Welcome to the MuCAARD-UK website. Please look around and find out more about who we are and what we do.
MuCAARD-UK supports community based development organisations in developing countries to improve the lives of disadvantaged groups; enabling them to grow hope, gain confidence and strengthen their capabilities through non-violent action.
Registered Charity No. 1119065
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MuCAARD has shown that impoverished people are resilient and resourceful, and with support, can work their way out of poverty and conflict. MuCAARD-UK is committed to supporting them in any way that they can with the limited, but generous gifts we receive. However to maintain this impact we need new avenues of support, either for one off projects or for more regular funding.
MuCAARD is a unique organisation, jointly set up by Muslims and Christians to work together for peace and development on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines.
The key to the work of MuCAARD is peace and sustainability. Our aim is the building of sustainable communities by increasing skills and capacity and by encouraging self help.
MuCAARD-UK is a Registered Charity established in 2007 to raise money to support the work of MuCAARD in the Philippines.
MuCAARD Mindanao has been in existence since 1984. It is a government registered NGO*. It has a fine track record in co-coordinating projects carried out by its partner Member Teams:-
BISAP – Bukidnon Integrated Services Assistance Program Inc. situated in Damulog, Bukidnon.
CoSEED – Community Services for Education and Economic Development Inc. in Vincenzo Sagun, Zamboanga del Sur
POM – Panginam O Masa Inc. situated in Balindong, Lanao del Sur
RIAP – Ranao Integrated Assistance Programme Inc. in Marawi City but serving Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte
The areas of work for MuCAARD Mindanao are:
Peace Building between communities which have been divided through their cultural traditions and mutual suspicions and to bring harmony where discord has previously developed into conflict.
Sustainable Livelihoods enabling rural communities to implement projects to protect conserve and rehabilitate the environment together with providing economic growth.
Environmental Protection with projects such as the Kahoy Project and mangrove reforestation, which not only provides environmental protection for the local area in countering soil erosion and land degradation but also contributes to the global fight against Climate Change.
Good Governance and NGO-GO cooperation to encourage genuine partnership between community and local government,which is also a key to peace building
Disaster Risk Management – to reduce the toll of disasters through community participation in pre disaster risk reduction planning and strategies, emergency response and post-disaster rehabilitation and reconstruction.
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*Official address: 11th-15th Streets, Nazareth Subdivision, Cagayan de Oro City Misamis Oriental, Philippines.
Here is a list of our current projects, for further details please see Linda’s Blog and the update pages.
Banana Chips Over the past year there has been intense interest from China in Bukidnon identifying seven products which Bukidnon can produce – pork, coffee, banana chips, rubber, bamboo, abaca and biomass generating stations – of which banana chips, rubber and bamboo were products that BISAP has been promoting.
Romy and BISAP were invited to attend a meeting of the Banana Industrial Development Association of Bukidnon (BIDAB). They needed someone with community-based organizing skills. At the end of the meeting Romy was invited to join the Technical Working Group of BIDAB and in September he was elected as Chair of BIDAB. BIDAB participated in the China International Fair on Investment and Trade (CIFIT) through an internet Webinar and a slide presentation based on BIDAB’s project proposal. As a result three Chinese firms whether inquired if BIDAB could supply 30,000 kilos of banana chips every month!
We did not receive any investment offer in plantation development and in the establishment of an automated and modernized processing plant. Without these, we could not produce the banana chips. We have kept our silence with the Chinese inquiry. But in mid-November, we had a visit from two Chinese businessmen. One of them claimed that he was representing the company that inquired about the 28,000-kilo quota per month. We told them BIDAB is composed of small cottage industry entrepreneurs. Without external investments, we could not meet the demand for banana chips because we didn’t have the needed plantation nor a mechanized processing plant. The meeting didn’t go anywhere because the mandate of the representative and his friend was focused on the purchase of banana chips. They had no authority to discuss about investments in plantation development and processing plants. At the moment, we are setting aside the China market. It is unrealistically too big for us to handle.
MuCAARD-UK gave us funds to purchase and plant 5,000 suckers. This is being carried out by an Indigenous Peoples (IP) group in San Fernando, Tigwahanon neg Kaduson to Batasan (TKB) in Bukidnon There are small farmers in Damulog, Don Carlos, Maramag, Valencia, San Fernando, Lantapan (and Malaybalay – soon) who are planting the jumbo cardava variety of banana. Twin Harvest Farmers Foundation in Maramag and BISAP have project proposals pending with Department of Agriculture, Region X. We are expecting a reply in early January. Both our proposals are for plantation and processing developments.
BIDAB has also been offered by Central Mindanao University 15 hectares where we can plant jumbo cardava.
This is the variety for producing banana chips. It also offered another 10 hectares for a banana chips processing plant within an area it has designated as “Tourism Economic Zone Area” (TEZA). On Sunday 27 December, BIDAB formally accepted the offer and hopefully our proposal with the Dept of Agriculture will be also be approved.
BISAP is keeping pace with the growth of the local markets. In Damulog, we have four women who have been trained and can now produce banana chips.
We are producing and selling to the local market four flavours: natural, sweetened, cheese and sour cream. With our lack of resources, we are moving very slowly but we are definitely moving forward.
BISAP: Rubber (Approximately 10 years ago we planted a hectare of rubber trees on our small farm. But the price of rubber cup lumps is low and volatile. There were even times when the Lando, the caretaker of the farm, and I agreed that the price was too low and it was not worth tapping the trees.)
Rubber is also of interest to the Chinese. To cut a long story short Romy was invited to attend a meeting of BRIDA (Bukidnon Rubber Industry Development) despite having no previous involvement (or knowledge) of the organisation. When the meeting started Romy was astonished to discover that the first item on the agenda was to elect Romy as the Chairperson on BRIDA. Despite his protestations the members were insistent that he could ‘handle it’ and they promised to support him.
The farmers from the village of Kiraon, Damulog were the ones who pushed Romy to do something about the rubber industry. They are very supportive of the BISAP community health insurance scheme programme locally known as PuLPuG. In spite of the pandemic they continue to meet every month, keep up their contribution to the common fund and are the first organized group to participate in the jumbo cardava banana chips project. They are happy with the banana project, but they would be happier if I could do something about the price of the rubber cup lumps. Traders were buying their cup lumps as low as P18.00 per kilo. A number of them had stopped tapping their trees.
As a response, the four-person team of BISAP and the President of Poblacion-Old Damulog Farmers Association (PODFA) all went to meet with the Manager of the rubber plantation at Mountain View College (MVC). (PODFA is a people’s organization established by BISAP. It has been trying to obtain funds to establish a rubber processing plant in Damulog) While the price of cup lumps in Bukidnon in the entire year of 2020 floated within the range of Php 22.00 – 26.00 per kilo, the price in Mountain View College never went down below Php 36.00 per kilo. BISAP wanted to know why and how MVC could sell their product at such a price. On November 30, its stock of rubber cup lumps was bought at Php. 37.79 per kilo, although according to the Department of Trade and Industry announced that the prevailing price of cup lumps in Bukidnon was Php. 26.00 per kilo.
The group listened to Mr. Ric Aperocho, the Manager, on how to properly care for rubber trees. He also taught us the proper way of tapping the trees. It was a very enlightening and challenging experience since the famers had little knowledge about rubber farming. But everyone found it inspiring and liberating to leave the college knowing that there was not much that BISAP could do to increase the price of the cup lumps. The key players to get premium price for the rubber farmers’ product ARE THE FARMERS, THEMSELVES.
There are two main factors that influence the rise and fall of the price of cup lumps.
Many farmers use cheap acids to induce coagulation of the rubber sap. These low-cost coagulators destroy the elasticity and strength of the rubber. MVC tappers only use formic acid. They keep their cup lumps clean and dry, removing dirt, mud, soil, stones and any foreign objects from cup lumps.
Over a hundred tappers have found a way of bringing their cup lumps together and sell them as ONE BIG BULK.
In short, the price of rubber cup lumps rises or falls depending on QUALITY and QUANTITY. These are in the hands and minds and hearts of the farmers. The farmers must help themselves. The farmers must save themselves.
During the month of December and in spite of the pandemic, BISAP conducted ‘Improve Quality and Increase Productivity’ campaign in 8 out of 9 targeted barangays. There was a very positive and enthusiastic responses from the said villages. If the farmers start tapping under the new protocol at the start of the January, and the farmers will make their first sale by the end of the month. BISAP will be very pleased, if they get Php 33.00 per kilo.
The main concern is the need for capital to purchase the rubber cup lumps in bulk to get the best price.
In many ways 2020 has been a crippling year. But Damulog is rural and remote. Throughout 2020, it was consistently identified as “low risk” area for COVID 19. BISAP has stuck to the work, while observing the protocols issued by the Government.
A Pre-School Classroom for the Children of Kimadsil
Kimadsil is a very small hamlet of Damulog. It lies approximately 10miles from the centre of the town. There is a rough unmade-up road to within 600m of the hamlet. The rest of the way is only navigable by foot or by motorbike There are currently 66 young families and 84 children between the ages of 3 and 6 years who live within a mile of the centre of the village. Currently there is no opportunity for these children to attend a pre-school putting them at a disadvantage when they attend primary school at the age of 7. There is now a Government policy that no-one will be allowed to enter Grade 1 unless they have attended a pre-school. The hilly terrain and lack of decent roads make it hazardous for 3-6 year old children to make the 2 ½ mile journey to the next village where there is a primary school. The rainy season is particularly dangerous with flash floods. The children have little, if any, protective clothing. Umbrellas are flimsy and no protection for tropical winds and downpours.
The community is very excited at the thought of their children being able to go to school and have the opportunities they didn’t. The original site chosen has already become too small for the demand and the larger site has been donated by a village elder. The community is committed to building a two-room building, with a small ‘dirty’* kitchen, themselves. The commitment is for the community to give the children a simple lunchtime meal.
They have identified a skilled local carpenter and the wood needed. They need help with making the breeze blocks and the cement. The roof will be of Galvanized Iron corrugated sheeting. They have also identified a water source that we hope another charity will be able to help them develop.
Members of the community have agreed to create a building maintenance fund. BISAP is offering families the opportunity to plant an equivalent two hectares of bamboo. The list has been finalised and 60 households will receive 10 culms to plant and to look after. But it has not been decided how many bamboo poles each household will donate to the school per year. The fund will be used for the maintenance of the school and contribute to its sustainability
Climate Change and Carbon Capture – news of our new project.
The impact of climate change in the southern Philippines is very severe, and the changes in weather patterns, including the more unpredictable seasons and increasing numbers of droughts have impacted on farmers badly. Linda and Romy Tiongco have been researching ways of offsetting their carbon footprint, and have developed a new project in Damulog to grow bamboo. Bamboo is extremely fast growing, captures up to 4 times more carbon than trees and produces 35% more oxygen. A Bamboo forest looks beautiful and is useful in many ways as it can also be harvested to make natural, sustainable products including building materials. Bamboo shoots are also used as food.
MuCAARD-UK are pleased to support this project, which builds on our experience of working with farmers and fisherfolk. It costs £5 a culm (seedling) to plant, care for and monitor over 3 years, by which time the forest should be well established. You can work out what your carbon footprint is on websites such as carbonfootprint.com or footprint.wwf.org.uk.
Would you join us and offset your own carbon footprint? You can donate via PayPal Giving, or email our Treasurer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
GRACE: Grassroots Response Against Catastrophic Expenditure, AKA PuLPuG – BISAP
Supporting local communities to set up self-help groups to insure against costs associated with accessing medical help.
Some examples of how people travel to town and hopsital:
Land Redemption Programme – BISAP and CoSEED
Redeeming land which has been mortgaged (prenda), often to cover health and education costs, to allow them to take back the fruits of their land.
Marawi Crisis Response – RIAP and POM
Working with displaced communities following the siege of Marawi in May 2017.
Annual Garden Party
A good crowd turned up to hear updates on the work of MuCAARD member agencies and share food and friendship.
BISAP is one of the member teams of MuCAARD Mindanao based in Damulog, Bukidnon. They have two main programmes:
CHARGE TO CROP (CtC) corn production project
The issue: farmers are too poor to have savings. They feel that as farmers they are failures. They have no money so every planting time they have to ‘buy’ a production package from a local trader, this package includes – seeds, chemical fertilisers and pesticides. The trader charges the famers between £205 – £235/acre for this package. At harvest time the trader takes his cut many times leaving farmers with nothing.
BISAP decided to use their small amount of capital to start an alternative CtC but only had enough capital to fund 55acres. They then linked up with the local radio station and a small company developing alternative seeds to compete with multinationals like Cargill, Pioneer. The company is called ‘My Mates Seeds’ and they also aim to wean farmers off chemical to organic foliar fertilisers within 5 cropping seasons. Also includes teaching how to rehabilitate the soil, burning of farm waste is forbidden and composting is taught.
BISAP have been able to increase acres covered to 180 acres and only charge the farmers £130/acre. At the last harvest the farmers in the scheme were earning £70 – 105/acre depending on soil fertility. If the harvest is good the demand for the seeds could skyrocket. Planning to establish an 11acre seed production area in Damulog.
At the moment we offer this project to families who are members of PuLPug/GRACE set up over 2 years ago. Families/communities who joined this had to resist pressure from the then mayor and his supporters who denied them government help and threatened to and did discontinue their employment as daily workers / day care workers.
PuLPuG / GRACE
The government provides free basic health care, PhilHealth is free at the point of delivery. Health care at local government health clinics provides free access to a doctor/midwives and medicines are free (if available) also at Government Hospitals emergency care is free BUT e.g. blood, reading of x-rays and non-urgent operations not free.
The problem: why were so many of the poorest not taking advantage of this service and still delaying going to a hospital until the situation became critical
It was identified working with the local health team that the health programme known as PuLPuG in Visayan or GRACE (Grassroots Response Against Catastrophic Expenditure) that the biggest cause was the cost of transport to get to the hospital. They would delay until critical and then have to Prenda or pawn their land / coconut tree/ water buffalo/ motorbike to get the cash to pay their medical bills. The Prenda system dates to Spanish times.
The problem: the Lender takes all the income earned from the pawned items until the loan is repaid in a single lump sum. This is impossible to achieve as they have often lost their main/only source of income.
We had no idea of the extent of the problem until we were approached by families asking for help, some pawned their land for £300 over 20 yeas ago.
GRACE is the missing link in understanding why poorest were not taking advantage of the government PhilHealth programme.
Alongside the Charge to Crop production project BISAP are also advocating that farmers learn to save, cash in their pocket is easily spent! Maramag Community Multi-Purpose Cooperative (MACO) (Maramag is a big town about 40min away) approached and came to Damulog to promote their savings schemes. Farmers have to attend pre-membership seminars. From an initial 10 there are now 60 people who have joined. BISAP has a highly ambitious target of recruiting 450 by the end of the year. When one local indigenous farmer asked why he joined he said ‘ I joined MACO because I want to liberate myself from the exorbitant charges that the traders impose on the charge-to-crop production loans!’ This is a major change in attitude from a subsistence mentality to seeing himself as an entrepreneur.
PuLPug/GRACE was the gateway through which these 2 economic projects could be introduced. With the new mayor and the ant-poverty projects of BISAP being adopted by the local government there is hope that these programmes will expand.
CoSEED: Root Crops and Vegetable Production and Marketing Update
Key areas of development:
1. Coaching and mentoring of individual farmer-beneficiaries for project orientation.
2. Project Orientation and Vegetable and Crop Production Training. 11 attended the training and developed individual Farm Plans. Crops identified for the project are peanur, vegetables, ginger and tumeric.
After visiting the Rural Health unit in July with a fever, Mecha was sent to the hopsital. Support from PuLPuG meant they were able to pay for her treatment.
Lilibeth says, “we really want to thank PuLPuG so much for helping us when our daughter was sick. We were lucky that we only had to buy a few medicines from outside the hospital but it was still a problem as we have no money saved for illnesses. We would have been forced to go to a money lender who charge really high interest rates.We had to sell our cow last month to pay for our children’s schooling and other necessities. We had nothing left.My family is not afraid to be part of PuLPuG because its aim is to help people which is our aim too. We want to other families to be helped the way we have. P50/month is not much compared to the help we got from our local group and the Federation. We cannot predict when we will get sick but we don’t want to get sick.We are happy to pay our monthly dues to our group just in case but we’d prefer it if we never needed to use it again.”
Mary Jane’s story
“Lea Jane is my 4th child. I spent a long time in hospital because as I had to have an emergency Caesarian my baby needed to be incubated.
It would have been very hard if we hadn’t been a member of PuLPuG. We were so happy that the Federation were able to help as we had no-one else to turn to. It would have made life very difficult if we’d been forced to borrow money as interest rates are very high (at least 20percent a month).
Our monthly dues are small compared to the enormous help that we were given by our local PuLPuG and the Federation.”
The assistance of the Federation was a huge help to our family and we are extremely grateful.
We didn’t have to pay any expenses as we kept all the receipts from the medicines we had to buy that weren’t available in the hospital.
I am encouraging families in my village to join PuLPuG as it is clear how much we can help each other and our families.
The monthly dues are nothing compared to the help we receive if members of opur family get sick.
Even if the local officials are unhappy with us for organizing PuLPuG (because they think it is a political organization) in our village we will continue regardless as it is a great help at times when we are sick.
I am 38 years old, with 2 children one of whom is now married and expecting her first baby so soon I will be a grandmother!
We are happy we have PuLPuG as there is no-one else who will help us if we don’t help ourselves.We are really happy and grateful for the help of the Federation it gives us confidence that we can buy the medicines we need if they are not available in the hospital.If there was no PuLPuG we would have to borrow at high interest rates to pay for the medicines. We could be forced to sell our chickens and pigs which is not possible as they are our only source of income and only just enough for our needs.
Despite threats from local officials I am not afraid to attend meetings as the group’s aim is to help each other.
The P25/month is affordable as it covers the travel expenses if we need to go to the hospital and food for the person who has to stay and look after you. The group buolds up savings and pay a monthly membership to the Federation to cover any expenses not covered by the Government health scheme (PhilHealth). I have received a lot of help from the Federation.
The local government have their own health insurance scheme but it doesn’t help in getting you to the hospital and they only reimburse expenses which have complete receipts but no travel cost
The siege of Marawi City in May 2017 left over 300,000 people displaced, more than 94% of them sought refuge with relatives and fellow clan members in towns and villages surrounding Marawi City and Lake Lanao. This placed greater strain on already stretched resources.
The Ramadan Assistance programme funded by MuCAARD UK extended assistance to forty displaced families with nutritious food needed to survive during the period of fasting.
Sometime ago, the farmers only produced corn and upland rice. Today, they already tap the rubber trees that were planted through the “Plant Now, Pay Later” rubber production program in 2008.
“We no longer teach our children how to dismantle and assemble guns. Instead, we teach them how to tap rubber trees”, one leader said.
Coconut and other permanent crops (coffee and cacao) are on the bearing stage. Those engaged in banana production have been enjoying the good harvest. Backyard poultry and livestock are prominent. These are the dividends of peace.
Once, the people relied on animals of burden (carabao and horses) in bringing their products to the town. Now, the people transport their products using motorcycles and four-wheeled vehicles.
Ustadz Anwar Montawal calls: “We used to start our journey to Damulog centro at dawn and arrive home at seven in the evening. Now, we can go to the town at any given time because of the road that the local government built.Today, many of us own a motorcycle. Ustadz Thong Ibrahem (another leader) owns two Suzuki multi-cabs, he contined.
CRISTENE AND ALTHEA ARE MY TREASURES!
Cristene and Althea are Gretchen Siva’s treasures. She is a young mother who would do everything to keep her girls safe and healthy at all times. With that in mind, she believes that the self-help concept of PuLPuG is relevant to her family’s need as preparation in times of sickness.
“It is heart-warming to be able to help others. I never wish for my loved ones to get sick. My P20.00 per month contribution is a small amount. What inspires me is the spirit of cooperative endeavour in the community.”
Cristene and Althea were admitted to the hospital on November 23, 2017, due to fever convulsions. Cristene contracted UTI, while Althea had pneumonia.
“We received financial support from our local group without delay. My worries lessened knowing that I can quickly bring my two girls to the hospital. The Federation also reimbursed all the medicines that we bought outside the hospital. We are grateful for what this project has done to my family and to our community.”
Rheana, Gretchen: ‘Please Don’t Forget What They Did for You.’
Life is tough for Romeo and Gina Ybañez. They have two children; they are also taking care of their three nieces. Romeo is a farmer but he doesn’t own a farm. He is a share-tenant of two landowners.
“I am thankful for our Pastor because it was through him that we heard of an organization called PuLPuG. With eagerness we joined the organization. Php 20 per month per household is not a heavy burden.
We will have a good harvest if take care of our maize farm. This is my perception of the program. Even if we do not benefit from the money we contribute, it will be a joy to know that our monthly contribution can help a neighbour in need.
We do not want to get sick, but when my daughter Rheana and my niece, Gretchen, had pneumonia at the same time, we were able to bring the two sick girls to Kibawe Provincial Hospital because our group paid for the transport and provided food for the watchers. The Federation also paid Php 2,210 worth of medicines which were not available in the hospital pharmacy.
Without PuLPuG we would have been in a complete loss where to find the money. We are very grateful that we bonded together to help each other in times of need. We will continue to do this and pray that more families will join the organization.
MuCAARD-UK supports community based development organisations in developing countries to improve the lives of disadvantaged groups; enabling them to grow hope, gain confidence and strengthen their capabilities through non-violent action.
Modes of transport around the villages of Damulog. In the background is a water tank provided by a Korean NGO to deliver water to 3nearby hamlets. The bamboo project will plant 2acres of bamboo seedlings around the watershed/water source to protect it.
I'm finally back in the UK. Only 3 months later than planned! It has been a very busy time despite Covid. Our town of Damulog had no cases and a new arrivals had to quarantine. As the climate changes, as well as the hilly terrain, traditional crops such as maize are becoming increasingly unviable. New crops such as cooking bananas and giant bamboo are being promoted by BISAP, the MuCAARD member team in Bukidnon, for their income potential and ecological importance in protecting water sources, river banks and watersheds.
Visited the hamlet of Kimadsil to discuss the building of the 2 room pre-school for under 7yr olds. The community is excited and committed to providing the labour and land to build it. The road is still very difficult but the community had cleared and cleaned it so our vehicle could get through. We will also provide 600 culms of giant bamboo for the families to plant to protect their water source and provide an income in the future. (10 per hh)
Planting bamboo 'seedlings' some of which will be used to stabilise and protect community water supplies. BISAP will be working alongside a Korean charity JTS. JTS have been supporting the local government to provide primary schools to the outlying villages of Damulog for many years. Each school is provided with a water supply. The water often comes from nearby natural springs and these sources need to be protected. BISAP has identified 6 communities where the water sources need protection. It hopes to provide each one with 300 bamboo culms to plant around their water source and protect it. In 5 years time the bamboo can start to be harvested providing the community with an income to maintain and develop their school.