The hard work that is ‘Sikap’
(The Freeman) - August 10, 2015 - 10:00am

Sibog Katawhan Alang sa Paglambo (Sikap) Founded in 2006

·   Established indigenous people’s organizations  in the Caraga region

·   Assists tribal groups in finding their voice in the community and government

·   Developed a special curriculum for indigenous people

·   Links help-givers with help-seekers in its area

In the Caraga Region, there is one young organization that embodies its name and works hard for the communities it serves.


“Sikap” means ‘to work hard for’ in Filipino. However, in the Caraga Region in Northern Mindanao, it stands for Sibog Katawhan Alang sa Paglambo (SIKAP), a non-government organization dedicated to sustainable community development.

Over the years, SIKAP has proven that the younger generation can lead the way in helping communities. Founded nine years ago by four young development workers, SIKAP has implemented programs with the goal of facilitating “transformative and genuinely sustainable community development.”

The founders were previously part of a larger non-government organization (NGO), also based in the Caraga region. However, fueled by their passion toward “true-blue community development,” they left their organization and formed SIKAP, with the hopes of running programs intended to make better the lives from the marginalized sector.

At present, the group is mostly composed of young and energetic development workers and volunteers who help implement SIKAP’s programs.


Using their framework of “Community-Driven Participatory Development (CDPD),” SIKAP delivers holistic and integrated programs that cut across cultural integrity, disaster risk reduction management, income and employment generation, gender equity, good governance and social protection. With the CDPD framework, SIKAP was able to accomplish the organization and development of six Indigenous People’s Organizations (IPO) in 16 municipalities and three cities across Caraga funded by the International Labor Organization (ILO). These later also led to the establishment to 20 community enterprises, empowering the IPs toward sustainable livelihood.

Their sectoral beneficiaries are women, children, youth, persons with disability and indigenous peoples.

SIKAP has helped in implementing the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), which reaches 4,427 households in eight municipalities in Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur.

Even in its early years, SIKAP already established a community feeding program and support system to keep children in school. The group also collaborated with the Department of Education for the development of a special curriculum for indigenous people.

SIKAP partnered with numerous local and foreign organizations, which enabled it to implement short projects like the Child Protection Rapid Assessment with Save the Children and Unicef; the Municipal Talakayan with Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan — Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) projects in partnership with DSWD Caraga; Grassroots Planning and Budgeting with the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG); and the formulation of four Barangay Development Plan in the Municipality of Trento.

 Indigenous People

Before SIKAP was involved in the organization and institutionalization of tribal groups in the area, the tribes were not organized and unrepresented in local government gatherings. But with SIKAP, they now have a voice in the community and local government planning.

“Daghan nang NGO ang nakaabot dinhi, pero lahi ang pag-abot sa Sikap, kay sa among pagka-tribu nga makatindug na nga kami na (Many NGOs have come here, but it is different with SIKAP. We can now stand on our own),” explained tribal chieftain Renaldo Sevilla Bacay II.

SIKAP has been actively involved in ensuring IP members’ awareness of their rights and empowering tribes to play a role in the political processes on a local government level and participate in government activities and projects.

Working closely with the tribes, SIKAP likewise monitors and gathers substantial data on IP tribes. Towns like Sibagat, San Francisco, and Verula of Agusan del Sur have recognized SIKAP’s expertise in working closely with the IP groups, specifically in development planning, geo-mapping, documentation, and social mobilization. Sibagat town has provided SIKAP with a satellite office at their LGU for all their hard work. 

Go-to  group

Despite its young age, SIKAP has built a reputation for itself in terms of partnership and alliance-building.

In its early years, SIKAP continued running volunteer programs in the communities where their founders worked. They scored their first major partnership with World Neighborhours, an international funding group, which helped them implement programs on health and livelihood for Indigenous Peoples communities.

ILO took notice of their work in IP development and SIKAP instantly became their top choice as a local partner for community development programs in the Caraga region. ILO later partnered with SIKAP again after Typhoon Pablo ravaged Agusan del Sur in 2012, and together they delivered disaster relief to the area. Their monumental response to the Pablo aftermath won them the Regional Gawad Kalasag for DRRM (Civil Society Organization Category) and a first runner-up finish in the National Level.

SIKAP likewise forged numerous partnerships with local and international organizations. One of their strong government partnership lies with the DSWD and the MCCT, which earned SIKAP the DSWD’s Best Civil Society Organization Partner Award in 2013.

“They’re very innovative; they were the first to have FDS (Family Development Sessions) on air [to accommodate non-MCCT beneficiaries],” said DSWD Caraga Regional Executive Assistant and former CSO focal person Crislea Celeste. She added that SIKAP consistently performs and partners well with the government. “They are very patient, dedicated and committed despite the government protocols,” said Celeste.

Over the years, SIKAP’s programs have benefited numerous people within the Caraga region, touching and changing the lives of many IP communities. SIKAP has proven that their commitment toward the communities they serve shows no end – and they truly embody what the word ‘sikap’ stands for.

(Sibog Katawhan Alang sa Paglambo, or SIKAP, is one of five finalists in the institution category of the 6th RAFI Triennial Awards. The winner will be revealed on Friday, Aug. 14.)

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