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Face masks for free

Sharing the ‘gift’ to her community in times of a pandemic

Her sewing machine is a ‘gift’ to her. Today, she is using this gift to help.

When the enhanced community quarantine was declared and implemented across Luzon due to the Covid-19 pandemic, 50-year-old Nida Guarda, a resident of Brgy. Ampid I in San Mateo, Rizal Province, chose to use her time and her skill into good use.

“Naisipan kong magtahi ng face masks hindi upang pagkakitaan kundi para ipamigay nang libre sa aking mga kababayan para maiwasan ang pagkalat ng sakit,” shared Nida.

For her, her drive to help her community roots from her gratitude to the government for assisting her family for several years now.

Showing her gratitude

Nida’s family is a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program since 2012.

As a beneficiary of the program, they receive conditional cash grants in support for the education and health needs of her children in exchange for their compliance to the conditions of the program including 85 percent monthly attendance of children to school and monthly preventive health checkup of children.

“Dahil sa programang ito, natustusan ang pag-aaral ng lima kong anak. Nakapag-ipon rin ako upang makapagpundar ng isang makina sa pananahi,” shared Nida.

The purchase of a sewing machine has been a big help for the family, especially that her husband is an on-call construction worker who has no regular income. With the sewing machine, Nida was able to help with the finances at home.

“Kaya ngayon, ang paggawa ko ng face masks gamit ang makinang ito ay isang paraan ko para maipakita ang aking pasasalamat sa gobyerno sa pagtulong sa aming pamilya sa loob ng higit walong taon,” she shared.

Face masks to fight the pandemic

Nida understands the importance of working together to fight the spread of the virus and ensure the health of everyone.

“Simpleng mamamayan ako pero nagpapasalamat ako sa lahat ng frontliners na itinataya ang buhay upang maging ligtas ang bawat pamilya,” she said.

Nida is grateful that in her own ways, she can be of help, too.

She has already endorsed more than 300 pieces of face masks to their barangay for distribution to the residents. Since she is following the quarantine rules of the barangay, she has entrusted the distribution of these masks to their officials.

With these face masks, Nida takes pride of her contribution to the community. Her sewing machine’s ‘gift’ has extended from being a blessing to her family to being a blessing to their whole community.***

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DSWD begins distribution of Social Amelioration in CALABARZON

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), through its Field Office IV-A, has started the distribution of the emergency subsidy under the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) in the CABARZON Region.

Today, more than one thousand qualified beneficiaries from Bacoor City in Cavite received PhP 6,500.00 subsidy as support to their needs while the enhanced community quarantine in managing the Covid-19 health situation is in place.

“Nandito po kami, ang DSWD, lokal na pamahalaan ng Bacoor at ang mga partners natin mula sa AFP at PNP para ihatid sa inyong mga naapektuhan ng enhanced community quarantine ang tulong ng gobyerno – ang social amelioration program. Kami po ay nagpapasalamat sa inyong pakikiisa para  sa pagpapatupad nito. Nawa’y tuluy-tuloy ang inyong pakikiisa sa amin,” shared Assistant Regional Director Mylah Gatchalian of DSWD Field Office IV-A during the distribution in Brgy. Seneguelasan.

In the said city, there are 80,477 families who are recipients of the subsidy worth P523,100,500.00. The distribution will be completed until April 11 in this locality.

Meanwhile, the Field Office is coordinating with 53 other local government units (LGUs) in the five provinces of the region for the schedule of distribution of the emergency subsidy to qualified beneficiaries. There are also 88 other local government units with documents that are still being processed.

In the CALABARZON Region, there are more than 2.2 million families that will benefit from this subsidy.***

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Giving back

Amidst the enhanced community quarantine in the entire Luzon, the community spirit lives on among the members of the Samahang Likas Pantawid Sustainable Livelihood Program Association (SLPA) in Ibaan, Batangas as they continue to offer easier access to food in the barangay through their rice retailing livelihood. 

The Samahang Likas Pantawid SLPA is a livelihood association organized by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Composed of eight members who are also beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, the association established a rice retailing store through the provisioned seed capital fund under the Sustainable Livelihood Programm (SLP).

The SLP is a poverty-alleviation program of the DSWD that provides livelihood resources and opportunities for the poor, disadvantaged, and vulnerable sectors with the goal of uplifting their socio-economic well-being and personal development.

Prior to the community quarantine, the association used to earn an average of Php 5,000.00 a day. However, when the community quarantine was implemented, their sales slightly slowed down. Despite this, they did not stop their operations.

“Kahit po naapektuhan ang aming benta, hindi po kami tumigil sa pagtitinda kasi po kawawa naman po ang mga ka-barangay namin. Kung magsasara po kami, wala po silang mabibilhan ng bigas.” Carmen Cabral, president of the association, stated.

Practicing social distancing and wearing face masks as safety precautions, only two members are on duty in the store per day.

As a sign of consideration to their co-residents, the association also decided to allow on-credit sales in this time of crisis.

“Naranasan po kasi namin ang hirap dati nung kami pa ang nangungutang ng bigas. Kaya po ngayong kami naman ang mayroon, maluwag po kami sa pagpapautang sa kanila,” Carmen shared.

For the members, this is also their way to give back to the residents of their barangay who have been patronizing their store and have been the main reasons for the growth of their sales since they started operation.

According to Carmen, each member received PhP 9,000 dividend from the income of their store last March 8, a year after their store’s opening. Because of this, they were not much burdened when the enhanced community quarantine was implemented.

“Ngayon pong ‘di makapagtrabaho ang asawa ko, malaking tulong po itong dibidendong aming natanggap mula sa bigasan. Ngayon po, ito ang bumubuhay sa amin,” Carmen shared.

Through their efforts, it is not only the association members who are at ease during this time. In small ways, they know that their effort, no matter how small, is a big help to the other residents of their barangay.

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Visits, outreach activities temporarily suspended in DSWD centers

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) through its Field Office in the CALABARZON Region, temporarily suspends various activities in its centers to protect the residents from the threats of the COVID-19 and in compliance with strict precautionary measures of the health department and the protocols of the enhanced community quarantine over Luzon.

The said centers in the CALABARZON Region are the Haven for the Elderly (HE) and the National Training School for Boys (NTSB) in Tanay, Rizal, the Bahay Tuluyan ng mga Bata in Dasmariñas City, Cavite and the Regional Haven for Women in Rosario, Batangas. 

Among the activities suspended in these centers are visits of families and relatives as well as the conduct of outreach activities of private individuals and organizations.

The suspension of the activities is one of the measures being implemented by the Field Office to minimize the possible exposure of the residents, especially the senior citizens at the Haven for the Elderly, to the virus.

“While we appreciate and encourage visits of relatives and outreach activities as these play a big role in the rehabilitation and care of our residents, the health of everyone in our centers is our priority these days,” said Ms. Lucia C. Almeda, OIC Regional Director of the DSWD IV-A.

Other precautionary measures are also in place at the four centers such as regular disinfection, physical distancing, temperature monitoring, use of face masks, handwashing and sanitizing. All residents, as well as the staff, are also provided with daily vitamin C supplement. In Tanay, Rizal, a facility disinfection was conducted at the NTSB and the HE courtesy of the local government of Tanay and the Tanay Mountaineers Inc.***

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Saved by their ‘savings’ during the Covid-19 community quarantine

Small things go a long way.

“Tumatak sa isip ko sa isa sa mga FDS (family development sessions) na matutong mag-impok dahil hindi natin alam kung ano ang maaaring problemang dumating,” shared Rosa Rodriguez, 40, a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program from Brgy. Suba in Majayjay, Laguna Province.

She started saving little by little using a coin bank, and just a week ago, she cannot be more thankful that she listened and started saving.

The FDS is a component of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program where parent-grantees are gathered every month as a venue for teaching various topics including children’s rights, disaster preparedness and budget management among others.

When the national government declared an enhanced community quarantine over Luzon in the management of the Covid-19 situation last March 17, Rosa’s family’s source of income had been compromised as her husband can no longer work as a construction worker.

However, her family is saved. Thanks to her savings.

Being prepared in times of emergencies

Rosa immediately knew that they needed enough supply of food for their family of four. Though they do not have money on hand as their income is on a day-to-day basis, she did not hesitate to open her coin bank.

“Binuksan ko ang alkansya ko. Kahit papaano, ito ang ginamit namin pambili ng bigas at ibang pangangailangan. ‘Yung sobra ay binalik ko para kapag talagang kailangang kailangan na, mayroon kaming makukuha,” said Rosa.

Her co-beneficiaries in the town of Majayjay have similar stories.

“Nagpapasalamat talaga ako at naturuan kaming mag-impok kaya ngayon ay mayroon akong nagagamit para sa aking mga anak,” shared 45-year-old Carding Bueno, a resident of Brgy. Panalaban, who is a farmer and a solo parent to three children.

Other than maintaining their savings, another lesson they are grateful for is being prepared in times of disaster.

“Isa sa mga tinuro sa amin ay ang paghahanda ng e-balde (emergency balde) para kapag may dumating na bagyo o anumang kalamidad, may nakahanda kaming gamit,” said Rosenda Arganosa, 44, a beneficiary from Brgy. Banti.

The e-balde is part of the FDS module on disaster preparedness where each household-beneficiary is required to keep a ready-to-bring kit that contains important documents, first-aid kits, medicines, clothes and non-perishable food items such as canned goods and biscuits.

For Lorna Brosas, 43, another beneficiary from Brgy. Malinaw, being prepared in times like this is a big help to families like them.

“Hindi po kami nagpapanic at hindi kami masyadong nahihirapan dahil natuto po kami, nakahanda po kami,” said Lorna.

‘Diskarte’ in times of emergencies

Being prepared is one thing; however, for these parents, being able to make ways to make ends meet during these times is a big thing.

“‘Yung garden namin sa bakuran, dito kami kumukuha ng pang-ulam at pang-meryenda para maiwasan ang sobrang gastos at ang paglabas-labas ng bahay sa panahon ngayon,” said Marilou Francia, 31, a beneficiary from Brgy. Balanak.

Rosenda does the same things. She shares that she even experiments on how she cooks for her children such as using banana blossoms to make burger patties and sisig.

While they may already withdraw their cash grants from the program, all of them patiently waits for their turn. Though they need the assistance to get them going, especially for their food, they understand the importance of the community quarantine for their health.

According to DSWD Municipal Link Artem Reynald Makipagay, the DSWD and the LGU have scheduled a systematized cash withdrawal for the beneficiaries starting March 27 to April 6. Only 10 beneficiaries are allowed to be at the automated teller machine per hour to ensure less crowds and to protect the beneficiaries.

“Naiintindihan po namin ang pagbabago ng sistema ng payout. Para sa amin din po ito,” said Rosenda, who already has a plan with the grants she will be receiving—she will allot some for food and the rest will be saved for future use. While all of them are waiting, they won’t waste a day. They’ll continue doing whatever they can to make sure that they have enough food and that their family’s health is protected.***

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Gulayan sa Barangay is source of hope amidst community quarantine

Their source of income might have been suspended amidst the enhanced community quarantine over Luzon, but life goes on for 39-year-old Carmela Cabrera and the rest of the beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in Brgy. Concepcion in the small town of Plaridel in Quezon Province.

“Kailangan lang talaga, madiskarte ka,” a very committed Carmela shared.

Carmela, a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilya program since 2013, relies mostly on her husband’s income as a construction worker to support the needs of their two children. She helps with the finances through selling soap in the barangay.

“Pero ngayong naka-quarantine, wala talaga kaming kita,” shared Carmela, whose husband, Erwin, is stranded in another province where he works as a construction worker.

Despite this situation, Carmela remains positive and tries to radiate this positivity to her co-beneficiaries, who she knows is in the same situation as hers.

Gulayan sa barangay as a means of daily sustenance

One of the activities of the beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilya is the maintenance of a community garden as part of the application of their learnings from the monthly family development sessions (FDS) on food and nutrition and bio-intensive gardening.

The FDS is a component of the program where parent-grantees like Carmela are gathered every month to discuss family-strengthening topics including health and nutrition, rights of children and budget management.

“Mas napapakinabangan namin ito ngayon. Malaking tulong sa amin na walang ibang mapagkukunan sa ganitong sitwasyon na may naaani kami mula sa gulayan,” shared Carmela, who added that this greatly helps because they are far from the town’s market and that their movement is limited these days.

With 40 family-beneficiaries maintaining the garden, they take turns harvesting their crops these days including pechay and camote tops.

“Dahil hindi kami p’wedeng magtipon-tipon ngayon dahil sumusunod kami sa social distancing, kapag may nag-ani, pupunta s’ya sa bahay-bahay ng aming mga miyembro para bigyan ng kabahagi,” she said.

Though she thinks this might sound simple to others, having vegetables within their reach in times like this stretches even a can of sardines for the whole family’s consumption for a day as well as ensures that they have a source of nutrition, especially for their children.

A strength in attitude in coping with the situation

Carmela, who stands as the parent leader in their group, admits that they have been waiting for their cash grants so that they can have some money to support their other needs considering that all their sources of income have been impaired.

All throughout the region, the cash grants for the beneficiaries of the program are ready for withdrawal from their respective cash cards. However, the release of these grants are subject to the precautionary measures being implemented by each local government unit in response to the Covid-19 situation.

“Sa aming pakikipag-ugnayan sa lokal na pamahalaan, hindi muna pinapayagan ang mga benepisyaryo na lumabas ng bayan upang makapag-withdraw ng kanilang grants para na rin sa kanilang kalusugan at kaligtasan,” shared Jeffee Medrano, the assigned Municipal Link in the area, who added that the LGU, however, committed to provide food assistance to the beneficiaries while the enhanced community quarantine is in place.

In the town of Plaridel, there are no existing automated teller machines where the beneficiaries can withdraw their grants. They have to travel to the neighboring towns of Gumaca or Atimonan where there are also strict quarantine protocols.

“S’yempre madami ang nalulungkot dito dahil inaasahan namin ito sa ganitong panahon, pero nauunawaan po namin. Mas importante ang kalusugan namin,” said Carmela.

She also added that she personally makes sure that all her members understand the situation.

“Pinuntahan ko talaga ‘yung mga members ko sa bahay nila para kausapin at ipaliwanag. Kami naman ay nagtutulungan dito para makaraos,” shared Carmela, who even shares cooking tips with her members to ensure that they get most out of their vegetable harvests.

Besides the community garden, beneficiaries like them may also borrow rice and other goods in their community store, a livelihood project of more than 30 participants of the DSWD’s Sustainable Livelihood Program.

“Priority sa pinapahiram dito ay ang mga benepisyaryo, pero kinokontrol din namin dahil kailangan pa ring kumita ng tindahan,” said Carmela.

For her, the enhanced community quarantine of the government to manage the health situation might have been a big blow for families like them. However, the members of their parent group understand the importance of the community quarantine being implemented and the value of their cooperation to achieve its goal. After all, this is what the Pantawid Pamilya program has been teaching them all along—to be resilient in times like this and be supportive to the initiatives of the government.

“Diskarte lang talaga ang kailangan,” she added.***

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