Farida Tiboron Mangcaan
Community and Family Services International (CSFI)
Location: Philippines
Occupation: CFSI Head of  Sub-Office Iligan City

In a traditional society where females are expected to take the backseat and stay behind the sidelines during difficult and trying situations, more and more women humanitarians have been breaking gender roles in Mindanao Southern Philippines where thousands of lives continue to be disrupted by long-time armed conflict and natural disasters. Among these women is Farida Mangcaan.
Farida started as beneficiary of Community and Family Services International (CFSI)’s Social Work Education Program where she earned her master’s degree in Social Work. In 2009, she officially joined CFSI as a Community Organizer. Ten years later, she is now as the Head of Office CFSI Sub-Office in Iligan City (SOI), not only leading CFSI’s Marawi Recovery Project (MRP), a large-scale recovery effort for 4,000 households affected by the 2017 Siege, but also supervising other projects encompassing Lanao and other neighboring provinces.
Farida, 38, born and raised in the Philippine Southern Islands of Mindanao, has a long-standing history with CFSI that started from the very onset of her professional life. But what recently brought her to work in her own community was an unprecedented episode of conflict in 2017, when the city of Marawi was almost entirely taken to rubble after six months of conflict between Philippines Armed Forces and pro-ISIS militants, causing wide-scale displacement.
To Farida, the MRP is her personal calling to serve her own people. Marawi City, 15 kilometers away from her hometown, is where she had matured, had established her individual identity, and had flourished into a spirited and zealous woman of Islam. At the outbreak of the war, Farida felt the devastation on a personal level. She, her siblings, and her ill father had to evacuate from their homes to seek for safety. Her family, friends, and colleagues were among the thousands who lost their homes and are still suffering the outcomes of the war in Marawi. However, Farida refused to falter. “I believe that there is a reason for all these events. For one, you won’t be able to see the resilience and true strength of the people if not for a crisis like the siege,” she said. 
Farida has been engaged in various CFSI-led humanitarian efforts across the country and was a core member of the CFSI’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) during four of the most recent major wide-scale emergencies. She has devoted a decade of her life in relief and recovery work for those affected and displaced by the long-time conflict in Mindanao.
“Being a humanitarian is about bringing people together despite any crisis and helping them realise that they can do something out of what they have, no matter how little,”
Farida said. She takes pride in her people who remain persistent and hopeful despite the massive destruction. When asked what she desires for the community she serves, she answered,
“I want them to achieve inner peace, to respect each other, and to feel safe being together. I want them to fulfill their maximum potential, wherever they are, whatever they have been through.”
Despite the strains of the job, her motivation is that her work as a humanitarian allows her to contribute in uplifting the lives of the vulnerable. She also takes pride in her colleagues who share the same vision, noting that even the most trying challenges are made bearable so long as they work together. For Farida, what brings her joy is the daily opportunity to contribute towards positive social change. “Every night, I am able to reflect and tell myself that I was able to do something positive. That’s all I need to regain the energy to go back the next day and do more.”
As a Muslim woman in Mindanao Southern Philippines, Farida said that it is challenging to live in a society where they are made them feel that they are the minority. But to her, it’s about upholding the humanitarian principles, particularly the principle of impartiality. “When we see someone is being oppressed, it’s our responsibility to help them. It’s not about a person’s race, religion, gender, or age – it’s about being human.”