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Tanaw de Rizal—pride and joy of the residents who made it known

Climbing the 930 steps to the top of Tayak Hill, three mothers cannot hide their joy and pride. When they have reached the summit where a large cross stands, with the view of the rest of Laguna Province on one side and a view of Mt. San Cristobal on the other, they are a picture of fulfilled residents of the municipality of Rizal in Laguna Province.

At one point, all three of them have been a part of the making of Tanaw de Rizal, a tourist destination that is making their small town known little by little.

Babylinda Bueno, Rowena Montalban and Myla Montalban, all residents of Brgy. Antipolo in the said town, are among the more than 100 residents who had been involved in the Risk Resiliency Program initiated by the local government unit in partnership with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

“Kami po ay nagtrabaho, nagtatabas ng mga damo at nagwawalis sa daan hanggang sa taas. Mayroon din pong nagtatanim, naghihiwalay ng mga basura,” shared Babylinda, 37.

Through the program, residents are involved in cash-for-work and food-for-work schemes with the goal of rehabilitating the farm-to-market roads leading to the Tayak Hill. Alongside this goal is the local government’s plan to improve the site to attract more tourists and later on, spur economic activities in the municipality.

The local government unit of Rizal was the primary mover in the development of this area. When they came to our office to ask for our support, we saw in them a desire not only to develop a tourist destination, nor to provide income to the local residents only. But rather, we saw a desire to engage the community in spurring up local economy while protecting or conserving the environment,” Dir. Annie Mendoza of DSWD Field Office IV-A shared.

Immediate impact to families

Starting 2016, residents like Babylinda, Rowena and Myla from all 11 barangays in the municipality were involved in activities such as grass cutting, road clearing, tree planting, plastic bottle recycling and others, at least twice a year under cash-for-work or food-for-work schemes.

Rowena, 39, shares how grateful she is as a mother of 12 children for short-term jobs like this.

“Malaking bagay po sa amin na kumikita kami ng PhP284 kada araw sa loob ng sampung araw o kaya ay bigas at de lata. Minsan inaabot kami ng isang buwan na may trabaho. Malaking kaalwanan na ito sa pamilya namin,” she shared.

With 12 children, Rowena welcomes jobs like this to augment her income as an on-call house cleaner. Her husband’s seasonal income as a farmer is admittedly insufficient to cover their big family’s daily needs.

Thirty four-year-old Myla shares the same appreciation for having an extra income.

“Bilang isang solo parent, ang kinikita ko dito ay nakadadagdag sa pang-araw-araw na gastusin naming mag-iina,” shared Myla whose only source of income is planting fruits and vegetables in a neighbor’s lot.

Though Babylinda, Rowena and Myla are all beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilya program and all are receiving cash grants in support for the health and educational needs of three of their children, they need extra income to provide for their other needs.

“Kahit mahirap ang trabaho, hindi namin iniisip kasi para ito sa pamilya namin,” shared Myla.

Bigger impact to the municipality

At first, the three mothers admitted that their main goal in participating to activities like this for several years now is their family’s immediate needs.

“Habang tumatagal, nakikita namin ‘yung epekto ng mga ginagawa namin. Masaya kami na kahit papaano ay nagiging parte kami ng pagpapaunlad ng aming bayan habang kumikita kami para sa pamilya namin,” shared Rowena.

Jenny Pedrigal, 34, a resident of Brgy. Talaga, who went back to the park just recently is amazed of how the site has transformed.

“Noong bata pa kasi ako, noong pumupunta kami d’yan, mahirap ang daan. ‘Yung cross lang ang makikita mo. Pero ngayon, madami na ang nagbago, napakaganda na ng lugar namin,” said Jenny with pride.

Though she is not involved in the cash-for-work and food-for-work activities for the park, she is grateful as a resident as these activities help conserve the beauty and the benefits they are getting from their upland areas.

“Ngayon ay unti-unti nang nakikilala ang bayan namin,” said Jenny.

To date, the Tanaw de Rizal is a go to destination not only of pilgrims during the Holy Week season. It is a year-round tourist destination where people can enjoy a religious pilgrimage, a trek, a bike ride or serene landscape views.

As a result, the municipality of Rizal, Laguna earns income from tourists, and residents take advantage of the influx of people to earn for their respective families, too.#

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‘Walis Tambo’—more than just livelihood products in Real, Quezon

Along the national highway going to the town proper of Real, Quezon Province, houses are commonly adorned with colorful ‘walis tambo.’ These ‘walis tambo’ are not simply household cleaning materials nor a source of income for the residents. These are products of the residents’ and the local government unit’s love for their environment.

In 2004, the town suffered from landslides and mudslides due to Typhoon Winnie, which left more than a thousand dead in Real and neighboring municipalities of Infanta and General Nakar. These incidents left these towns isolated for about a week at that time.

For the residents and the local government unit, this nightmare must not happen again. One of their solutions is the ‘walis tambo.’

‘Walis tambo’ for the environment

Residents of the town of Real, Quezon have long been making ‘walis tambo’ for a living. Tiger grass or ‘rasa,’ the raw material in making these brooms are abundant in the slopes of the Sierra Madre, where the town is situated.

However, only a few of the residents continued cultivating and harvesting tiger grass for broom production because of the small income as well as the hard work involved in making ‘walis tambo.’

“Yung rasa pala ay nakatutulong sa pag-prevent ng soil erosion, kaya naisip ng lokal na pamahalaan na gawing proyekto ang tiger grass planting,” shared Leo James Portales, the municipal social welfare and development officer of Real.

In 2017, under the Risk Resiliency Program thru Cash-for-Work Projects and Activities for Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation – Disaster Risk Reduction, the Department of Social Welfare and Development funded the tiger grass planting activities of the municipality.

Jocelyn Capablanca, a resident of Brgy. Maragondon is one of the 260 beneficiaries engaged in the cash-for-work project in 2017.

“Kami po ay naglinis ng lugar at nagtanim ng rasa kasama ang iba naming mga ka-barangay,” she shared.

In 2018, 396 residents from six barangays in the municipality were engaged in the same project.

‘Walis tambo’ for the residents

“[Ang aming proyekto]  hindi ito basta basta cash for work lang. We hit two birds in one stone. ‘Yung una is para sa climate change adaptation, at ang pangalawa ay economically, may kita ang aming mga kababayan,” shared Real Mayor Bing Aquino.

Besides the daily wage from the cash-for-work projects, the residents take advantage of the tiger grass when they are in full bloom.

In Brgy. Maragondon, the Maragondon Dragongrass Sustainable Livelihood Program Association (SLPA) is the main beneficiary of the harvests.  This association is composed of 56 residents from the barangay, who were once small-time ‘walis tambo’ makers that were formed into a group under the DSWD’s Sustainable Livelihood Program.

The association started in 2016 and was provided with PhP560,000 seed capital fund for the production of brooms.

“Pagkatapos ng pagtatanim sa cash for work, kami na po sa asosasyon ang nag-aalaga ng mga rasa. Kami na rin po ang nagtatabas kapag p’wede nang anihin,” shared Luisa Madriaga, a member of the association.

With the help of the cash-for-work project, the association began having more raw materials for their livelihood. They are now able to produce about 3,000 brooms per season.

“Mas naging maunlad na rin po ang aming negosyo. Kung noong una ay boluntaryo lahat ng ginagawa ng members sa amin, ngayon ay may s’weldo na rin sila. Mula sa pagtatabas ng rasa hanggang sa paggawa ng walis tambo, may naiuuwi na rin po sila sa kanilang pamilya,” shared Jocelyn, the treasurer of the association.

Today, the Maragondon Dragongrass SLP Association has expanded their business. They now offer rice retail, lending and chair rentals among others. Their total asset has already reached to more than a million pesos. But, deep inside them, their act of maximizing their forest areas is borne from their desire of not letting the 2004 mudslides that affected each one of them happen again.

“Masaya po kami kasi hindi lang kami kumikita, nakakatulong din kami sa kalikasan,” said Jocelyn.***

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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.


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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