by Mary Josene Uriel V. Villar
Biñan, Laguna – Fifteen residents from the Southville 5a relocation site in Brgy. Langkiwa attended the ‘Sipag at Tiyaga Caravan: Free Livelihood Skills on Water Lily Weaving’ workshop on September 6. The activity aimed to teach the residents of Southville 5a how to make slippers, bags, and baskets from water hyacinth, locally known as water lilies, which abound in the area.
The workshop on water lily weaving is part of the efforts to establish livelihood projects in the relocation site. Other activities held include job fairs, accessory making, microfinance, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) vocational courses, skills training, soap making, meat processing, among others.
According to Mr. Arnel Pineda, the head of Southville 5a’s livelihood project, need assessment surveys were conducted to determine what the topics the residents were interested in and what skills they needs to learn. Based on the survey results, they contact various organizations that are willing to take part in helping them orient the residents in terms of livelihood by providing workshops, seminars, etc. Villar Foundation was the partner organization for the September 6 workshop.
The workshops organized, usually held at the Southville 5a Livelihood Building, are free and open to all interested to take part in the activity.
According to one of the residents, a 37 yr. old laundrywoman named Teresita Salvador, she has attended a couple of their community’s seminars on soap making and meat processing back. Now, she’s currently selling water inside the community. She says that she is grateful that various seminars and programs are being held even though she has not been able to attend all of them. She also expressed that these seminars also provide them with the materials necessary to be able to start of their livelihood businesses.
Another laundrywoman named Rosalie Bitonio, 36 yrs. old, said that she has attended a couple of the activities on livelihood as well. She says she began attending about two years ago when they held a seminar on cosmetics. She says that she really did learn something from the seminar and that it was not hard for her to cope since she really is into cosmetics. She also admitted that she hasn’t been able to attend any of the programs or activities lately because she has been busy doing her job as a laundrywoman and taking care of her kids.
After each session, the workshop organizers gather feedback from the participants to better design the succeeding livelihood sessions.
Pineda emphasized the need to prioritize the residents’ opportunities for additional source of income. Biñan’s Head of Housing Jovic Tiongson estimated that the current population of Southville 5a is more than 30,000. The residents were relocated in Southville 5a from disaster prone areas and danger zones in Biñan, Tondo, Marikina, and Manila.
Since their relocation in 2010, the people of Southville 5a have been able to put up various means of living for themselves. These include sari-sari stores, beauty salons, computer shops, grocery stores, and food stalls.
According to Pineda, the livelihood projects conducted such as the workshop on water lily weaving aim to enable Southville 5a residents to earn additional income. He added that the residents can earn as much at least Php 300 from water lily products, enough to pay the housing dues every month. Pineda’s team organizes seminars to help the residents find opportunities for better jobs and help them manage their income well through TESDA vocational courses and through alternative learning system (ALS). They also coordinate with government agencies like the Department of Labor and Employment, which provides livelihood kit and packages such as that for cosmetology.
Pineda also shared that they are building a database of the residents’ skills and capabilities. This way, he explained that it would be easier match jobs with the skills set of Southville 5a residents. Other programs that have been conducted in the area include the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and various feeding programs.
Future Southville 5a projects include the Impok Pabahay Program, which involves distributing “piggy banks” with locks among the residents encouraging residents to save a portion of their income.