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Metamorphosis_Kalahi-CIDSS Compendium 2015

pay for what she

pay for what she does,” he said. Area Coordinator Roxan Ramirez of the Kalahi-CIDSS has similar words for the mildmannered lady. “Manang Elsie is one of the most active members of the community and she is very transparent especially in paper works, I never noticed any problems on her work,” she stated. Lifting her community Though admittedly skeptical at first, Manang Elsie became a community volunteer in 2012 when the Kalahi CIDSS was being implemented in Besao on its second year. She said it was the system of how the program was being implemented that initially attracted her like many others who tried volunteering. However, many did not last as community volunteers, she lamented. There was a lot of work done yet it was without compensation which dissuaded many of the early volunteers, manang Elsie stated. 5 Superwoman. At home, Manang Elsie never fails to keep the house warm fulfilling her duties as a wife and a mother.*

However, she stayed for one reason – her community. “I value my community very much. I want it to be developed from within, and the people see the value of development,” she said. Manang Elsie said it felt a little intimidating at first to be speaking in a community where culturally, words of men are likely to be heard and sought. It did not dissuade her. The elderly lady related how she felt a strong sense of empowerment when she first stood and spoke in front of the community assembly. Eventually, these speaking engagements somehow broke the societal structure system where men dominate the decision making and leadership roles in her community. Manang Elsie stood out to be a leader in her barangay triggering a ripple effect on women in the other villages. Throughout Besao, there is not one committee formed without a woman member. Now, the voices of women are sought especially in community-related decisions. “I hear people expressing themselves. No, we are not going to be silent anymore,” Manang Elsie said. These experiences and learnings manang Elsie gained as a community volunteer of Kalahi CIDSS were more than what she expected. On December 2014, Manang Elsie was announced as the Best Community Volunteer in the senior division of the first BayaniKa! Awards of the Kalahi CIDSS from nominations nationwide. It would seem to be a Pandora’s Box for the elderly lady. She never dreamt of stepping abroad but she did. Her exemplary volunteerism brought her far from Besao into the Big Apple – New York, USA – and not just for any ordinary purpose but to address the world through the United Nations. “I never thought I, being a woman and simply a volunteer, would get this great opportunity. It is as if I am dreaming,” a beaming Manang Elsie related. In her UN speech, she talked about how she made it a personal advocacy to let the public know about the benefits of volunteerism and push the government know that participatory government is the best approach to go develop communities. “By allowing citizens to implement project, we will end hunger, poverty and powerlessness,” manang Elsie shared. Currently, Manang Elsie is receiving invitations to talk to various audiences as a motivational speaker.// 6

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