Saemaul Undong in Philippine Context: The Case of Brgy. Balincaguing in San Felipe, Zambales

| Written by CSWCD

saemaul undong research


Since 2012, Saemaul Globalization Foundation (SGF) of Gyeongsangbuk-do Province, Korea has been helping in the community development of Barangay Balincaguing in San Felipe, Zambales. It is the first Saemaul Village in the Philippines and East Asia. SGF made some achievement in the infrastructure such as road pavement, water tank system, comfort rooms, day care center and barangay hall. Livelihood projects were also initiated, however, the outcome of these endeavors are still to be seen. SGF sought the services of Sikhay-Kilos Development Association of the UP College of Social Work and Community Development to study the extent of development in Brgy. Balincaguing initiated by SGF and to propose a community-based and/or home-based livelihood project.


The study used methodologies such as Survey, Focus Group Discussion, Key Informants Interview, and Desk Review. These were conducted from April 24 – 29, 2016. Twenty percent of the total household population in the barangay or 46 respondents were interviewed for the survey. Two FGDs were conducted with a total of 15 participants. Moreover, five key informants were interviewed composed of the Barangay Captain, Mayor of San Felipe, Municipal Agriculture Officer, DTI officer of Zambales, and the Team Leader of SGF volunteers. The study’s findings and recommendations were validated in the Saemaul Seminar conducted on July 7, 2016 at the San Felipe Centrum. The seminar was attended by people from Balincaguing, SGF volunteers, Officials of San Felipe, KOICA representatives, and RMTU faculty and researchers.


In the Focus Group Discussions, participatory tools were used in order to capture and analyse the community’s situation. The tools used were Community Resource Mapping, Seasonal Calendar, and Daily Activity Cycle.




Socio-Economic Situation

  • Balincaguing is one of the 11 barangays of San Felipe, a fourth class municipality
  • The fiscal information of the barangay shows that the Internal Revenue Allotment is P1,095,263.00, and the income averages P24,000 annually.
  • The total population is 1,348 with 746 males and 602 females; and the total number of households is 229.
  • The major economic source of Balincaguing is agricultural which explains that farming is the main occupation of the people. However, 80% of the farmers are tenants; thus, they have to pay rent to the land owners.
  • Other economic activities are livestock raising, backyard gardening, driving public vehicles, and retail selling in sari-sari stores (convenient store)
  • The major crops or farm products of Balincaguing based on volume is rice, followed by corn, sweet potato and eggplant. Balincaguing is the rice granary of San Felipe. Half of San Felipe’s rice produce comes from Balincaguing.
  • The result of the survey showed that 76% of the total number of households is living below the poverty threshold. According to Philippine Statistics Authority (2015), a family of five needed at least P109, 680 annual income to be considered not poor. It means that 76% of families are earning less than P109, 680 a year.
  • In terms of educational attainment, 41% of them reached elementary level, 33% are high school level, 4% college level, 9% college graduate and 9% vocational graduate. This means that only 22% of the labor force is employable.
  • Lack of job opportunities is the community’s major problem followed by insufficient irrigation system, risks of disaster (especially lahar flows), lack of health facilities, food insecurity and lack of capital for farming.
  • For rice production, the estimated expenses for one hectare per cropping is P25,000 – P30,000. Most of the time, farmers borrow money for capital from traders, rural banks or private individuals.
  • Solutions to the problems, according to them, are provision of irrigation system, creation of jobs, provision of health services, provision of capital for farming with low interest, as well as, support services for farming. Other suggestions are to organize farmer cooperative and backyard gardening.


Trends in the Seasonal Calendar – A seasonal calendar is a participatory tool to show visually the various seasonal phenomena such as economic activities, especially in agriculture (crop cycles, different activities undertaken, etc), changes in climate, work load, and others.


  • Heavy Rains are expected from July to August.
  • Typhoon months are from September to October.
  • Drought time is from January to April.
  • The crop cycle for rice: the first cropping is planted within May – June and harvested within October-December; the second cropping is planted in November and harvested from February to March.
  • The crop cycle for corn is 120 days. It is usually planted in November or December as an alternative to rice if second cropping of rice is not possible due to insufficient water system.
  • Like corn, sweet potato is planted from December to January and harvested from March to April.
  • Vegetables are planted throughout the year except during months of heavy rain. The crop cycle for leafy vegetables is 60 days.
  • Mangoes are harvested from April to May; however these are for consumption only. Only a few residents sell mangoes.
  • Other economic activities include: food gathering, fishing (for consumption only), and backyard piggery. There used to be a chicken poultry but the chicken died due to extreme heat during March to April, on the other hand, some chicken also died due to heavy rains during the months of July to August.
  • Heavy expenses occurred during planting season and school enrollment.
  • Food stress or the time where food is insufficient is experienced in the months of February, August and September.
  • The period wherein the workload is at its heaviest is during the land preparation and harvest season. This is also the time wherein farm workers are in demand.
  • Community activities that people participated include the Fiesta (April), All Souls’ Day (November) and Christmas (December)


Women Activities

  • Women are mainly responsible with reproductive activities or housework.
  • The women are also involved in farming activities. They are involved in uprooting of rice seedlings (sikka), drying of unhusked rice (palay), and harvesting and selling of vegetables.


Assessment on SGF Development Initiatives

  • Generally, the people’s perception to SGF is positive. They said that SGF helps people by providing livelihood opportunities. They also view the Saemul spirit of self-help, diligence and cooperation as good values to be developed.
  • As for the projects initiated by SGF, pig-raising is the most popular followed by infrastructure projects such as toilets, concrete roads and barangay hall. Other projects that are well-appreciated are backyard gardening, sewing factory and the water system.


Factors of People’s Participation

  • Factors that facilitate people’s participation are: increase of income, learning new skills/technology, the good intention of SGF, and for the improvement of the barangay.
  • Hindering factors in participation are: no time due to multiple household responsibilities, people have to prioritize their job/work, loss of interest, people want instant benefit, miscommunication mainly because of language barrier and cultural differences, and some people say that only few are benefiting from the projects.



  • According to the respondents, the products they are recommending to be developed are the major products of the community such as rice, corn, sweet potato and vegetables.
  • Cattle dispersal is also suggested since they have spacious pasture land.
  • Build more greenhouses and net houses to have continuity of vegetable plants in wet season.
  • Support services for farming such as irrigation system and start-up capital.
  • The women recommended that they be given seminars on how to market their products.


  • The research team’s recommendations are based from the findings and the suggestions of the community.
  1. Provide start-up capital for farming through micro-credit service. This can be managed either by the Balincaguing Farmers’ Association or a new association/cooperative.
  2. Training on cooperative and entrepreneurial skills should be conducted.
  3. Define clearly the role, mandate and membership of the Saemaul Network Committee. Expand its membership to include more representatives from the barangay.
  4. Encourage and continue the backyard intensive gardening.
  5. Community organizing must be done to raise people’s awareness, develop community leaders, to strengthen existing associations, to develop other associations as needed and to mobilize resources. In order to serve other sectors in the community, other associations can be organized such as women’s association, vegetable planters association, livestock farmers association, etc.
  6. For the Saemaul volunteers, learn the language and culture of the community.