Bag-ong Paglaum FIA, Inc.: A Rollercoaster Ride No More

Faith, unity, perseverance, hardwork and obedience to policies. These are the qualities possessed by Bag-ong Paglaum FIA, Inc. officers and members in becoming a top performing IA among the irrigators associations in the national irrigation systems of Maguindanao province.

Before it became one of the top performing IAs, Bag-ong Paglaum Farmers Irrigators Association, Inc. experienced a rollercoaster ride in managing the affairs of the association. The IA rose and fell and their tremendous effort to be a successful association is what this story is all about.

The Birth of Kabulnan RIS, the Rise of Bag-ong Paglaum FIA, Inc.: History

Maguindanao province is known as a battleground between rebel groups and the government’s military troops, a place where many family feuds (rido) exist, and a dwelling place of most marginalized Muslim families. Thus, to address the plight of the province, the Philippine government through the National Irrigation Administration provided a sustainable project which started in 1991. This was the famous Kabulnan Irrigation and Development Project-Irrigation Component (KIADP-IC) which aimed to alleviate poverty and improve the quality of life through irrigation and to upgrade social infrastructure facilities of the communities in Maguindanao province.

In 1995, during the construction of KIADP-IC, the late Mr. Kamlon S. Ampatuan, the Institutional Development Chief organized the farmer-beneficiaries in Baragays Kauran and Matagabong, all of Ampatuan municipality. At the start, 372 farmer-beneficiaries within 19 Turnout Service Area Groups (TSAGs) were identified. Of these, majority were Ilonggos and minority were Muslims.

Guided by their Senior Water Resource Facilities Technician (SWRFT), the late Mr. Ali A. Kuit, the IA was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission on July 20, 1995 as Pinasamba-Kauran FIA, Inc. with Registration No. DND95-000378. When the project became operational and known as Kabulnan River Irrigation System, the association headed by their president, Mr. Juanito Carcamo, was among the first IAs to plant rice. For the first time, the farmers experienced the comfort of planting rice brought about by sufficient irrigation water supply.

Bag-ong Paglaum: The Fall

Series of failures were experienced by the association. In 2002, the IA contracted with NIA under Type 1 and 2 contracts. However, due to insufficient funds and low ISF collection, said contracts were rescinded. Coupled with this, the siphon supplying irrigation water to the Right Bank IAs was damaged in 2008 and 2009, hence, the farmers were not able to plant rice for about 3 cropping seasons rendering the association inactive for almost two years. With this, the farmers’ living condition was affected resulting to low income of both the farmer-members and the association. The ricefields became non-operational and the farmers almost lost their hope.

Bag-ong Paglaum: The Rebirth

In 2010, the association underwent a reorganization. Kabulnan RIS reactivated and mobilized the association. Reorganization works were conducted and a new set of officers was elected. They went through the usual series of capability and development trainings like Basic Leadership and Development Course, O&M Planning, Financial Management System, Technology Enhancement or Lakbay-Aral, Systems Management Training, and Values Transformation Training. The IA was finally registered on May 13, 2010 with the Securities and Exchange Commission bearing SEC Registration No. CN201026528 under the new name Bag-ong Paglaum FIA, Inc. It was during this year that the farmer-beneficiaries and officers felt the benefits when the association entered into O&M contracts with NIA.

The contracts signed by the IA and NIA were Type I and II effective Wet Cropping Season of 2010. Later on, the agency has again another program of contracting under the Irrigation Management Transfer.

It was in 2012 that the IA entered into IMT contracts. Presently, the IA is under the IMT Model 2 and has 11 Turnout Service Area Groups. The IA is now headed by its president, Mr. Nelson D. Colmo and assisted by Sr. Water Resource Facilities Technician, Mr. Datucan S. Anayatin  and Sr. Irrigators Development Officer, Miss Isidora P. Germo.

Efficient Management System

With the IA’s cooperation and unity with the officers, and with the persistence and transparency shown by the officers to its members, the association’s By-Laws and policies are effectively implemented. They conduct their General Assembly meeting every second Wednesday of February, the regular Board of Trustees (BOT) Meeting every first Wednesdayof the month, and their TSAG meetings held preferably once a month.

Furthermore, the intervention of and tie-up with other government and private groups helped a lot in providing more knowledge and enhancing the skills of the farmerirrigators. Demonstration farms on Water Savings Technology, knowledge sharing and learning with PhilRice, and SIKAT-SAKA are some of the programs of other agencies providing modern farming technologies and assistance to the IA.

On the financial aspect, the association is consistently efficient in the collection of their Irrigation Service Fee. At present, the IA’s crop yield increased from 80 to 90 cavans per hectare resulting in the good payment by the farmers of their ISF. Under their previous Type I and II contracts, the IA had the highest collection efficiency of  94.28% during the 2010 Wet Crop Season with an ISF collection share of P119,632.66. Under IMT Model II Contract, the association has the highest collection efficiency of 78.04% with ISF collection share of P399,242.92 wherein the biggest percentage went to the repair and maintenance activities of the IA.

Bag-ong Paglaum: New Hope

Through hard work and determination to attain their goal, Bag-ong Paglaum FIA, Inc. is gradually known as one of the top performing IAs not only in Maguindanao but also in the regional level. This justifies the several recognitions and awards it has received for the past 5 years being ranked within the top 3 in functionality surveys, operation and maintenance , and institutional performances and ranked number 2 in ISF collection efficiency for CY 2010-2015. Aside from this, the IA had also received Silver and Golden Star Awards for the Highest Functionality Survey ratings of 92.83% and 95.21% for 2 consecutive years (CY 2014-2015) during NIA Region 12’s anniversary celebration. In addition, the IA had also been recognized for its remarkable performance in attaining 72.92% ISF Current Account Collection Efficiency (IMT Model II) for Wet Season 2015 at Maguindanao IMO level.

Presently, the association is catering to 382 farmer beneficiaries and covers a firmed-up service area of 979.50 hectares.

Deriving from the association’s name Bag-ong Paglaum, an Ilonggo word that means “new hope”, the IA believes that in every storm or struggle comes a new hope to live a brighter future. As their president said they may not have those machineries or other material things for their operation at present but still they are certain that for as long as they have strong faith and determination, they will always reap what they sow.