Rice has always been a staple in every Filipino household. And so when there is a shortage of this staple in the town of Tagasilay in Zamboanga City, its Barangay Council quickly thought of ways to mitigate this.

Barangay Tagasilay is an agricultural area located far east of Zamboanga City with an estimated population of 2,970. A variety of fruit trees, coconut and some root crops are abundant in the area however rice is not one of the crops that can be produced in this community due to soil unsuitability. The residents had to get their supply from sari-sari stores or neighboring communities for a much steeper price.

Bearing this reality in mind, the town women, mostly housewives, under the leadership of Barangay Kagawad Norie P. Ajilul, resolved to organize themselves into an association to find ways on how to address this problem – thus Tagasilay Indigenous People’s Association was created. Being an organized group of 25 members opened opportunities for the women; this enabled them to apply for a livelihood assistance with the Department of Labor and Employment IX’s (DOLE 9) under the DOLE Integrated Livelihood Program (DILP).

DOLE 9 Regional Director Atty. Roy L. Buenafe explained that the DILP specifically seeks to assist vulnerable workers such as the self-employed, landless farmers, unpaid family workers, displaced workers, parents of child laborers and low-wage seasonal workers. Selected beneficiaries are provided with livelihood opportunities, as well as training support, to help them augment their incomes and consequently reduce their vulnerability.

With the help of DOLE 9, the association was able to come up with a proposed project entitled Community Rice Retailing where they aim to sustain a constant rice supply in the community as well as offer reasonable price point aligned with the residents’ daily income.

Not only does the project solve the problem of rice supply shortage, it also empowers women by engaging them in an undertaking that will enhance their skills in being entrepreneurs. The members will be provided with training and capacity building on values reinforcement, basic financial management, conflict prevention, mitigation and management through DOLE 9’s partner – Integrated Resource Development for Tri-People, a non-government organization.

After thorough evaluation of documentary requirements, DOLE 9 released a check on September 3, 2020 amounting to PHP 249,625.00 to fund the project. Assistant Regional Director Imelda F. Gatinao handed the check to Association President, Ms. Ajilul during a simple turn-over ceremony at the DOLE 9 premises in Sta. Catalina, Zamboanga City.

Ms. Ajilul expressed her gratitude to DOLE 9 for helping them realize their vision for Tagasilay. “As women, we are not only homemakers, but in our little way we can be of help to our community and DOLE provided us with the needed tools to start that. So we are especially grateful to DOLE for the much needed assistance.” END