11 December 2020
TAGUIG CITY - Poverty Reduction, Livelihood, and Employment Cluster (PRLEC) Chairperson and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Secretary Isidro Lapeña led the groundbreaking ceremony of the Zapanta Valley Enterprise Center in Barangay Bangayan, Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte on Wednesday, December 9, 2020.

The TESDA chief also visited the Zapanta Valley Agri-Tourism Enterprise Village and led the awarding of certificates to local residents of Sitio Zapanta who have successfully completed the skills training provided by TESDA in partnership with the Provincial Government of Agusan del Norte, the province's 2nd Congressional District, Kitcharao Municipal Government, and PRLEC member-agencies.

Secretary Lapeña shared that the establishment of Zapanta Valley Enterprise Center is one of the priority projects of the PRLEC in CARAGA Region.

"This project aims to provide livelihood opportunities to local residents of Barangay Bangayan. I would like to thank all the PRLEC member-agencies and our local government units showing what convergence and whole-of-the-nation approach can accomplish," he said.

THE PRLEC also plans to establish a demo farm with learning site and Gulayan Village inside the Zapanta Valley Agri-Tourism Enterprise Village wherein the Agricultural Training Center Institute - Agusan del Norte has committed to provide tools and materials to be used by the graduates of Organic Vegetable Production.

Datu Lando Anlagan, a tribal leader in the area, shared that their community used to be a stronghold of the communist groups.  The locals also had to evacuate every now and then because of their presence.

“This used to be a communal farm. We are dictated on what to plant, what crops to propagate.  We do not benefit from the harvest, only the rebels. We are very thankful that this day has arrived and finally, we are able to use our land,” he said.

Local officials also shared that during the past years, no one can enter the community because of the presence of the NPA and there were no roads accessible going to Zapanta Valley.

Meanwhile, another PRLEC project, People Empowerment in Agriculture for Community Enterprises (PEACE) has implemented livestock training programs on native chicken poultry, goat herding, and hog-raising, for more livelihood opportunities.

TESDA-Caraga reported that the 36 individuals who were awarded with training completion certificates by Secretary Lapena will man the soon-to-be established service shops and stores inside the Zapanta Enterprise Center. Those who completed their training on Small Engine – Service Motorcycle will operate the habal-habal repair shop, motorcycle spare parts store and vulcanizing shop. On the other hand, graduates in haircutting will man the barber shop and beauty parlor. Those who were trained in preparing food products will manage the bakery and refreshment parlor.

It can be recalled that in 2018, more than 400 members of the New People's Army (NPA) and Militia ng Bayan (MB) from Barangay Bangayan have surrendered to the authorities.

Two years later, PRLEC member-agencies conducted a "pulong-pulong" or consultation to the residents of Sitio Zapanta Valley to identify livelihood interventions based on the needs of the community.