For 14 years, Alona Mangaldinan, 45 years old, a mother of four children from Alicia, Isabela, fed her family on her earnings as a “jueteng” (numbers game) bet collector. She knew fully well that jueteng is illegal but, nonetheless, continued to do so, albeit, with fear of being apprehended by authorities.
“Dahil po sa kahirapan, lahat po ng trabaho ay pinasok ko upang mabuhay po ang aking pamilya at makadagdag sa kita ng aking asawa bilang tricycle driver. (Because of poverty, I tried all kinds of jobs to support my family and augment my husband’s earnings as a tricycle driver), Alona said.
“Binuhay ko po ang pamilya ko sa pagiging isang kubrador. Alam ko pong illegal ang jueteng, ngunit mas nangibabaw po ang kagustuhan kong malagyan ng pagkain ang aming hapag. Sa pagiging kubrador ko po kinukuha ang aming pangkain at gastusin araw-araw (I supported my family by being a jueteng bet collector. I know that this is illegal, but the need to put food on the table was paramount. My earnings from my being a collector helped us meet our daily needs), “ Alona added.
On September 24, 2012, Alona gave up the job that put food on her family’s table to become a Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program beneficiary and eventually a parent-leader in her community.
“Setyembre po ng nakaraang taon ay pinalad po akong mapasama bilang isa sa mga benepisaryo ng Pantawid Pamilya. Magkahalong tuwa at lungkot po ang aking naramdaman. Tuwa dahil batid ko pong ang programa ang magbibigay ng tulong para sa kalusugan at edukasyon ng aking mga anak (September last year, I was lucky to be included as beneficiary of Pantawid Pamilya. I then had mixed emotions. I was happy because I know that this program will help me meet my children’s education and health needs),” Alona recalled.
“Ngunit nalungkot din po ako dahil ipinagbabawal sa programa ang pagsusugal at pag-inom ng alak. Sa isip ko po, saan ako kukuha ng aming pangangailangan araw-araw kung ipinagbabawal naman ang pagiging kubrador ko? (I was also sad because the program prohibits gambling. I was worried about where to get money for our daily needs.),” Alona continued
“Naihalal din po akong parent-leader, na nung una gusto ko pong tanggihan. Masasayang lang kasi ang oras ko sa pag-iikot sa mga bahay-bahay dahil tiyak na marami akong maipapataya. (I was also chosen as a parent-leader, which at first, I was reluctant to accept. I know that I will have lesser time to go around for jueteng bets.),” Alona said.
As beneficiary and a parent-leader at that, Alona diligently attended the subsequent meetings and the regular Family Development Sessions (FDS). During these meetings, Alona learned about the conditions that she should comply to continue receiving the cash grants.
“Pero ang higit na tumatak sa aking isipan ay ang mga gawaing hindi dapat gawin bilang isang benepisaryo, tulad ng pagsusugal (But what impressed me most are the things that beneficiaries should avoid like gambling.),” Alona pointed out.
“Hindi naglaon at dahil na rin sa mga natutunan ko sa mga FDS at sa paghihikayat ng aming Municipal Link, buong puso kong niyakap ang pagiging isang parent leader. At dito na nagsimula ang pagbabago sa aming buhay.(Eventually, with my learnings from the FDS and with the able guidance of the Municipal Link, I wholeheartedly embraced my being a parent leader. This started the change in our lives),” Alona said.
Alona was overjoyed when she received her first cash grant. She said she immediately bought new school supplies for her children. This inspired her to do her task faithfully as a parent leader.
Where before she was engaged in gambling-related activities, Alona herself, now, discourages the village folks from gambling explaining its implication on their being cash grantees.
“Tuluyan na pong nawala sa aking sistema ang pagiging kubrador, (I have totally given up on gambling),” Alona recounted
Alona is one of the more than 3.9 million beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilya as of June 26, 2013.
Pantawid Pamilya is a poverty alleviation program of the national government that aims to break the inter-generational cycle of poverty of poor households by investing in human capital particularly on health, nutrition, and education of children aged 0-14.
Beneficiaries are given cash grants of as much as P1,400 pesos for the education and health needs of three qualified children. To continue receiving the grants, families should comply to the following conditions: Pregnant women must avail of pre-and post natal care in a health facility and attended by professional birth attendant during childbirth; children 0-5 years old must receive regular preventive health check-ups and immunization; parents or guardians must attend monthly family development sessions; children 3-5 years old must enroll in day care and attend at least 85 % of the classes monthly; children 5-14 years old must enroll in pre-school and elementary or high school and should have an attendance of at least 85% monthly; children 6-14 years old in elementary and high school should receive deworming pills twice a year.
House to house
Today, Alona still goes around the village knocking from house to house but not to collect jueteng bets, rather, to monitor the daily progress of her fellow beneficiaries. On the side, she collects payment for her beauty and kitchen products which she retails as part of her new job as a direct dealer. Her earnings from her dealership complement the cash grants from Pantawid Pamilya.
Alona recognizes what the program has done for her family, but she is more thankful for what it has done to her as a person and a mother. ### (DSWD-Social Marketing Service and DSWD-Region II- Social Marketing Unit) July 17, 2013