Inspirational success stories from our partners and beneficiaries

Empowered to empower

Written by Jonna Marie P. Marque
Empowered to empower Jonna Marie P. Marquez-Ranes

Back in 2015, the residents of Brgy. Nicolas in San Antonio, Northern Samar elected Michelle Dela Cerna as one of the community volunteers in their barangay. At first, she was declining and very adamant to not accept it because of her self-doubt. For Michele being an undergraduate means she has no place in any development spheres in their barangay.

But after hearing all the discussions regarding the involvement of communities during the barangay assembly , she stopped making excuses and took her chance to accept the challenge as one of the village members' representatives to implement projects that will help alleviate poverty in their community .

KALAHI-CIDSS program became her training ground

Michelle who was once adamant to embrace the role of being a community volunteer became very committed wholeheartedly when she came to know and learn the program and its process.

For Michelle, being a community volunteer helped her to learn a lot. As a procurement team member, she learned to write minutes of the meetings during procurement preparation meetings and the like, procure goods and services based on the approved procurement plan. Further, as a Barangay Representative Team (BRT), she was able to discover her ability to present on behalf of their village and be able for their locality’s identified or proposed project to be prioritized for the funding.

Michelle was able to attend a series of training sessions and seminars. Through these opportunities, it honed her knowledge and skills towards leadership, interpersonal and program management.

Michelle stated, “Dati, wala akong alam sa mga government projects. Ang mga proyekto sa aming barangay nakikita nalang namin na tapos na. Noong naging community volunteer ako, biglang nag-iba ang aking pananaw. Iba ang na-introduce ng KALAHI-CIDSS approach sa nakasanayan sa barangay, sa pamamagitan ng KALAHI-CIDSS program na-realize ko na pwede palang makasali ang katulad namin na ordinaryong residente sa mga gawaing pangkaunlaran sa barangay.” (“Before, I didn’t know about government projects. I can only see that the projects in our barangay have been completed without any knowledge on how it works. When I became a community volunteer, my perspective suddenly changed. The introduction of the KALAHI-CIDSS approach is different from the usual one in the barangay, through the KALAHI-CIDSS approach called Community-Driven Development program I realized that ordinary residents like us can participate in the development activities in the barangay.”)

Conquering self-doubt

Through encountering first-hand how the project implementation goes under KALAHI-CIDSS program, Michelle later realized that being active in the barangay activities is a pivotal opportunity for her to know more about how government programs and services work. And how an ordinary citizen like her can serve her community.

Her self-doubt was replaced with determination and passion to serve.

"Ang dami kong natutunan aking natutunan mula sa aking pagiging community volunteer dahil na rin sa mga iba’t ibang aktibidad ng programa na naglalayong magpalakas sa aming kakayahan at kaalaman.” (“I have learned a lot from being a community volunteer through the different development activities of the program which aims to strengthen my capability and knowledge.)

She added, Natutunan ko rin na kahit na highschool lang ang aking natapos , kaya kong magbigay ng suhestiyon at kaalaman na maisaayos ang mga pagpapatupad ng proyekto ng barangay. Ang pamayanan din ay ka-partner din ng barangay officials para makamit ang pagbabago.” (“What I have learned from being a community volunteer is that even though I only finished high school, I can give suggestions and knowledge to facilitate the implementation of the barangay project. The community can also be partners of barangay officials to achieve development.”)


Michelle also experienced external difficulties along with her volunteerism journey. Meeting people in her village who were non-believers of the programs was a lot of challenge for her. However, Michelle faced it gracefully. She encouraged these people to participate in the assemblies to be sentient on what is happening around this time. She shared to them personally about her own experiences and lessons learned along the program implementation.

In her own ways, she empowered other people to be able to know more and be involved in the government services like what she did.


After six (6) months of being a volunteer, Michelle was hired as barangay secretary in their village. In her new role in their village, she brought with her the skills and knowledge that the KALAHI-CIDSS program taught her. Preparing and writing minutes became easy. Papers and documents became familiar to her. The seminars and training Michelle attended from the program benefited her to effectively interact with others.

Further, since Michelle has been a Community-Driven Development (CDD) believer, she continued to live through it until she became a secretary. Michelle has empowered her barangay to adopt the CDD mechanism in implementing barangay-funded projects.


"Ngayon na ako ay isang kalihim ng barangay, inilapat ko ang mga natutunan ko bilang isang boluntaryo sa pamayanan lalo na ang proseso ng CDD. (“Now that I am a barangay secretary, I applied the learnings I obtained as a community volunteer most especially, the process of CDD.”)

Michelle was able to encourage their barangay chairperson that their barangay-funded Multi-purpose building will be implemented through CDD mechanisms, in the year 2016.

Hinikayat ko ang mga opisyales na yakapin ang CDD sa pamamagitan ng pagpapatibay ng mekanismo nito. Masaya ako sa natanggap kong suporta mula sa kanila. (“I encouraged the officials to embrace CDD by adopting its mechanism. I was so happy to have their support.”)

Michelle further shared that they have followed the community procurement process of CDD in constructing their Multi-purpose building, which amounted to Php 300,000.00. The goods or materials for their project were shopped within their community and had undergone bidding. Instead of a contractor, their barangay hired skilled laborers in building the project.

The Multi-Purpose hall project was not yet finished by 2016 as it needed more funding. So in 2017, they have put in their Annual Investment Plan (AIP) for the enhancement of the hall.

To date, they are continuously enhancing their Multi-Purpose building through the municipal fund given to them.

Michelle said, "Nabigyan kami ng municipal fund para sa pagtatapos ng aming Multi-Purpose hall. Nagpapatupad pa rin kami ng proyekto sa pamamagitan ng CDD." (“We have been given municipal fund for the finishing of our Multi-Purpose hall this year. We are still implementing the project through CDD.)

Michelle asserted how empowering CDD is to their community. “CDD process ensures that the projects are realized successfully. I will ensure that CDD will be continuously adopted in our locality”, she affirmed.


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