Posted on 23 October 2015.
Department of Social Welfare and Development Regional Director (XII) Bai Zorahayda T. Taha (2nd left with hijab) with Secretary Corazon ‘Dinky’ Soliman (2nd from right) and South Cotabato Governor Daisy Avance-Fuentes during the recent celebration of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty attended by more than 6,000 beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. (Mindanao Examiner Photo – Mark Navales)
KORONADAL CITY – Thousands of mostly poor people joined the recent celebration of “Freedom from Poverty Day” held at the South Cotabato Gymnasium and Cultural Center here.
Many of those who participated in the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty came from “SOCSKSARGEN” which stands for South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City in central Mindanao, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), its organizer.
It said majority of those who attended the event are beneficiaries of the government’s conditional cash transfer program called Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, also called 4Ps.
DSWD Director Bai Zorahayda Taha said the event also showcased various local products made by the beneficiaries themselves.
“This significant event was highlighted by different testimonies of our partner-beneficiaries that also resulted in massive awareness to the public about how they survive poverty and shared their achievements and success as recipients of this government program for the poor,” Taha told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.
She said the success of the celebration was largely due to the month-long preparation by the 4Ps beneficiaries. DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman was also present in the celebration and so was South Cotabato Governor Daisy Avance-Fuentes.
“We have prepared for this a month ahead in order to prepare our beneficiaries to showcase their local products, market them and let the public become aware of the offshoots of their hard work through the help of Sustainable Livelihood Program, a livelihood program for the poor,” Taha said.
Former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas was present in the event along with other government officials and other resource speakers to witness the gain of the 4Ps, spoke on relevant topics that helped advocate programs for the poor.
Roxas, who graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University and the Wharton School of Economics at the University of Pennsylvania, worked as an investment banker, mobilizing venture capital funds for Small and Medium Enterprises.
In his speech, Roxas spoke on Small and Medium Enterprise Development and urge 4Ps beneficiaries to continue protecting the integrity of business.
“This is our way to escape from poverty. Through the government’s capital fund assistance that comes without interest, you are provided with an opportunity to gain extra income and promote your locally made products. This is a manifestation of your hard work and I affirm that greatness in you,” he told the huge crowd.
Roxas also acknowledged the achievements of Cerena Sumatra, a widow and Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary from North Cotabato’s Arakan town who became an empowered mother and parent leader in their community.
The 52-year old Sumatra, in her testimony, thanked the DWSD and the Aquino government for the religious implementation of the 4Ps that helped millions of poor people in the country.
“Malaki talaga ang naitulong ng Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program sa amin dahil may 3rd year college po ako ngayon na nakapasok sa expanded Students Grants In Aid Program For Poverty Alleviation taking up Bachelor In Secondary Education, Major In Biology. Ang isa, ay First Year Bachelor In Secondary Education , Major In Mathematics, isang high school at isa ang elementarya.”
“Sa ngayon, nakapag-move on na rin ako. Kahit sa sobrang hirap ng buhay , tinitiis ko ang lahat makapagtapos lang ang apat na anak ko sa pag-aaral para makamit nila ang tagumpay . Dahil naniniwala po ako, sa kasabihan na hindi hadlang ang kahirapan sa tagumpay. Sa namumuno ng DSWD at Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program ako ay buong pusong nagpapasalamat,” Sumatra said.
Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo was also present in the event and she shared some best practices that foster partnerships and convergence being implemented in her province.
“We have this partnership project with Department of Agriculture and local government units and the farmers and that provide farmers the access to resources of the government to improve productivity and promote food security and just like to the beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilya in SOCSKSARGEN, the government needs the full cooperation of the partner beneficiaries in order to truly feel the fruits of convergence,” Robredo said.
Other beneficiaries also shared their own testimonies which served as an inspiration to the others in the pro-poor program.
Alma Lintongan, from Sultan Kudarat province, said: “I have learned many things from being a Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary. I was chosen as a community health team member in our barangay, I have learned the importance of family planning, and I was also chosen to be the voice of our community by being a member of the Local Poverty Reduction Action Team.”
She added: “Pantawid Pamilya has empowered me as a person and I have my strengths and talents. When I became a recipient of Sustainable Livelihood Program, our family no longer relied from loan sharks or borrowing money with high interest rates because our group was given the chance to avail of capital fund assistance of 190, 000 pesos and now we have a roll back of 106, 000 pesos already that may help other beneficiaries who needed the funds.”
Another beneficiary, Chita Sulan, from South Cotabato’s Lake Sebu, said she is also satisfied and happy with the 4Ps. “Hirap na hirap kaming tustusan ang aming pang araw-araw na panangangailangan. Bilang ina ng tahanan, bawat araw ay nag-iisip at nagtatanong at umaasa din na sana makapagtapos kahit isa man lang sa aking mga anak sa college para makaahon sa kahirapan. Hindi nagtagal mayroong survey noong 2009 at nakasali po ako. Napalundag ako sa saya at nasabi sa aking sarili salamat po Panginoon dahil nakita niyo ang aking kalagayan at nadinig ang aking panalangin.”
“Ngunit ng dumating ang 4Ps, malaki ang pagbabago ngayon dahil sa programa. Nagpapasalamat ako sa assistance sa edukasyon at sa kalusugan ng aking pamilya. Hindi na ako namomroblema gaya ng dating wala pa ang programa. Tunay na nakakatulong ang programa ng Pantawid Pamilya sa lahat na aspeto ng aking buhay,” she said in Tagalog.
Noralie Gregorio Tin, of Midsayap town in North Cotabato province, said she, too, is thankful to the government’s anti-poverty program which is being implemented by the DSWD.
“Because of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, my self-esteem increased. I am no longer ashamed now. Before, my husband was just the one who decides, but now, I am able to be involved in the decision making within our family,” Noralie said.
She said the program has changed her life and provided her family the needed financial aid among that allowed them to better rooms for greater improvements. “The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program is a blessing which we never ever expected to come into our life,” said Tin, who is now involved in different activities within their community.
The event was also supported by the army and troops provided free haircuts among other services. A cultural presentation and other programs were also presented by the DSWD.
The DSWD under Taha, with the support of the local government units and other partners, have accomplished more than its target as far as 4Ps is concerned in the region. (Mark Navales)
Published in the regional paper: http://mindanaoexaminer.com/freedom-from-poverty-day-celebration-successful/