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Livelihood opportunity boosts a housewife’s faith in herself

Norhaya Toma, Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary of Sultan Naga Dimaporo, Lanao del Norte, in front of her sari-sari store which she was able to put up through the Sustainable Livelihood Program.

Norhaya Toma, Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary of Sultan Naga Dimaporo, Lanao del Norte, in front of her sari-sari store which she was able to put up through the Sustainable Livelihood Program.

Sultan Naga Dimaporo, Lanao del Norte - Having nine children, Norhaya Toma, 53, knows how difficult life could be, especially when finances are not enough to provide for the family’s basic needs.

Despite this, hope never left Norhaya who always believed that resiliency and diligence will eventually lead her to success.

Living in a small village in Barangay Piraka, Norhaya previously thought there were few opportunities to improve their way of life. She recalled that there were times when making both ends meet seemed impossible.

But like any other mother, Norhaya searched for ways to be able to bring food on their table.

Because of her resourcefulness, Norhaya was able to open her own sari-sari store, but later on also closed due to lack of capital and knowledge in managing the business.

“Ang feeling ko nasa madilim akong kuwarto. Hindi ko alam kung kailan ko makikita ang liwanag na hinahanap ko.  Nandoon na ako sa puntong tinatanong ko ang sarili ko bakit hindi ko magawang magbigay ng magandang buhay sa pamilya ko (I felt like I was in a dark room, not knowing what to do to see that light I needed. I was actually at that point of questioning myself as a person. Why can’t I provide a good life for my family?),” Norhaya sadly narrated.

She shared that her thoughts would run from negative to positive, but Norhaya held on to her faith that opportunities will come their way soon.

It helps that her family is a beneficiary of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), especially in providing food and school expenses of her children.

Now, her children can go to school with food in their stomach.  Through the cash grant, Norhaya was able to buy school supplies for her children.

Pantawid Pamilya is heaven-sent for Norhaya as the program helped her provide for the growing needs of her family.  The program also boosted her hope that a better tomorrow can be achieved, and that government can help improve her family’s life.

Livelihood support

Her hope was further affirmed when she, as Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary, was given access to livelihood opportunity through DSWD’s Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP).

Under the convergence strategy of DSWD, the sustainability of the gains of Pantawid Pamilya is important.  Thus, the Pantawid Pamilya families are considered as among the priority beneficiaries of SLP.

SLP aims to improve the standard of living of poor households. Through the community-driven enterprise development approach, participants, like Norhaya, undergo workshops and skills training in order to determine the most suitable market-driven and resource-based livelihoods to engage in.

Norhaya felt that the long wait for that much-coveted chance is now over with her participation with the SLP. She strongly felt that SLP is one big opportunity for her to get back on her feet.

She wasted no time and eagerly participated in the capability building workshops which SLP conducted.

“Sa mga workshop ko natutunan kung paano ang tamang pag-manage sa maliit kong negosyo. Naituro sa akin ng programa kung paano makakuha ng mas maraming kostumer at paano ipagpapatuloy ang sari-sari store kahit maliit ang kapital ko (It was through the workshops where I learned the correct way of managing my small business. I learned how to get more customers, and how to sustain it even with the little capital that I have),” Norhaya said.

After undergoing the capacity building component of SLP, Norhaya opted to access the Micro-Enterprise Track of the program where participants are given capital assistance to operate a small business.

Norhaya received P10,000 capital assistance to put up her sari-sari store anew. This time, Norhaya is already knowledgeable in managing a small business.

Today, she prides herself of successfully managing her business. The store is now a source of income for her and her nine children. It has regularly brought food on their table, and has provided the basic needs of her children.

“Sa kaunting kinikita ko ay nakakabili na din ako ng kahit simpleng laruan para sa mga anak ko (With some savings, I am now able to buy even simple toys for my kids),” she happily said.

Although there were times that the business is slow, she does not mind. She is confident and hopeful that with the knowledge she gained from SLP in managing a small business, she would be able to earn more profits.

“Natutunan ko na sa pagnenegosyo, talagang minsan matumal ang benta.  Parte lang talaga ‘yun ng pagtitinda at hindi na ako masyadong nag-aalala na wala sa lugar. Meron na ako ngayong tiwala sa aking kaalaman, alam kong kakayanin kong bumangon (I learned that in business, there are ups and downs, I am not bothered by these. I am pretty sure that with just a little faith in myself, I can get back on my feet),” Norhaya proudly shared.

Norhaya added, “Ipinamulat sa akin ng mga programa ng DSWD na kaya ko naman pala ang magbago at mapaunlad ang aking kakayahan at ng aking pamilya (The program has made me realized that I can change for the better and improve myself and my family).” ###

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​Housewife discovers self-worth through Pantawid Pamilya

Larci narrates her struggles as well as her triumphs in life in front of DSWD staff.

Larci narrates her struggles as well as her triumphs in life in front of DSWD staff.

As life happens, there are tons of ups and downs, but it is a journey to self-discovery.

This, according to Larci Loyola, 39 and a mother of seven children, from Barangay Commonwealth, Quezon City, describes her experience as a beneficiary of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, the conditional cash transfer program implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Larci spoke before DSWD officials and employees during yesterday’s flag ceremony.

The Loyola family became a member of Pantawid Pamilya in 2007. Their monthly cash grants have helped them meet the daily food, health, and school needs of their children.

“Pero higit pa sa perang natatanggap ng pamilya ko mula ​​Pantawid Pamilya ay mas nakilala ko ang aking sarili. Nailabas ko ang aking self-confidence dahil binigyan ako ng pagkakataon na maging isang parent-leader at makibahagi sa mga community events. Sa pamamagitan din ng Family Development Session (FDS), natuto akong mag-budget ng pera at nahasa ang aking kakayahan dahil sa mga training  (But more than the cash grants, Pantawid Pamilya has helped me to know myself more. I developed my self-confidence by becoming a parent-leader participating in various community events. Also, through the FDS, I learned how to budget money and I enhanced my skills through trainings),” narrated  Larci.

FDS is a regular gathering of Pantawid Pamilya parent-leaders where they discuss parent effectiveness, home and financial management, values formation, and disaster preparedness, among others.

Attendance to the FDS is one of the conditions of the program that beneficiaries should comply. The other conditions are sending children to school, and bringing them to health centers for check up.

The FDS is a unique feature of Pantawid Pamilya. Other countries implementing the program do not have this as one of their conditions.

Pantawid Pamilya has also opened a window of opportunities for the Loyola family.

Larci was able to get a job as an enumerator for DSWD-Listahanan where she did house-to-house survey and interview with families to be included in the data base of poor household.

She also became a volunteer in the program of the Department of Health dubbed as Kalusugan Pangkalahatan where she further enhanced her skill in dealing with people.

Her husband, Reynold, was hired as street sweeper through DSWD’s partnership with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) dubbed as Trabahong Lansangan. The program is a convergence effort of DSWD and DPWH to provide employment which will contribute to poverty alleviation and improve the quality of life of the poor families.

Larci’s eldest daughter, Lara Jane, was accepted in the  Government Internship Program in DSWD-NCR in 2012 where she was exposed to office work. Consequently, Lara was hired by Smart Communications as part of their special project.

“Kung meron silang tinatawag na make-up transformation, sa akin po ang nangyari ay total life transformation. Hindi lang panlabas at pansamantalang pagbabago ang naidulot ng programa ng DSWD, ito’y  isang pagbabago na gagabay sa amin tungo sa isang mas magandang bukas (If there is what they refer to as make-up transformation, in my case, I can call it total life transformation. The transformation is not just aesthetics, but one that will guide us to our journey to a better future),” Larci explained.

DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman expressed joy in hearing the positive story shared by Larci.

“Our programs are not only intended to improve the lives of the poor but also to equip them to help themselves work towards a better future,” Sec. Soliman said.

“Minsan sa aming buhay, naranasan naming walang-wala kami. Pagod kami dahil sa dami ng iniisip na problema, malungkot, nangangamba, at galit palagi. Ngayon nabago ang lahat. Basta pala mabigyan ng oportunidad, kaya pala naming mabago ang aming buhay (At one point in our lives, we experienced having nothing. We were bothered by our predicament. We were filled with sadness, fear, and anger. But everything has changed. I realized that if given the opportunity, like the programs provided to us, we can also change our situation for the better),”  Larci ended. ###

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An Extraordinary Response to a Different Kind of Ordinary: How the “New Normal” Killed “Hayahay”

In the North Eastern part of Leyte, about 360 kilometers from Manila lies Tacloban City, the gateway to adventure east of Visayas. Not only do local and foreign visitors marvel at its pristine waters, they also take a tour of the past by visiting the historical structures located around the tourist circuit.

Progress, too, is evident here as it was proclaimed a highly urbanized city in December 2008 and a candidate for one of the top 10 Highly Urbanized City (HUC) Governments in 2011.Tacloban is the seat of trade, tourism, education, culture,and government in Region VIII.

Up until 2013, there was no way but up for the rapidly developing city. It was the stroke of fate in November of that year that changed the course of its history. Typhoon Yolanda, arguably the strongest typhoon ever that made a landfall in the world, greatly devastated Tacloban.

The debris of destruction caused by‘Yolanda’ littered the streets of Tacloban. Photo by European Pressphoto Agency/Francis Malasig

The debris of destruction caused by‘Yolanda’ littered the streets of Tacloban. Photo by European Pressphoto Agency/Francis Malasig

After ‘Yolanda’, the city was permeated with the stench of dead bodies. It had become a place wiped clean of shelter, livelihood, and urbanization.

“Amoy ngpatay, amoy ng mga survivors, amoy ng araw at ulan… amoy ng isang devastated na lugar ang Tacloban (The smell of the dead, the smell of survivors, Tacloban was the smell of devastation),” recalled Faye, one of the responders from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)-Central Office (CO).

The birth of the new normal

Year 2013 would go down in disaster playbooks as the year of calamities for the country. Disasters, both man-made and natural, struck the Philippines one after the other, starting with the Sabah conflict in March that led to the displacement of many Filipinos, and then Tropical Storm Maring in August, the Zamboanga siege and Typhoon Santi in September, and the Bohol earthquake in October, and finally ‘Yolanda’ in November.

The Philippines is no stranger to frequent visits of natural disasters. It is, after all, lying within the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area where typhoons and earthquakes occur.

In the 2012 World Risk Report by the United Nations University Institute of Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), the country was reported the third most disaster-prone country worldwide out of 173 countries assessed.

Every year, the Philippines is visited by an average of 20 typhoons per year, 5 of which are considered destructive.

An average of five earthquakes (though majority are too weak to be felt) also occur per day.

On November 2, news programs went abuzz over a low pressure area (LPA) that could possibly intensify and hit the Philippines in the following days. It only took two days for the LPA to intensify to a tropical storm according to the Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA) and the Joint Warning Center (JTWC). As days passed, the storm progressed to SupertyphoonHaiyan, and on November 7, ‘Haiyan’, now bearing the local name ‘Yolanda’, entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical & Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) issued public storm signal warnings and alerted people of a storm surge that would hit the coastal areas.

At that time, the country was still recovering from the aftermath of other disasters.

In Bohol, a total of P23, 373, 874 worth of relief goods were transported to Tagbilaran City via C-130 and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Ship. Some 198 personnel from DSWD-CO and Field Offices (FOs) were deployed to affected local government units (LGUs) to augment in disaster operations. Medical missions and clean-up operations were also being done alongside monitoring of ‘Yolanda’.

As the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and other agencies were putting things in order, they were also bracing for ‘Yolanda’.

Before the fateful day, NDRRMC had called for a meeting to reaffirm the status of preparedness of concerned agencies.

new normal1-DSWD prepositioned 24,450 family food packs and downloaded funds amounting to P30 million to the regions that were along the path of the typhoon.

The LGUs installed disaster preparedness measures, making sure that their response teams would be easily alerted. Forced evacuation procedures were simultaneously executed.

Preparedness was done, and done very well.

Yet, even a well-executed disaster preparedness plan could not match the events that occurred.

In the afternoon of November 8, ‘Yolanda’s’ wrath, with rains and sustained winds of 300 kilometers per hour, was clearly evident.

People braced themselves for the howling winds, floods, and mudslides that commonly accompany this kind of storm. But ‘Yolanda’ had another unpleasant surprise for them.

As the winds became stronger,  a storm surge as high as six meters barreled its way farther inland, causing rapid flooding and devouring everything that got in its path.

After the storm, power was down, trees uprooted, bridges collapsed, roads blocked, houses down, lives lost.

The Visayas Region bore the brunt of the disaster. More than three million families were affected, with less than one million displaced and about a million properties totally damaged.

Tacloban, the hardest hit, became a ghost town.

With the paralysis of the regional hub in Eastern Visayas, transportation, communication, and service delivery in neighboring cities and towns were also disrupted.

On said day, the “new normal” for disaster occurrences was born.

The difficult journey to Tacloban

Immediately after the disaster, office and bureau heads in the CO and FOs convened their staff to form the first batch of responders who will assist in the relief operations in Tacloban.

Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman, the Vice-Chairperson for Disaster Response, led the operations, getting aboard a C-130 cargo plane of the Philippine Air Force (PAF), together with NDRRMC Chief Eduardo del Rosario, and PAF Commanding General Lt. Gen Lauro Cruz, to assess the situation of the disaster-wrought province.

At the DSWD Central Office, volunteer-employees from different offices and bureaus got ready for deployment to Tacloban. Most of the responders were experienced in disaster response while others faced their baptism of fire. But experienced or first timer, nothing would prepare them for the state of devastation that would welcome them in Tacloban.

For DSWD-CO responders, all roads led to Tacloban after ‘Yolanda’, but none of those roads was easily passable for them.

“We were called the Journeying Team because of our difficulty in getting to Tacloban,” shared Glo, a responder from DSWD-Capacity Building Bureau (CBB), recalled.

The group had to wait for a commercial flight to get them to Cebu because there were very few planes heading to the place. After they landed in Cebu, they had to secure another means of transportation to Tacloban.

“Only the naval ship was available to take us to Tacloban. We rode alongside families and relatives of ‘Yolanda’ survivors. They wanted to go to Tacloban to take their families out of the place,” Glo mentioned.

When the group reached the city, they boarded a vehicle towards the DSWD Operations Center. The atmosphere was tense, with people starving and asking to be flown out of the city. Anyone who went to Tacloban for rescue and relief operations was hounded by requests for food from survivors.

Immediate relief ops

When the first batch of responders composed of staff from the DSWD-Disaster Risk Reduction and Response Operations Office (DRRROO) reached Tacloban, they immediately conducted assessment of the communities that needed relief.

Relief goods were given to heads of barangays for them to facilitate speedier distribution to people in their respective areas. The responders were on the field from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Without electricity, disaster operations had to cease at night time.

In the morning, when the delivery of relief goods commenced, the responders boarded military trucks, escorting the soldiers who would deliver the goods from the warehouse to designated areas. Some of the goods had to be air dropped because there were towns that remained unreachable via land travel.

Jenny of CBB, aboard one of the helipads, recalled watching in awe as people pushed their way near the drop zone just so they would be the first ones to get the day’s delivery of goods.

Reporting on the status of incoming and outgoing of goods was also not a walk in the park. Glo narrated that a person manning the sea port had to walk from end to end just to provide updates on the status of incoming relief goods.

Faye, one of the responders manning the airport, recalled how the runway was converted to a storage space for incomingrelief goods to help ease operations in the warehouses in Tacloban.

DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Solimanjoins the repacking of relief goods at the DSWD hub inTacloban. Photo by DSWD

DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman joins the repacking of relief goods at the DSWD hub inTacloban. Photo by DSWD

She noted that some of the goods had to be repacked to ensure that the distributed food packs are up to standard. At the time, each family food pack provided by DSWD for the ‘Yolanda’ survivors contained six kilograms of rice, eight sachets of coffee, eight packs of instant noodles, and six canned goods.

At the airport, too, was a long queue of people who wanted to get to Cebu or to Manila to seek temporary or permanent shelter.

“May mga nakapila na maliliit na bata, buntis. Nakapila sila, umulan o umaraw (Some of those in the queue were small children, pregnant women. They stayed there, rain or shine).”

Since getting out of Tacloban took some time, the responders invited some of the males queuing in the airports and those outside to participate in the Department’s Food-for-Work (FFW) and Cash-for-Work (CFW) programs to hasten transfer of goods from the hubs to the trucks that would deliver the goods to different areas. The survivors who rendered service were given food or cash.

In the Palompon warehouse, the DRRROO group ensured that 10,000 sacks of rice were repacked per day.

They noticed, as they were monitoring relief goods, that some of the food packs they received were wet and so cannot be distributed. Learning from this experience, the department later used container vans instead of barges to transport relief goods.

More than immediate relief

The deployed CBB staff knew that as social workers, they had to do more than assist in the daily operations. They were, after all, sent there for a specific reason, and that was to provide psychological first aid (PFA). They converted an unused tent to a temporary venue for the PFA.

“Ang PFA ay p’wedeng kahit simpleng tapik lang o simpleng pagtabi lang sa biktima. Hindi mo sila p’wedeng tanungin kung kumusta na sila dahil alam mo ‘yung nangyari sa kanila. Ang kailangan lang nila ay makakausap o mapapagsabihan ng nangyari sa kanila (PFA can be done even by a simple pat in the back or by simply sitting beside the victims. You cannot ask them if they are okay because you know what they‘ve been through. They only need someone to talk to about their feelings),” Faye relayed.

The smell of Tacloban after ‘Yolanda’ left a lasting impression on the CBB responders when they got home from their deployment. The stench of decomposing bodies and permeating smell of devastation served as a reminder of the great work still at hand.

“We survived our stay in Tacloban, but the work is still far from over,” Glo added.

The need for information is as important as the need for food

The Disaster Augmentation and Response Team (DART) of the DSWD-Information and Communication Technology Management Service (ICTMS) were deployed to Tacloban in the morning of November 9 to immediately install satellite data communication and emergency power for the communication needs of responders.

The survivors of ‘Yolanda’ availed of the free internet service provided by DSWD. Photo by DSWD-ICTMS

The survivors of ‘Yolanda’ availed of the free internet service provided by DSWD. Photo by DSWD-ICTMS

What the members of the team did not expect was that they would also help bridge the communication lines between ‘Yolanda’ survivors and their relatives in various parts of the country and abroad.

The installation of free internet service in the city hall provided survivors access to their email, Facebook, or Twitteraccounts wherein they were able to inform their relatives that they were alive or of their whereabouts.

For about five days, some 3,400 families, national and local government, humanitarian groups, and the media benefitted from the multi-modal emergency telecommunications support provided by the team.

The generators they brought also powered up the operations post and enabled survivors to charge their gadgets for 36 hours.

Alongside this provision of free service, rapid mapping was being done in disaster-hit areas.

On November 13, with the growing need to manage the inventory of relief goods, the satellite internet service was relocated to the DSWD warehouse in Barangay Apitong. This move ensured a more systematic monitoring of donated goods to aid in faster distribution.

Satellite phones from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) were sent later for use of responders for disaster operations.

The DART continued manning the workstations for the communications and technology needs of the operations.

Understanding the new normal

new normal2-Sec. Soliman, in her message during the Post-Disaster Operations Review in Subic, narrated her encounter with a waiter who thanked her for what the department had done to survivors of ‘Yolanda’ in Tacloban.

“Everybody knows that what we did in 2013 was phenomenal – nakatayo pa tayo, nakangiti, at patuloy na kumikilos (we are still standing, smiling, and continuing operations).”

Indeed, ‘Yolanda’, with the massive destruction it caused, presents a new challenge to disaster responders.

It went beyond the supertyphoon norm as the storm surge it triggered swallowed Tacloban whole, leaving only debris of the hard hit city.

At this stage, the new normal in disaster occurrences is only at its infancy. Recent studies show that the West Valley Fault is ripe for movement.  If the fault moves and hence generates a strong earthquake, destruction would ripple not only in Metropolitan Manila, but also in the neighboring towns and cities.

What this means for the department is that there is a need to keep revisiting its preparedness and response plan under the lens of the new normal. There is a need to counter the “hayahay” mindset because as the Secretary puts it, “Ang binibigyan natin ng tulong ngayon ay kahapon pa kailangan ang tulong (The people we are helping now are those needing the help yesterday).”

Even as stronger, more destructive disasters occur, the Department will remain resilient and stay committed to leaving no one behind in its struggle against a different kind of ordinary.###

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DSWD, IOM to build add’l shelters for ‘Yolanda’ survivors

DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman and IOM Director Boasso sign the agreement stipulating commitments for the construction of additional shelters units for Typhoon Yolanda-affected areas

DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman and IOM Director Boasso sign the agreement stipulating commitments for the construction of additional shelters units for Typhoon Yolanda-affected areas

Manila, Philippines – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) today signed a partnership agreement to construct additional transitional shelters for Typhoon Yolanda survivors in Eastern Visayas who are still living in tents and evacuation centers.

DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman, and Chief of Mission and Director of Manila Administrative Center of IOM Philippines Marco Boasso signed the documents.

Under the partnership, some 3,200 units of transitional shelters worth P70,000 each will be constructed by IOM.

DSWD will fund the construction of 2,700 units worth P189 million while IOM will provide counterpart funds amounting to P35 million for the remaining 500 units.

The transitional shelters will be constructed in ‘Yolanda’- affected areas in Leyte, Western Samar and Eastern Samar.

Sec. Soliman said that IOM is a long-time partner of the DSWD in camp coordination and camp management as well as in the implementation of temporary and transitional shelters for displaced families in areas affected by man-made and natural disasters.

“Thank you IOM for partnering with the DSWD, your invaluable assistance to disaster affected areas is very much appreciated. ###

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Healing comes in full at DSWD home for girls

 Grace indulges in cooking which she considers as a therapy to help her forget her past.

Grace indulges in cooking which she considers as a therapy to help her forget her past.

Childhood years are mostly remembered to be filled with love and protection. Rich or poor, attachment of children to parents brings joy.  Younger years have always made a bank of good memories among children.

But this is not the case of  Grace, 18, who used to live on the streets of Iloilo City. Many of her younger years were tainted with abuse and exploitation.

“Nagtatrabaho na ako bilang sex worker kahit noong ako’y teenager pa. Nagkaroon ako ng live-in partner na binenta ako sa mga lalaki. May mga kaso din siya ng pagnanakaw (I was already a sex worker during my teen years. I had a live-in partner who sold me to other men. He is also involved in robbery cases),” she said.

Grace is currently at the Home for Girls In Iloilo City,  a center managed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for victims of abuse and exploitation, where she undergoes counselling sessions, as well as therapeutic and restorative activities.

DSWD is also helping with her case.

“Nakasuhan ako na accomplice sa isang akyat-bahay case. Masaya ako at tinutulungan ako ng DSWD sa kaso ko. Hindi ko alam kung ano ang pinasukan ko (I was charged as accomplice to an akyat- bahay case. I am glad that DSWD is helping me with my case. I never had any idea what I was into),” she said.

According to Roqueta Aquio, Social Welfare Officer, Grace was distant and aloof when she was first brought to the center.

Change

While she never wanted to talk to anyone in the past year, Grace is far different now.

In a recent cooking contest, which was conducted at the center, she was bubbly and was consistently on top of her team.

Working along with two other resident-girls in the center, Grace cooked “ovareta”, a variation of the well-known caldereta menu which has egg as its main ingredient.  The recipe won the Best in Palatability award.

“Maganda ang karanasan ko dito sa Home for Girls. Gustong-gusto ko ang pagluluto. Dito lang ako natuto. Dati-rati ay kain-tulog lang ako at naghihintay ng tawag ng mga contacts ko (I find my experience here at Home for Girls very fulfilling. I enjoyed cooking because it is only here where I learned how to cook. Life has always been sleep and then eat and then wait for contacts who needed us),” she said.

She said that at the center, she has learned how to cook adobong manok, vegetables, fish sinigang and other menu. Through cooking, Grace found her worth and was able to refocus her negative thoughts.

Apart from cooking, Grace said that she is very thankful that she is enrolled in the Alternative Learning System (ALS) of the Department of Education.

“Sa ALS,  nasa Grade 5 lang ako. Alam kong malayo pa ang lalakbayin ko pero naniniwala ako na may magandang pagbabagong darating sa akin. Ayaw ko nang balikan ang dati kong buhay. Gusto kong makatapos at sa tulong ng DSWD, alam ko maaabot ko ang pangarap ko (Under ALS, I am still in grade five. I know that there is a long way to go, but I want a positive change. I don’t want to go back to where I used to be. I want to finish college and with the help of DSWD, I know I can),” she said.

Grace also appreciated that the center’s Psychologist is helping her towards healing.

“Pinapaguhit niya ako tungkol sa aking buhay. Tinutulungan niya akong makalimot sa aking nakaraan (She would make me draw about my life. She is helping me forget my past),” Grace related.

Second Home

Center Head Rosalina Lorque said that most of the children under their care came from dysfunctional families.

“Their children ended up being abused or as children in conflict with the law (CICL) because of lack of parental guidance and love. The mother of Grace, for instance, did not even give her attention and support,” she said.

“We have already found relatives who could take her in and give a new environment with love and concern for her. She deserves to have a second chance in life and there is still a bright future that awaits her. Every Filipino child deserves that,” said Lorque.

Home for Girls serves as a temporary residential facility providing alternative forms of family care to children whose needs cannot be adequately met by their loved ones and relatives over a period of time.

Aside for victims of abuses, the center also caters to children in conflict with the law. The residents are given psycho-social interventions to overcome their trauma and prepare them for reintegration with their families.

DSWD has 11 Homes for Girls nationwide. ###

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DSWD’s feeding program boosts children’s performance in schools

Ms. Querubin during the sharing session at DSWD.

Ms. Querubin during the sharing session at DSWD.

Quezon City - “The performance of the daycare pupils improved, they gained their ideal weight,  their  absences were minimized,  while  parents became active in school activities.”

These are some of the positive changes observed by day care teacher, Jeannie Querubin,  since the  Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) started implementing the Supplementary Feeding Program (SFP) in Brgy. Lagro Day Care Center  in 2011.

Querubin  shared in her testimony  during the Monday  flag raising ceremony at  DSWD Central Office that the feeding program has enhanced the  awareness of parents and day care workers on proper nutrition  and hygiene.

“The nutritionist gives  healthy and affordable recipes and parents would cook them at home.  I have observed that the children are growing healthier each day.

One pupil who weighed 12 kilos reached 15 kilos in just  two weeks because of the feeding program,” Querubin explained.

“Proper hygiene, such as washing hands before and after eating, and brushing teeth after meals are also being taught in school,” she added.

Moreover, the Day Care Center has a vegetable garden wherein their produce is  used in the feeding program.

The feeding program is given to 80 day care pupils  during snack time from Monday to Friday.

DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said that  school feeding programs are social safety nets providing educational and health benefits to vulnerable children, thereby increasing enrollment rates, reducing absenteeism, and improving food security at the household level.

“DSWD wants these children to become productive in school, that is why we want to ensure that they eat well so they can focus on learning,” expressed Sec. Soliman.

“The SFP  is effective in helping people most especially  the vulnerable families.

The program has not only improved the health status of children but it also refocused the perspective of parents in ensuring the well-being of their children,” Querubin ended.

As of July 30, 2014, some 1, 692, 843 day care pupils nationwide are benefitting from the SFP.

DSWD allocated a budget of P2.8 billion for the SFP  for year 2014 and is proposing P3.3 billion for 2015 covering 2,568,811 children.###

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Manicurist nails the secret to a beautiful future

 Analyn earns some cash by doing manicure/pedicure and from her sari-sari store

Analyn earns some cash by doing manicure/pedicure and from her sari-sari store.

Taguig City - Analyn Atienza is a 35-year-old nail technician. Everyday, she goes around the busy streets of Western Bicutan giving pedicures and manicures to different clients, who know her as an expert in pulling out ingrown toenails.

The eldest of six, Analyn has already experienced working as a helper, scavenger, and vendor in order to help her parents provide for their family’s basic needs.

Now with a family of her own, Analyn raises her five children with husband Romel,  a tricycle driver.

Together, they also run a sari-sari store from the P7,000 seed capital assistance they received from the Department of the Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) through the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP). Through her engagement with the program, she has also been trained in basic business management.

 The business of beauty

In June 2012, through a DSWD partnership with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Analyn participated in the “Ganda Mo, Hanapbuhay Ko” training on cosmetology.

With newly developed skills, Analyn now provides manicure and pedicure services just around the neighborhood which gives her extra income.

 The beauty of education

Analyn’s family is also among the 8,004 families from the city who belong to the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, where she is active as a parent leader.

 She leads by example, and ensures that her fellow beneficiaries religiously comply with the conditions of the program such as sending their children to school, bringing them to health centers for check-up, and attending the monthly Family Development Session (FDS).

 “Nakakatuwa na napapaintindi ko sa kapwa ko benepisyaryo ‘yung kagandahan ng pagsunod sa kondisyon ng programa dahil kung tutuusin, hindi naman iyon para sa gobyerno kung ‘di para sa amin din (It feels good that I’m able to make my fellow beneficiaries understand the advantage of complying to the program conditions because they will benefit us),” Analyn said.

 After having been a Pantawid Pamilya member for five years, Analyn has grown to appreciate the value of education much more.

“Dahil sa Pantawid Pamilya, namulat ako sa kahalagahan ng edukasyon. Nag-enroll ako ngayon sa Alternative Learning System ng gobyerno bilang estudyante sa Grade 3 (Pantawid Pamilya made me realize the value of  education, thus, I enrolled myself in the government’s Alternative Learning System as a Grade 3 student),”  she shared.

 A beautiful future ahead

Growing up poor,  Analyn has had her share of trials. But all of these, she believes, have strengthened her.

With her active participation to FDSs conducted by DSWD, Analyn believes that she and Romel are becoming better spouses and parents.

She aspires for a better future for her children, one where they will not have to endure the difficulties she encountered.

 She hopes to save enough money for her children’s education. She is grateful that the DSWD is helping her realize this.

Returning to school, running the family business, and receiving continuous guidance through the FDS, Analyn believes that she can change the direction of her life toward a beautiful future ahead.

 “Kaya natin ang pagbabago basta’t alam nating gamitin sa tama ang tulong mula sa gobyerno (We can improve our lives as long as we put into good use the help given to us by the government),” Analyn said.   ###

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Women find worth in helping build community infra projects

Gina shares that being a "mere housewife" did not stop her in making a difference in her village.

Gina shares that being a “mere housewife” did not stop her in making a difference in her village.

Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte – Gina Pagente, 40, of Barangay Poblacion, attends to her clients day in and day out.

She goes around each day to provide manicure and pedicure to her loyal patrons.

She does these with all humility plus a big dazzling smile.

Gina is among the many women of today who are faced with the challenging realities of life, among which are some customs and traditions depriving women of opportunities to find their worth.

“Pero hindi na ganito ang sitwasyon ngayon (But this is a thing of the past),” exclaimed Gina.

Now, women in this town, including her, are empowered to rise above the stereotyping of yesteryears.

Patriarchal society

In a community of mixed cultures with different principles and traditions, conflict tends to brew within communities.

Gina said that the patriarchal concept in their community is still strong. The men are considered to be heads of the family while the women manage the household.

Seldom do women work or even participate in community activities. This practice is handed down from generations to generations.

Women become dependent on their husbands due to patriarchal beliefs in the community.

For families who are not well off, the practice is alarming as families nowadays need more than a pair of hands to provide for the family’s needs.

Rolly, Gina’s husband, works as a Civilian Security Staff for the local government. She related that she finds it difficult to budget his meager salary.

“Lalo akong nahihirapan mag- budget ‘pag tuwing delayed ang pag dating ng sweldo niya (It gets more difficult to make both ends meet when my husband’s salary is delayed),” she continued.

“Para makatulong sa panggastos ng pamilya ay nagtatrabaho ako bilang manikurista (To earn some money for my family, I work as a manicurist),” Gina added.

Slowly but surely, she was able to raise money to buy manicure/pedicure kit.  She decided just to do home service so she can still care of her children.

There were days, though, when she had no customers. Eventually, Gina had to stop the home service as she did not have the money to  buy her supplies.

She was again a stay-home mom, but she did not stop  finding means to be productive.

Finding joy in volunteer work

Out of curiosity, Gina decided to attend the  barangay orientation of the PAyapa at MAsaganang PAmayanan (PAMANA) Project under the Kapi-tBisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

After finding out about the program, Gina was drawn to Kalahi-CIDSS PAMANA’s principle of community driven-development.  She found the program unique since it was the community members who would implement the program , including managing the funds.

Further, Gina liked the Kalahi-CIDDS because of the conduct of Participatory Situational Analysis (PSA), wherein the residents get to determine what projects to fund, depending on the community’s needs.

But what she embraced the most was the project’s  advocacy  for  equal rights and opportunities for men and women.

The Kalahi-CIDSS PAMANA is undertaken in conflict-affected areas as a strategy to promote peace. And as part of its program principle, it  advocates gender equality in the project implementation. Jobs were offered to both men and women.

Empowerment and employment opportunities

Brgy. Poblacion started to implement a drainage canal project to address the perennial flash floods in the town. People were hired to work on the project, and Gina was fortunate enough to be hired as a timekeeper at the site, earning P200 a day.

“Ang maganda sa Kalahi-CIDSS PAMANA ay nabibigyan din ng pagkakataong makapagtrabaho sa mga infrastructure projects ang kababaihan kasama ang kalalakihan. Walang diskriminasyon (One good thing about Kalahi-CIDSS PAMANA is that it gives opportunities for both men and women to participate in the construction of infrastructure projects. There is no discrimination),” Gina said.

In the four days that she worked as a timekeeper, Gina was able to raise enough money to buy a new nail polish kit.

Soon enough, she was able to resume her manicure business which is now her extra job.

Gina thanks Kalahi-CIDSS for all the opportunities she had in being part of the program.

“Sa dami ng problema namin sa buhay, ang Kalahi-CIDSS PAMANA ang nagbigay ng pag-asa sa amin na kaya naming maiangat ang aming buhay. Kaya namin ang pagbabago (With all the problems we have in our lives, Kalahi-CIDSS gave us hope to improve our lives. We can make the change),” Gina said with conviction.

As another way of giving back to the program, she also helps out in the preparation of food for the workers.  By volunteering her services, Gina believes she can encourage  others to use their free time to improve their community.

To date, Gina is among the 116 woman- laborers who have regular jobs  under Kalahi-CDSS PAMANA  in the region.  ###

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