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Housewife earns first million despite disability

Fe Caraza manning her food stall.

Fe Caraza manning her food stall.

Naga City, Camarines Sur -  Every one of us encounters hardships in our lives, but when someone with disability is able to overcome all the adversities and still finds optimism,  it becomes a piece of good news.

Such is the case of Fe Caraza of Barangay Panicuason, this city, who earned her first million despite her disability. It took her a lot of commitment and a completely ‘no-fear’ attitude to achieve success.

Fe’s turning point came when she focused  on selling nutritious food like soya bread, milk, carrot juice, veggie meat, tokwa, and malungay polvoron.

“Salamat sa Diyos, kung ano ako ngayon ay dahil sa tiyaga lang po (Thanks to God, what I have now is through my perseverance),” she proudly said.

The disabilities she faced

Becoming an entrepreneur is not an easy task, but Fe has managed to make her business successful despite her condition.

“Nagkaroon po ako ng acute psychiatric nerve injury, pero tinanggap ko yun, hindi ko ginawang hadlang ang kapansanan ko. Naisip kong magtrabaho kesa sa walang ginagawa. Kaya naman nagsimula ako na magtinda ng mga gulay para kumita (I had an acute psychiatric nerve injury but I accepted it and did not allow this to hamper my productivity. I thought of working rather than doing nothing. So, I started selling vegetables to earn),” she said.

After a few years, Fe was engrossed in earning more money to grow her business.

With that, she failed to find time for her family.

“Nabuntis ng asawa ko ang katulong namin sa bahay. Galit na galit ako, pero inataman ko su aki ninda halos duwang taon ta kairak man, wara man kasalan su aki (My husband got our helper pregnant. I was so mad but I took care of their child for almost two years because I pitied the child. He has nothing to do with their sin),” she stated.

Fe and her husband eventually separated.  Fe was left alone to take care of her four children.

“Nagdadasal ako kasi yung mga anak ko malungkot sila. Pero maganda din na mag-isa lang ako, dahil nalalaman ko yung kakayanan ko. Mas maraming oras ko na nayayakap mga anak ko at nasasabihan ko sila ng problema (I keep praying because my children are sad. But, it’s also good that Im alone, because I am able to know my strength. I also have more time to hug my children and I can talk to them about my problems),” she said.

Although struggling, Fe defied the odds and remained  positive in order to provide the needs of her children.

“Noon ang hirap, from Panicuason ay 18 kilometers to Naga City kong minomotor. Nagbibitbit, naglalako ako ng mga produkto sa mga opisina kahit umuulan o tirik ang araw (Before, it was so hard. Rain of shine, I drove 18 kilometers from Panicuason to Naga City with my motorcycle to sell products in offices),” she recalled.

It was even harder for Fe whose right leg is paralyzed when her motorcycle broke down in one of her trips.

“‘Yung mga tao tinitingnan ako. Si Ma’am Lenny Robredo nakita rin ako na kailangan kong iikot yung sarili kong patalikod para paandarin yung motor. Ewan ko kung natuwa siya sa akin o naawa siya pero tinulungan niya ako sa aking negosyo (People were looking at me. Ma’am Lenny Robredo also saw how I struggled to start the motorcycle using my left leg to kick and pedal. I am not sure if she was amazed or she just pitied me but she helped me with my business),” she said.

Her success

In order to sustain the needs of her children, she continued to explore new things for her business.

She focused on making nutritious food, experimenting by adding 20% of soya pulp in her products.

Her business took a positive turn when she joined the GROW Negosyo (growing opportunities), a project of the local government providing capital assistance to micro and macro entrepreneurs in the city.

In 2010, she was awarded as “Maugmang Nagenya”, an award provided by the local government to individuals who have attained success despite all the struggles in life.

It was on the same year as well when the local government chose her nutritious products to be the main dish in the Supplementary Feeding program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

“Halos P20,000 a day ang kinikita ko na noon in 60 days(I was earning almost P20,000 a day at that time for 60 days),” she said.

She then made her first  P1.2-million sales.

Sa pangatlong kontrata ko sa Supplementary Feeding, masayang masaya ako sa oportunidad na naipagkaloob sa akin ng Diyos at sa mga taong tumulong sa akin (With my third contract in the Supplementary Feeding, I am so happy with the opportunity given to me by God and the the people who helped me),” she added.

Now, instead of using a motorcycle, she was able to buy an owner-type jeepney to deliver her products.

She was also able to build two concrete houses.

“Yung isa po ay bakery na namin. May mga equipment na rin ako sa paggawa ng bread (One of my houses was converted into a bakery shop. I also have an equipment to produce bread),” Fe happily related.

In addition, she was able to set up a Grow Negosyo Stall.

“Dito lang po sa stall ay nakakabenta ako ng P2,000 a day bukod sa aming bakery (Here in the stall, I am able to earn P2,000 a day apart from my earnings in our bakery),” she enthused.

Returning the blessings

Fe is proud to say that as part of caring for the needs of fellow persons with disabilities (PWDs),  she employed the parents of child-PWDs in the village.

“Nakikita ko po ang pag-angat nila dahil nabigyan sila ng trabaho (I saw their improvement because they were provided with jobs),” she said.

Two out of the nine employees in her bakery are also beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, the conditional cash transfer program implemented by DSWD.

Fe said that she wanted to be an inspiration to others, especially to her fellow PWDs.

“Kailangan lang pong maging masipag. Huwag nating gawing dahilan ang ating kapansanan. Magpasalamat pa tayo dahil buhay tayo (We need to be industrious. Let us not allow our disability to hinder us from being productive. Thank God that we are alive),” she remarked.

Fe stressed that being prayerful, hardworking, and kind to your loved ones and to other people are the exact ingredients for success. ###

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DSWD hosts ASEAN conference for persons with disabilities

Manila, Philippines - To strengthen the capacity of social work practitioners in member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in implementing quality social services for persons with disabilities (PWDS), the Philippines, through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), will host the ASEAN Program Evaluation and Planning Conference for  PWDs on April 2 to 4, 2014.

Around 40 participants from Brunei Darrusalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, , Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam will attend the conference.

For three days, participants will share and exchange good practices on the provision of social services to PWDs. They will also evaluate existing programs as well as develop new strategies to improve service delivery.

Social services for PWDs include assistance in the acquisition of prosthetic devices and medical intervention of specialty services, provision of specialized training activities, counseling, family care services, after care services and day care services for disabled children of pre-school age.

DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman emphasized that there is a need for closer collaboration among ASEAN member-countries to share information, knowledge, skills, experiences, and expertise to effectively and efficiently implement social services for PWDs.

In the Philippines,  DSWD is the main government agency tasked to implement social services for PWDs such as the Early Detection, Prevention, and Intervention of Disability (EDPID); Social and Vocational Rehabilitation Program; Tuloy Aral Walang Sagabal (TAWAG) Project; Community-Based Day Care for Children with Autism; and, Work Center/Sheltered Workshop for upper trainable clients.

In close partnership with its attached agency, the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA), DSWD also implements the Non-Handicapping Environment (NHE) Project where PWDs are integrated into the mainstream of the community allowing them to fully participate in all community activities.

Moreover, the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer (MCCT) includes families with children with disabilities aged 0-14 as beneficiaries of the program.

The Philippines also enforces laws  that provide for the rights, benefits, and privileges of PWDs such as the Magna Carta for Persons with Disabilities (Republic Act 9442) and the Accessibility Law (Batas Pambansa Bilang 344), among others. ###

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Homeless ‘Yolanda’ survivors eagerly await new homes

Tanauan, Leyte – For couple Arneldo and Felisa Arbas,  three months of waiting for their new home to be turned over to them by the government is still worth it.

They do not mind waiting, in fact, they are thankful of the government’s constant support for them and the rest of Typhoon Yolanda survivors.

The Arbas couple is among the 366 families identified as beneficiaries of the housing units at the permanent relocation site in Barangay Pago. They are also recipients of cash grants under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

They used to live in the coastal barangay of San Roque where all houses were washed out by a storm surge at the height of ‘Yolanda’ on November 8, 2013.

Arneldo recalled spending more than two hours floating on the deep murky water during the typhoon.

Since then, the Arbas family lived in tents in Brgy. Canramos.

Housing project

Soon, Arneldo and Felisa will get their new home through the joint housing project of the government and the private sector.

Last month, officials of the National Housing Authority (NHA), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), Gawad Kalinga, and the municipal government signed the agreement for the implementation of the housing project.

Each beneficiary will be given a two-storey house with a floor area of 36-sq. meters. The house will have a loft and kitchen as well as water and power connections.

Mayor Pelagio Tecson said that Gawad Kalinga donated the 2.4-hectare lot for the housing project.

Under the project, the beneficiaries take part in the construction of their houses.

For their part, Arneldo and Felisa help in monitoring the volunteers.

“Sa ngayon, gumagawa kami dito araw-araw para mas mabilis na maitayo ang mga bahay (Right now, we work here everyday so that the houses will be built faster),” Felisa said.

Another volunteer, Dolores Leiros, 70, said, “Matanda na ako, kaya nakakatulong lang ako dalawang beses sa isang linggo mula alas-otso ng umaga hanggang alas-singko ng hapon, pero masaya ako at mabibigyan ako ng bahay (I am old, so I only volunteer twice a week from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, but I am happy to be receiving a new home).”

Self-reliant community

Mayor Tecson added that the relocation site will have pavements and vital community facilities such as school, community center, basketball court, and access roads.

Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer Marina Tolibas also shared that her office has conducted community organizing activities for the beneficiaries to prepare them for their responsibilities, not only in the construction, but in keeping a wholesome and self-reliant community.

Gawad Kalinga Project Manager, Manny Santos, revealed that two more shelter sites will soon be set up for other disaster victims residing in “No Dwelling Zones”. These will be in Barangays Maribi and Sacme.

Visit

Recently, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman accompanied Australian Ambassador to the Philippines, Bill Tweddel, for an ocular visit to the area.

The Australian Government will extend additional P403 million to assist local government units and communities affected by ‘Yolanda’.

Sec. Soliman was pleased that the national and local governments as well as the private sector continue to work together in helping provide permanent homes for the disaster victims.

The Secretary was doubly pleased upon seeing  the  smiles on the faces of shelter beneficiaries as she and Ambassador Tweddel interacted with them. ###

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Homeless ‘Yolanda’ survivors eagerly await new homes

Sec. Soliman and Australian Ambassador to the Philippines, Bill Tweddel, participate in the construction of houses.

Sec. Soliman and Australian Ambassador to the Philippines, Bill Tweddell, participate in the construction of houses.

Tanauan, Leyte – For couple Arneldo and Felisa Arbas,  three months of waiting for their new home to be turned over to them by the government is still worth it.

They do not mind waiting, in fact, they are thankful of the government’s constant support for them and the rest of Typhoon Yolanda survivors.

The Arbas couple is among the 366 families identified as beneficiaries of the housing units at the permanent relocation site in Barangay Pago. They are also recipients of cash grants under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

They used to live in the coastal barangay of San Roque where all houses were washed out by a storm surge at the height of ‘Yolanda’ on November 8, 2013.

Arneldo recalled spending more than two hours floating on the deep murky water during the typhoon.

Since then, the Arbas family lived in tents in Brgy. Canramos.

Housing project

Soon, Arneldo and Felisa will get their new home through the joint housing project of the government and the private sector.

Last month, officials of the National Housing Authority (NHA), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), Gawad Kalinga, and the municipal government signed the agreement for the implementation of the housing project.

Each beneficiary will be given a two-storey house with a floor area of 36-sq. meters. The house will have a loft and kitchen as well as water and power connections.

Mayor Pelagio Tecson said that Gawad Kalinga donated the 2.4-hectare lot for the housing project.

Under the project, the beneficiaries take part in the construction of their houses.

For their part, Arneldo and Felisa help in monitoring the volunteers.

“Sa ngayon, gumagawa kami dito araw-araw para mas mabilis na maitayo ang mga bahay (Right now, we work here everyday so that the houses will be built faster),” Felisa said.

Another volunteer, Dolores Leiros, 70, said, “Matanda na ako, kaya nakakatulong lang ako dalawang beses sa isang linggo mula alas-otso ng umaga hanggang alas-singko ng hapon, pero masaya ako at mabibigyan ako ng bahay (I am old, so I only volunteer twice a week from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, but I am happy to be receiving a new home).”

Self-reliant community

Mayor Tecson added that the relocation site will have pavements and vital community facilities such as school, community center, basketball court, and access roads.

Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer Marina Tolibas also shared that her office has conducted community organizing activities for the beneficiaries to prepare them for their responsibilities, not only in the construction, but in keeping a wholesome and self-reliant community.

Gawad Kalinga Project Manager, Manny Santos, revealed that two more shelter sites will soon be set up for other disaster victims residing in “No Dwelling Zones”. These will be in Barangays Maribi and Sacme.

Visit

Recently, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman accompanied Australian Ambassador to the Philippines, Bill Tweddell, for an ocular visit to the area.

The Australian Government will extend additional P403 million to assist local government units and communities affected by ‘Yolanda’.

Sec. Soliman was pleased that the national and local governments as well as the private sector continue to work together in helping provide permanent homes for the disaster victims.

The Secretary was doubly pleased upon seeing  the  smiles on the faces of shelter beneficiaries as she and Ambassador Tweddell interacted with them. ###

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DSWD to include autism awareness in Pantawid Pamilya family forum

In its efforts to promote the understanding of autism, its detection and prevention, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will include autism awareness as supplemental topic to the Family Development Sessions (FDS) for Pantawid Pamilyang  Pilipino Program beneficiaries for the month of April.

DSWD and the Autism Hearts Foundation (AHF) will forge a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for this  initiative in line with the celebration of the World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) on April 2.

DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman believes that this initiative is a good move to educate poor families on autism as they may not be aware that their children have this disability.

She added that early detection, intervention, and treatment need to be in place to ensure that all persons with autism live up to their full potential.

The AHF will orient the FDS resource persons composed of City and Municipal Links of Pantawid Pamilya, and other DSWD staff on autism detection and prevention.

Pantawid Pamilya is one of the core poverty reduction programs of DSWD that focuses on human capital investment through provision of health and education cash grants to eligible poor households.

Beneficiaries are required to regularly attend FDS, a gathering of 25-35 parent-beneficiaries where they discuss topics that aim to strengthen and enhance their parental roles, as part of the program conditionalities which they should comply to continue receiving the cash grants.

Physiological condition

Autism is an abnormal brain development from early infancy. It is a physiological, not a psychological condition.

It affects how a person perceives what he sees, hears, touches, tastes and smells, and therefore how he reacts to what he perceives.

As an agency  tasked to ensure the welfare of mentally challenged children, DSWD also provides protective and rehabilitative services to children with autism.

As of December 2013, there were 28 children with autism being served by DSWD’s residential care facilities such as Elsie Gachies Village in Alabang, Muntinlupa City, and Center for the Handicapped in Cotabato City.

 ‘Light it Up Blue’

 DSWD will also participate in the “Light It Up Blue” campaign on April 2 at  SM Mall of Asia.

Light it Up Blue is the culminating activity of WAAD where nations around the world will be illuminating landmarks, public offices, schools, places of worship, and residences to increase awareness on autism.

In the Philippines, the WAAD celebration is mandated by Presidential Proclamation No. 711 issued by former President Fidel V. Ramos in 1996 to generate awareness, acceptance and understanding of people with autism and to provide them equal rights, access to education, services and facilities enjoyed by abled individuals.

This year’s theme is “Understanding and Embracing People with Autism”. ###

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DSWD is always open to dialogue – Soliman

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon Juliano Soliman, today, reiterates her willingness to sit down and dialogue with any group who wants to help in the relief and rehabilitation effort in Eastern Visayas.

This is in view of the “lightning rally” staged by a group from GABRIELA and People Surge, an alliance of Typhoon Yolanda survivors from Eastern Visayas, at the DSWD Central Office this morning.

“We have demonstrated that we are open to dialogues as long as we are notified in advance unlike today when all our officials are on field attending to important tasks,” Soliman said.

It can be recalled that Secretary Soliman met with the leaders of the two groups on March 12 and discussed issues on relief distribution, provision of P40,000 cash assistance, and the scrapping of the ‘No Build Zone”.

In today’s rally, the group raised the issue of “rotten relief goods” from DSWD and the seven (7) persons who died of hunger.

Secretary Soliman said that DSWD earlier investigated the reported truckloads of relief goods being buried in the dumpsite of Palo — a certification issued by the Municipal Health Officer (MHO) on March 7 belied the allegation. The MHO said that only one sack of assorted biscuits, 10 cups of instant noodles, 1/2 sack of wet rice, and one sack of used clothing were buried.

The Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer said that the goods came from “various agencies” which she can no longer remember. “DSWD Eastern Visayas is now helping the local government in handling and warehousing of relief goods to prevent future incidence of rotten relief goods,” Soliman said.

On the seven (7) persons including a three-month old baby who died of hunger, Secretary Soliman has already instructed the DSWD staff to conduct an investigation and provide her with update.

Meanwhile, Secretary Soliman also clarified that there was no “walk-out” in the March 12 meeting where she answered one by one the issues raised by the groups.

In the said meeting, she reiterated that relief distribution will not end this month and that DSWD will consult with the different local government units (LGUs) in the region to determine who among the victims will still be needing relief support as some are already able to work and can stand on their own feet.

She assured that relief supply will continue to be provided to those who are considered to be part of the vulnerable sector or those pregnant women, persons with disabilities, senior citizens, sickly, and solo parents.

In the March 12 meeting, Sec. Soliman asked the group to cooperate with the Department in reaching those they claim to have not been given relief goods. She requested that they provide the Department with the details of those concerned barangays so they can be served since based on DSWD report all 171 municipalities within the 50-kilometer radius along the typhoon’s path have been reached. She shared to the leaders the DSWD text hotline (09209463766) and encouraged them to tell their members to send their complaints on relief distribution. ###

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Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries get livelihood support from local gov’t

Jane tries on her brand new sewing machine from the local government unit. Sitting behind Jane is six-year old Angel, reading a book while waiting to assist her mother.

Jane tries on her brand new sewing machine from the local government unit. Sitting behind Jane is six-year old Angel, reading a book while waiting to assist her mother.

Vigan, Ilocus Sur - Jane Pahitong, 40, a Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program mother-beneficiary, is a model of determination, hard work, hope, and positivity in her community.

She singlehandedly takes care of her daughter Angel, 6, as her husband, Pablo Jr,  works miles away in Cainta, Rizal, and is seldom home.

It would seem easy to most, but for a mother who is wheelchair bound, taking care of the household and a young daughter has its moments of difficulty.

She shared that with the meager salary of Pablo as a factory worker, their expenses can be hard to manage.

Hence, it was a great blessing that their family was identified as a beneficiary of Pantawid Pamilya.

Pantawid Pamilya provides cash grants of as much as P1,400 to households with three qualified children to meet their education and health needs as long as they comply to program conditionalities such as sending their children to school and health centers for checkup, and attending family development sessions.

Two years into the program, Jane could not supress her gratitude for this assistance from the national government.

She said, “Dakkel ti naitulong kanyami ti programa nangruna iti panagbasa ti ubingko.  Malaksid kadaytoy kuarta nga aw-awaten mi, adu met ti masursurok pay iti binulan nga FDS miting kas iti pinagdadalus, panag-garden (The program is a big help to my family, especially in supporting my daughter’s schooling.  Aside from the cash grant, I also learned a lot from the monthly Family Development Sessions (FDS) such as cleanliness and backyard gardening).”

Despite her physical difficulties, she tirelessly tries to find ways to augment Pablo’s income who sacrifices not seeing his family often as he would rather send his transport fares to them.

Even in a wheelchair, Jane manages her own vegetable garden, the produce of which she either sells for a small profit or cooks for their meal.

Livelihood for Pantawid Pamilya families

Since it started, Pantawid Pamilya has since become more than just a poverty alleviation program.

It has proven to be a catalyst for societal change.

Jane received a good news from the Vigan Local Government Unit (LGU) providing her family with a sustainable livelihood under the “Pagsapulan: Raniag iti Masakbayan (Work for a Bright Future) Project”.

The livelihood project is the LGU’s support to sustain the efforts of Pantawid Pamilya in improving the lives of beneficiaries.

Mayor Eva Marie Medina said that this project aims to produce better families and communities for the next generation.

The LGU plans to provide livelihood to all Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries in the city targeting 20 families per month.

“We see the value of the Pantawid Pamilya in alleviating the plight of the poor, that is why we decided to anchor our zero-poverty thrust on it,” Mayor Medina said.

And what makes Pagsapulan unique is that the livelihood project is based on the skills, capacity, and interest of the beneficiary and not limited to a specific  kind of assistance.

Councilor Juan Carlo M. Singson added that they assess the skills of the beneficiaries before they decide to provide the livelihood assistance.

He cited that there were families provided with a sari-sari store showcase, one family was given five goats to start a small livestock business, another family was provided two cows (male and female), and and still another was given a bigasan (rice) showcase.

Jane got a sewing machine for her dressshop business.

“Makakapagsimula na din akong makatulong sa aming kita.  Marunong talaga akong manahi at ngayon may sarili na akong makina, pwede na akong tumanggap ng patahi (I can now help my family earn as I have my own sewing machine.  I will be able to accept sewing jobs),” Jane happily shared.

Councilor Singson mentioned that the livelihood project is their support to the poverty alleviation initiatives of the national government.

“Na-realize namin na mabuti na din tulungan na namin yung na identify na poor ng national government, ang mga Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries  (We realized that we should help the poor already identified by the national government, which are the Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries).”

Through Pagsapulan, Vigan is able to help the poor Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries have access to  income opportunities.

He also shared that they closely monitor the status of the livelihood projects providing constant entrepreneurial inputs to the beneficiaries.

Transformations

With the livelihood support and the cash grants ,the LGU hopes that the lives of the beneficiaries would  be transformed.

The councilor also expressed his admiration for the Pantawid Pamilya saying, “Eto na ang pinakamagandang proyekto ni PNoy, dahil una talagang dapat gawin ay ang i-encourage ang mga magulang na pag-aralin ang kanilang mga anak.  Meron lang kahit isang anak sa isang pamilya ang makapagtapos ay malaki na agad ang chance na umangat ang buhay nila (This is the best project of PNoy because it encourages parents to send their kids to school. A family’s chance to have a better life is greater even if only one child gets to graduate).”

Together towards development

The Pagsapulan project demonstrates the partnership of the national and local governments towards the goal of  moving poor families into improved quality of life.

It does not even need a Memorandum of Agreement to operationalize  such partnership.  It only takes a common vision of a zero-poverty society to make it happen. ###

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Women find worth in welding

Welding may traditionally be a man’s profession, but that didn’t  stop the women of Madalag from going through it.

Welding may traditionally be a man’s profession, but that didn’t stop the women of Madalag from going through it.

Madalag, Aklan - March is Women’s Month – a fitting occasion to pay tribute to extraordinary women who, despite all odds, became successful in their endeavors, being able to help their families and contribute to the community.

Such are the stories of Sherlina Hungay, Genie Nanson, Lovely Tello, and Marian Cadevida.

These women challenged the prevailing notion in rural areas that females are not fit to enter professions traditionally seen as male-dominated. There are still those who believe in the notion that only men should work, as it was the woman’s duty to stay at home.

But the four women proved their detractors wrong by having completed training in welding, which still remains largely a man’s profession, here in the Philippines.

The training was made possible through the Gender Incentive Grant (GIG) from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) through the Millennium Challenge Account-Philippines (MCA-P) and implemented through the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS), one of the core poverty alleviation programs of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

These women used the negative perception against women welders as motivation to work hard to prove to others, and themselves, that they had the capacity to rise to the challenge.

From housewife to welder

“Dati akong ‘taga’Taga-linis, taga-laba, taga-luto (I used to be ‘taga’. I clean, I wash,  I cook),”  Sherlina, 33, joked.

As a Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program beneficiary, she was among the priority-trainees of a skills training provided by the Technical Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA) through the GIG from Kalahi-CIDSS.

When asked by the Pantawid Pamilya Parent Leader, “Kaya mo ba talaga (Do you really think you can do it?),  her response was, “Kakayanin ko ito para sa pamilya ko (I will do this for my family).”  

Sherlina had no prior experience in working, being a housewife who took care of her three children. She even considered the possibility of working as a domestic helper abroad to earn money for her family, as she and her husband struggle daily to make ends meet. Her spouse works as a job-order construction worker at the municipal government.

After the training, Sherlina had to pass the assessment so she can become a full-fledged welder.

She recalled how anxious she felt when she was waiting for the results.

Sobra ang nerbiyos ko sa assessment baka hindi ako makapasa. Nakakahiya sa asawa ko (I was so nervous during the assessment because I might not pass. I would be so ashamed to face my husband).”

Her fears were unfounded since she passed the assessment without any problem.

Sherlina gave her testimony during the graduation ceremony that was given by Kalahi-CIDSS to the women-trainees.

Kung ano ang kaya ng asawa ko, kaya ko rin (I can do whatever my husband can),” she proudly shared.

She continued, “Matagal na kaming mag-asawa, pero ngayon ko lang naramdaman na mataas ang tingin niya sa akin. Masarap sabihin sa sarili na napakita ko na kaya ko (We have been married for several years, but it was only when I was going through training that I felt that he had high respect for me. It feels good that I was able to prove to myself that I could do this).”

Now, Sherlina has this to say about herself, her tone proud: “ ‘Taga’-welding ako (I am a welder).”

‘Just watch me’

Like Sherlina, Genie, 27, of Barangay San Jose, has a family of her own, with two children.

Genie’s spouse was supportive of her joining the training, even though she admitted that her husband would have preferred that she joined the plumbing classes instead, as he was worried about her safety.

Still, he agreed when she told him her preference was welding because that was what she really wanted to do. In fact, she shared that he would always give her money for fare just so she could attend the trainings.

Her neighbors were skeptical that Genie would be able to complete the training. She narrated that right from the time when they learned that she would be joining the training, they began mocking her that she would not finish the program.

Genie, however, did not mind them, even though there were times that their comments were already offensive. Instead, she used this as her motivation.

The start of the training was difficult. Genie shared how she accidentally burned herself in one of the sessions, and how it took some time before she got used to the welding equipment.

Still, she persevered, and like Sherlina, passed the assessment.

It was this same persistence that pushed her to seek on-the-job training from the Kalahi-CIDSS Area Coordinating Team (ACT).

She shared, “Parati kong kinukulit ang ACT para isali ako (I persistently ask the ACT to include me),” referring to the invitation given to the trainees to have their training during the construction of the Kalahi-CIDSS sub-projects in or near the town.

This statement was affirmed by the Kalahi-CIDSS Area Coordinator, Ivy Colas, who said that Genie would always go up to different members of the team to request to be given the opportunity to use her welding skills in one of the different sub-projects that will be implemented in the municipality.

Genie’s persistence eventually paid off when two Kalahi-CIDSS infrastructure sub-projects, a school building and a bridge, were put on schedule for construction, and she was tapped as one of the welders who will be working on these.

She did not even back down when her neighbors threatened to watch her first day on the job as a welder.

Sinabihan ako ng ilang mga kapitbahay na papanoorin nila ako kung kakayanin ko. Sagot ko, sige panoorin niyo ako (My neighbors told me that they will watch me if I can do it. I told them to just watch me),”

Her bravura is not just at the surface level. According to the Area Coordinating Team and Engr. Nelson Zapanza, the TESDA instructor who trained her and the other women in welding, Genie is a very skilled welder.

When she herself realized this, Genie developed confidence in herself, and she is grateful to Kalahi-CIDSS for this.

Above all, Genie is thankful for the lessons and the break she was given. She said, “May oportunidad na kami para maiangat ang sarili namin, para matuto kami (We now have the opportunity to learn and to improve ourselves).”   

Age is no barrier

Lovely Tello and Marian Cadevida, both 18, are also qualified welders, having gone through the same training as Sherlina and Genie.

It is not just their youth that Lovely and Marian have in common. Both joined the training because their families could not afford to send them to college.

Both signed up for the welding classes because they just stayed at home, occasionally helping out in household tasks.

As Lovely shared, “Gusto ko makapag-aral kahit vocational lang (I want to be able to study, even if it is just a vocational course).”

Marian, meanwhile, said, “Hindi ako nakatapak ng college. Sumali na lang ako sa welding training kesa nasa bahay lang ako. At least may matutunan (I was not able to go to college. I joined the training instead of just staying at home. At least I would be able to learn something).”

She even shared that she was unsure about her own abilities in the past. It was only when she was able to experience welding firsthand that she began to have faith in herself.

She narrated, “Akala ko nung una hindi ko kaya. Kaya ko pala maski babae ako.  Nalaman ko na kaya ko noong actual na (I thought at first that I would not be able to do it. I found out that I actually could, even if I am a woman, but I only learned this when I was actually welding already).”

Marian and Lovely not only could do welding, they were able to keep up with the other trainers, which include men and older women, proving that neither gender nor age are barriers in skills building.

Women in welding

There may only be a few women who joined the welding training but through these classes, the participants not only learned a new skill, they were also able to develop confidence in themselves.

Admittedly, these women still have a long way to go after the training. Even so, it is a good first step, especially since, according to Engr. Zapanza, welding is a profession that can suit both men and women.

As he said, what matters in the workplace is not gender, but rather skill and talent, and the trainees have a lot of that going for them. ###

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