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Nurturing peace | Tri-people communities work together for sustainable peace

While the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) was having another significant milestone in the conduct of the plebiscite on the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), the peace-loving ‘tri-people’ communities in Tantangan, South Cotabato continues to nurture peace by working together. The people have chosen to find solution to a decades-long problem of lack of potable water and respect each other’s differences.
Thus, in a matter of months, a water system was finally ready to serve the needs of the community. A turn-over ceremony of the Matimos Community-Managed Water System Rehabilitation and Expansion to the Muslim-Christian Water System Association was held at the grounds of Luayan Elementary School of Purok 5, Barangay Dumadalig, Tantangan, South Cotabato on January 23, 2019, and in the absence of their parents, the school children sat and witnessed the occasion.

Ribbon-cutting. Monina P. Pacheco, Program Officer, Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines, Inc. (in the middle with red polo shirt) cuts the ribbon while being assisted by Maguindanaoan Development Foundation, Inc. (MDFI) Executive Director, Dausay Daulog. Also present is Peace and Equity Area Officer Shunie Pearl Palacios (extreme right),and some members of the Dumadalit Barangay Council.“Naranyag na Tantangan” (A sunny Tantangan) , said Luayan Teacher In-charge Evelyn Nono during her welcome address, who, like Teacher Perlita Belenson and their pupils, were all overwhelmed with the dream of having clean water to drink now coming to reality. The teachers excitedly gathered the children and made them observe the very significant occasion that would now ensure their access to clean and potable water, a most precious resource that the populace of Dumadalig have long been waiting for years.
A pupil wash her feet from the faucet of the school in Luayan Elementary School that will soon be drinkable.

“Magbinuligay lang kita,” (Let’s help each other), Barangay Kagawad Jonathan Reyes said even as he expressed his deep gratitude for the non-government organizations that have made it possible for the communities to have the water system project.
Scaling up service
According to Amaris Cabason, Program Officer for Basic Social Services of Peace and Equity Foundation (PEF), the project was made possible through the Scaling Up Program for Social Enterprises for Water Services (SCALE UP-Water) Program of the Peace Equity Access for Community Empowerment Foundation (Peace and Equity Foundation or PEF). It began in July 2016 through a grant from The Coca-Cola Foundation, Inc., with PEF providing its own counterpart fund.
The Program focused on the development, expansion and sustainability of water services of community-based water cooperatives, associations and organizations (CBOs) primarily engaged in the delivery of potable water via a social enterprise approach. Moreover, the Program aims to produce additional four million litres of water in its three-year duration. One project is located in Visayas, and four projects are located in Mindanao.

Indeed, Peace begins with a smile.

The construction of the Level III water system in Brgy. Dumadalig, Tantangan, South Cotabato is one of these projects. The implementing partner of the water system was the Maguindanaoan Development Foundation, Inc. (MDFI), headed by its Executive Director, Dausay Daulog. The project is expected to benefit around three hundred households composed of indigenous peoples (B’laan and Tiboli), Muslims and Christians in Puroks 5, 7 and 8. It will also provide potable water to Luayan Elementary School.
The Coca-Cola Foundation, Inc. and PEF provided a grant in the amount of 1.75 M, and the community provided their own counterpart in the form of time allocation and sweat equity or labor. Through the project, three new water sources were developed, an intake box and two reservoirs were constructed, an existing reservoir was rehabilitated, three tap stands were put up, and pipelines leading to the households were installed. To preserve the water source, MDFI, the barangay and the community plans to conduct a tree-planting activity in the area surrounding the spring source.
Tantangan has always been a haven for the people of different cultural backgrounds and it has all the potentials to continue to be an example of a peaceful and respectful place to be in Mindanao. Although populated by majority Muslims and some percentage of Christians and some members of the Indigenous Peoples (IP), the municipality of Tantangan and the whole province of South Cotabato has not been under the ARMM, just like several other provinces in Mindanao that are not part of ARMM.

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By Margarita A. Valle

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