Mga biahera ng Bautista

In the agricultural community of Brgy. Bautista, San Pablo, Laguna stands a house filled with sacks of fruits and vegetables.  The place is owned by Asencia de Castro, a local and a seasoned ‘biahera’ who buys these goods from local farmers and sells them in Manila for the past 20 years.

According to Asencia, what got her into the buy-and-sell business is its quick returns in profit. On the average, she sells a total of 25,000 pesos from a week-long trip. However, merchants like her in Brgy. Bautista are still burdened financially as they lack capital. Each trip, they need to borrow money to buy their products and rent a vehicle prior to each trip, and repay the loaner with interest.

In 2018 however, things began to change. Asencia and her fellow merchants in Bautista became beneficiaries of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Sustainable Livelihood Program. They were organized as the Kaunlaran SLP Association with a total 12 members and received a seed capital fund of Php180,000, or Php15,000 per member, to help start their livelihood project. They began operations on June 2019.

In just a month of operation, the Association is not only able to provide additional earnings for its members, but also is able to begin replenishing their capital fund and build a new sense of group work within them.

“Malaking tulong po ang SLP kasi po dati, hindi sapat ang kinikita namin dahil po ibinabayad po namin ang aming kita sa mga inutangan namin ng kapital. Ngayon po, bukod sa nabubuo muli namin and pera ng grupo, mayroon pa ang bawat isa sa amin ng halos Php7,000 kada biahe na panggastos ng pamilya, at nakakapag-savings na rin po ako,” Asencia proudly shared.

During the one-month operations, the Association, as a whole, earned Php13,000 excluding the individual earnings of the members. According to Asencia, if everything goes well and their association’s earnings becomes steady, they plan on buying their own jeepney to reduce their expenses.

Confident and optimistic, these words are most likely the best words to describe the members of the Kaunlaran SLP Association. These descriptions came as a result of their collective efforts and determination to succeed and provide better life for their family—their genuine drive in each of their trip.

The Sustainable Livelihood Program aims to improve the socio-economic condition of its beneficiaries through capacity building or skills training activities, engagement of private and public sectors and provision of seed capital fund for livelihood projects.

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Kampanteng kinabukasan

Almost every week, she needs to find someone who will let her borrow some money—which will be her four children’s daily allowance to school for the whole week.

“Kailangan araw-araw kang may hawak na pera, baunin ng mga bata. Kaso nga po walang pang-araw-araw na kita kaya hirap na hirap po kami sa pinansyal,” shared Leah Candelaria, 44, a resident of Brgy. Pulo in San Antonio, Quezon Province.

She earns around PhP 600 per month as a barangay health worker. Her husband, 45-year-old Samuel, on the other hand, is a farmer who has to wait several months before he can bring home some cash.

With their situation, Leah accepted the fate that they cannot send their children to college.

Assistance to the family

In 2011, Leah’s family qualified to be a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

The Pantawid Pamilya is a program of the national government that provides conditional cash grants to support the needs on health and education of zero to 18 years old children.

Their family is one of the more than 300,000 household-beneficiaries in the CALABARZON Region.

With the financial assistance from the program, Leah did not have to worry about most of her children’s needs, especially in school. She was able to send all of them to school, two are even in high school, without much worries.

Still, Leah admitted that their income is not enough to send them to college. So when their eldest, Nikko, graduated from high school, he did not pursue higher studies and instead, he began working. The same happened when it was time for Leslie, her second child, to go to college.

“Ang gusto po sana n’yang kunin ay HRM. Kaso nga po ey hindi namin kaya,” Leah explained.

Though this is hard for her as a parent, she cannot do anything about their insufficient income. Even if Nikko is already helping with the finances through working in a convenience store, they cannot still send Leslie to college.

Better jobs for her children

Two years after Leslie graduated, Leah found an opportunity to send her to school. She heard that the DSWD was offering skills training to qualified members of Pantawid Pamilya households who are at least high school graduates under the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP).

The SLP is implemented alongside Pantawid Pamilya program to capacitate participants towards economic sufficiency through either micro-enterprise development or employment facilitation. The program provides opportunities to household-beneficiaries to gain sustainable income to help support their respective families.

“Itinanong ko po kay Ma’am Weng (Pantawid Pamilya Municipal Link assigned in the area) kung pwede ang mga anak ko dito dahil two years nang graduate si Leslie, tapos ‘yung aking isa ay kagagraduate lang (Harvey) kaya itinanong ko po kung pwedeng isali pareho,” Leah shared.

Leslie and Harvey were both accepted, and they were both enrolled at the National College of Science and Technology (NCST), DSWD’s partner institution, in Dasmariñas City, Cavite. The NCST offered a free skills training on Manufacturing Technology for one year and three months, which includes a paid on-the-job training.

This skills training is under the employment facilitation track of the SLP where participants are linked to employment after they are provided with training.

When they finished the program, Leslie was employed right away as a production operator in one of the manufacturing sites in Cavite. Harvey, on the other hand, was unable to continue working because of medical problems.

“Medyo naman po gumaan ang pamumuhay dahil nga po libre ang pagpapaaral. Hindi masyadong sa amin lahat nakasalalay ang ginagastos nila dahil nung nag-oOJT pa lamang sila ay may income na po sila, e di sila na rin ang nagastos sa kanilang sarili,” said Leah.

With Leslie’s training and experiences, she was able to easily find jobs that offer a higher wage. Leslie is now also able to send money home to help with the family’s expenses.

“Kumpara ‘nung dati na kailangan pa naming mangutang, ngayon ay hindi na,” shared Leah, who is greatly relieved because of their improved financial situation.

Today, Leah’s family is no longer a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilya program since their youngest, Kyle, has already graduated from senior high school. Despite not receiving anything from the government, Leah is more confident with their future.

“Malaking tulong sa aming pamilya na dati’y walang kakayahang magpaaral ang suporta ng iba’t ibang programa. Malaking bagay na nakatapos ang aking mga anak at may dagdag silang kaalaman nang sa gayon ay mas maging maayos ang kanilang buhay,” shared Leah.

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Soreda’s salbabida

For 62 years old Lola Soreda Holgado, living along the lakeshore of Taal in Brgy Butong, Taal, Batangas is a dream life just like it is for many other people. But once age becomes a factor and sickness comes around, the place becomes a place for survival for her.

Lola Soreda is one of the beneficiaries of the Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens in their locality. She lives alone, unmarried and does not have any children. Her only source of income is her salbabida rental store she put up in her younger years.  Her thought then was to offer life saving equipment (floaters) to locals and foreigners who wanted to swim on the lake, not knowing that one day, she will be needing her own life saver, too.

Twelve years ago, Lola Soreda started to feel pain in her lower abdomen. Thinking that there was nothing to worry about it, she endured the pain for years until she noticed the gradual enlargement of her belly. 

“Ay akala ko kasi noong una ay simpleng sakit lamang sa tiyan kaya hinahayaan ko na laang. Hanggang sa naging ganito kalaki na,” Lola Soreda shared.

Lola Soreda’s relatives, who every now and then visit her, were surprised with her condition and couldn’t ignore it that they decided to have her checked by a doctor. Results of her medical examinations showed that Lola Soreda has Myoma, a benign tumor developed in the cervix, which needs to be operated immediately. However, due to financial incapacities and other related problems, Lola Soreda decided not to undergo any operation nor take any medications.

Surviving

At present, Lola Soreda’s belly has gotten worse – it is now as large as the black salbabida she commonly offers for rent.

“Hindi na po kasi ito pwedeng operahin ngayon dahil mahina na ang buto ko sa likod,” shared Lola Soreda in a weak but hopeful voice.  

During the distribution the Social Pension at the Taal Central School last July 20, 2019, Lola Soreda, accompanied by her sister Morena, was one of those who received their cash assistance for the first semester of 2019.

“Kapag may natatanggap po ako gaya nito ay edi ibinibili ko po ng pagkain, tsaka ng bigas, at saka pain reliever,” Lola Soreda related.

She also added that she is now very reliant on pain reliever to ease her pain.

The Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens is a program being implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, which provides P500 monthly stipend or cash assistance to qualified Senior Citizens. The assistance is expected to augment daily expenses for food and medication of these senior citizens.

Sister’s Love

Morena has been living with Lola Soreda ever since the latter got her illness. Morena shared that she has already accepted the lifetime responsibility to take care of her sister.

“Mahirap din, minsan nag-aaway pa kami kasi di mo na rin sya mawari, syempre siguro sa sakit na din kaya iintindihin ko nalang,” Morena added as Lola Soreda smilingly looks on.

Despite their conditions, both siblings are thankful for the support they are receiving from the government. As they walked towards the gates of the school after receiving Lola Soreda’s pension, Morena again expressed her gratitude.

“Salamat ho, kahit paano’y nakatulong talaga,” Morena said. 

Lola Soreda, on the other hand, was smiling even though she feels pain as she walks, knowing that other than her sister, she has in her pocket another salbabida.***

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DSWD holds Training of Trainers for 2019 Listahanan Household assessment

The Department of Social Welfare and Development, in preparation for the 2019 Household Assessment of the Listahanan targeting system, conducted last July 29 to August 2, 2019 the Training of Trainers for Field Office staff in Clark, Pampanga.

Participants from the different Field Offices attended a five-day training to hone the skills of the staff and equip them with knowledge and skills necessary for them to transfer these to the field staff who will be hired for the household assessments.

Listahanan is a DSWD-managed data management system that aims to identify who and where the poor are through a conduct of house to house assessment. The end product of the system is a masterlist of the poor which is being advocated by the Department to be the basis for identifying beneficiaries of any program for the poor.

During the training, specific details on the conduct of the household assessment were discussed including the utilization of the tool –the household assessment form, and the process of encoding and validation of the results.

After the training of trainers, each Field Office is expected to conduct similar training for all the hired field staff- enumerators, area supervisors and area coordinators. The 3rd round of Household assessment is expected to begin in September 2019.

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DSWD PARTICIPATES IN THE INFO CARAVAN IN RIZAL

The Department of Social Welfare and Development recently participated in an information caravan aimed at increasing the public’s knowledge on the programs and services of the government especially for poor families.

The caravan, which was held in Southville 9, Brgy. Pinugay, Baras, Rizal was spearheaded by the Presidential Commission for Urban Poor (PCUP) and was participated by government agencies from both at the national and local levels. Each participating government agency distributed materials about their respective programs, provided some of their services, and answered inquiries from participating community members.

According to Randy Halasan, PCUP Commissioner the caravan is being implemented nationwide and it aims to bring the government closer to the people by providing them the much needed information about these. He challenged the residents of Baras to maximize this opportunity and gave commitment that this will not be the last caravan to be conducted in the Baras.

For the DSWD, a team from its Field Office IV-A led by SWAD Team leader of Rizal Province Social Welfare Office II Nercimely Vicente distributed information materials on the Department’s programs and services.  The team also responded to inquiries mostly revolving on how to avail of financial assistance for medical and education needs, the Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program and livelihood assistance.

The team also informed the community residents of Brgy Pinugay about the scheduled 3rd Round Household Assessment under the Listahanan Targeting system this coming September 2019, and the needed manpower requirements for this.

For Financial assistance (educational, medical and burial), SWO II Vicente, encouraged the residents to visit the Rizal SWAD office in Antipolo City, Rizal for the assessment of the client and processing of the documents. Concerns regarding the Pantawid program and the Sustainable Livelihood program were responded by Marven Cursat, Project Development Officer for Rizal Province, who was also present during the activity.

Aside from DSWD, other government agencies such as National Food Authority, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Trade and Industry, Land Transportation Office, Department of Labor and Employment, Public Employment Service Office, Public Attorney’s Office and Philippine Statistics Authority were also present during the caravan participated by at least 2000 resident of Baras, Rizal.***

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More than just rice on the table

If there’s one thing that can make her say their life has improved, 53-year-old Erlinda Valdesancho shares a simple yet concrete answer.

“Hindi na kami nawawalan ng bigas.”

Looking back at their life before, Erlinda can still feel recall the shame and hardship of having just one child yet still having a hard time ensuring food on their table.

She and her husband, 54-year-old Vicente, used to be a caretaker of a property in Brgy. San Antonio in Mabitac, Laguna Province where they also raise hogs and farm vegetables.

“Hindi kami sin’welduhan kaya talagang hirap na hirap kami,” shared Erlinda.

Today, however, a lot has changed in their life. They have a house they call their own, albeit being not on their property. More importantly, Erlinda and Vicente have a steady source of income that enables them to buy food, send their only child to school and dream of a better life for the three of them.

Hard work and opportunities

Vicente shared that despite the challenges in their life, they continue working hard for Vincent, their 10-year-old son.

“Maski ganito ang buhay, sinisikap namin na mag-asawa na mapag-aral s’ya. Kami naman ay natutuwa na kahit wala s’yang baon, gusto n’ya pa ‘ring pumasok,” shared Vicente.

Erlinda added that their son does not want to miss a day in school.

Their son’s commitment to go to school only fueled them to work harder. Erlinda began working as an on-call cook in the neighboring town while Vicente tried all possible jobs including picking mangoes, raising hogs and planting vegetables.

Their hard work was later paid off when a neighbor noticed their determination and offered them a land to farm and also to build their house.

“Malaking pasasalamat namin dahil napagkatiwalaan kami sa lupang ito. Kaya lalo naming pinagsumikapan ang aming pagtatrabaho,” shared Vicente, who starts his day at four in the morning every day to attend to their crops.

For a couple of years now, the couple has been alternating different crops such as cucumber, squash, corn, beans and cassava. They are also raising chickens, hogs and cows.

“Yung kinikita namin dito, sumasapat na para sa pangangailangan namin sa pang-araw-araw. Nakabibili na kami ng bigas at pang-ulam,” shared Erlinda.

Besides this, the couple is grateful to the government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. Since 2013, they have been receiving conditional cash grants for their son’s needs on health and education.

“Lalo pa kaming nagsikap na mag-asawa para kahit papaano ay makapagtabi naman kami para sa kolehiyo ng anak namin,” said Erlinda.

Vicente added that all his son’s needs on his education are shouldered by the grants they receive from the program. As a result, they are able to increase their crops and their livestock so they can increase their income.

More than just the money

The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program invests on the health and education of zero to 18 years old children through the provision of cash subsidy in exchange for their compliance to program conditions. These conditions include 85 percent monthly attendance and health checkup of children.

In the CALABARZON Region, there are more than 300,000 households who are beneficiaries of this program.

For Erlinda’s family, the program not only opened opportunities for them to provide for the education of their son as well as ensure food on the table.

“Sa pagdalo ko sa mga Family Development Sessions, madami akong natutunan. Sa totoo lang, hirap akong magsulat sa notebook, kaya lahat ng tinuturo namin pinapakinggan ko,” shared Erlinda.

The Family Development Session (FDS) is a component of the Pantawid Pamilya program where parents are gathered monthly as a venue for teaching family strengthening topics including rights of children, financial management and disaster preparedness among others.

She said that what she values the most is how she learned to properly discipline and take care of her son as well as chasing all the opportunities that come along their way.

Looking forward, she dreams not only of an improved life that is ‘more than just having rice on the table.’ In the coming years, she wants a change where she can confidently say that they own a home, her son has a college diploma and all of them are living comfortably and able to help other people as well.

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