QUEZON, Nueva Vizcaya—More than 500 villagers in this town are now engaged in various livelihood opportunities with the technical and financial assistance of a mining firm.
FCF Minerals Corp., a Philippine subsidiary of UK firm Metals Exploration Plc that manages the gold-molybdenum project in Barangay Runruno, introduced and exposed the villagers to various aspects of livelihood project management and development.
“This was introduced in collaboration with various agencies of the government, in order to empower communities covered by our project,” said Peter Storey, FCF general manager for operations.
The mining firm started the transformation of the villagers more than five years ago through the conduct of value formation, human resource development, and technical trainings on organizational development, business planning and preparation and cooperativism, among others.
These trainings and workshops were funded through FCF’s corporate social responsibility program and conducted in partnership with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Trade and Industry, Nueva Vizcaya State University and the Department of Education, among other organizations.
Today, the villagers—mostly members of the Kalanguya, Iugao, Kankanaey and Ibaloi tribes—organized themselves into associations and cooperatives to further legalize their identity and further pursue their organizational goals to uplift their lives.
These are the Busat Upland Farmers Association, Kinalabasa Rural Workers Association, Sitio Compound Women’s and Farmers’ Association, Atan Vegetable Growers Association, Bit-ang Women’s and Farmers Association, Malilibeg Livelihood Association, Sitio Dumaliguia Women’s Association Inc., Marangad Rural Workers Association, Dipilipig Development Association Inc., Baddang Kiphodan Association, Tayab Women’s Association and the Kabinuangan Highlanders Association.
“Our income then was only good for our daily food and we cannot send our children to school. We had a difficult life because nobody wants to expand agricultural ventures due to our remote place, bad roads and absence of capital. It was all for our daily needs,” said Elma Tiago, 45, a BUSAT member.
Elma’s six children are now in school. Two of her children are enrolled at the PLT College in nearby Bayombong taking up criminology, while the others are still in elementary and secondary school.
“Thanks to the help of the FCF Minerals Corp. for giving us capital assistance, we were empowered to multiply its benefits,” she added.
The mining firm also developed barangay roads, which encouraged other villagers to expand their farmlands into productive use.
These community- based organizations or CBOs are now sharing their income to their members through soft micro-lending programs to help them in producing more agricultural products. It also provided jobs for their family members.
Recently, the company sponsored the First Runruno Trade Fair, in recognition of the CBOs as local partners for economic development of the barangay, municipality and the province in general.
The event showcased various local products of the livelihood organizations such as root crops, fruits and vegetables, native chicken, red eggs, processed meat, roasted meat and native dishes for the establishment of the “Kainan sa Barrio,” a small restaurant of the BWFAI, among others.
The event also served as a promotion and marketing event for the assisted CBOs to attract investors and market outlets.
FCF officials said the community development and livelihood programs are just but a few of the many packages of development assistance in store for the barangay and its adjacent villages in Quezon town.
‘With our community development programs, we see to it that no one gets left behind. We will fully comply with the required regulations and laws by the Philippine government in order to show our commitment to responsible mining standards and practices,” Storey added.