Brgy. Inawayan, of the municipality of Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur, is the first barangay outside of Davao city in the south.
Home to around 7,000 Muslim and Christian residents, the community was highly dependent on fishing and agriculture. With not much economic activity, people understandably left to look for opportunities in other places.
The past few years, however, the economy started to pick up. Thanks to the arrival of AboitizPower’s baseload power plant operated by Therma South.
Suddenly, there were jobs even for skilled workers. The once lonely intersection became bustling with many storefronts — from barber shops to eateries, stores, and even a surplus shop. Inawayan residents who were working in other places started coming back home.
“Ang mga dugay na nga nihawa, nanguli na sa atong barangay (Those who left a long time ago have come home to our barangay),” said Punong Barangay Romulo Elula as he mused on the rapid progress in the barangay.
From a fishing and agriculture-dependent village, Inawayan has become host to a number of commercial and industrial locators.
“Before, people relocated to distant places to find work. But now that a lot of job opportunities have opened up for them here, they are coming back to our barangay. Residents were able to find work, especially during the plant’s construction. TSI was the first big investor that entered Inawayan. Other investors followed,” Elula said.
Inawayan’s experience with AboitizPower is not unique. This is part of the company’s values of sharing progress to their host communities — their partners.
“As a group, we have always looked at the success of our business as a function of the positive impact we have in our community. Our community should progress together with our business,” Therma South’s manager for Reputation and Stakeholder Management Jason C. Magnaye said, highlighting the group’s purpose of advancing business and communities.
Aside from improved employment opportunities, the barangay also saw a significant increase in its tax revenues.
“Before the boom, we only had around P2 million pesos of internal revenue allotment (IRA). Now, our funds are close to P5 million. In addition, the barangay has already downloaded P11 million in real property tax (RPT) from TSI alone,” Elula said.
As a whole, TSI has spent more than P43 million in its host localities since construction started in 2011.
Elula shared that from TSI’s RPT contributions, the barangay will now be able to procure a dump truck to support its barangay solid waste management program, a barangay utility vehicle, and implement road concreting plans.
Income levels have also improved in Inawayan. Based on a survey conducted in 2015, the average monthly income of an Inawayan household head was around P5,000, doubling to P10,000 in 2017.
While rapid development also brings about fears of environmental degradation, Inawayan’s environmental efforts have not been left behind.
“TSI has annual programs like the coastal cleanup, which was something that we seldom did. We used to do one cleanup every three years before. But now, we do it annually and every year there is less trash to collect because of our joint campaign with TSI on proper waste disposal,” Elula shared.
The quality of education in the barangay has also improved. Through TSI’s corporate social responsibility programs, teachers have been given opportunities to undergo trainings. More school facilities and equipment have also been introduced, including classrooms, libraries, science laboratories, and tech-voc facilities.
In the field of governance, Inawayan has consistently been cited as a model barangay in various fields, the most recent of which was its recognition as the No. 1 Barangay in the entire province of Davao del Sur Katarungang Pambarangay programs.
As the years pass, Barangay Inawayan will continue to take strides in improving the quality of life for its people — the same people who may have left for a better future before, but have come home for a better life now.