9 months ago


KALAHISerye 2016|| 11 I Irrigation is a farm’s bloodline. In fact, a communial irrigation system is all it takes to give life to the fields of a small village like Barangay Tabacda in Tubo, Abra. For the villagers of Barangay Tabacda, the improvement of their irrigation system did not only increase their harvest but had also ened their sleepless nights because of having to guard their fields at night for fear of the water being diverted. The community had a perrenial problem on irrigation depending on the season. During the rainy season, the payas (earthen canal) always gets destroyed especially during typhoons or heavy rains. During the rainy season, one would think that there will be no water problem but that is not the case in Barangay Tabacda as rains tend to corrode the payas, which are nothing more than earthen irrigation canals. “No kalkalpas ti bagyo, kanayon nga agrepair ti umili ti payas nga malpas iti tallo enggana limma nga aldaw (After typhoons, the villagers would always spend three to five days repairing irrigation)”, Rey Maguinsay, a farmer in Tabacda said. Repairing the ditches has become a common task that the farmers have established an indigenous system to do this. Through a ganap (bayanihan), villagers are asked to take time and fix the destroyed payas. This is their own version of bayanihan wherein villagers are asked to render free labor depending on the number of their itteg (parcel of land). For example, if a farmer owns three itteg, he/she should send three representative to render ganap. Should a farmer fails to render ganap or was found out to have disrupted the pangpang (water schedule), he/she will be penalized by paying cash or in-kind equivalent to existing labor rate. This system is being practiced by the rest of Tubo villagers but the Maeng tribe is one of those who are strictly implementing this. On the other hand, during the tiyagew or the dry season when there is limited water supply, farmers usually race to irrigate their fields. This results to verbal fights with fellow farmers in the village which eventually affect their relationship as neighbors. The barangay set their own schedule for irrigation, however some farmers worry that their fields might dry, they try to block the water flow to other farms so that it can flow to their own farm. Their only irrigation source is a creek located one kilometer away from the main settlement. The risk of having the water diverted away from their fields prompted farmers to stay on guard at night by the payas, or ditches, during their pangpang. The construction of the irrigation system through the 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), with funding support from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), has played a major role in helping address the farmers’ water problem. The irrigation system did not only make the water supply stable, it also provided the typical mannalon a greater likelihood to earn more income. In the past, farmers were only able to follow a one-cropping system in a year. This was partly the reason why they had to buy rice from the town center, as they could not plant enough to meet even their own needs. With the communal irrigation system, they are now able to plant a hybrid rice variety, which can be harvested within three to four months. Most of the farmers are now following two-cropping in a year. Aside from the increase in rice production, some households, such as Rey’s, are now also able to plant vegetables as they now have water

to sustain these. Charity, his wife, plants her own products such as cabbage, legumes and string beans in areas not intended for rice. The irrigation system also meant that the farmers are now finally able to say farewell to their sleepless nights. “Before, in the dry season I would have to sleep in the field during my schedule to make sure that the water is running towards my rice farm. Now, I don’t need to sleep in the field during my water schedule. I can just go home and rest with my family”, Rey said in the vernacular. With the construction of the communal irrigation system, the water now pumps new life to the village of Tabacda. According to former Tubo Area Coordinator Tony Tayaban, the village considers the irrigation system as the biggest project ever granted to them. For the first time, the village accomplished a project with their effort and unity. “Because of theri shared needs, they met and strategized together. Their involvement in this program has somehow strengthened their unity as a community,” Tayaban added. In the Cordillera, there are least 27 communal irrigation systems which have been constructed or improved through Kalahi-CIDSS in its partnership with MCC. Barangay Tabacda was awarded “Number 1 Good Sub-Project Implementer” for their Cycle 1 implementation of Kalahi-CIDSS in 2011. Though small in number, Barangay Tabacda in Tubo, Abra proved their strength with their unity to implement project and work for the greater good of their community KALAHISerye 2016|| 12

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