A barangay tanod now, Frederick Catibog, 39, is no longer a picture of a person who once succumbed to the effects of drug addiction.
Villagers in Barangay San Diego in Lian, Batangas used to call him an irresponsible husband and father. They also often remarked that his family lived in a house made of cardboard, nipa leaves, and scavenged galvanized iron sheets, yet he could still afford to buy drugs and alcohol.
People were aloof to, worse, afraid of him and his family.
Today, Frederick walks the streets of their barangay with dignity. He feels accepted and respected by members of his community all because of the support and opportunities provided to him by the government and concerned individuals, which made him a changed man.
“Naghahanap-buhay ako nang maayos at ibinubuhos ko ang lahat ng oras ko para sa pamilya ko. Gusto kong mapagtapos ang mga anak ko at mamulat sila sa magandang asal,” he shared with pride.
Learning from past mistakes
His wife, Jenny, 29, could not hide her feelings when she recalled their situation as a result of Frederick’s addiction to his vices.
“Pangingisda ang pinagkakakitaan niya dati. Pagdating niya sa bahay, magbibigay lang siya ng 40 pesos. Minsan wala pa. Kulang na kulang pa iyon para sa pagkain ng apat naming mga anak sa maghapon,” Jenny shared.
Frederick recalled that he did not mind spending around a thousand pesos in a day for his vices. He would even accept construction jobs to fund his addictions.
On the other hand, Jenny would find ways so that their children could have something to eat.“Minsan, naglalabada ako para kumita ng pera.’Pag walang wala talaga, nanghihingi ako ng bigas sa mga kapatid n’ya,” Jennycontinued.She admitted that she held a grudge against her husband who seemed to care more about his bad habits than their family.
In 2011, their family became a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program which is being implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). The cash grants from the program are a great help in meeting the health and school needs of their children, especially when Jenny no longer expected support from her husband.
“Sinisiguro ko pong diretsong naibibili ng gamit ng mga bata at pambayad sa school ang natatanggap namin sa Pantawid. Hindi ko na pinoproblema ang pang-araw-araw nilang baon,” shared Jenny.
Through the monthly Family Development Sessions which she attends regularly as part of her co-responsibilities as a grantee of the program, Jenny has learned a lot of things, particularly in raising her children well and in maintaining a healthy relationship with Frederick.
“Hinikayat ko na po siyang magbago. Sinasabi ko sa kanya lagi na huwag na niyang hayaang lumaki pa ang mga anak namin na puro pagbibisyo lang niya ang nakikita,” she said.
Thankfully, Frederick heeded her advice and started to change his ways.
Gaining his family’s trust and the community’s respect
As its contribution to the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign, DSWD leads the implementation of the Yakap Bayan program, an inter-agency collaboration which provides aftercare, transformation, and reintegration support for recovering drug personalities.
Frederick was one of the 99 residents of Barangay San Diego who surrendered to the police and were assisted through the Yakap Bayan.
For Frederick, that experience was life-changing, particularly when various interventions, such as cash-for-work, skills training, and livelihood assistance from the national and local governments as well as from private organizations were provided to surrenderers like him.
Frederick was thankful when a private organization gave him a boat which he now uses to earn for his family.
Aside from the boat, his family was also a beneficiary of a housing project of the local government receiving P10,000 worth of construction supplies. Finally, Frederick can start building a more decent and safer house for his family.
“Tuwang-tuwa po kami ngayon kasi hindi na kami nanghihingi ng pagkain. Lahat ng kinikita n’ya, napupunta na para sa pamilya namin,” shared Jenny, who added that Frederick is also able to spend more time to bond with their children.
What Frederick is also grateful for is that as a barangay tanod, he is able to help in the anti-illegal drug campaign of the government by working together with the police in ensuring that there will be no more cases of addiction in their community.
“Pinakamalaking bagay na din po para sa akin ‘yung pinagkatiwalaan akong magsilbi sa barangay namin. Yung maging barangay tanod ako. Hindi ko po iniisip ‘yung sweldo ko dito, ang mahalaga sa akin ay maipakita ko sa mga kabarangay ko na ako ay nagbago na,” he said.
Chasing dreams for the children
Frederick vows to continue working hard to ensure that all his children finish their studies and, hopefully, find gainful employment in the future.
“Hinding-hindi na ako babalik sa dati,” he committed.
With this assurance of Frederick, Jenny could not help but shed tears once more. This time, however, they are tears of joy for finally finding peace of mind when it comes to the future of their children.
“Mas panatag na po ako ngayon na alam kong nagtutulungan kaming mapabuti ang aming mga anak,” she ended. -30-