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Water for peace

Water for peace

Impasug-ong, Bukidnon—If you search the internet for Sitio Gabunan, one of the seven subdivisions in Barangay Dumalaguing, news about insurgencies and conflict will appear. After all, a top rebel commander met his demise on this site during a clash with the military in 2021. Years later, the government declared the area insurgent-free, but its remote location and years of fighting have caused isolation and limited access to essential social services. 

One of the problems is the need for more access to water. While a level III water system (individual house connections) operates, only 50% of the 29 Higaonon tribal households can tap from the source. Dry seasons mean reduced supply, while intense rains cause murky and dirty water. 

“We have to walk one kilometer to collect water that we could have otherwise used to tend our crops,” Mario Dante, sitio leader and head of Gabunan Farmers Association, said.

Dante and barangay chairman Francis Pasco reached out to the local government of Impasug-ong for assistance. With the LGU’s help, they connected with the Kauyagan Savers Multipurpose Cooperative (KSMPC). Subsequently, Sitio Gabunan became a recipient of KSMPC’s Water Access for Transformation, Empowerment, and Resilience (WATER). 

Under this project, created with support from the Peace and Equity Foundation and Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines, KSMPC will facilitate the construction of a new level III water system this year to provide uninterrupted access for all 29 households of Sitio Gabunan. 

The initiative, along with the Impasug-ong Crops Development Project, a crop consolidation project by KSMPC, is expected to improve the lives of the Higaonons in Sitio Gabunan. 

On March 20, 2024, tribal leaders performed the “Pamuhat” ritual, offering food and wine to “Magbabaya” (Higaonon’s supreme creator) as part of the inauguration of the water system. Free from the terror of war, residents envision a brighter future with hope and optimism.