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6-M seniors soon to have lifetime health insurance

Seniors listen intently to discussions during the forum.

Seniors listen intently to discussions during the forum.

More than six million elderly in the country will soon become lifetime members of Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

This was announced by PhilHealth President and CEO Alexander A. Padilla during forum held recently on social protection programs for the elderly, an Elderly Filipino Week activity organized by PhilHealth and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

The elderly beneficiaries of Philhealth’s Lifetime Member Program (LMP) will be provided coverage for life without paying the premium anymore.

“Our LMP is open to those who have made 120 monthly contributions to the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP), and have reached the age of retirement,” Padilla said, clarifying however, that those who are still gainfully employed even at age of retirement are not yet eligible under the LMP.

DSWD is supporting Senate Bill No. 712, a measure that would authorize the PhilHealth to cover all senior citizens in the country.

The Bill was approved on third and final reading in the Senate.

During the forum, DSWD, PhilHealth, Social Security System (SSS), and Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) signed a manifest for the promotion of adequate social services and protection for elderly Filipinos.

Dalaw Kalinga

(Left Photo) A DSWD Central Office staff interviews a resident of the Golden Reception and Action Center for the Elderlies and Other Special Cases (GRACES) during the 'Dalaw Kalinga,' held recently as part of the Elderly Filipino Week celebration on October 1-7. (Right Photo) An elderly resident of GRACES renders a song number during the program held at the center in connection with the Elderly Filipino Week celebration.

(Left Photo) A DSWD Central Office staff interviews a resident of the Golden Reception and Action Center for the Elderlies and Other Special Cases (GRACES) during the ‘Dalaw Kalinga,’ held recently as part of the Elderly Filipino Week celebration on October 1-7. (Right Photo) An elderly resident of GRACES renders a song number during the program held at the center in connection with the Elderly Filipino Week celebration.

Also, as part of the EFW celebration,  DSWD in partnership with senior citizens’ organizations conducted ‘Dalaw Kalinga’  or visits to more than 1,000 abandoned, sick, and indigent older persons who are currently sheltered in various institutions and jails in the National Capital Region.

“Ang Dalaw Kalinga ay isang paraan para maipadama namin sa aming kapwa senior citizens na nasa mga center at kulungan ang aming pagmamalasakit at pagmamahal sa kanila, kaya ginagawa namin ito taon-taon (Dalaw Kalinga is one way to show  our fellow senior citizens in centers and jails our concern and love for them, that’s why we do this every year),” explained Jorge Banal, an active advocate of the senior citizens’ rights and welfare.

The centers and jails visited were the National Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City, Correctional Institute for Women in Mandaluyong City, Hospicio de San Jose and Missionaries of Charity in Manila, Luwalhati ng Maynila in Marikina City, and Golden Reception and Action Center for the Elderly and other Special Cases (GRACES) in Quezon City.

Members of senior citizens’ organizations brought gifts for older persons.

The Elderly Filipino Week is celebrated annually from October 1 to 7 pursuant to Proclamation No. 470.

This year’s theme is “Ang Nakatatanda ay Yaman, Katuwang sa Pag-unlad ng Bayan, Pangalagaan Kanilang Kapakanan.” ###

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How do Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries survive life’s daily grind? Resiliency, hard work play a big role

(Left Photo) Leo Moriles and his wife Jocelyn are able to make both ends meet through ‘Trabahong Lansangan,’ DSWD’s partnership with the Department of Public Works and highways where Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries are provided with employment. (Right Photo) A Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary from Pasig City earns extra income for her family’s needs through their small rag – making business.

(Left Photo) Leo Moriles and his wife Jocelyn are able to make both ends meet through ‘Trabahong Lansangan,’ DSWD’s partnership with the Department of Public Works and highways where Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries are provided with employment. (Right Photo) A Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary from Pasig City earns extra income for her family’s needs through their small rag – making business.

With the monthly cash grant of as much as P1,400 for three qualified children,  many continue to wonder how beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program stretch this out to meet the education and nutritional needs of their children until the next grant.

But for them, this is not even a question.

In a recent random interview of beneficiaries from 17 barangays in the cities of Manila, Quezon, San Juan, Mandaluyong, Caloocan, Malabon, Marikina, Navotas, Pasig and Valenzuela, and the municipality of Pateros, they are one in saying that the grants they are receiving from the program have helped them augment  their resources to meet their children’s daily need.

For Milagros Dizon of Batasan Hills, Quezon City, the cash grants she receives go to the education and health needs of her children, adding that they now have school  supplies, such as bags, shoes, and uniforms.

She also buys them vitamins, and happily shared that, “Hindi na sila madalas nagkakasakit (They do not get sick often).”

The beneficiaries stressed, however, that they do not completely depend on the grant to survive life’s daily grind.

For instance, a family of six with three children-beneficiaries getting P1,400 a month would have an estimated budget of P234 per family member. This is hardly enough to take care of all their needs, hence, the beneficiaries look for other sources of income.

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said that this statement of the beneficiaries disproves public perception that the program is a dole-out and leads to dependency.

“The beneficiaries can not only depend on the cash grant to take care of all their needs, that is why there are skills training and livelihood programs offered to them so they can move from survival to self-sufficiency,” Sec. Soliman stated.

Taking extra work

The beneficiaries shared how they make both ends meet, showcasing their resiliency, flexibility, and hard work. Taking extra work to augment the cash grants they receive from Pantawid Pamilya is one way the beneficiaries manage to sustain their families’ needs.

For instance, Elsie M. Dato, 35, from Barangay 8, Caloocan City said, “Ume-extra ako, nag-aalaga ng bata  (I get extra work such as taking care of children of my neighbors).”

Mischelle N. Iradiel, 33, from Brgy. Callejon II Sta. Cruz, Pasig City stated, “Nagtitinda ako upang may dagdag kita pambili ng pagkain  (I sell things to earn additional income to buy food.)

On the other hand, Phoebe S. Alcanar, 43, from Brgy.  Malanday, Marikina cited strict budgeting as her technique of managing their daily expenses.

“Binabadyet kong mabuti ang pera para magkasya  (I budget our money well to cover all expenses),” Phoebe stated.

“Mananahi kaming mag-asawa kaya may pinagkukunan ng panggastos  (My husband and I sew clothes so we have a regular source of income),” she added.

“Kailangan din naming magsumikap at magtrabahong maige  upang maiangat ang antas ng aming kabuhayan at hindi umasa lamang sa tulong ng gobyerno  (We have to persevere and work hard to improve our quality of life, and not just to depend on the government’s help),” the beneficiaries stated.

Regular jobs

Further, the beneficiaries said that they have regular jobs to sustain their family’s nutritional needs and claimed they get to eat a variety of viands, such as meat, chicken, vegetables, and fish.

Inquired as to how much of their income do they allocate for the purchase of food, most replied they usually spend P200 a day for three meals.

Their responses indicate that the program is on track in achieving its goal of empowering poor families including the improvement of their nutritional status.

Convergence

Beneficiaries are also able to avail of assistance through convergence with other government agencies, such as the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) which provides  them gainful employment  through the Trabahong Lansangan, which involves road maintenance and street sweeping.

Beneficiaries in other regions attest to this.

Leo C. Moriles from Brgy. Lower Caynaga, Lope de Vega, Northern Samar is one of the fortunate beneficiaries who was given work through Trabahong Lansangan. Leo and his wife Jocelyn were blessed with five children.

He narrated that before Pantawid Pamilya, they used to live a hand-to-mouth existence. Then, every day is a fight for survival because of unstable work with very minimal pay.

“Dakoan akon pagpasalamat nganat aganak pati anak on pamilya sininga mga benepisyo  (I am so thankful that my family and I and have been given these benefits),” said Leo, who is earning P409 a day as a worker of Trabahong Lansangan.

Leo is  grateful for this project which has helped his family a lot.

He stated that he no longer needs to scrounge around for any work so he could put food on the table. The earnings he gets from this work suffice for their daily needs.

Leo was able to purchase a motorcycle through a loan, and uses this to transport passengers while he is not at work.  He used his earnings to pay for the monthly amortization of the motorcycle, while the excess amount is set aside for emergency needs.

Valuable learnings

Leo cited that the lessons he learned from Family Development Sessions (FDS) and other Pantawid Pamilya meetings have contributed to the positive changes in their family.

He learned self-discipline, gained knowledge, enhanced his skills, and realized the value of time.  He added the these are learnings which he would always bring with him.

This was echoed by the other beneficiaries who shared how the FDS helped them realize their responsibilities as parents.

Ensuring adequate food supply through backyard gardening is also included in the enhanced modules of the FDS.

“Sa sarili nilang pag-sisikap at tiyaga, kaya ng pamilyang Pilipino ang  pagbabago (With their hard work and perseverance, the Filipino family can  create positive change in their lives),” Sec. Soliman emphasized.  ###

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Four women give face to dev’t of a poor village in Masbate

The residents of Brgy. Laurente, San Pascual, Masbate on their concrete pathway constructed under KALAHI CIDSS.

The residents of Brgy. Laurente, San Pascual, Masbate on their concrete pathway constructed under KALAHI CIDSS.

San Pascual, Masbate - Teresita Talisic, Elizabeth Marquez, Mary Jane Bani, and Gregoria Rudina are no strangers to poverty.

They are residents of Laurente, one of the 22 barangays of this town.

Laurente is a community rich in natural resources, but provides limited opportunities for residents already steeped in poverty.

Living in the coastal part of  Laurente, Teresita makes money as a fish vendor going around and outside her village.

Lack of access path

Oftentimes, her hard work does not yield profitable results. She said that it was difficult to sell fish because she had to traverse an unpaved, muddy path in the village.

“Dati po, naga-buy and sell po ako.  Sus na sakitMay surusuknong ako na balde. Pag mahalnas, nadudulas po ako.Tirigaya! Purot ko naman su mga sira. Ilaog ko naman sa balde (I used to buy and sell fish. It was difficult as I had to carry a pail full of fish. I often slipped and stumbled because the path was slippery. I should then pick up the fish I dropped and put these back in the bucket),” she narrated gesturing how she tripped when passing through the rough road.

Teresita was embarrassed to sell her fish because these were mud-spattered. As a result, she ended up earning little for all her hard work.

Her problem was common to the other fish vendors as bringing their goods to the market was difficult owing to the lack of a proper access path.

Fish buyers would usually go to Laurente to haggle, and would often get lower prices for the products, always citing the difficulty in transporting the goods as their leverage.

As a result, the vendors would agree to lower prices having little choice over the matter. For them, even the little money is better than nothing.

The farmers of the village also had the same problem, peddling their produce for very low prices.

The absence of an access path to and from the village also proved difficult for mothers and pregnant women, especially in going to the already dilapidated health center.

Elizabeth, a community health worker and a mother herself, felt for the women, as she saw how difficult it was for them to travel by foot just to get basic medical attention. She added that their small health center aggravates the problem.

“Pagkasadit-sadit kang samuyang health center. Masikip talaga siya (Our health center is very small. It’s really crowded),” she described.

The lack of a proper access way has long plagued the residents of Laurente.

Mary Jane was one of the women in the community who had to suffer from this problem.

At a young age, she had experienced to be away from her family just to finish high school back in the 1990s.

She left home and stayed in a boarding house near San Pascual National High School as the school is too far from their place. She endured one and a half hour of travel by foot for four years during weekends, so she could go home to her family.

Mary Jane was one of the lucky ones who was able to get her high school diploma. Most parents were not able to send their children to high school because they either could not afford to do so, or because of the distance of the nearest school to their community.

Dream infrastructures

Such was the longtime problem of the rural community that when the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) introduced the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS), the villagers gave their full support.

Through Kalahi-CIDSS with funding support of the Spanish Government’s Agencia Espanola de Cooperacion Internacional para el Desarollo (AECID), and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP),  Laurente now has its dream infrastructures – a health center and a concrete pathway.

Kalahi-CIDSS is a unique, community-driven development program which utilizes people’s participation and community empowerment as its core strategies.

At present, an additional 210-meter path walk is being constructed, through OPAPP’s Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) program.

The access road in Laurente has greatly eased the lives of the villagers, as their travel time has been cut from almost two hours to 30 minutes.

Light vehicles such as motorcycles and tricycles are now able to transport passengers. Children are now also able to go to school more easily.

Fisherfolks and farmers also now have a better chance of generating more income, as they can bring their products to the market at no additional cost and without price cuts.

Faces of volunteerism

The success of Kalahi-CIDSS in Laurente can be attributed to the active participation of the residents throughout the process of project implementation.

Wanting to improve their community, Teresita, Elizabeth, Mary Jane, and Gregoria, found themselves leading the volunteers for the construction of the concrete pathway.

“Dae matatapos ang proyekto kung dae kami nagkasararo (The project will not be completed unless we come together),”  Mary Jane said.

The women readily took up their new roles when they were elected by their fellow villagers as the leaders in the implementation of their projects, even if they knew that there would be no monetary compensation. Their motivation was simple – to help change their community for the better.

As mothers, they knew that the work they do will eventually benefit their children and the succeeding generations.

“Magadan man ako, marurumduman ninda si mama palan nagtabang diyan (Even if I die, my children will remember that I helped here),” Gregoria said.

They also learned about the other aspects of project implementation such as procurement and documentation.  In the process, they, too, empowered themselves.

Gregoria was responsible for accomplishing the documents needed for the project.  She, together with her children, rendered a four-day free labor service during the construction of their pathway back in 2013.

“Ining pathway, kung maagi ako, marumduman ko na saro ako jan sa nagtabang, pati mga aki ko (Every time I walk on this pathway, I will remember how my children and I extended our assistance to our village),” she added.

Like in any project, there were also setbacks in implementation, such as the negative reactions of their fellow residents.

According to Elizabeth, they focused not on the problems, but on the brighter side of their situation. They  look for solutions to resolve problems that may delay the implementation of their project. They even used these opportunities to learn more about themselves and how they deal with other people.

“Natuto ako magdara ning tawo na may iba ibang attitude (I learned to handle people with different attitudes),” said Gregoria.

Unexpected opportunities

Another opportunity which came to Laurente is the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, the conditional cash transfer program implemented by DSWD.

Pantawid Pamilya invests in the health and education of poor households, particularly children aged 0-18, by way of providing conditional cash grants to compliant beneficiaries.

Teresita and Gregoria’s families are among the Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries in Laurente. They have since learned to become more responsible parents to their children through the program’s Family Development Sessions (FDS), which are learning sessions for the parents to be responsible caretakers of their children.

“Naaraman ko po kung malnourished ang aki ko ta regular kami magpa-checkup (I will be able to monitor if my child is malnourished because we go to the center for regular checkups),” Teresita said.

“Grabe samuya ang tabang ki Pantawid Pamilya. Natugunan ang sa health, edukasyon asin dakol nabago sa sakuyang sa sadiri dahil sa FDS (Pantawid Pamilya greatly helped us. Health and educational needs are met. I have changed in many ways because of FDS)”, Gregoria said.

She also mentioned that she was able to replace the tattered clothes of her children with decent ones, as well as buy them black shoes and school supplies through the cash grant of Pantawid Pamilya.

Movers of development

These DSWD programs brought the much-needed development of Laurente.

More importantly, the projects gave confidence and skills to the residents, especially to  Teresita, Mary Jane, Gregoria, and Elizabeth.

The transformation of these women represents the onset of development in their community. Before, they only know poverty.

But now, they know development.  In fact, they had become  movers of development, taking the lead in improving their community

“Kayang-kaya na ning Brgy. Laurente na magtindog bilang sarong komunidad para ipadagos ang paguswag (Brgy. Laurente can now stand on its own  to continue the progress),” Mary Jane said, her voice brimming with confidence. ###

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DSWD to present proposed policy on ‘near poor’

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will conduct the learning forum dubbed as “People at the Edge: Defining the Near Poor of the Philippines” on October 7, 2014 at the Sulo Riviera Hotel, Quezon City.

During the activity, DSWD will present the results of the study entitled, “Analysis of the Near Poor Challenge and Strategy Development Ideas”  by Dr. Vicente Paqueo, an economist and public policy expert, of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

One of the salient points of his study is the proposed definition and threshold of near poor.

Near poor are non-poor families that live at a knife-edge with little or no buffer against the economic shocks. They can easily become poor when faced with crisis.

The panel of reactors for this event will include Dr. Mahar Mangahas of the Social Weather Station (SWS), Dr. Ana Maria Tabunda of Pulse Asia, and Romeo Recide, the Interim Deputy National Statistician of the Philippine Statistical Authority.

The learning forum is part of the month-long celebration of the 25th National Statistics Month (NSM) with the theme, “25 and Beyond: Solid and Responsive Philippine Statistical System in Support of Globalization and Regional Economic Integration”.

As the lead agency in social protection, DSWD is mandated to develop, implement, and coordinate social protection and poverty reduction programs and services for and with the poor, vulnerable, and disadvantaged.

Consistent to this mandate,  DSWD, with support from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), initiated the study that will put forward a national policy on the near poor.

“This policy will allow us to define and identify members of this sector that cuts across the vulnerable and disadvantaged in the Listahanan 2nd round of assessment, and find ways how we can effectively address their concerns,” stated Secretary Corazon-Juliano Soliman, who will give the opening remarks in the said activity.

Listahanan is the DSWD’s information management system that aims to identify poor families who will be beneficiaries of social protection programs and services. With the near poor threshold, the project will be able to identify the near poor.

Social protection programs will be able to extend its assistance to keep the near poor from becoming poor.  ###

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DSWD promotes children’s participation in this year’s Children’s Month

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) through its attached agency, the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC), will lead the celebration of the 22nd National Children’s Month this October.

For this year, the event carries the theme, “Bata Kasali Ka, Ikaw ay Mahalaga”, to promote children’s participation in nation-building.

The monthlong celebration kicks-off through an Awareness Walk on Children’s Rights on October 4 at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta, Manila. It will be participated in by children from various schools in the National Capital Region (NCR), and representatives from  government and non-government agencies, civil society, and people’s organizations.

The Awareness Walk is a nationwide activity that will be held simultaneously in all the 17 regions.

Children’s participation is one of the rights of children stipulated in Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

Based on the CRC, children have the right to participate in decision-making processes that may be relevant in their lives and to influence decisions taken in their regard—within the family, the school or the community.

DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said that DSWD encourages children to join various fora, workshops, and seminars where they can express  their insights on issues that involve them.

One of the highlights of the celebration is the National Children’s Congress on October 22 to 26, which aims to bring out their voices on issues that directly affect them.

Through the congress,  the children-participants will identify the various emerging challenges that they meet  and will present these to concerned officials of government  for appropriate solutions.

Other activities to mark the event are the Awarding of Sipat Bata Photo Contest and  Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program Exemplary Children, Launching of Child Participation Guidelines and Advocacy Poster of the Inter-Agency Council Against Child Pornography (IACACP) and Child-Friendly Philippines.

There will also be a Story Book Writeshop for Children,  Legislative Summit for the Protection and Development of Children, Dialogue with Legislators, Art Festival, Symposium, and Photo-Exhibit.

Presidential Proclamation 267 declares the month of October of every year as the National Children’s Month to emphasize the importance of the role of the child within the Filipino family and in nation building. ###

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A couple’s journey into adoption: ‘God is in the details’

Happy family - Mr. and Mrs. Jojo and Janet Villa with their adopted daughter, Anna. The couple recounted their journey towards adoption during the launching of Adoption Consciousness Week and opening of the photo exhibit held last February 2014 at SM Manila. Since legally adopting Anna, the couple became active advocates of legal adoption.

Happy family – Jojo and Janet Villa with their adopted daughter, Anna.

“She was gorgeous.”

This was Janet Villa’s first reaction when she saw Anna, their adopted daughter.

From the first moment they laid eyes on the beautiful baby, they knew she was the child God had intended for them.

Looking back, the Villa couple shared that  “God is in the details” of their journey into adoption, the road that finally led them to Anna.

In 2007, after 13 years of fertility work-up, a doctor informed Janet and Jojo that they would never have children.

“A myoma, the size of a five-month-old fetus had taken over my uterus. The doctor recommended a hysterectomy,” Janet tearfully narrated.

Answered prayers

Janet was positive that God was with them all throughout their ordeal – from finding the right doctor and raising money for Janet’s surgery to finally fetching Anna from her temporary home.

Three years after Janet’s surgery, the couple had somewhat given up on having children.

“But God had been working on our baby project all along. In 2010, a magazine editor asked me to edit a special article on adoption. I had to research on adoption, interview adoptive families and children, and talk to a therapist,” Janet recalled how she finally understood that God was leading them towards adoption.

“When Jojo and I opened our hearts to adoption, our daughter was already living, breathing, somewhere. We prayed for her, and asked God to choose her for us,” she continued.

Three months after they filed the adoption papers with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the couple was notified by a social worker that they had been matched with a baby girl.

Anna was ten months old when they picked her up at Ministries Without Borders, a home for abandoned babies and toddlers in Cavite run by Norwegian missionaries.

Janet recalled, “She looked so much like Jojo that the caregivers teased him for merely reclaiming her. God had taken note of our request – Anna was healthy, lived with Christian caregivers, and was entrusted to a Christian woman when she was only a week old. When we picked her up, her caregivers cried. She had been carved in their hearts. They wrote her letters for her to read when she grew up.”

The name that had been given to the child at the orphanage was Grace, while the name Anna is the Hebrew word for Grace.  Janet claimed that their daughter’s name had been preordained.

The couple likewise shared how in the first few months that Anna came home with them, two birds visited their tenth-floor home every day.

“They would stay for hours, flying by, perching on our windowsill, chirping. Today, those birds—symbols of hope and God’s faithfulness—built a nest outside our living-room window, choosing to stay with us for the long haul. Truly, God is in the details,” the couple exulted.

Anna’s legal adoption was made possible through the assistance of Kaisahang Buhay Foundation (KBF), an accredited child-caring agency which is a partner of DSWD in continuously advocating legal adoption to ensure the child’s best interest.

Partner child-caring agencies

DSWD recently signed a memorandum of agreement  with the Association of Child Caring Agencies (ACCAP) to better collaborate  in the timely placement of children needing adoption or foster care.

On May 2009, Republic Act No. 9523, an act requiring the certification of the DSWD to declare a child legally available for adoption (CDCLAA), was enacted. Since then, the Department has already issued 3,800 CDCLAA.

To date, a total of 2,216 children were adopted through regular agency adoption – 124 were foster-adopted and 1,460 were adopted through direct placement.

Aside from legal adoption, the DSWD and its partner child-caring agencies are also advocating foster care to enable every child  to experience a caring and nurturing family life provided by a licensed foster family on a temporary basis towards permanent placement.

As of April 2014, a total of 2,294 children have been placed under foster care. ###

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There is ‘gold’ in Ube

Jolly Quinto, President of Ube Harvester SEA-Kaunlaran Group in San Francisco, Quezon, narrates how DSWD's SLP helped their livelihood project.

Jolly Quinto, President of Ube Harvester SEA-Kaunlaran Group in San Francisco, Quezon, narrates how DSWD’s SLP helped their livelihood project.

When Jolly Quinto and Allan Mahinay of San Francisco, Quezon became beneficiaries of the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in April 2014, their lives started to get better.

Jolly is the President of Ube Harvesters Self-Employment Assistance-Kaunlaran (SEA-K), while Allan headed the Sto. Niño Ube Producers Association, both local farmer-producers of purple yam or ‘ube.’

Jolly and Allan narrated before officials and employees of the  DSWD during the Department’s flag raising ceremony at the Central Office on Monday how the program helped improve their lives.

“Malaki po talagang tulong ang naibigay ng DSWD sa aming magtatanim ng ube sa San Francisco. Hindi na namin kailangan mangutang sa iba na may malaking tubo upang makapagsimula kami sa pagtatanim ng ube (The assistance provided by DSWD is really a big help to us. We do not have to borrow money with huge interest just so we could start planting),” they said.

Planting season for ube is in April and May, while harvest time is from December to January. Ube is a root crop  commonly  used as ingredient to prepare desserts  and breads.

Allan added,  “Hindi lang kapital ang naibigay ng DSWD sa aming grupo, nabigyan din kami ng kasanayan o training sa tamang paghahanda ng lupa, pag-aabono, gayundin ang marketing ng aming mga produkto (DSWD has not only given our group the needed capital, but also skills training in preparing the land, using fertilizer, and in marketing our products).”

Jolly said that ube planting is financially rewarding as farmers can double their profits for growing the root crops.

He said that there is ‘gold’ in ube because it is easy to cultivate, as long as it is properly cared for throughout the year. Being aware of the basic soil, sun, and water preferences will result in healthier harvests.

A farmer shows his ube harvest

A farmer shows his ube harvest

“Ang pagbabago ay dapat magsimula muna sa ating sarili. Kalakip ng sikap at tiyaga at suporta ng pamahalaan, makakamit natin ang positibong pagbabago (Transformation should start within ourselves. Coupled with perseverance, determination, and government support,  we can change our lives),”  Jolly said.

SLP is a community-based program aimed at improving the socio-economic status of its participants wherein beneficiaries are thought to mobilize their savings, engage in microenterprise activities, access capital resources, or receive institutional development support.

It has two tracks:  Micro-Enterprise Development Track which support micro-enterprise in becoming organizationally and economically viable; and Employment Facilitation Track which assists participants to access appropriate employment opportunities.

As of July 2014, a total of 210,166 families were served by the 770 projects SLP has implemented with public and private sectors.

These projects increased the economic opportunities of the families by strengthening values and skills formation, increasing access to credit, savings and micro-finance, improving product development and marketing,  and providing pre-employment training and direct employment.  ###

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Remote Zambo village fulfills dream school through people participation

The construction of the school building is the first step to a brighter future of children in this remote barangay.

The construction of the school building is the first step to a brighter future of children in this remote barangay.

Tukuran, Zamboanga del Sur – Lack of education remains one of the biggest concerns in the Philippines, particularly for those living in remote villages.

This was a problem that was all too real for the residents of Barangay Man-ilan in this town.

Located almost 20 kilometers away from the main road,  Barangay Man-ilan can only be reached by habal-habal (motorcycles for public transport). With this, Brgy. Man-ilan is isolated from the rest of the villages.

“Sa una, gamay lang gyud ang mga estudyante namu (There were only a few students here before),” narrated Nezaida Labrador, a teacher of the Man-ilan Elementary School, which previously consisted of two makeshift classrooms.

“Katung mga naka-enrol diri, kasagaran ga-transfer pud kay kung ga-ulan, matuluan gyud sila kay murag gi-himu-himu lang man ang ilahang room (Most of those who were enrolled here would eventually transfer to other schools because when it rains, students would get wet as they only occupied makeshift classrooms),” she added.

More often than not, grim future awaited the students who did not have the option to transfer schools.

“Ginikanan ang ilahang sitwasyon. Ang uban nga diri gapuyo pero sa laing nga eskwela ga-sulud, mu-baclay pa sa pikas nga baryo kay didtu maayu man ang classrooms (The tendency was for children who could not transfer to no longer attend school, because their parents could see how difficult their situation would be. On the other hand, those who enrolled to another school needed to take a longer route to get to the other side of the village),” Nezaida further narrated.

The introduction of the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services-National Community-Driven Development Program (KALAHI CIDSS-NCDDP) to support Barangay Man-ilan’s implementation of the national government’s Grassroots Participatory Budgeting Process (GPBP) provided the opportunity for the villagers to finally get their own school building.

KALAHI CIDSS-NCDDP is one of the poverty-alleviation programs of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). It utilizes the community-driven development (CDD) approach to ensure that citizens become actively involved in local decision-making, even as they are provided the opportunity to have improved access to basic social services.

GPBP, formerly known as Bottom-Up Budgeting (BUB), is a strategy of the Philippine government for the citizens, particularly the poor, to enable them to participate in the local budgeting process to ensure that programs and services are responsive to their needs.

However, residents were initially hesitant to participate in the process despite the opportunity offered to them through the KALAHI CIDSS-NCDDP’s GPBP implementation.

Mamelito Butir, who served as one of the community volunteers in KALAHI CIDSS-NCDDP, shared, “Gamay lang gyud mu attend mga anang asembliya sa una. Mga lima, daku na nang dyes katau. Siguro pud, maulaw sila, kahy basig dili sila kasabut (Only a few attended barangay assemblies before. A group of five or ten people was already a significant size then. Maybe they were reluctant to attend because they thought they would not be able to understand whatever will be discussed there),” adding that such was typically how they responded to government projects in the past.

Still, those who showed interest to volunteer in KALAHI CIDSS-NCDDP persevered, even though they needed to adjust, as it was a novelty for them to work with their fellow villagers.

 “Ang katung problema lang sa una, kana bang syempre ang kinaiya sa tawu nay dili natu mapasabut, pero daghan mi ug kalihukan para mapasabut lang sila (There were times when we cannot understand what our supposed responsibilities were in the project, but we made a lot of effort for them to comprehend and even appreciate it),” said Mamelito.

Men and women of different sectors came together to volunteer and participate in the construction of the classrooms, which had a total cost of P2,572,424.00.

By working together, they were finally able to achieve their longtime dream to have a school in their community.

“Sa kaluuy sa ginoo, gi-succeed da gihapun ang among tumong. Kaayuhan da gihapun sa community. Basta amu silang gipasabut kay naa ta’y proyekto gihatag sa KALAHI CIDSS-NCDDPat GPBP. Kinahanglan mu tabang ta. Tabang lang pud dayun sila (With God’s grace, we succeeded in realizing our objective of working for the welfare of the community. We let the people know that we got our sub-project through KALAHI CIDSS-NCDDP and GPBP, and that we as a community need to help each other),”  Mamelito related.

Today, a one-unit, four-classroom building sits proudly in Barangay Man-ilan, testimony of the hard work put into by the residents of the village for their children.

“Apan sa pagtukud sa kining classroom, gi-pull out namu ang mga estudyante nga residente diri sa Man-ilan pero enrolled sa mga eskwela sa laing barangay. Kay gusto pud namu magamit gyud nila ang proyekto nga para ilaha. Si na sila mu-baclay sa kalayu (Upon the completion of the classroom building, students who reside in Man-ilan but were enrolled in schools in other barangays were pulled out so they can be enrolled here. We also wanted them to benefit from the sub-project that was built for them, and they no longer have to take a long walk to get to and from school),” Teacher Nezaida said.

The new building is a far cry from the makeshift classrooms of the past, which were insufficient for their needs, as teachers were required to develop a rotating schedule just so they can have the opportunity to use the available classrooms, dilapidated as they may be.

Now, Man-ilan elementary students no longer have to put up with improvised classrooms, especially during the on-set of rainy weather. Consequently, the  new  facility  has  encouraged more  children to   enroll in the village’s   primary school,  increasing  the  number of  enrolees  to  136  at  present  as compared to less than 100 last year.

What seemed elusive for the present and future students of Man-ilan before has now become a reality, and it is through the efforts of the community people themselves, who have made this possible through their own hard work with the support of DSWD’s KALAHI CIDSS-NCDDP.###

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