CIDSS because of its tedious procedures. However, while thinking of changing the course of their lives, they persevered and sacrificed, managing to complete six cycles with Kalahi-CIDSS.

With the paved roads and pathways in her barangay, Celia Dulnuan, one of the women-volunteers shared that she could now wear her shoes and high heeled sandals to attend meetings and social events. She also observed that hauling of vegetables became easier and faster, saying that they can now directly deliver their produce in Bambang, Nueva Viscaya, which increased their income.

Salcedo Pugong, a 60-year-old veteran described his people as “little people”, meaning a humble village with small population. The barangay has 607 residents with 112 households.

To this line, Dir. Redaja had this to say: “I thought that there is nothing small about these people who have known too much deprivation and yet have refused to give up. There is nothing small about their acts of generosity when they give their time and energy to build these beautiful roads that will be their pathway to more opportunities.”

She added that more than the physical structure they built, the people of Nungawa “stand tall for their indomitable spirit when they fought hard to gain both voice and vote” to be prioritized in Kalahi-CIDSS.

The Kulpi’d Asipulo and CDD

Traditionally, Kulpi’d Asipulo is held every April to commemorate the noble achievements of their ancestors. It is a celebration for a fruitful and bountiful rice harvest, wherein every household prepares rice wines. The fiesta is also an opportunity to show the cultural customs and traditions of the Ifugaos.

With the presence of CDD in the area, the traditions have evolved to include the celebration of their efforts, achievements and dreams of the communities in Asipulo. For example, a ceremonial marker installation at the six Kalahi-CIDSS projects in the municipality was held as part of the Kulpi.

The Kalahi-CIDSS projects were also turned over to the Barangay Local Government Units during the program in April.

“The paved roads are a testament of your hard work and the triumph of your participation. I am privileged to have witnessed this important milestone in the life of a village in Asipulo,”  Dir. Redaja said.

“Your stories are an inspiration for those of us in government who share your dream of a better life,” she continued.

Institutionalizing the CDD approach

In 2013, through the leadership of Mayor Armando Domilod, the municipality institutionalized the community-driven development approach through Executive Order  No. 14, which organizes the Community-Driven Development and Poverty Alleviation Program, otherwise known as the Pan Aamungan (convergence) Program.

As of now, Asipulo is the only municipality in the Cordillera that has institutionalized the community-driven development process through local legislation. ###