Datu Piang, Maguindanao—Ayala Foundation and the Macquarie Foundation of Australia have joined hands in a food assistance initiative for the benefit of communities in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The relief activities kicked off in barangay Montay, Datu Piang, Maguindanao, benefiting at least 60 families. Similar efforts will be conducted in other vulnerable communities in the coming weeks.
Barangay Montay is home to many master weavers of inaul, the Maguindanao people’s art of weaving. Talented artisans, who have learned the craft over the years, weave into colorful and intricate textiles their history, culture, and identity.
During the rainy season, Datu Piang is often made inaccessible by flooding caused by the Rio Grande. Still, the community has found a way to live with it.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic posed a new challenge to barangay Montay—it isolated the villagers from nearby barangays even more than the seasonal flooding could.
The implementation of community quarantine guidelines restricted movement among the residents. But with the easing of quarantine and travel restrictions in the area, transportation costs increased significantly.
For weavers like Zorayda Salapudin who barely made both ends meet, having to buy thread and other weaving materials in Cotabato City to sustain their livelihood and put food on the table was a strain.
“Doble pasahe na papuntang Cotabato, pahirapan sa buhay (Fare going to Cotabato City doubled, life is hard),” Zorayda said.
This is why together with more than 60 families in the village, Zorayda was thankful to receive food packs Ayala Foundation, through a special grant from Macquarie Foundation of Australia. Each food pack included rice, canned items, and noodles.
A place with limited digital footprint, Montay used to be characterized by year-round flooding and armed conflict.
Through the work done by local youth, village elders, local government partners, and private partners like Ayala Foundation, the barangay is once again putting itself on the map as a community where beautiful and high-quality inaul is produced.
Ayala Foundation’s Leadership Communities (LeadCom) program, in particular, worked closely with the dynamic Dulawan Youth Guild to bring back Montay’s inaul tradition.
The revival of weaving especially among the youth, addressed social concerns like (a) Preservation of culture; (b) Promotion of peace; (c) Increased income for the community.