DSWD backs LGBTQ community to end gender discrimination

June is considered to be  Pride Month, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is one with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community to eliminate discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Being true to one’s self is one of the many commendable things that we can learn from the LGBTQ community. The members of the LGBT sector are brave and never afraid to assert their rights, celebrate their individuality, and express their compassion to others despite the many types of discrimination that they experience every day,” said DSWD Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo.

In line with this month’s celebration of the Pride Month, the Department reiterates its full support to the passage of House Bill 4982 or the “Anti-Discrimination Bill on the Basis of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity or Expression (SOGIE)” or the “SOGIE Equality Bill” which seeks to penalize “unlawful discriminatory practices against any person on the basis of SOGIE.”

Sec. Taguiwalo said that the passage of the bill will be a significant development to fight and bring down the number of hate crimes in the country based on sexual orientation or gender identity. She also said that the bill can help establish a safe environment where the LGBTQ sector can be empowered and its members can freely express their individuality without being judged or discriminated against by others.

“We envision a future where being a member of the LGBTQ community is no longer an issue of controversy; where LGBTQ people can demand and then freely access the services of the government  without the fear of humiliation and their rights disregarded. This is also the reason why we want to include a provision to review and strengthen government social welfare and social protection programs for the LGBTQ community and to improve their provision of health insurance with regards to their physical transformation for their chosen gender identity,” said Sec. Taguiwalo.

“The LGBTQ community continues to soar despite the many forms of cruelty that they are often subjected to the more backward and conservative sectors of society. We hope that the more informed and compassionate members of the public will continue to support them and their calls for gender equality because LGBTQ rights are human rights and should be respected,” the social welfare chief  added.

It can be recalled that the DSWD has also released a policy last year that fosters gender-inclusive workplace, stressing that DSWD personnel belonging to the LGBTQ community have the right to comply with the office uniform styles prescribed by the Department in a manner consistent with their gender identity and expression. Preferred uniform styles of personnel belonging to the LGBTQ community will be respected i.e., either they opt to wear pants (in lieu of skirt) or skirt (in lieu of pants).

Sec. Taguiwalo further said that the DSWD as an institution respects and upholds LGBTQ rights and hopes that all its employees and personnel would do the same. She said that recognizing the right of its LGBTQ employees and staff to dress based on their own preferences that are tied to their gender identification is the least that the DSWD can do.

“Policies on respect for LGBTQ rights are policies that we want our employees to observe on their own volition, not because the administration of the DSWD orders them to, but because the employees themselves on their own see the importance of LGBTQ rights,” said Sec. Taguiwalo.

“We still have a very long way to go before the rights of LGBTQ become fully accepted in Philippine society, and every little effort to promote them is important and should be enforced,” she concluded. ###

DSWD is Most Outstanding Gender-Responsive Agency

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) received a GADtimpala Bronze Award as Most Outstanding Gender-Responsive Agency from the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW).

DSWD Undersecretary Florita R. Villar, the Department’s Gender and Development (GAD) focal person, received the award and the cash prize of P25,000 in behalf of the Department during the awarding ceremony on March 28.

In her acceptance message, Usec. Villar thanked the PCW for recognizing the efforts of the DSWD in empowering and upholding the rights of the women sector.

She added, “DSWD will continue to improve its GAD efforts and hopes that next year, the Department will get the GADtimpala Silver or Gold Award.”

Over the years, DSWD has incorporated gender and development aspects in its core programs namely the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS), and Sustainable Livelihood Program.

As part of the program implementation, these core programs formulated their GAD plans to ensure that women-beneficiaries are capacitated and provided with the opportunity to participate in leadership action and in decision-making opportunities within their communities.

Likewise, topics such as gender equality, women empowerment among others, are incorporated into the Family Development Sessions of Pantawid Pamilya.

The GADtimpala Award is given to the most outstanding gender-responsive national government agency in recognition of its outstanding achievement in the effective implementation of gender-responsive programs.

For this year, DSWD and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) were the only two government agencies which received the recognition.

The awarding ceremony is part of the 2014 Women’s Month Celebration with the theme “Juana, ang Tatag mo ay Tatag Natin sa Pagbangon at Pagsulong”. ###

DSWD supports anti-‘violence against women’ campaign

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) joins other government agencies and non-government organizations in the celebration of the 18-day Campaign to End Violence Against Women (VAW) from November 25 to December 12, spearheaded by Philippine Commission on Women (PCW).

With the theme “End VAW Now! It’s our Duty!,” the campaign aims to increase support and commitment of duty holders at the national and local levels in eliminating violence against women, sustain and improve policies, laws and mechanisms addressing VAW, and forge partnerships among stakeholders in addressing VAW.

The campaign will kick-off with “Walk to End VAW” on November 24(Sunday)  at 5:00 am starting from the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) to T.F. Valencia Circle, Rizal Park, Manila.

The walk seeks to raise public awareness on issues affecting women and to promote women’s rights and freedom.

After the activity, the participants are expected to imprint their hands on the commitment wall using red paint as a symbol of  putting a stop to VAW.

To further show its support to the cause, the Department is  encouraging all male employees of the Department to join the  group Men Opposed to Violence Against Women Everywhere (MOVE).

MOVE, which is an all-male group at the DSWD Central Office with chapters at the Field offices, is active in pushing for programs and policies that will end VAW.

“Violence against women happens every day in homes, in the workplace and in schools. Men play a critical role in ensuring that women are not abused,”  DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said.

Likewise, the Secretary said that DSWD continues to conduct Family Development Sessions  (FDS) for Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries to strengthen family relations which can deter abuse.

FDS is a regular gathering of parent-beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilya. Topics discussed during FDS include effective parenting, husband and wife relationships, child development, laws affecting the Filipino family, gender and development and home management.

Since 2002, the DSWD has been joining this activity against gender-based violence. # # # November 21, 2013 (DSWD-Social Marketing Service)

Sec. Soliman cited by women-solons for commitment to public service

Quezon City – In celebration of Women’s Month, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman was awarded yesterday by women-legislators “for her strong commitment to public service and selfless dedication to alleviate the plight of disaster -stricken Filipinos. “

The Secretary (3rd from left, 2nd row) proudly shows her  citation as she poses with women-legislators after the short awarding ceremony at the Plenary Hall, House of Representatives.

Acting Speaker Congresswoman Gina De Venecia (4th from left, 2nd row) of the  4th District of Pangasinan led the 79 women-solons’ caucus to support the passage of House Resolution No. 53 conferring the recognition to the DSWD Secretary.

The Resolution states, “ Whereas, for her deep loyalty and devotion to our country and in appreciation of her selfless dedication to public service as a social worker, whose sense of honor and integrity serves as an inspiration to others, Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman deserves recognition from the Filipino people.”

Sec. Soliman thanked the women-legislators for the special citation and vowed that DSWD will continue to improve its service delivery for the vulnerable sectors of society, including disaster victims. ###

Mother gives up being “jueteng” bet collector, becomes parent-leader of CCT beneficiaries

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.

Reformed mom

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

Pantawid Pamilya

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

Dumagat woman defies tribal tradition to bring change to her family

Emily Sarmiento performs a ritual prayer during the Katutubo Caravan held in Brgy. Puray, Rodriguez, Rizal. With the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, her traditional views on health and education have changed, paving the way for a better future for her children.

Emily Sarmiento performs a ritual prayer during the Katutubo Caravan held in Brgy. Puray, Rodriguez, Rizal. With the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, her traditional views on health and education have changed, paving the way for a better future for her children.

A Dumagat woman broke the age-old tradition of her tribe and never regretted her decision.

Emily Sarmiento, 44, from Rodriguez, Rizal, fondly called Kwatang by her tribesmen, said she cannot afford to repeat the mistake of compromising her family’s well-being just so to follow her tribe’s long-held traditional beliefs.

She recognized how Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) enlightened her perspectives and finally mustered enough courage to defy the culture that she has known all her life.

Healed by the spirits

The mistake Emily was referring to was the death of her fourth child.

Emily who was then pregnant with her fourth child was forced to seek medical help at a hospital in the town proper.  However, keeping in mind a Dumagat tradition that the spirits will heal the sick, she escaped from the hospital. She delivered her baby at home all by herself.  After a difficult labor, Emily delivered a dead baby.

“Eto pong pangyayari sa buhay ko ang nagbigay daan para matangap ko na tama ang mga tinuturo sa Family Development Session ng Pantawid Pamilya.  Noong una ay di ko matanggap dahil taliwas sa aming kultura at paniniwala. Pakiramdam ko po kasi na kapag tinaggap ko ang program ay isa itong pagtataksil sa kinagisnan kong paniniwala (The tragic episode in my life made me realize that the teachings in the Family Development Sessions of Pantawid Pamilya are true which I rejected at the start because of guilt. I felt that accepting the program would be a betrayal to my tribe’s culture),” Emily related.

“Ngayon po ay taos puso ko pong tinatanggap ang programa (Now, I wholeheartedly accept the program),” Emily said.

Pantawid Pamilya

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; and children 6-14 years old in elementary and high school should receive deworming pills twice a year.

Emily’s family is one of the 370,766 indigenous people enrolled in Pantawid Pamilya. Nationwide, there are  3.9 million household-beneficiaries of  the program as of June 26, 2013.

Family Development Sessions

After attending the Family Development Sessions (FDS), Emily realized that she has no one to blame but herself for the unfortunate incident that happened.

“Natandaan ko sabi sa amin sa FDS na ang pagiging magulang ay isang responsibilidad na dapat panagutan (I remember that our facilitator during our FDS said that being a parent is a responsibility),” Emily said.

FDS is a regular gathering of parent-beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilya.  It consists of three modules, namely: Paglalatag ng Pundasyon ng Programang Pantawid Pamilya, Paghahanda at Pangangalaga ng Pamilyang Pilipino, and Partisipasyon ng Pamilyang Pilipino sa Gawaing Pang Komunidad. Topics discussed during FDS include effective parenting, husband and wife relationships, child development, laws affecting the Filipino family, gender and development and home management.

Through the FDS, Emily’s perspective in life changed tremendously. She began to enrich her knowledge and learn more about her roles and responsibilities as a mother.

Emily is now paying more attention to her children’s health and well being by giving them vitamins and taking them to the health center for checkup.

Learning to value education

Further,  Emily now puts a premium on the education of her children.

Looking back, before Emily’s family became a beneficiary of Pantawid Pamilya, she recalled that her children only attended an informal school in their sitio, a three-hour walk from the nearest elementary school in their barangay.

For the Dumagats, education is not important because eventually, at the age of 14, the children have to get married especially the girls. Emily herself married at 14, still in Grade 2, due to demands of her parents.

After realizing the importance of education, the family decided to move to the house of Emily’s brother, just a 30-minute walk to school. Currently, her three children are in school.

Emily plans to rent a stall in the market where she can sell their  produce to support her children’s education once they reach high school and college. Emily and her husband work hard daily planting crops to augment and save enough money  to  support their children even when the program is over.

Ultimately, Emily wants her children to have the opportunity to go as far as their abilities will take them.

“Ayaw kong matulad ang mga anak ko sa aming mag-asawa. Gusto kong makapagtapos sila ng pag-aaral at maging guro, pulis o kahit na anong gusto nilang maging (I do not want my children to grow up unschooled like us. I want them to finish school and become a teacher, policeman or any profession they want to become in the future).” Emily said.

From being indifferent to sociable

Emily also revealed that the program boosted her confidence. She became a parent leader who is willing to lend a helping hand to her fellow beneficiaries. What’s more, she can now accompany her fellow beneficiaries to the hospital and stay with them if necessary, without fear and guilt.

Still a Dumagat at heart

Emily went beyond her tribe’s tradition, but she is welcoming the change wholeheartedly. She may be practicing new things now, but she is still a Dumagat at heart.

Emily is hopeful that Pantawid Pamilya will extend the educational assistance of children-beneficiaries until they graduate from high school to give them a better chance of finding work.

Indeed, she realized that there are things outside of her deep-rooted traditions that can bring a better life for her family, especially her children.  ### (DSWD-Social Marketing Service and DSWD-Region IV-A/Noemee Jane Mayor) 10 July 2013

DSWD sees rise of fathers active in home and community

Anda, Pangasinan — The role of fathers in the nurturing of children is as important as that of mothers.

It has been a misconception among Filipino fathers that their wives should be the primary caregiver and nurturer of their children while they provide for the family’s needs.

On the other hand, with the global economic slowdown, many mothers are constrained to work outside the home, hence, the support of fathers in the rearing of children has become even more significant.

To address this evolving situation of Filipino families, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has initiated the program Empowerment and Reaffirmation of Paternal Abilities (ERPAT) to strengthen fathers’ parenting skills.

ERPAT gives importance to the development and enrichment of knowledge, attitude, and skills of fathers in performing their paternal roles and responsibilities.

 “Father-transformers”

 In this town, the ERPAT program has shown positive results in solidifying families.

Around 30 fathers have become more active in nurturing their families after  attending an ERPAT training which discussed topics such as Role of Fathers, Raising and Understanding Needs of Children, and Understanding Differences Between Men and Women, among others.

One of the ERPAT-trained fathers,  Pastor Rogelio Valdez, said, “We like being taught how to love our wives more and understand our children better.”

“Aside from becoming more caring to their families, they also became more active in their communities,” noted Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer Jowey Celso.

“They call themselves ‘transformers,’ which they started in their own families,” Celso added.

Celso leads the group in their monthly meetings where they share experiences in molding their own families and in becoming role models in their own communities.

 A challenge to change

As change agents in their own families and communities, the trained ERPAT dads also pushed for the creation of a Municipal Ordinance on Moral Recovery Program.

Under this, an ERPAT-trained father is assigned  in every  barangay as ‘spiritual leader’ joining the barangay officials in their meetings and activities.

The empowered fathers envision themselves contributing to community development as a whole.

“ ‘Pag matino ang tatay, mapapatino ang buong pamilya, at pag matino ang pamilya, mapapatino ang buong komunidad (If a father is well-mannered, the whole family becomes well-mannered. And if the families are well-mannered, the whole community too becomes well-mannered),” Celso emphasized. ###