Flagship Program: Larga Sustainable Zarraga


There is something extraordinary happening in Zarraga, one of the poorest agricultural towns in the Province of Iloilo in the Philippines. A world-class innovation is rising from the ashes of neglect, mismanagement, and widespread apathy. For the last year, Zarraga has begun the journey of strategically developing the whole town on the basis of the SIAD vision of societal threefolding and the 7 dimensions of integral sustainable development (ISD). This program is called Larga Sustainable Zarraga (“Larga” is a Filipino term meaning ‘Let’s do it!’).

Highly motivated individuals in government, civil society, and business have led the way, while extensively consulting and engaging citizens in all 24 of Zarraga’s “barangays” (villages). In the midst of these developments, over a dozen tri-sector committees and special bodies have taken shape dedicated to town issues such as nutrition, education, and waste management. In addition, both business and civil society have begun to increasingly self-organize into their own associations and councils.

This model of society-centered governance has begun to show some powerful results.

When walking through town one cannot help notice that signs promoting the idea of “Sustainable Zarraga” have popped up everywhere. As part of its goal to convert completely to organic agriculture by 2022, Zarraga has also begun creating a new town center that will be an Eco-industrial tourism zone. New additions have already sprung up: an Organic Trading Post (OTP), the first of its kind in the Philippines, and a new convergence area to prototype green innovations called GAIA, or Garden Area for Initiatives in Action. So far GAIA has 13 initiatives in various stages of development, from design to beginning prototypes.

Photos 1 and 2: Where it all started

This August 2013 workshop on gathered members of business, civil society, and the Local Government Unit to find a solution for the existing problems caused by the growing animal industry of the town. Zarraga Mayor John Tarrosa addresses the workshop attendees.

These developments have not gone unnoticed by the larger Philippine society either. The Department of Agriculture has poured 5 million pesos into the OTP, GAIA, and other aspects of Zarraga’s agricultural program. Then Zarraga was chosen as the kick-off venue of the 2nd Regional Summit on Organic Agriculture held in August, 2014. Also, a Philippine Senator chose Zarraga to be one of two a reas where convergent development will be demonstrated. The beginning projects are worth a total of 8.5 million pesos. The projects are dredging Zarraga rivers (5M) to make the town less prone to flooding, and an expanded feeding program for the malnourished (3.5M), a program that will be consciously linked with the organic agriculture program of the town.

For more information on these and other significant developments of Larga Sustainable Zarraga, see The Power and Promise of SIAD in our Articles section.

Photo 3: Launching of the Zarraga Organic Trading Post

Development Innovations Powering the Beginning Successes

All the above achievements are not accidents. They are based on the unique innovations contained in the SIAD framework, including:

  • Implementing all 7 dimensions of ISD at the same time and in conscious harmonization with each other.
  • Moving from a state-centered to a society-centered governance where civil society and business are respected partners of government in the development process.
  • Developing the power of societal threefolding partnerships (between government, business, and civil society) not only in the governance process but also in capacity building, leveraging resources, mobilizing networks, and jointly implementing programs and projects.
  • Affirming the importance of solution ecosystems (by activating societal threefolding partnerships) for achieving SIAD.
  • Demonstrating, on the ground, a new concept: societal entrepreneurship, inclusive of social entrepreneurship but broader than and transcending the latter.[1]

In addition, there are other significant factors that have made these kinds of rapid changes possible. For one thing the leadership of the town – including key individuals in all 3 sectors, a pro-active legislative assembly, and an inspiring and results-oriented mayor – was strong and ready to take Zarraga in a new direction.

Furthermore, from the very beginning, SEA has been playing a key role in facilitating this new path of sustainable development. Key activities such as the MISSION Courage Workshop (MCW­) and SIAD Zarraga Workshop (both described under Related Projects) provided the sparks to a community that was ready to catch fire.

Sub-programs of LARGA SUSTAINABLE ZARRAGA

Faithful to the 7 dimensions of ISD, SEA’s approach has been to create sub-programs – each with at least one flagship project – in each dimension so that we can begin prototyping solutions on the ground immediately. Rapid prototypes such as these are not meant to be the final expression of an intention. Rather they are the beginning of a series of attempts to make intention and reality fit more authentically.[2]

Zarraga is uniquely situated to make SIAD a reality on the ground. Please browse our beginning installation plan below (Table 1).

You can get details regarding the core sub-programs and flagship projects by clicking their titles, as well as the most recent developments by clicking “Updates” in the final column.

TABLE 1: SEVEN CORE SUB-PROGRAMS OF LARGA SUSTAINABLE ZARRAGA

SIAD DIMENSION CORE SUB-PROGRAMS FLAGSHIP PROJECTS
ECONOMIC BASE (Bayaw-Anihan Sustainable Economies) ZAP (Zarraga Agriculture Program) Updates. Also here.
ECOLOGICAL HOME (Holistic Manifestation of Ecosystems) AWE (Appreciation Through Working Examples) Updates
CULTURAL EDUCE (Education for Cultural Empowerment) UPLIFT (Unusual Possibilities for Learning Integral Freedom and Truth) Updates
POLITICAL SAGE (Society-Activated Governance Example) GO SIADs (Governance SIAD style) Updates
SOCIETAL YOUNG (Yes to an Outstanding New Generation!) GAIA (Garden Area for Initiatives in Action) Updates
HUMAN IMAGO (Individual Mastery to Advance Generative Outcomes) TRUST (Trustful Relationships towards Unity-Action through Self Transformation) Updates
SPIRITUAL IMAGO (Individual Mastery to Advance Generative Outcomes) TRUST (Trustful Relationships towards Unity-Action through Self Transformation) Updates
ALL DIMENSIONS EMERGE MISSION COURAGE WORKSHOPS Updates

SIAD WORKSHOPS Updates

KALAHI (Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan) Updates

CONVERGENCE Updates

GLOBAL VISITORS Updates

For more information on SEA projects happening both in Zarraga and in the larger Philippines, visit our Related Projects page.

For more information on the overall strategy and goals of SIAD 1.0 in both Zarraga and Bayawan, see Activating SIAD 1.0 Through Solution Ecosystems.


[1] The Movement of Imaginals for Sustainable Societies Through Initiatives Organizing and Networking (MISSION) pioneered in the concept of “societal entrepreneurship”. We are all familiar with social entrepreneurship in the economic dimension of society. And entrepreneurial approaches have also been tried in politics and cultural resulting in the emergence of the term “political entrepreneurship” and “cultural entrepreneurship”. There are thousands of results for both terms in Google search. Societal entrepreneurship is applying the framing, mindset, motives, values, skills, and passion of entrepreneurship and applying it to the various dimensions of society (cultural  and/or political and/or economic) or to society as a whole.

Despite their convergence in the word, “entrepreneurship”, societal entrepreneurship is the next evolutionary stage of social entrepreneurship for two reasons: it goes beyond individual social enterprises and places them in the larger framework of solidarity economics and it includes entrepreneurship in other dimensions of integral sustainable development. See MISSION’s website at www.imaginalmission.net for more on societal entrepreneurship.

The founders of SEA are also key co-founders of MISSION.

[2] No one can conceptually transform a system in one’s mind. At most, one has beginning ideas. Then one has to test those ideas in the crucible of reality, to see how they interact with the other complex systems that they are embedded within. As we test, we evolve better projects, a 2.0 version of the flagship prototypes. This will also be the case of the larger SIAD 1.0 framework, which, in due time, will become SIAD 2.0. Such an approach is the essence of innovation, whether technological or societal.