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When Himaya Sets In

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They used to dance the whole night, with native drinks and beverages driving their slumber away. Men and women defined the community while children reveled under the moonlight. Conversations were in total harmony with the brood’s innocent delights. But that was before himaya (Hiligaynon for glory) disappeared.

Mang Enrique Lauriano Jr., more fondly called as Kap by the local people of barangay Himaya of Hinigaran, Negros Occidental, admits that although the opinion is mystical, there is some truth in it. He recalls his childhood days as days of total bliss, days when they could just run along levees without their feet sandaled. Those were the days, he says, that to ‘stop and smell the roses’ was literal.

“But that is not to say that our lives now are very different. Himaya is, in fact, still the heaven and haven I knew of since childhood,” the 57-year-old former barangay captain says. Especially now a non-government organization, Share An Opportunity, really lives up to its name, he adds, as he takes his first munch of the dinner of juicy and meaty shrimps served that night.

Share An Opportunity (SAO) has been part of the barangay for six years now. “At first, the people are very hesitant to join. We thought that it was just another cooperative doing its business for its own profit,” he says. Kap has been a member for three years.

“We were just satisfied by the way we did our farming before,” Kap recalls. “When SAO came in, new farming inputs not just came along; our children’s educational needs also were addressed.” Aside from providing technical assistance to farmers and other industry workers, SAO also sponsors children in their elementary and high school education.

SAO organizes members into groups, called share groups, which then will compose the umbrella community group. SAO, after identifying the needs of the community, convenes the members in discussion forums and enabler seminars. Topics range from good parenting styles to container farming; from feeding programs to tutorials for SAO sponsored-children who have grades lower than 80 in the major subject areas (English, Mathematics, Science, and Filipino).

One of the share groups in Himaya and where Kap belongs to is the Strikers 9. As the name suggests, the group is composed of nine members, five of which are sisters and relatives of Kap.

“Even for just three years, our group has become very successful. We have become the model group in Himaya. In fact, our group is also used as a promotion in other places in the Philippines where SAO operates,” Kap says. “Although SAO gives financial assistance to share groups, it encourages us to prove our stability first. So we decided to have our monthly dues of P100 or even less if a member of the group cannot really afford that,” he adds.

And in three years, Kap modestly admits, his share group has



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