by Shaznay Nicole B. Sumiran
The Los Baños Gender and Development (GAD) Office is setting up a Bayanihan Savings Center (BSC) for the Women’s Brigade now with 800 members. This is in support to the Magna Carta of Women (RA 9710)—specifically Chapter V (RIGHTS AND EMPOWERMENT OF MARGINALIZED SECTORS), Section 23 (Right to Livelihood, Credit, Capital, and Technology).
The officers of the Gender and Development (GAD) Office, Lady Kagawads, and Chairman of Women and Family Hon. Josephine Sumangil had their initial talk on August 3, 2016. According to Karen Lagat-Mercado, head of the GAD Office, women-leaders had a positive response to the concept of the BSC.
The BSC will follow the concept of the “paluwagan” system. From each of the 14 barangays of Los Baños, ten women from each barangay will first be selected by the GAD Office to start the BSC. In the preliminary stage of the project, the selected barangay representatives will start by saving up PhP 20 per week. The BSC will then be opened to all the women of Los Baños for them to take part in the program. This strategy aims to start with a small but committed members for the BSC.
The BSC aims to motivate the women of Los Baños to participate more and break away from being financially dependent to government aid. Lagat-Mercado explained that since women will be saving up through the BSC, they will value the capital more, as well as their earnings. “Let them be part of the development,” she asserted.
In two year’s time, Lagat-Mercado hopes for the BSC to develop into a cooperative, but admits that they will be figuring out the details of the program as they go along. She is hoping that the BSC will eventually have a stable fund, enough to help women of Los Baños start up and invest in businesses.
To follow the mandate of the Magna Carta of Women (RA 9710) to provide women with “equal access to formal sources of credit and capital”, the concept program came from the former Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Joey Lina’s project Bayanihan Savings Replication Project (BSRP)—which he conceptualized after the 1999 Bayanihan Savings Project of the Cooperative Development Office (CDO) of Pasay city.
The idea of BSC is also not a new concept inside Los Baños, for Brgy. Malinta has already started a program similar to it which they refer to as Kawayanan. The Kawayanan now has a stable fun of 7 million that is able to let women from the barangay make loans.