MODE is part of a network of like-minded institutions whose common mission is to help build local economies. Partner institutions include the New Rural Bank of San Leonardo, the ECOCENTRAL, and the K5 Multipurpose Cooperative. MODE was tasked to act as coordinator of the initial spade work to pave the way for the development initiatives of the consortium in Dingalan.


One important initial move of the consortium is to appoint a project officer who can do the liason work needed for the activities of the consortium. One of the first tasks is networking among grassroots organizations, especially Dumagat communities. Another important task is the consortium's link to the government.


Dialog with the Local Government


Led by NRBSL Chairperson Andres Panganiban, consortium represen-tatives met Mayor Sherwin Taay, Dingalan's young and energetic leader on December 5, 2016. During this meeting, the consortium clarified and attempted to unite with the mayor, his staff and some municipal leaders, on the general concept of local economy development and what each group hopes to contribute in the chosen town of Dingalan.


NRBSL as a rural bank had already started and intends to intensify its financial services in Dingalan. A specific area suggested was in financing low cost housing among the people of Dingalan. The bank is also capable of financing important socio-economic projects that can contribute to the economic growth of Dingalan.


The K5 Multipurpose Cooperative had already recruited some members in Dingalan and is already financing small and medium enterprises. It is also assisting farmers' cooperatives involved in cassava production. K5 assists them in market linkage. It was suggested that K5's role is to help build the cooperative movement in Dingalan.


ECOCENTRAL had traditionally assisted the clients of the NRBSL for entrepreneurship and livelihood skills training. So it is but natural that this task will be given to the institution.


MODE for its part was assigned to help develop and organize civil society organizations and help in enhancing their role in local economy development. Of special attention of course are grassroots organizations who can collectively decide and act on matters that affect their lives.


The consortium representatives also recognized the important role of the local government in local economy building and assured Mayor Taay that they recognize him as leader of the town. They will always try to synergize consortium actions with the local government's programs and development initiatives.



Learning from the People, Working with the People


The first task at hand for MODE and the consortium, is to know the people's situation. Aside from acquiring data from stock knowledge of people who already worked in Dingalan in particular and Aurora Province in general, our project officer/ organizer immersed himself in the Cabog Dumagat Community in Matawe and the neiboring barangays of Ibona, Caragsacan, Umiray, and Dikapanikian.


Assisted by research consultants, focused group discussions were conducted in these communities, specifically focusing on the Dumagats and other indigenous peoples. The research is still continuing. The perspective is to help the communities conduct their community plans based on the needs that they will themselves reveal and analyze.


Whie we focus our research in IP communities, we set our eyes further to other sections of the population. Our target is to have a comprehensive knowledge of Dingalan's situation and pinpoint key socio-economic interventions needed.



What can be done now? What is to be done later?


A local organization of Dumagat youth had already been formed and is being strengthened through common activities and trainings. The sector is important for pushing for community development efforts.


There are intial discussions on reviving and revitalizing positive indegenous culture. An agreement was reached to adopt a program for building a "School of Living Tradition" in Dingalan.


As a result of the area visits and FGDs, an assessment of the handicraft industry had been done in Umiray, Matawe and Caragsagan. Some organizational development activities had been facilitated. A group of basket weavers and handicraft makers have organized themselves and are already starting to market their products, as there are a few of them who already acquired good skills in handicraft making in the past. There are great challeges however, in raising the level of production and marketing in the area.


Dingalan baskets



Let us hope for the best for the people of Dingalan!