Feb 12, 2021

Facemasks and Vitamins Readied for March Delivery

Much as we thought that COVID infections threatening to spike up in the last quarter of 2019 in our indigenous communities would simmer down at year’s end, a new surge surprisingly are recorded after the holidays into the start of 2021.   The country is still within the cool months which could stretch up to the whole month of February.  

Scientific pronouncements  ruled that cold weather conditions provides the exact temperature level for the viruses to thrive.  Hence many attribute the increase in cases to this cause. It is also a fact though  that returning residents from city centers for the holidays who were highly exposed   may have brought the virus to their fellow community members  without them knowing and intending.  This could also be another plausible reason for the increase in reported cases.

We at SIBAT  realized that containing the pandemic is still far fetched much as we wanted this to end as soon as possible.  Though vaccines coming in this month  woud be rolled out and administered  to priority listed recipients, the lack of trust dissuaded many Filipinos to get vaccinated, hence defeating targets of herd immunization.  So much is still wanting of the the government’s inefficient handling  both at the medical  and economic fronts to assist  the affected population. No wonder that we ranked 79th of countries effectively handling the pandemic. 

Hence the provision of masks,  medicines and vitamins  to aid and protect indigenous communities is still vital and necessarry.  This month we are preparing the completion of the aid materials up for delivery this March after we obtain clearance to comply with travel protocols.  This next batch of face masks are deliberately ordered and custom-made for long-haul protection.  These are  made of embroidered indigenous fabric materials th at are long-lasting from the local communities and tailored by urban poor women seamstresses who lost th eir livelihood with the lockdowns. 

The masks are suited for children and adults.  This way, we are not only providing protective gears against the virus but helped provide livelihood opportunties to one of the vulnerable sectors of society---urban poor women.  With bottles and boxes of vitamins to be procured further this month, we are all set for delivery to the next villages.  We are hoping that despite limited supply, we can help government curve the infection spike especially the highly vulnerable community members , children, women and elderly and persons with co-morbidities.

 We are anticipating further  lockdowns and quarantine measures in local government  jurisdictions to protrect the communities from the spread of the virus  especially  with a reported case of a variant strain carrier traced up in one area.  Some local government units currently  issued Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) measures in their localities Movements of people in these communities  are only confined within their geographical areas. 

Again, this would detrimentally affect  peoples  lives especially those who could not get out back to their employment, aggravate  food scarcity due to limited product distribution assuming  there is adequacy of food supply produced,   an episode that’s seems to be repeated from the experiences of last year. These stresses trigger anxiety and feeling of uncertainty that could add up to mental health instability,  an emerging problem now experienced from the pandemic.

Nevertheless we hope, GlobalGiving  and SIBAT’s humble efforts in helping communities tide up through the pandemic could help contribute in reducing the hardships and difficulties they are now experiencing. 

Thank you to all who supported GlobalGiving’s efforts to source out funds for this endeavor.  We will be updating as soon as we get through the communties next month.

Oct 16, 2020

First Set of Masks and Vitamins Got Through The First Village



It was a  struggle on how to get through to the  indigenous communities  when the Philippines issued every 15 days new quarantine classfications still limiting  travels depending on the rise of covid cases by the day and travel restrictions getting sricter in most areas.  Much as we think COVID19 could not reach through remote hinterland areas, some returning residents working from city centers like Manila has contracted the virus and  became carriers that endangers the health of indigenous peoples in their villages. 

The first order of the day was accessing a sizeable number of face masks and medicines and readying them for transport for distribution to the  most vulnerable communities.  This is to provide them with initial immune-boosting supplements and  the standard face masks defenses to avert potential infections. 

In mid-August,  we were able to purchase  20 boxes of Vitamin C with a hundred capsules  per box and 20 boxes of face masks as well  with about 50 masks per box for the first set of distribution to Brgy. Bayabas in the province of Abra Northern Phlippines,  one of four (4) priority  MHP communities included in this project.  Not enough though to cover  the targeted 700 priority indigenous peoples spread in the next three (3) barangays , but at least some stocks would get through initially to the community which holds a number of residents working and returning from Manila, where most districts are still under Enhanced Community Quarantines (ECQs) given high case volumes of infections.    

We repacked the Vitamins and face masks to extend the number of individuals  that  can avail of the items  and hence could benefit initially the protective measures.  There was some difficuty though in transporting  the packages to the site due to the numerous travel requirements  from SIBAT's  Satellite Center located in the Municipaity of Capas Province of Tarlac, Central Luzon Philippines, a 2-hour drive north of Manila to the indigenous communties which are 8-12 hours drive from Capas. 

The items were carried simultaneous with the initial field work of our Renewable Energy Personnel who belabored to catch up target activities after being delayed for  5 months due to the lockdown.  They have to contend with the mandatory quarantine implemented by the Local Government Units of  the projec sites before they can go to the communities. 

Given the travel restrictions and  quarantine protocols, the personnel will stay in the community for three months (they are expected to be back this week) to cover as much work to beat deadlines.   

Another engineering team will take their turn in going to the sites to continue the work and we plan to bring most if not all masks, alcohol and vitamins and other needed medicines to the target communities to complete distribution.  

The Philippines has not flattened the curve yet and cases are still on the rise.  Despite, the government is gradually opening economic activities with strict calls to observe social distancing, masks and alcohol protocols. With this, the  risk is still high.  There are  cases of infections  reported in remote areas like indigenous communities.  Hence, vitamin supplements, face masks and needed medicines are still very much needed in these areas. 

We wil provide more updates as to the progress of the work .  Thank you  to all who supported the project.   

Feb 20, 2020

Finding Areas of Vulnerabilities

As shared in the last report, the orientation on Disaster and Resiliency Preparedness conducted to our MHP communities last November 2019 has opened realizations that with climate change, adverse implications could happen within the community’s ecosystem.  Their natural resources constitute their lifeline.  Their rivers are not only providing water sources for domestic and farm use.  It is also where aquatic resources like fish and fresh water shrimps provided them with additional protein food sources.  Their forest , still lush and verdant green  is still home to wild boars and deers which are their sources of food and income as well.

The point was driven home, that without preparedness of sort they could be highly vulnerable to the vagaries of the changing climate.   With the emergence of virulent storms unheard of in the past, they have to do something to prevent damages.  It is where their customary law of protecting their natural resources called “lappat” has never been doubly significant.  As stated previously, this is their first line of defense.  Among others , the law’s provision of a local policy protecting the forest by banning the cutting of trees out of season has rendered sustainable growth of trees that preserve the flora and fauna of the area.

It is through this where community members became fully aware of determining areas of vulnerabilities where important resources are located or traversing.  Here, some members of SIBAT including one of its board members who is a medical doctor, specializing in toxicology and a strong advocate of herbal medicine, did a transect walk with community members.  Along their route, he identified some endemic herbal crops and explaining its anatomical and pharmacological properties to some community members.  Herbal medicines are important preventive health care measures in fur flung areas for preventable and treatable diseases.   He emphasized the importance of protecting and propagating the species and locate production in areas away from erosion and flooding trails.

Looking at their river systems, and small tributaries, the community emphasized to add on to their lappat system provision, the prohibition of the cutting of trees along creeks and to start planting endemic species to ward off  overflows during strong floods that could damage rice production areas.

Also, the community took a configuration of the larger part of the ecosystem and identified erosion prone areas or flooding pathways that could potentially damage crops.  Farmers are now aware to synchronize planting and harvesting periods to avoid the onslaught of the typhoon months.

Importantly, the community is now aware of saving food supply especially rice when longer drought or rainy periods happen so as to lessen their vulnerabilities to hunger due to crop damage.

In all, the disaster and resiliency preparedness has created greater awareness of climate change negative impacts on their life, food and natural resources.  It has created a new dimension of community-generated risk reduction plan that not only prepare them for any eventualities but also foster strong community bond for their  mutual protection and eventually sustainability. 

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