The unfolding of ‘women power’

Pantukan, Compostela Valley –  Vanessa I. Diez, 33, a volunteer of Kapitbisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) in this town believes that women can actually contribute to the progress and development of their community.

Struggles

Vanessa, fondly called Em-Em, grew up poor.

“Ayaw ng tatay ko na magtrabaho ang aking Nanay dahil kailangan niyang alagaan ang pito nilang anak. Naniniwala siya na ang mga kababaihan ay dapat nasa bahay lang at pinagsisilbihan ang pamilya (My father did not allow my mother to work because she had to care for their seven children. He believes that women should stay home and serve the family),” Vanessa related.

However, her father’s unstable income as an electronic technician made it difficult to sustain their family’s daily needs.

Vanessa recalled that her father would rarely go home due to his work and she had to find ways to help her mother by selling snacks in her school.

“Kailangan kong tulungan ang aking ina dahil wala siyang mapagkakakitaan, at bihirang nasa bahay ang Tatay ko dahil nagtatrabaho siya sa malayong lugar. Minsan, kinakapos kami ng perang pambili ng mga pangunahing pangangailangan (I had to help my mother as she had no livelihood to rely on, and my father was seldom home, working far away.  At times, we were short of cash to buy our basic needs),” she added.

Because they were poor, Vanessa’s childhood was different from those of other children in their neighborhood. She had to be contented with the little that they have, but this never discouraged her, rather she learned from their hardships and emerged tougher than most. She also realized that nothing comes easy in life.

With  her father finding a new source of income, she was able to pursue her dream of earning a degree.

“Gusto ko ng kursong Civil Engineering ngunit gusto ng Tatay na maging guro ako. Pinilit ko ang gusto ko at nakuha ko naman (I took up Civil Engineering but my father wanted me to become a teacher. I insisted and I made it),” she said.

In her second year in college, Vanessa got pregnant, stopped schooling and got married. Since they were both young and unprepared to settle down and raise a family, Vanessa thought this could be the end of her dream of having a better life. She was assailed by doubts and fears.

To make both ends meet, she began selling banana cue.

“Sanay naman ako sa hirap ng buhay. Napagdaanan ko na ito (Hard life was nothing new to me as I have been through it all),” Vanessa expounded.

Her husband, on the other hand, had a hard time looking for a job. The responsibility of providing for their family begun to strain their marriage, more so, when Vanessa saw her husband’s lack of determination to be the family’s good provider.

“Hindi madali nu’ng umpisa, gusto ko talagang magkaroon ng pamumuhay na iba sa naranasan ko nang ako’y bata pa. Parati kaming kinakapos dahil ang Tatay lang ang may trabaho (It was not easy at first, I really wanted to have a different life from the one I experienced as a child.  We were always struggling because it was only my father who had a job),” Vanessa recounted.

Their marriage became better when her husband gradually started to recognize Vanessa’s efforts, as well as her need to grow. Since then, they have started working together, teaching their children to be responsible and independent.

Women power

Vanessa also started to serve in her church because helping others gives her a sense of fulfillment more than anything else. She also actively participated in other community undertakings.

“Ini-engganyo ko ang mga magulang at mga bata na mag-avail ng iba’t-ibang libreng serbisyo na ipinagkakaloob ng pamahalaan, katulad ng pagtutuli at pagbibigay ng mga gamot. Ayaw sumali ng ibang kababaihan sa aming purok dahil marami silang gawaing bahay. Ayaw kong mawala sa kanila ang mga ganitong oportunidad (I would encourage parents and children to avail of the different free services offered by the government, such as circumcision and medicines. The other women in our purok refused to participate as they were already burdened with household chores. I did not want them to miss out on these opportunities),” she emphasized.

Because of Vanessa’s active participation in community affairs, the Barangay Council of Women elected her as president with 14 puroks under her watch.  She was then encouraged to run as Purok Leader, and was overwhelmed with her fellow residents’ support, considering that it was her first attempt to run for public office.

Further, she was the only woman out of four candidates aiming for the position.

That was when ‘women power’ began to unfold in their village.

When Kalahi-CIDSS conducted its Municipal Participatory Analysis in October 2012, Vanessa was elected to represent her Purok along with two other residents. She was hesitant at first but accepted the new assignment with determination.

“Hindi naging madali ang paglalakbay. Nahirapan akong kumbinsihin ang mga miyembro ng aming komunidad, ang mga nakatira sa 14 na purok sa aming barangay, na tanggapin ang pagbabagong eto. Inisip nilang hindi rin naman matutuloy ang ipinakilalang istratehiyang ito ng pamahalaan, bakit pa pag-aksayahan ng oras (The journey was not easy. To convince the members of the community of this new development strategy seemed to be impossible to achieve. Residents of the 14 puroks in our barangay had a hard time submitting themselves to this change. They thought that what the government introduced will not be sustained anyway, so why waste time),” Vanessa explained.

Closer to dream

With the construction of the 200-linear meter road through Kalahi CIDSS, she felt she was one step closer to her dream.

Vanessa considered this project as one of her childhood dreams. For a long time, villagers had a hard time transporting their products to the Poblacion especially during rainy season. Road accidents were common as the road condition was awful, apart from being strewn with potholes.

During the Kalahi-CIDSS Municipal Inter-Barangay Forum (MIBF), where all barangays were present to defend their prioritized community sub-projects, Vanessa  took the stand for their project. She admitted she became emotional during the presentation.

All their efforts and sacrifices became more meaningful when their sub-project was prioritized.

“Walang pagsidlan ang aking kagalakan nang maging boses ako ng aming komunidad. Naniniwala akong maaari tayong magbago dahil sa nagkakaisa tayong nagtatrabaho at nagtutulungan sa isa’t isa. Ngayon ay nasa atin na ang daang magdadala sa atin sa katuparan ng ating mga pangarap (My happiness could not be contained when I became the voice of my community. I believe we can change for the better because we are a united community, working hard and supporting each other. Now, we have the road that will lead us to achieving our dreams),” Vanessa enthused. ###

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The unfolding of ‘women power’

​Kalahi CIDSS-NCDDP volunteer Vanessa M. Diez actively participates during the CEAC (Community Empowerment Activity Cycle) orientation in her community.

​Kalahi CIDSS-NCDDP volunteer Vanessa M. Diez actively participates during the CEAC (Community Empowerment Activity Cycle) orientation in her community.

Pantukan, Compostela Valley –  Vanessa I. Diez, 33, a volunteer of Kapitbisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) in this town believes that women can actually contribute to the progress and development of their community.

Struggles

Vanessa, fondly called Em-Em, grew up poor.

“Ayaw ng tatay ko na magtrabaho ang aking Nanay dahil kailangan niyang alagaan ang pito nilang anak. Naniniwala siya na ang mga kababaihan ay dapat nasa bahay lang at pinagsisilbihan ang pamilya (My father did not allow my mother to work because she had to care for their seven children. He believes that women should stay home and serve the family),” Vanessa related.

However, her father’s unstable income as an electronic technician made it difficult to sustain their family’s daily needs.

Vanessa recalled that her father would rarely go home due to his work and she had to find ways to help her mother by selling snacks in her school.

“Kailangan kong tulungan ang aking ina dahil wala siyang mapagkakakitaan, at bihirang nasa bahay ang Tatay ko dahil nagtatrabaho siya sa malayong lugar. Minsan, kinakapos kami ng perang pambili ng mga pangunahing pangangailangan (I had to help my mother as she had no livelihood to rely on, and my father was seldom home, working far away.  At times, we were short of cash to buy our basic needs),” she added.

Because they were poor, Vanessa’s childhood was different from those of other children in their neighborhood. She had to be contented with the little that they have, but this never discouraged her, rather she learned from their hardships and emerged tougher than most. She also realized that nothing comes easy in life.

With  her father finding a new source of income, she was able to pursue her dream of earning a degree.

“Gusto ko ng kursong Civil Engineering ngunit gusto ng Tatay na maging guro ako. Pinilit ko ang gusto ko at nakuha ko naman (I took up Civil Engineering but my father wanted me to become a teacher. I insisted and I made it),” she said.

In her second year in college, Vanessa got pregnant, stopped schooling and got married. Since they were both young and unprepared to settle down and raise a family, Vanessa thought this could be the end of her dream of having a better life. She was assailed by doubts and fears.

To make both ends meet, she began selling banana cue.

“Sanay naman ako sa hirap ng buhay. Napagdaanan ko na ito (Hard life was nothing new to me as I have been through it all),” Vanessa expounded.

Her husband, on the other hand, had a hard time looking for a job. The responsibility of providing for their family begun to strain their marriage, more so, when Vanessa saw her husband’s lack of determination to be the family’s good provider.

“Hindi madali nu’ng umpisa, gusto ko talagang magkaroon ng pamumuhay na iba sa naranasan ko nang ako’y bata pa. Parati kaming kinakapos dahil ang Tatay lang ang may trabaho (It was not easy at first, I really wanted to have a different life from the one I experienced as a child.  We were always struggling because it was only my father who had a job),” Vanessa recounted.

Their marriage became better when her husband gradually started to recognize Vanessa’s efforts, as well as her need to grow. Since then, they have started working together, teaching their children to be responsible and independent.

Women power

Vanessa also started to serve in her church because helping others gives her a sense of fulfillment more than anything else. She also actively participated in other community undertakings.

“Ini-engganyo ko ang mga magulang at mga bata na mag-avail ng iba’t-ibang libreng serbisyo na ipinagkakaloob ng pamahalaan, katulad ng pagtutuli at pagbibigay ng mga gamot. Ayaw sumali ng ibang kababaihan sa aming purok dahil marami silang gawaing bahay. Ayaw kong mawala sa kanila ang mga ganitong oportunidad (I would encourage parents and children to avail of the different free services offered by the government, such as circumcision and medicines. The other women in our purok refused to participate as they were already burdened with household chores. I did not want them to miss out on these opportunities),” she emphasized.

Because of Vanessa’s active participation in community affairs, the Barangay Council of Women elected her as president with 14 puroks under her watch.  She was then encouraged to run as Purok Leader, and was overwhelmed with her fellow residents’ support, considering that it was her first attempt to run for public office.

Further, she was the only woman out of four candidates aiming for the position.

That was when ‘women power’ began to unfold in their village.

When Kalahi-CIDSS conducted its Municipal Participatory Analysis in October 2012, Vanessa was elected to represent her Purok along with two other residents. She was hesitant at first but accepted the new assignment with determination.

“Hindi naging madali ang paglalakbay. Nahirapan akong kumbinsihin ang mga miyembro ng aming komunidad, ang mga nakatira sa 14 na purok sa aming barangay, na tanggapin ang pagbabagong eto. Inisip nilang hindi rin naman matutuloy ang ipinakilalang istratehiyang ito ng pamahalaan, bakit pa pag-aksayahan ng oras (The journey was not easy. To convince the members of the community of this new development strategy seemed to be impossible to achieve. Residents of the 14 puroks in our barangay had a hard time submitting themselves to this change. They thought that what the government introduced will not be sustained anyway, so why waste time),” Vanessa explained.

Closer to dream

With the construction of the 200-linear meter road through Kalahi CIDSS, she felt she was one step closer to her dream.

Vanessa considered this project as one of her childhood dreams. For a long time, villagers had a hard time transporting their products to the Poblacion especially during rainy season. Road accidents were common as the road condition was awful, apart from being strewn with potholes.

During the Kalahi-CIDSS Municipal Inter-Barangay Forum (MIBF), where all barangays were present to defend their prioritized community sub-projects, Vanessa  took the stand for their project. She admitted she became emotional during the presentation.

All their efforts and sacrifices became more meaningful when their sub-project was prioritized.

“Walang pagsidlan ang aking kagalakan nang maging boses ako ng aming komunidad. Naniniwala akong maaari tayong magbago dahil sa nagkakaisa tayong nagtatrabaho at nagtutulungan sa isa’t isa. Ngayon ay nasa atin na ang daang magdadala sa atin sa katuparan ng ating mga pangarap (My happiness could not be contained when I became the voice of my community. I believe we can change for the better because we are a united community, working hard and supporting each other. Now, we have the road that will lead us to achieving our dreams),” Vanessa enthused. ###

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Seeding prosperity: DSWD cultivates the entrepreneurial spirit of farmers in ARMM

Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao – A total of 90 participants from 10 participating farmers’ groups joined the farming and business management trainings organized by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), through its Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP),  in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The trainings served to enhance and diversify their skills, as well as widen their knowledge on managing enterprises.

Acknowledging that agriculture is pivotal in the economic development of the country,  DSWD responds to this by empowering farmers to attain self-sufficiency and recognize their role in food security.

“They must be empowered to recognize that farming is an enterprise and an important industry that provides food, not only for their families, but for many other families in the country,” DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said.

Moving on from tradition

In May this year, a total of 50 select representatives from the ten farmers’ groups participated in a five-day training on palm oil, rubber, and high-value crop planting.

The local government expressed its intent on shifting from traditional coconut and corn planting to palm oil, rubber, and other high value crops.

SLP Officer Baby Zainab Penit shares, “The graduates of the training can [eventually] serve as resident consultants or technicians for their fellow planters in Maguindanao.”

The local government expects the shift in crops to increase the income of the farmers, as there are already identified markets locally and in Malaysia.

Crops, counting, and capital

Aside from their skills training, each of the ten participating farmers’ groups sent its chairman, treasurer, and two other members to a basic business management seven-day workshop facilitated by the SLP in the municipal training center in this town.

In partnership with the local government, trainings focused on basic bookkeeping, accounting, organizational management, and preparing livelihood project proposals.

Mayor Datu Shameem Mastura believes that this is important “in order to ensure the capability of the PO [people’s organization] and the sustainability of the livelihood assistance.”

The DSWD tapped Maguindanao-based business and agriculture experts to conduct the trainings as resource speakers.

Building their background

DSWD provides a seed capital assistance of P10,000 to each member to augment their capital for their enterprises. However, what is more crucial and sustainable is to instill skills and build the capabilities of these farmers so that they become self-sufficient.

Penit adds that this will also promote the groups’ “track record of programs and services as well as its capability and integrity in partnering with other funding providers and any government financing institutions in the future.”

DSWD’s drive for development

Through the SLP, DSWD aims to seed prosperity among communities by capitalizing on their assets.

The program supports community-based enterprises and employment opportunities for community members by facilitating skills trainings, providing starter kits, linking to partner institutions, and assisting with seed capital.

Sec. Soliman expresses that ultimately, the people will bring about their own development.

The role of government is to ensure that resources can be allocated appropriately in order to stimulate the development.

Sec. Soliman hopes that in the near future, the beneficiaries will be able to say, “Kaya ko ang pagbabago dahil sa sarili kong negosyo (I can change for the better through my own business).”

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Seeding prosperity: DSWD cultivates the entrepreneurial spirit of farmers in ARMM

Participants receive their certificate of completion of their training from Sultan Kudarat Planning Officers

Participants receive their certificate of completion of their training from Sultan Kudarat Planning Officers.

Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao – A total of 90 participants from 10 participating farmers’ groups joined the farming and business management trainings organized by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), through its Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP),  in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The trainings served to enhance and diversify their skills, as well as widen their knowledge on managing enterprises.

Acknowledging that agriculture is pivotal in the economic development of the country,  DSWD responds to this by empowering farmers to attain self-sufficiency and recognize their role in food security.

“They must be empowered to recognize that farming is an enterprise and an important industry that provides food, not only for their families, but for many other families in the country,” DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said.

Moving on from tradition

In May this year, a total of 50 select representatives from the ten farmers’ groups participated in a five-day training on palm oil, rubber, and high-value crop planting.

The local government expressed its intent on shifting from traditional coconut and corn planting to palm oil, rubber, and other high value crops.

SLP Officer Baby Zainab Penit shares, “The graduates of the training can [eventually] serve as resident consultants or technicians for their fellow planters in Maguindanao.”

The local government expects the shift in crops to increase the income of the farmers, as there are already identified markets locally and in Malaysia.

Crops, counting, and capital

Aside from their skills training, each of the ten participating farmers’ groups sent its chairman, treasurer, and two other members to a basic business management seven-day workshop facilitated by the SLP in the municipal training center in this town.

In partnership with the local government, trainings focused on basic bookkeeping, accounting, organizational management, and preparing livelihood project proposals.

Mayor Datu Shameem Mastura believes that this is important “in order to ensure the capability of the PO [people’s organization] and the sustainability of the livelihood assistance.”

The DSWD tapped Maguindanao-based business and agriculture experts to conduct the trainings as resource speakers.

Building their background

DSWD provides a seed capital assistance of P10,000 to each member to augment their capital for their enterprises. However, what is more crucial and sustainable is to instill skills and build the capabilities of these farmers so that they become self-sufficient.

Penit adds that this will also promote the groups’ “track record of programs and services as well as its capability and integrity in partnering with other funding providers and any government financing institutions in the future.”

DSWD’s drive for development

Through the SLP, DSWD aims to seed prosperity among communities by capitalizing on their assets.

The program supports community-based enterprises and employment opportunities for community members by facilitating skills trainings, providing starter kits, linking to partner institutions, and assisting with seed capital.

Sec. Soliman expresses that ultimately, the people will bring about their own development.

The role of government is to ensure that resources can be allocated appropriately in order to stimulate the development.

Sec. Soliman hopes that in the near future, the beneficiaries will be able to say, “Kaya ko ang pagbabago dahil sa sarili kong negosyo (I can change for the better through my own business).”

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Indigent senior thankful for monthly pension

Quezon City – For 81-year-old Magdalena Arce-Amejana of Camarin, Caloocan City, the Social Pension Program implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has helped her in many ways.

Lola Magdalena has been a beneficiary of the program since 2012. She shared her story during the Monday’s flag ceremony at the DSWD-Central Office.

“Napakalaking tulong po talaga sa aking pamilya ang natatanggap kong buwanang pensyon mula sa DSWD, hindi na ako namumulot ng basura sa kalsada upang may makain kami  (The monthly pension I receive from  DSWD is a big help to my family. With my pension, I need not go back to the streets to scavenge for trash just to have some money for food),” Lola Magdalena narrated.

Lola Magdalena knows her priority when it comes to spending.   When she first received her pension amounting to P3,000 (for six months) she immediately bought two pieces of iron sheets and some pieces of plywood to construct her own home.

Although she decided to live separately from her seven siblings, she still helps them from time to time.

She also narrated that she used her succeeding pensions to start a small sari-sari store in front of her house.

“Sa tuwing nakatatanggap ako ng pensyon, ang kalahati ay itinatabi at idinadagdag ko sa aking puhunan para sa maliit kong tindahan, kung saan namin kinukuha ang pang-araw araw na panggastos (Every time that I receive my pension, I save half of it and use it as additional capital  for my small sari-sari store which supports our daily needs),” Lola Magdalena said.

“Kahit gaano kahirap ang buhay huwag tayong mawawalan ng pag-asa.   Kaya natin ang pagbabago kung gagamitin natin sa wasto ang anumang tulong mula sa pamahalaan (Don’t lose hope despite the hardships in life. We can improve our lives if we put government support into good use),” Lola Magdalena shared.

“The amount of P500 maybe not be a lot for some, but it is for senior citizens like Lola Magdalena. This enables them to live a more comfortable life in their twilight years,” DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said.

Social Pension Program

Sec. Soliman said that the Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens is one of the provisions under Section 5 of Republic Act 9994, otherwise known as the ‘Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010,’ which provides P500 monthly stipend to senior citizens to augment their daily subsistence and other medical needs.

The priority beneficiaries of the Social Pension are senior citizens 77 years old and above who are frail, sickly and disabled, who do not have regular source of income and/or support from any member of the family, and who do not receive other pension benefits from government and private agencies.

For this year, the government allocated P2.87 billion for the program to benefit 479,080 poor senior citizens nationwide.

For 2015, the DSWD has proposed a budget of P4.43 billion to cover indigent senior citizens aged 60 years old and above. ###

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Indigent senior thankful for monthly pension

Lola Magdalena sharing her story to DSWD personnel.

Lola Magdalena sharing her story to DSWD personnel.

Quezon City – For 81-year-old Magdalena Arce-Amejana of Camarin, Caloocan City, the Social Pension Program implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has helped her in many ways.

Lola Magdalena has been a beneficiary of the program since 2012. She shared her story during the Monday’s flag ceremony at the DSWD-Central Office.

“Napakalaking tulong po talaga sa aking pamilya ang natatanggap kong buwanang pensyon mula sa DSWD, hindi na ako namumulot ng basura sa kalsada upang may makain kami  (The monthly pension I receive from  DSWD is a big help to my family. With my pension, I need not go back to the streets to scavenge for trash just to have some money for food),” Lola Magdalena narrated.

Lola Magdalena knows her priority when it comes to spending.   When she first received her pension amounting to P3,000 (for six months) she immediately bought two pieces of iron sheets and some pieces of plywood to construct her own home.

Although she decided to live separately from her seven siblings, she still helps them from time to time.

She also narrated that she used her succeeding pensions to start a small sari-sari store in front of her house.

“Sa tuwing nakatatanggap ako ng pensyon, ang kalahati ay itinatabi at idinadagdag ko sa aking puhunan para sa maliit kong tindahan, kung saan namin kinukuha ang pang-araw araw na panggastos (Every time that I receive my pension, I save half of it and use it as additional capital  for my small sari-sari store which supports our daily needs),” Lola Magdalena said.

“Kahit gaano kahirap ang buhay huwag tayong mawawalan ng pag-asa.   Kaya natin ang pagbabago kung gagamitin natin sa wasto ang anumang tulong mula sa pamahalaan (Don’t lose hope despite the hardships in life. We can improve our lives if we put government support into good use),” Lola Magdalena shared.

“The amount of P500 maybe not be a lot for some, but it is for senior citizens like Lola Magdalena. This enables them to live a more comfortable life in their twilight years,” DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said.

Social Pension Program

Sec. Soliman said that the Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens is one of the provisions under Section 5 of Republic Act 9994, otherwise known as the ‘Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010,’ which provides P500 monthly stipend to senior citizens to augment their daily subsistence and other medical needs.

The priority beneficiaries of the Social Pension are senior citizens 77 years old and above who are frail, sickly and disabled, who do not have regular source of income and/or support from any member of the family, and who do not receive other pension benefits from government and private agencies.

For this year, the government allocated P2.87 billion for the program to benefit 479,080 poor senior citizens nationwide.

For 2015, the DSWD has proposed a budget of P4.43 billion to cover indigent senior citizens aged 60 years old and above. ###

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Childless couple adopts a child, builds a family

The year 2000 was memorable for Bryan and Marie Grace Retales, as that year, they met and fell in love, literally in the workplace.

Marie Grace worked as an animal nutritionist at the Savers Feed Company while Bryan was a veterinarian at the Nueva Swine Valley Savers, a sister company of Savers.

Since their workplaces are extensions of each other, Bryan often visited the Savers Feed Company in Makati City.  On the other hand, Marie Grace often go to Nueva Swine Valley in Iloilo to examine the hogs.

Hence, Bryan’s and Marie Grace’s careers intertwined and they quickly became close friends because of their frequent interaction.

The couple shared that at first, no courtship happened and they just enjoyed each other’s company.

“Later on,” Bryan said, “I became attracted to Marie Grace because of her sincerity and simplicity.” On the other hand, Marie Grace valued Bryan’s sense of humor and caring nature.

This started their long distance relationship.

After six months of phone calls and text messages, Bryan decided to look for another job in Manila to be closer to Marie Grace.

Four years after, they were married at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Quezon City on January 15, 2005.

Difficulty in starting a family

The Retales couple had always wanted to have a big family with four children, at least. But they faced a problem early in the marriage.

Marie Grace was diagnosed to have Polycystic Ovarian Cysts Syndrome (PCOS) since she was 12 years old which made it difficult for her to conceive.

Driven by their desire to have a child, the couple took fertility workouts in 2005 at the Medical City in Pasig City. Marie Grace was prescribed fertility pills but to no avail.

They were then offered to undergo artificial insemination and in-vitro fertility test (IVF) but they refused as  they felt these do not conform to their practices and beliefs as devoted Christians.

In 2007, the couple consulted another doctor  at the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) hospital and Marie Grace was once again prescribed with fertility pills.

Pregnancy  remained elusive, though.

“I was disappointed but remained hopeful,” Marie Grace said.

The couple took another fertility workout in 2009 at the Los Baños Doctor’s Hospital in Laguna where Marie Grace was given fertility pills, this time with higher dosage.  But after seeing his wife suffer from side effects, Bryan convinced his wife to discontinue taking the fertility pills.

“My strong faith in God and Bryan’s continuous support gave me the strength to eventually accept my situation.  I am blessed to have a loving and understanding husband who made me feel that our love for each other is more important than trying to have a child of our own,” Marie Grace said.

Opening their hearts to adoption

The idea of adoption came to them in November 2009 when their household helper informed them about an abandoned three-day old boy at San Anton Parish in Los Baños, Laguna.

Without his wife’s knowledge, Bryan became interested and searched for the baby boy in different hospitals in the province.  When he found the child, Bryan bought him milk and diaper.

Later, he informed Marie Grace about the medical condition of the child and his willingness to help him. She readily agreed so they often visited the child in the hospital and paid for his medical needs. They got so attached to the infant that they decided to adopt him.

The couple then submitted their application to legally adopt the baby boy to the Los Baños Municipal Social Welfare Office (LBMSWO), where the infant was referred by the hospital for temporary shelter.

They, however, later found out that the child was released to another couple for adoption.

Bryan and Marie Grace were disappointed on  the turn of events.  They wanted to pursue a case against the LBMSWO for discounting their application, but the baby’s pediatrician advised them against it, explaining that conflict and stress may not help the child.

The experience, though disappointing, helped the couple realize that they are capable of loving a child who is not biologically their own. They then decided to forego fertility treatments and opted for legal adoption instead.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) advocates for adoption, or the socio-legal process of finding a permanent family to the many abandoned, neglected and/or relinquished children waiting in centers.  In providing for a permanent home, however, DSWD reminds couples to always opt for legal adoption.

“Legal adoption offers security and ensures the best interest of the child. This is why DSWD discourages direct placement and is against simulation of birth certificates,” DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said.

Welcoming Baby Margie

In January 2011, they contacted NORFIL Foundation, Inc., a child placement agency accredited by DSWD, to express their interest in adopting a baby girl. The couple was present at the Local Matching Conference at DSWD Central Office in May 2011, where they were matched to an 8-month old baby girl from an orphanage in Palawan.

They named their child Maria Margarita, fondly called Margie.

The couple then became the epitome of loving parents with Bryan taking a one-week break from work to bond with their  infant daughter, while Marie Grace filed two years of leave from her post-graduate studies to be a full-time mother to Margie.

“We are very happy to have Margie in our lives. Our home is now livelier because of her presence,” the couple enthused. Although they experienced some changes in their lifestyle with Margie’s arrival, they simply enjoy being with their daughter.

Margie is now three years old. Bryan and Marie Grace claimed that they never felt that Margie is adopted because they love her unconditionally.

Adoption paved the way for them to fulfill their dreams of having a child of their own, and finally, a family.

They also believe that their daughter has a right to know the truth.

“We do not intend to hide the fact that Margie is adopted.  We want to be honest and open with her, and affirm her that there is nothing wrong with being adopted,” the couple emphasized.

Active parent advocates

Bryan and Marie Grace are active participants of NORFIL’s Adoptive Parents (NAP) Adoption Support Group, taking part in its activities so they can learn and share their positive experiences on adoption to other adoptive families.

Further, as part of the support group, they advocate to couples who are able to consider adoption and help the many kids waiting to have their own families in the different orphanages.

Children needing families

The Retales’ story is just one of the heartwarming stories of childless couples finding fulfillment in becoming loving parents to homeless children.

In the first semester of 2014 alone, a total of 257 children were issued with a DSWD Certification Declaring a Child Legally Available for Adoption (CDCLAA).  Of the said number, 110 children are already under the care of families for trial custody that will eventually lead to possible adoption, 10 children are for foster-adopt cases while 137 children are for local matching process with adoptive parents.

For those interested to know more on how to go about legal adoption procedures, you may  call DSWD-Adoption Resource  and Referal Unit (ARRU) at 734 86 22  or contact the accredited DSWD-licensed adoption NGOs such as Kaisahang Buhay Foundation (KBF) at  912 11 60 and Norfil Foundation at 372 3577. ###

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Childless couple adopts a child, builds a family

Beaming with joy, Bryan and Marie Grace hold daughter Margie close to their hearts.

Beaming with joy, Bryan and Marie Grace hold daughter Margie close to their hearts.

The year 2000 was memorable for Bryan and Marie Grace Retales, as that year, they met and fell in love, literally in the workplace.

Marie Grace worked as an animal nutritionist at the Savers Feed Company while Bryan was a veterinarian at the Nueva Swine Valley Savers, a sister company of Savers.

Since their workplaces are extensions of each other, Bryan often visited the Savers Feed Company in Makati City.  On the other hand, Marie Grace often go to Nueva Swine Valley in Iloilo to examine the hogs.

Hence, Bryan’s and Marie Grace’s careers intertwined and they quickly became close friends because of their frequent interaction.

The couple shared that at first, no courtship happened and they just enjoyed each other’s company.

“Later on,” Bryan said, “I became attracted to Marie Grace because of her sincerity and simplicity.” On the other hand, Marie Grace valued Bryan’s sense of humor and caring nature.

This started their long distance relationship.

After six months of phone calls and text messages, Bryan decided to look for another job in Manila to be closer to Marie Grace.

Four years after, they were married at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Quezon City on January 15, 2005.

Difficulty in starting a family

The Retales couple had always wanted to have a big family with four children, at least. But they faced a problem early in the marriage.

Marie Grace was diagnosed to have Polycystic Ovarian Cysts Syndrome (PCOS) since she was 12 years old which made it difficult for her to conceive.

Driven by their desire to have a child, the couple took fertility workouts in 2005 at the Medical City in Pasig City. Marie Grace was prescribed fertility pills but to no avail.

They were then offered to undergo artificial insemination and in-vitro fertility test (IVF) but they refused as  they felt these do not conform to their practices and beliefs as devoted Christians.

In 2007, the couple consulted another doctor  at the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) hospital and Marie Grace was once again prescribed with fertility pills.

Pregnancy  remained elusive, though.

“I was disappointed but remained hopeful,” Marie Grace said.

The couple took another fertility workout in 2009 at the Los Baños Doctor’s Hospital in Laguna where Marie Grace was given fertility pills, this time with higher dosage.  But after seeing his wife suffer from side effects, Bryan convinced his wife to discontinue taking the fertility pills.

“My strong faith in God and Bryan’s continuous support gave me the strength to eventually accept my situation.  I am blessed to have a loving and understanding husband who made me feel that our love for each other is more important than trying to have a child of our own,” Marie Grace said.

Opening their hearts to adoption

The idea of adoption came to them in November 2009 when their household helper informed them about an abandoned three-day old boy at San Anton Parish in Los Baños, Laguna.

Without his wife’s knowledge, Bryan became interested and searched for the baby boy in different hospitals in the province.  When he found the child, Bryan bought him milk and diaper.

Later, he informed Marie Grace about the medical condition of the child and his willingness to help him. She readily agreed so they often visited the child in the hospital and paid for his medical needs. They got so attached to the infant that they decided to adopt him.

The couple then submitted their application to legally adopt the baby boy to the Los Baños Municipal Social Welfare Office (LBMSWO), where the infant was referred by the hospital for temporary shelter.

They, however, later found out that the child was released to another couple for adoption.

Bryan and Marie Grace were disappointed on  the turn of events.  They wanted to pursue a case against the LBMSWO for discounting their application, but the baby’s pediatrician advised them against it, explaining that conflict and stress may not help the child.

The experience, though disappointing, helped the couple realize that they are capable of loving a child who is not biologically their own. They then decided to forego fertility treatments and opted for legal adoption instead.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) advocates for adoption, or the socio-legal process of finding a permanent family to the many abandoned, neglected and/or relinquished children waiting in centers.  In providing for a permanent home, however, DSWD reminds couples to always opt for legal adoption.

“Legal adoption offers security and ensures the best interest of the child. This is why DSWD discourages direct placement and is against simulation of birth certificates,” DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said.

Welcoming Baby Margie

In January 2011, they contacted NORFIL Foundation, Inc., a child placement agency accredited by DSWD, to express their interest in adopting a baby girl. The couple was present at the Local Matching Conference at DSWD Central Office in May 2011, where they were matched to an 8-month old baby girl from an orphanage in Palawan.

They named their child Maria Margarita, fondly called Margie.

The couple then became the epitome of loving parents with Bryan taking a one-week break from work to bond with their  infant daughter, while Marie Grace filed two years of leave from her post-graduate studies to be a full-time mother to Margie.

“We are very happy to have Margie in our lives. Our home is now livelier because of her presence,” the couple enthused. Although they experienced some changes in their lifestyle with Margie’s arrival, they simply enjoy being with their daughter.

Margie is now three years old. Bryan and Marie Grace claimed that they never felt that Margie is adopted because they love her unconditionally.

Adoption paved the way for them to fulfill their dreams of having a child of their own, and finally, a family.

They also believe that their daughter has a right to know the truth.

“We do not intend to hide the fact that Margie is adopted.  We want to be honest and open with her, and affirm her that there is nothing wrong with being adopted,” the couple emphasized.

Active parent advocates

Bryan and Marie Grace are active participants of NORFIL’s Adoptive Parents (NAP) Adoption Support Group, taking part in its activities so they can learn and share their positive experiences on adoption to other adoptive families.

Further, as part of the support group, they advocate to couples who are able to consider adoption and help the many kids waiting to have their own families in the different orphanages.

Children needing families

The Retales’ story is just one of the heartwarming stories of childless couples finding fulfillment in becoming loving parents to homeless children.

In the first semester of 2014 alone, a total of 257 children were issued with a DSWD Certification Declaring a Child Legally Available for Adoption (CDCLAA).  Of the said number, 110 children are already under the care of families for trial custody that will eventually lead to possible adoption, 10 children are for foster-adopt cases while 137 children are for local matching process with adoptive parents.

For those interested to know more on how to go about legal adoption procedures, you may  call DSWD-Adoption Resource  and Referal Unit (ARRU) at 734 86 22  or contact the accredited DSWD-licensed adoption NGOs such as Kaisahang Buhay Foundation (KBF) at  912 11 60 and Norfil Foundation at 372 3577. ###

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