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Rural Development Institute Leyte, Inc.

Main Office: #13-B San Joaquin St., Ormoc City
Field Office:
Bernardes Village, Brgy. Atipolo, Naval, Biliran
Tel. No/Fax:
(053) 255-5046; (053) 500-925

Operates in Leyte and Biliran and is actively involved in the processes of rural democratization and development in partnership with the marginalized rural sectors and people’s organizations. The three key elements of their development framework are: (a) the integration of environmental considerations into economic development, (b) the commitment to social equity, and (c) the improvement of the quality of life of people.


  • RDI-Leyte envisions the attainment of self-determining rural communities whose development is founded on equity, ecological sustainability, gender fairness, respect dor peoples’ rights and cultures, and the economic, socio-cultural and political empowerment of marginalized rural sectors and peoples (MRSP).


  • To actively and directly participate in the process of rural democratization and development (RDD) in partnership with the marginalized rural sectors and people (MSRP) their communities and organizations.
  • To actively work for the broadest possible unity, support and participation of various communities for RDD.
  • To implement programs and services that will enable the MSRP, their rural communities and organization attain self-reliance and greater participation in the process of RDD.


  • To work for the integration of equity, gender equality, empowerment and ecological sustainability in the process of RDD by engaging in area-focused all-sided development efforts.
  • To work for the expansion and integration of cooperatives (of men and women) through the advancement of inter-cooperative economic ventures formal establishment of federations.
To strengthen RDI-Leyte as an effective, efficient and gender fair machinery in the face of the growing number of threats to rural communities, increasing pace and scale of unsustainable development, expanded areas of work, and the need to attain greater self-reliance.


Babayi, the Right Man for the Job

The Biliran Experience

Gender mainstreaming slowly paving its way… as RDI – Leyte’s program implementation hoped to integrate greater women participation in community development.


BILIRAN – It was the first year of the new millennium when a great opportunity knocked on the
doors of Rural Development Institute Inc (RDI-Leyte), a choice NGO partner, by the Department of Health (DOH), for implementing the "Women's Health and Safe Motherhood Project" (WHSMP) in the municipalities of Almeria, Cabucgayan and Kawayan.

Not only the Warays' babayi or babae (the Filipino women)'s big issues on children's high mortality rates, high morbidity rates on pregnant women, violence against women and children, and poor access to basic support services were tackled for two and a half years.

When doors were about to close, gateways were opening, so that when phase one in Ormoc City project was going on to its terminal phase, the second phase – the Consortium for the Advancement of People's Participation through Sustainable Integrated Area Development (CAPPSIAD) – was being accessed in Biliran.

The Biliran phase in 2002 initially covered two municipalities. Almeria's 13 barangays with Cabucgayan's seven of its dozen barangays participated. Consistently aggressive lobbying by sheer women power was able to annex the five more of its constituent barangays in no time at all.

Cabucgayan Councilor Edwin Masbang, in an interview, cited, "the babayi CAPPSIAD initiatives had raised the level of consciousness of my constituents who now demand for accountability from the local government units (LGUs). It, in turn, made us, the LGU stewards, more responsive to people's needs."

Learning communities

AS A RESULT of initiating grassroots participation in local governance among women, farmers, fisherfolk, the youth, senior citizens, health and daycare workers – with an average 44 percent female – 25 barangay development councils (BDCs) were recognized. BDCs comprised the collective body tasked to formulate the Barangay Development Plans (BDP).

In one of the barangay development planning sessions…one lady participant with somewhat proud gesture said, “karon lang gyud mi nahatagan ug higayon nga moapil sa paghimo ug plano para sa among barangay, mao nga bisan ug kapoy ug labad pa sa ulo, amo gyud gi-agwanta tungod sa kalipay nga nahatagan kami ug importansya”.(this is just the first time that we were given the chance to participate in the planning process for our barangay, thus, even if it caused us getting tired and headaches, we still pursue because we feel privileged to have given importance).

That expression left a mark into my mind… that was the woman, who used to carry with her a 3-month old baby, who used to breastfeed the infant at break time, and still able to participate in the planning session. What an inspiring effort, as I thought within myself…the women that were left shelled long time ago…now slowly coming out ready to disprove the judgment of being just the weaker sex.

In marginalized areas where representation was nil, local community organizers (LCOs) were identified and trained to lead by inspiration to get various sectors unite. And then I remember… Lydia Maala, a shy person who seemed aloof talking to public officials, now turned LCO and paralegal of barangay Esperanza, Cabucgayan. She made a confession through an article written by herself…and I quote…”Can I do it? I was hesitant at first, but I convinced myself I could do it, and I would do my best”. True enough… this shy person transformed into a paralegal advocate in her own barangay…now able to draft resolutions opposing continued illegal fishing, sand and gravel extraction and many more.

It was discovered that prior to CAPPSIAD, a number of barangays in the municipalities had BDPs already. But only the members of Sangguniang Barangay were noted to be involved in the processes of decision making. Most of the barangays were also able to prepare Annual Investment Plans (AIP) as a method of detailing utilization of Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA). With the CAPPSIAD project, barangay residents were accorded the opportunity to openly express their issues and concerns to the council members for the first time. "It was great learning experience," community residents admitted. It afforded them the confidence to participate in the activities of their locales.

While our field staff persistently kept an eye to the project’s log-frame (logical framework), there was one official of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), without us knowing what really went wrong with this man, he manifests somewhat negative gesture.

Boy Sebidos, the project supervisor, after his networking task at the provincial office arrived to the office… his face showing disgust and a bit puzzled, he was on a reporting mode and went on…”unsa man nang taga DILG uy, gidaut man ta sa barangay… gi-ingnan niya ang mga tawo ayaw mo ug tuo anang taga RDI!( I can’t understand what happened to that DILG man, he made bad issues about us in the barangay…he told the people not to believe with RDI!)

And then Boy referred this issue to Inday(Josefa Pizon -Executive Director of RDI). While talking on the phone, Boy looked like a little child, on a wary mode with his playmates, seeking comfort from his mother. After their phone conversation, we asked him…”unya Boy unsa may pulong ni Inday?(now Boy what’s the word of Inday?)…he replied with sigh…”wala, ato daw ipatigbabaw ang diplomasya” (“nothing, we should take the issue with diplomacy”).

Diplomacy as it is, the team faced the issue and invited the DILG man for a dialogue with key personnel from the province, line agencies and barangay officials. To make the story short… we found out that the DILG man was a bit insecure, because their previous initiatives on barangay development planning, was far different from the approach that we employed. After the dialogue, Boy and the DILG man became good partners. Lessons learned…it pays to uphold diplomacy.

Work at field back to normal, under the CAPPSIAD's inspiration, development plans for the barangays were presented in and approved by the barangay assembly. The grassroots package is communicated to the LGUs, for integration of the BDPs into the municipal and provincial development plans. As an advantage, the BDPs were now able to identify emerging and shifting priorities as their environment, operating context, and organizational capacity change. The 25 BDPs provided inputs into the preparation of the Executive and Legislative Agenda of Almeria and Cabucgayan. Annual Investment Plans (AIPs) are now largely based on BDPs that saw the channeling of around 66 percent of the Barangay Development Funds to priority projects included in the BDP. This represented a nine percent increase from previous allocations.

Along the efforts of making one significant event, an activity of highlighting the much sweated packaged barangay development plans (BDPs) was conducted. We called the activity “Stakeholders’ Forum” and it was a municipal-wide event. Darlene Gela (Monitoring & Evaluation Officer of Project Management Office in Manila) introduced the idea of “high-tech” power point presentation. She wanted to show rural folks the latest trend of computer generation.

While everything was in place…with a high-tech power point presentation, with invited guests from different institutions, believed to have resources to finance the different projects enlisted in the BDPs… suddenly…there was power failure…it lasted long that made the team panic… and Darlene with face looked so disgusted… she uttered…”lintik namang kuryenteng ito, ano ba yan! paano na ang power point presentation! (damn this electricity, how can we go with the power point presentation!).

As we can not allow the long wait, while our guests silently asked what time shall we start…we went back to basic…the “bitay max” as we call it, (the manila paper and pentel pens… audio visual aid presentations), good enough we were prepared for that being part of the contingency plans because we know, in Biliran, power interruption happens very often. Lessons learned…it pays to know the basics!

Despite the installation of BDCs, and its proactive contributions, the CAPPSIAD project wanted to ensure sustainability of its development initiatives. Considering the BDCs are predominantly composed of elected officials, issues of expiration of terms and transitory positions that affect program administration turnovers, had paved the way for the creation of Area Development Council (ADC) as a priority task. The ADC comprised by sectoral bodies headed by one of the volunteers chosen by the community, not an LGU official, it was hoped, could act more independently compared to BDCs. However, barangay officials were still welcome to become members with the Barangay Chairperson designated as ADC adviser.

Realizing NGOs existence in the barangay is time-bounded, Mr. Wenie Patagnan, (LCO/Paralegal of Brgy. Tabunan, Almeria) shared his worries…”what if they are gone?” he was referring to RDI’s presence in their barangay. But, after several capability building activities, and field exposures… Wenie remarked… “maayo na lang miapil ko sa mga seminar sa CAPPSIAD, ang akong kalibog dihang napili ko nga konsehal, kon asa ko magsugod paglihok sa akong katungdanan, karon natubag na!” (”good enough I attended the seminars of CAPPSIAD, my turning point as to where do I start after being elected as Councilor, now has been answered!)

The ADC, aside from its active role in the preparation of BDP, was mandated to manage a small micro credit fund for lending to its members. It also served as forum for paralegals and local community organizers to come together. The ADC also became the venue for increased community participation in the implementation and monitoring of projects prioritized in the BDP. Barangay officials utilized ADC as a venue to inform residents about policies formulated and actions undertaken by the barangay council. One ADC member, Mr. Benjie Donato of Cabucgayan, said…”the help provided by CAPPSIAD project, has resulted to such a great changes in our barangay!”

With an active ADC engaging the barangay council, the latter had started to become more transparent, accountable, and responsive to the needs of the community. Significant manifestations were the holding of semestral general assemblies to report accomplishments to the people, some barangay councils have started putting up billboards showing the status of BDP implementation in conspicuous places in the barangays.

As the barangay councils have started to become more transparent, they have also started to demand the same kind of transparency from other government units dealing with them. In the past, some infrastructure projects were brought into the barangay without prior consultation. Now, two barangays have proposed a resolution which would require contractors or agencies that would implement a project inside the barangay to submit the Program of Work (POW) before starting construction.

I remember, one early morning, there was this very vocal person who came to our office… he was looking for Leah Anadon, (our CO assigned in Tabunan, Almeria). I was yet inside the room but I can over heard how their conversation went on. Their discussion seemed so interesting, so I get out of the room…greet them good morning… then Leah introduced me to the man. When that man left, I asked Leah, “kinsa diay to Lai, pagarpar man kaayo!” (who was that man Lai, very noisy ha!)… Leah said… “si Nong Wenie, power jud to cya “te, pero active kaayo nga community advocate!) (it was Wenie, though vocal, but he is such an active community advocate!). Then I learned, the man did came to the office to consult because a certain project implemented in their barangay has caused them argument during the barangay council session, and the issue rooted from no proper consultation.

The barangay councils are lobbying for the issuance of a municipal resolution on this matter. Reason was for residents to determine whether quantity and quality of physical accomplishments were worth the amount of public funds expended. The idea was to prevent the loss of billions of pesos because of perceived corruption in the implementation of infrastructure projects that lacked transparency.

With the various capability building programs under the CAPPSIAD, skills of the barangay councils, local community organizers, and paralegals were improved. In effect, several barangays became successful in engaging the municipal government to deputize the barangay as collector of community tax, and to substantially reduce the municipal tax imposed by the municipal government on small fishers in Almeria.

The initiative of one organization in sitio Basud of Poblacion, Almeria headed by Mr. Percival de los Reyes (para legal advocate) has made a rifle effect…making all the coastal barangays mobilized themselves…supporting the advocacy until finally achieved their aspiration…

Success of the CAPPSIAD project was enhanced by meeting its objectives of developing the communities' access to social services, information, economic opportunities and putting in place the mechanisms of justice. Partner communities were provided with Barangay Support Fund (BSF) coursed through the ADC for livelihood and small infrastructure projects. Each barangay was given the right to determine the allocation between these two purposes after carefully examining priorities in the BDP. Prior to the release of project the scheme was to clarify to each barangay that this was just a bridge fund, so that as a prerequisite, each barangay should come up with a counterpart funding.

In the effort of generating counterpart, Biliran folks are fond of holding “bayle” (benefit dance)…to them this is a social activity with economic motive. We can always recall how Inday (our Executive Director) remind the team…”kamo ha, ayaw gyud ninyo sipyata pagtambong kanang mga inbitasyon labi kon piyesta, kay usa kana sa paagi nga makuha nato ang kompyansa sa taga barangay” (“you guys, don’t ever fail attending fiesta invitations, that is one effective way of establishing rapport among the barangay folks”). True enough, aside from establishing rapport, attending fiesta can “SOM” (save one meal).

One day, it was fiesta celebration in Barangay Tabunan of Almeria. The usual thing…as we arrived to the dancing venue (usually in a basketball court), an echoing sound of the microphone can be heard…”oh, nia na gyud ang atong mga bisita gikan sa RDI-Leyte, ato sila sugaton sa masigabong palakpakan” (at last, here comes our visitors from RDI-Leyte, let’s welcome them with a round of applause”)

It was my first time of joining the group…Boy said, tara “mamayle ta” (let’s go to disco). As the music was played… it was “kuratsa” (the waray’s traditional folk dance). A dance performed by a pair with the man as if running after the woman in the dance floor. To my surprise, the announcer called my name, I was paired to Hon. Rolando Ty (Municipal Mayor of Almeria). I told Boy, I don’t know how to do “kuratsa”, but then, in community immersion… the philosophy is…”walay pugsanay, pero walay balebaray”(“you are not forced, but you can not refuse”). So I did, my companions said…”simply wave your hands…then a little dance steps…that would be fine”.

As we danced, one lady gave me a chair, and said…”lingkod usa Maam(“sit down for a while Maam”)… then the audience one by one approached the center of the dance floor…where handkerchief was placed… slowly pulling from their wallet some peso bills and placed into the handkerchief. Mayor Ty, then pulled a bundle of peso bills, then piece by piece scattered into the dance floor, as if flower blossoms falling down from heaven.

Then the lady went back and take away the chair from me…then again, we danced. After that, it was Mayor Ty’s turn…he was given a chair and sit…my office mates did redeem the Mayor…by giving our share of peso bills too. It was such an unforgettable experience…then I realized what an amazing strategy of generating funds…the amount generated went to the barangay treasury, to form part of the barangay’s cash counterpart to finance development projects.

Some barangays contributed in kind, like construction materials. Heavy equipment, fuel, or payment of the cost of labor were provided by the Barangay LGUs or other fund sources. All the barangays were able to meet the required implementation of small infrastructure projects, such as improvement of existing water system, portion of works in electrification projects, farm-to-market roads, concrete foot path, communal toilets, health station, and renovation of daycare center.

Multisectoral autonomy

IN DOING poverty mapping, CAPPSIAD was able to identify 30 out of 83 households in Almeria for LGU service delivery prioritizing. With the micro credit program fully operationalized, it has benefited a total of 1,534 households representing 75 percent of the poor households. The program had provided additional capital to existing small enterprises and for crop production, as well as for backyard livestock raising.

One project beneficiary, named Panfilo Ochea (Kagawad/LCO/Para legal of Brgy. Look, Almeria) was engaged in livestock raising and crop production. He has been into farming since the time he was married. In his crop production, chemical inputs get a big slice of his budget every cropping season. But, when CAPPSIAD project came into their barangay, his farming practice was changed.

Nong Pilo was able to attend the sustainable agriculture training conducted by RDI and after that, he just use worm to produce fertilizer. Nong Pilo said, “kaniadto, lubong gyud ko sa otang kay akong abot igo ra ipalit ug medisina pang bomba sa akong tanom” (“before, I was in debt trap, because my harvest is just good enough to buy spray chemicals for my plants”). To Nong Pilo, “the worm is the farmer’s helper”, he was referring to the vermi culture technology. Vermi cast (worm waste) served as complete fertilizer, the organic farming campaign of the institution.

Provision of barangay support fund under the CAPPSIAD had an added benefit specially in areas previously covered by the Women's Health and Safe Motherhood Project; it had created continuity of programs. In all six barangays (three in Almeria, three in Cabucgayan), for instance, it effectively assisted the communities gain improved access to health services because women's health groups have been organized, barangay health workers (BHWs) and midwives have been trained, and barangay health centers and women's resource centers have been installed. BHWs appreciated the added value of second CAPPSIAD in providing input to the annual integrated health plan of the municipality; promoting a health savings scheme to make funds available for emergencies requiring hospitalization; and more.

There was one heart breaking incident, as told by Luz Antipala, (CO assigned in Almeria). In her usual household visit, she happened to come across an ailing mother suffering from pain. The woman looked so pale and thin. Luz said, “Manang, pag pa ospital nalang” (“Woman, go to a hospital”), the woman replied, “ wala gyud mi kwarta Day, unya ug moadto ko sa ospital dili ra mi tagdon kay wala man mi ikabayad” (“we really don’t have money, and if I go to the hospital, still we will not be entertained, because we don’t have money to pay”).

Then again, looking so anxious at the ailing woman, Luz asked, “Manang, member naba ka sa atong “peso for health”? (Woman, are you a member of our “peso for health”?) The woman replied, “gusto unta ko magpa membro Day” (“I would have wanted to be a member”). Luz, facilitated bringing the woman to the hospital, with a promise that she will become an active member of the barangay health organization.

That woman, who once suffered from ailment, yet refused to be brought to the hospital because of financial constraint, is now one of the active advocates for the “Peso for Health” of Brgy. Tamarindo, Almeria. She realized the essence of health savings, after having experienced lying in bed in nearly death condition.

With varying forms of dynamics leading to scaling-up of the barangay-based organizations, all the 25 ADCs in the two municipalities moved to transform into an autonomous multisectoral organizations (MSOs), in order to lead into a greater and sustained empowerment of communities. The transformation was geared towards fund access when CAPPSIAD's term ended, leaving the ADCs to register as MSOs that will pave the way for their autonomy.

At the municipal level, the formation of federations of the barangay local volunteers and paralegal officers was viewed as another strategy for institutionalization and sustainability. Hence, there are now two municipal federations formed in Biliran province: the Almeria Association of Development Advocates (AACDA) and the Cabucgayan Multisectoral Development Association (CAMDA). These two municipal federations when linked with higher level federations can serve as instruments for integrating local agenda into the national agenda. As an initial step, the federations seek accreditation for a seat in the municipal development councils.

In Almeria, the local community organizers and paralegal officers saw the need to federate at municipal level to strengthen their advocacy work. They realized that they have many common issues and advocacies, which are difficult to advance if they act separately. Coming together as federation, they would have greater voice and could apply greater pressure in engaging local government units or other institutions to address their concerns.

In a sharing with Boy Sebidos, the project coordinator, this initiative of federating the ADCs in a municipal-wide scope, is geared towards local sectoral representation. Incumbent local officials noticed the excellent internalization and actual practice of the paralegal skills acquired by CAPPSIAD project trained leaders. In fact, federation leader, Wenie Patagnan, is eyed to run as Councilor in the municipality of Almeria. I came to another point of realization…you can never judge anybody. This man I once called “pagarpar” (talkative) is a future key leader of our country.

Aside from advocacy, they formed themselves to provide mutual assistance and support. Now, AACDA is operating its own micro financing project and a consumer store. Aside from livelihood support to members, the federation assisted individual paralegals handling difficult cases by providing research services, training or even additional paralegal to support the ADC paralegal. In the case of CAMDA, their federation had created a venue for the sharing experiences among the different ADCs and MSOs, with startup of economic activities in tow.

Goodwill and social capital sharing

WITH CAPPSIAD goodwill and social capital sharing initiatives with ADCs in place, the Leyte Provincial Government, together with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Leyte State University (LSU) and Naval Institute of Technology (NIT) representing the academe, and many others had synergized to assist in area development. The linkages had equipped the ADCs in successfully mobilizing funds, technical assistance, and even securing books and sewing machines for their locales.

The linkup with RDI Leyte had opened up markets for farm products through the coordination of the Advocates for Philippine Fair Trade with the support of the Koalisyon ng Organisadong Magsasaka sa Kanayunan sa Kabisayaan (Coalition of Organized Rural Farmers in the Visayas). Women's organizations became members of the Pambansang Kilusan ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (National Movement of Rural Women) and were taking the lead in building up and strengthening the provincial chapter of this movement. Development training was the key.

BEST PRACTICES, issues and achievements

It was in December of 2003, I got the chance to attend the drawing of learning. I can still remember, Hon. Jesus Estrada (Brgy. Captain of Talahid, Almeria turned ABC President) giving a message…and I quote, “”kami sa barangay council, mosuporta gyud mi sa ADC” (“we, at the barangay council, would really support the ADC”). This was the kind of remark that we, as project implementer was hoping to hear. A kind of assurance, that, even if RDI no longer exist in the area, we can look forward, that the initiatives left behind by the CAPPSIAD project, would be sustained by the local leaders.

Drawing of learning conducted further provided us the venue to review the strategies and to make corrective measures necessary in order to improve the courses of field implementation. In general, we recognized some degree of weaknesses that could have been acted upon if we were not only constrained by the life of the Project. However, we consider such action points as a challenge for future engagements and useful for other ongoing programs of the institution.

In the report of Goldie Chan and Joe Grageda (project evaluators commissioned by CAPPSIAD), our significant achievement was in participatory local governance. The project has prepared community sectors and leaders to participate meaningfully in local governance and development processes.

Our efforts in putting in place a core group of paralegals, local community organizers, and women advocates, we call them “pool of volunteers” was also found vital. As they now are actively involved in advocacy work related to barangay justice, violence against women and children, land tenure improvement, and coastal resource management.

Finally, the success of the Project can be attributed to the receptive and cooperative communities and local government units.

(Lilibeth C. Nunez is an Agriculturist by profession. Upon entry to RDI-Leyte in 2001, the author was tasked as Training Coordinator. Later, she became a Technical Staff handling various tasks in technical writing to include project proposals, annual reports and others. Then progress to being the Administrative Officer at the same time Bookkeeper as add-on task for years. Recent development, the author will handle the position of Enterprise Development Officer under the ICCO project in Ormoc, Leyte


Pamfilo’s story

My name is Pamfilo and I’m a rice farmer living in the Philippines.

Along with other farmers, it’s been really hard for me to make a living. For a start, our government buys cheaper rice from other countries, which makes it difficult for us farmers to get a fair price for our rice. The government also want us to buy our rice seeds from big companies and use chemical fertilisers on our crops. These are both so expensive that we have to take out loans for them which cost a lot to pay back. To make matters worse, sometimes the local traders cheat us by weighing our crops wrongly. And rich landowners can just take our land and crops, and little is done to stop them.

But despite all this, things are getting a lot better thanks to a local organisation – and a quarter of a kilo of wriggly worms! Christian Aid, a charity in the UK and Ireland, works with an organisation called RDI Leyte who provided me Pamfilo’s story with the worms, and a helping hand.

How do the worms help?

Firstly, they eat vegetable and fruit left-overs. Then after they’ve digested the leftovers, they leave behind what’s called a worm cast – an excellent natural fertiliser. The worm casts help my crops to grow bigger and stronger, and now I even have some crops left over. I can sell the surplus from my vegetable patch and I make enough money to send my children to school.

RDI Leyte aren’t just about worms, though. They encourage us to use our knowledge of local organic seeds which give much better harvests and are cheaper.

I am now a community organiser for my village and I’m encouraging everyone to start vegetable production with the RDI programme. That initial quarter of a kilo of worms has multiplied and produced 547kg of compost so far. Who would have guessed that something as small as a worm could make you wealthier and healthier?

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