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Faith Renewed

Growing up we were told to follow authorities, that they knew what was better for us, to entrust them with our lives, and oftentimes we pay them to do this. As children we had teachers and mentors to follow, learn from, and lean on. Upon growing up and getting jobs there were bosses. Not to mention parents and older relatives that looked over us almost all our lives.

And then there’s our government, we indirectly pay them to lead us with our tax. To use it for our gain and development. And oftentimes we find ourselves disappointed. Feeling left out and ignored. Like a child, when their parents ignore them, they try their best to gain their attention, get in trouble and whatnot. A similar story to Roberto Caracol Gaan, he once trusted the government to take care of him and his family. He was content in tending pigs and lands owned by his wealthier relatives. Believed that the poor will be assisted.

With inflation and the increasing poverty rate, Roberto became one of those affected by this. Having to raise and feed his family he knew his current occupation was not enough. Roberto’s wife, Elizabeth, remained at home to raise their two children. But it proved to be difficult for someone earning a mere Php 150 per day under the heat and pouring rain. To budget and ensure their children ate well, he often used salt and soy sauce as his viand. This way of living angered Roberto. Not because he was poor but because he dreamed of giving his children a better life. With nothing and no one to lean on he joined Alsa Masa.

Alsa Masa has an unsure history of being a vigilante group or death squad that originated in Davao City back in the 80’s. But for Roberto this was a sure decision for him in order to sustain his small family and prevent starvation. But it was not long after that he and some of his comrades surrendered to the government once more. The existence of Executive Order 70, he was classified as former rebels, or what Ka Amihan likes to call friends rescued.

Roberto was identified as eligible to receive a livelihood settlement grant from the Sustainable Livelihood Program last December 2020. He used this funding to start his own milling business and eventually ventured in the buy and sell industry of rubber. Unlike before where he worked under the heat of the sun and the pouring rain, he does not have to do that now wherein he does his milling in a shed he built.

Admittedly, not every day seemed like it was easy to get up and start working. It never was. Not when he tended pigs and his relatives’ lands. Not when he joined Alsa Masa and became a rebel. And not even when he was granted and aided by SLP to start his own livelihood. But being his own employer, with perseverance and hard work, and knowing that the government did the right thing by him and his family, he gets up. Everyday. To tend his mill. To earn his keep, feed his family, and even start his own savings.

It is not just Roberto or Elizabeth, or their two children that gained from the livelihood grant. Their community thrived. Knowing that within their area there is someone milling rice for them. Where they would not have to travel some uncemented14-kilometers to the next barangay or sitio to buy rice. Roberto is grateful for the help and aid he has been given, but even more grateful that he is helping his community: selling rice and buying rubber from his neighbors.

Nag papasalamat ako sa ating gobyerno, sa DSWD lalo na sa Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP). Dahil sa inyo nabago ang aming pamumuhay, nakapag-patayo ako ng maliit na negosyo dahil sa tulong niyo. Unti-unti ko nang natutupad ang aking pangarap maraming salamat sa inyong walang sawang pag tulong sa aming mahihirap.

Ka Roberto | Livelihood Settlement Grant Beneficiary

This post was written by:

- who has written 12 posts on DSWD Field Office IX Official Website.

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