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NO MORE GOING BACK

A drug surrenderee’s journey to regain trust and respect in his family and community.

A barangay tanod now, 39-year-old Frederick Catibog is no longer a picture of a person who suffered from drug addiction.

The community residents in Brgy. San Diego in Lian, Batangas Province used to call him an irresponsible husband and father. His family lives in a house made of cardboard, nipa leaves and scavenged galvanized iron sheets, but he is able to afford drugs and alcohol.

People are often aloof to, if not afraid, of him and his family.

Today, Frederick walks the streets of their barangay with his head high. He feels forgiven, respected and more importantly, an important member of their community all because of the support and opportunities provided to him by the government and individuals, which also led him now to dream of a better life for his family.

 “Naghahanapbuhay ako nang maayos at ibinubuhos ko ang lahat ng oras ko para sa pamilya ko. Gusto kong mapagtapos ang mga anak ko at mamulat sila sa magandang asal,” he shared with pride.

Learning from past mistakes

His wife, 29-year-old Jenny, is almost in tears when she recalls how hard it was for their family when Frederick became addicted to his vices.

“Pangingisda ang pinagkakakitaan n’ya dati. Pagdating n’ya sa bahay, magbibigay lang s’ya ng 40 pesos, minsan wala. Kulang na kulang pa iyon para sa pagkain ng apat naming mga anak sa maghapon,” shared Jenny.

According to Frederick, he would spend around a thousand pesos in a day for his vices. When he did not have enough money, he would take construction jobs so he can support his vices.

On the other hand, Jenny would find ways so that their children can have something to fill their stomachs.

“Minsan, naglalabada ako para kumita ng pera. ‘Pag walang wala talaga, nanghihingi ako ng bigas sa mga kapatid n’ya,” shared Jenny, who admitted that she felt bad to her husband who seemed to care more in providing for his vices than their family.

Gratefully, their family became a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in 2011. The cash grants from the program has become a great addition to the health and school needs of their children, especially that she no longer expected anything from her husband.

“Sinisiguro ko pong diretsong naibibili ng gamit ng mga bata at pambayad sa school ang natatanggap namin sa Pantawid. Hindi ko na pinoproblema ang pang-araw-araw nilang baon,” shared Jenny.

Through the monthly Family Development Sessions she attends to as part of her co-responsibilities as a grantee of the program, Jenny has learned a lot of things, particularly in raising their children well.

“Hinikayat ko na po s’yang magbago. Sinasabi ko sa kanya lagi na huwag na n’yang hayaang lumaki pa ang mga anak n’ya na puro pagbibisyo lang n’ya ang nakikita,” she said.

Thankfully, Frederick listened.

Gaining his family’s trust and the community’s respect

Frederick was among the 99 residents in their barangay who surrendered to the police under the anti-illegal drug program of the administration.

For Frederick, that experience had become a life-changer for him, particularly when various interventions, from the national and local government as well as private organizations, were provided to individuals like him.

As part of the anti-illegal drug campaign, the government implements the Yakap Bayan program, an inter-agency collaboration providing rehabilitation, aftercare, transformation and reintegration support for drug surrenderees.

In the town of Lian, drug surrenderees were involved in various activities including cash for work programs and skills training.

“Namulat ako sa magandang asal, at natutunan kong ‘yung ginagastos ko sa maling paraan ay dapat pala ay sa pamilya ko na inilalaan,” he said.

Frederick became a recipient of a boat from a private organization, which he now uses to earn more for the family.

“Pinakamalaking bagay na din po para sa akin ‘yung pinagkatiwalaan akong magsilbi sa barangay namin, ‘yung maging barangay tanod. Hindi ko po iniisip ‘yung sweldo ko dito, ang mahalaga sa akin ay maipakita ko sa mga kabarangay ko na ako ay nagbago na,” he said.

What he is also grateful about is that through his service to the barangay, he works together with the police in ensuring that there will no more be instances of addiction in their community.

Chasing dreams for the children

The family was also a recipient of a housing project of the local government where they were given PhP10,000 worth of construction supplies. Frederick has been very eager to finally complete their new home for his children.

“Tuwang-tuwa po kami ngayon kasi hindi na kami nanghihingi ng pagkain. Lahat ng kinikita n’ya, napupunta na para sa pamilya namin,” shared Jenny, who added that Frederick is also able to spend more time to bond with their children.

Frederick vows to continue working hard to ensure all his children gets a good education.

“Hinding hindi na ako babalik sa dati,” he committed.

Beside him, Jenny is teary-eyed to finally find peace of mind for the future of their children.

“Mas panatag na po ako ngayon na alam kong nagtutulungan kaming mapabuti ang aming mga anak,” she shared.***

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