When Love Defies Sickness

“In sickness and in health… ‘Till death do us part.”

Gemma and Ereneo Laquio can never forget this wedding vow that they have uttered to each other 32 years ago.

In a little sitio in Patalon, Zamboanga City called Miluao, love flourished between two individuals like seeds of plants in an abundant land. In today’s generation, Gemma and Ereneo are what we can consider as “childhood sweethearts.”

They started dreaming of a happy family amidst having little in life. Because they wanted to provide their newly established family a secure and healthy living, the couple decided to move to Sibuco, a municipality in Zamboanga del Norte, where Ereneo owns a lot. The couple lived a simple yet happy life in the province where farming was their lone source of income.

Just when they thought that they had finally reached their humble dream of a simple life together with their five children, a frightful event happened in the area where they reside. They were caught at the middle of exchange of bullets and gun powders because of a political war. Gemma and Ereneo had never feared so much as they did at that time –not a fear of their own death but a fear for their children’s future.

Though doubtful with their decision, they moved back to Zamboanga City and started anew.

Ereneo underwent rigorous training and worked as a security guard earning 100 pesos daily while Gemma stayed at home taking care of their children. And with their new beginning, came another blessing in the family –a blessing of life with their youngest child.

During this time, Gemma also celebrated her 42nd birthday. They can vividly remember how happy they were celebrating these two significant occasions in their life.

Little did they know that this happiness would demand a heavy price. A day after Gemma’s birthday, Ereneo suffered from stroke which caused half of his body to be paralyzed. He could not stand and could barely move because of his condition. But more than his physical body, he felt as though his entire family was not able to move because of this catastrophe.

He felt bad knowing that his wife needed to stand and provide for their family, a role that he should have held as the head of the household. Many times, Gemma would cry at night having faced with the responsibilities of taking care of her husband, children, household chores and money for their living. Gemma had to work in a canning factory at night and attend to her kids and husband in the morning.
In today’s generation, we hear many stories of women who leave their partners when faced with grim adversities. But this was never the case with Laquio family. And though Gemma knew how difficult her life would be in the next days, she promised to keep her vows to her husband and her family.

“Di gyud naku biyaan akung pamilya. Kay kana man gyud ang gipangsabot sa pamilya, walay biyaay.
(I will never abandon my family. That is what family means, no one is left behind),” Gemma said.
With all determination, she went to talk to the owner of the vacant lot in front of their residence, Mr. Roland Maravilla. She offered to take care of his lot by maintaining a beautiful garden of vegetables and fruit trees. Fortunately, Mr. Maravilla gave her his permission.

Gemma started selling vegetables in the neighborhood and she also sell fried banana to augment their income to support home expenditure and school dues.

Ereneo, on the other hand, had never given up despite his illness. Seeing his children and wife having a hard time with their status, he encouraged himself to continue fighting and defying his sickness. He strived so hard to be able to stand and move again. Once he was able to stand, he started to do one-hand lifting to recover from his condition. Day by day, he was determined to push himself to the limit on his way to recovery.

One sunny day, Gemma was surprised to see her husband plowing their garden. Shocked as she was, Gemma knew that this is her husband’s way of saying that he will never neglect his responsibilities as the head of the family. It was when she knew that everything will be alright.

Laquio children also supported their parents with the little things they do especially in school. They would help by selling yema in school and fried banana after class. They sometimes would offer their classmates tutorial in exchange for little amount for their baon. Gemma and Ereneo have always known how bright and helpful their children were.

The children also made sure that they are always at the top of their class to get a scholarship that they need. Without a doubt, as consistent honor students that they were, they were able to get academic scholarships and land part-time jobs as working students.

In fact, Gemma was able to put up a small sari-sari store from the money that their children gave them from their extra school allowances.

Currently, their eldest son already graduated with a vocational course while 2 of their children graduated with degrees in Education and are currently working. And though they are now working professionals, they still help their parents cook and sell bananas just like the old times.

In 2015, Laquio family became part of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. The program, according to Gemma, helped them especially in values formation and new learning that they acquire through the Family Development Sessions (FDS).

Laquio family has also been active in community activities especially in their barangay and during FDS. In fact, they sometimes serve as Resource Speakers where they share their family values and how they manage their family among other Pantawid families.

When asked about their advice to other families in the community, Gemma left us with a beautiful message that had us thinking about the true meaning of family.

“Katung nanumpa mi sa simbahan 32 ka tuig ang nilabay, dili lang storya ang among gipanaad kun dili ang among pagtuo nga panalipdan ang among pamilya. Kung naa moy problima og wala moy lain maduolan sa pamilya lang gihapon modangop. Kana lang ang pamaagi para masulban ang problima. (When we gave our vows 32 years ago, we didn’t simply created words for the ceremony. We gave our devotion to protect each other and always be the fortress of our family. If you are faced with a heavy problem and you feel like there’s nowhere to go, take a tight grip to your family. That’s the only way you can face your problems with courage),” Gemma added.

This is perhaps the true essence of a family that is worth emulating. The values and the story of Laquio family serve as inspiration to many families especially to those that go through a rough journey. The positivity that Laquio family gives to their fellow Pantawid families shines bright and are evident in their daily relations with the community.

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DSWD warns 4Ps beneficiaries of Fake Rice

An isolated incident was reported to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on the distribution of fake rice in Bantayan Island, Cebu last month. According to the report, six (6) 4Ps beneficiaries who received the fake rice felt ill after consuming the goods allegedly distributed through the program after a scheduled pay-out.

Because of this incident, the department has issued a statement emphasizing that the rice subsidy grant given to complaint Pantawid beneficiaries are given in a form of cash and not through distribution of actual rice. This is in compliance with the 2017 General Appropriations Act (GAA) provision.

Regional Information Officer of DSWD-7, Leah Quintana, said that the department did not and does not engage in any rice distribution activity in relation to the provision of rice subsidy to Pantawid beneficiaries in any part of the country.

“DSWD’s rice subsidy is given to the beneficiaries in a form of cash either through their cash cards or over-the-counter payment from our Landbank accredited conduits. We did not distribute rice nor do we provide actual rice to the recipients of rice subsidy during pay-outs. It is always in a form of cash,” Quintana said in an interview.

DSWD also added that the beneficiaries of rice subsidy-cash grant have the prerogative where to purchase rice/goods for their consumption and that the department does not endorse any rice retailers for that matter.

The department, together with the National Food Authority (NFA), had conducted an investigation on the reported incident. Samples of rice were taken from the beneficiaries for investigation purposes and it was found out that the samples were indeed real rice and not fake as initially reported.

Meanwhile, DSWD urges the public to report any suspicious activities that are not formally announced by the department. Furthermore, DSWD warns the public not to immediately believe unverified news especially on social media as this may be hoax and may cause alarm to many.

Complaint beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program receive P600 monthly rice subsidy on top of the regular cash grants intended for health and education. Orientations, seminars and skills development trainings are conducted among Pantawid beneficiaries on how to manage their finances, resources and family during the monthly Family Development Sessions conducted by the City/Municipal Links in coordination with the Barangay Local Government Unit and other partner stakeholders.

Pantawid Pamilya is only one of the poverty reduction strategies of the national government implemented by the DSWD, which focuses on human capital investment through provision of health and education cash grants to eligible poor households with children 0-18 years old, with the primary aim to break the inter-generational poverty cycle.

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The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) clarifies issues on the discontinuation of the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program saying that the country’s conditional cash transfer program will not end in 2019.

The statement has been issued after rumors circulated nationwide that many beneficiaries will be delisted from the program and that it will end in two years.

In a statement given by the department’s Secretary, Judy M. Taguiwalo, she clarified that only the counterpart financing of the World Bank specifically the Social Welfare and Development Reform Project II (SWDP II) amounting to 450 million US dollars and Asian Development Bank (ADB) is set to end in 2019.

Meanwhile, DSWD continuously develops and improves the system of the program for better delivery of services to its clients. A recertification, review and tracking of beneficiaries will be conducted to ensure that significant progress is monitored and evident in the lives of the beneficiaries.

“We are currently reviewing our program for improvement and enhancement of systems. This will also open doors for us to be able to introduce other DSWD’s programs and services that may help our beneficiaries become stable and sustainable in their level of well-being,” DSWD-9 Regional Director, Atty. Araceli F. Solamillo said.

Regional Director Solamillo added that no beneficiary will be cut off from the program without passing through thorough validation and review process.

Payout of cash grants and compliance to the program conditionalities shall continue to be monitored in the duration of the recertification.

The ongoing 4Ps program review is being done also in line with efforts to review the Philippine social protection framework. There is an evident need to put together a social protection framework which is in line with the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) that aims for a more universal and transformative kind of social protection scheme.

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4Ps Huwarang Pamilya, Exemplary Child 2017 in ZamPen named

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Field Office IX recently concluded the regional search for Huwarang Pantawid Pamilya and the Exemplary Child 2017 on July 4, 2017 at the KCC Mall de Zamboanga.

Laquio family from Barangay Patalon, Zamboanga City hailed victorious as the region’s Huwarang Pantawid Pamilya while a child from Pitogo, Zamboanga del Sur, John Rey Wayco, was named as this year’s Exemplary Child.

Laquio family is composed of 8 members. Ireneo, the head of the household, was a former security guard before he suffered from stroke. Because of his condition, Gemma, his wife, had to stand as the provider of the family. Gemma worked in a canning factory in order to provide the needs of the family and to send their children to school. Aside from working in a factory, Gemma also maintained vegetables and fruit trees in their backyard as augmentation to their income.

Despite the hardships that the family went through, Laquio family manifested resiliency and became more determined to overcome life obstacles. In fact, three of their children had already finished schooling, two of which took up Bachelors in Elementary Education and vocational course, respectively.

Meanwhile, the Exemplary Child 2017 was a proud son from Zamboanga del Sur. Jhonn Rey Wayco, 13 years old, is very active in his academic and extra-curricular activities. His academic performance has earned him a handful of recognitions in the municipality and at the regional level. Other than being a performer in school, he also actively participates in community advocacies and religious activities which made him not only a deserving beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program but also a model child who serves as an inspiration to other beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries alike.

“I would also want to be an inspiration to other Pantawid beneficiaries to strive more in life, perform their best in everything they do, and always put God at the center of every action they take,” said Wayco.

The objective of the search is to give recognition to Pantawid beneficiaries who exemplified outstanding performance in their compliance to the program’s conditionalities particularly in education, health and attendance to the Family Development Session; contribution to the community; nurture of Filipino family values; and active participation to social causes.

Other winners of the Huwarang Pantawid Pamilya are as follows: Duron Family from Zamboanga del Sur (2nd Placer); Allones Family from Zamboanga del Norte (3rd Placer) and Obnimaga Family from Zamboanga Sibugay (4th Placer).

For Exemplary Child search, RJ Somosa from Zamboanga City was ranked 2nd Placer, Krizle Joy Corpuz from Zamboanga Sibugay and Mary Maica Nicol Elnasin from Zamboanga del Norte were ranked 3rd and 4th Placers, respectively.

The regional winner for Huwarang Pantawid Pamilya and Exemplary Child will be DSWD Zamboanga Peninsula’s representative to the National Search which will be held in Manila this September in line with the celebration of National Family Week and November for National Children’s Month celebration.

Regional winners of Huwarang Pantawid Pamilya2017 (Laquio Family from Zamboanga City)
and Exemplary Child 2017 (Jhonn Rey Wayco from Zamboanga del Sur)
in their victorious moment held in KCC Mall de Zamboanga last July 04, 2017

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Oh My, Humay! (A Pantawid PaMEALya Story)

Nothing is more precious than seeing the delightedly bright smiles in the faces of your loved ones. To know that the people you cherish are happy is the sweetest thing of all. That is how Evanjelyn feels whenever she sees her children as they share a meal as one happy family.

But her happiness sometimes becomes short-lived because she knows that she cannot provide everything to her children. In most cases, she could hardly provide for their daily consumption even for food. This breaks the heart of poor Evanjelyn.

Evanjelyn T. Del Rosario, or Bangge as she is fondly called, is a 40-year old housewife living in a humble abode in Barangay Tapian, Municipality of San Miguel, Zamboanga del Sur. She and her husband are blessed with six (6) wonderful children that bring joy to their household. Despite the adversities in life, the couple maintains a healthy relationship, sharing abundant love and respect for one another.

Surviving in a poor and unfortunate situation has always been the life of the couple. They are used to being poor and having less as they say. But now that they already have children to provide for is a completely different story. Of course, as parents, they would dream of putting their children in a good school, provide what their children need and want, and secure delicious food for their family. But how could they?

Her husband is a farmer in a land that they do not own. This is where they get their daily consumption and income to support the expenses in school and at home. Being a corn farmer is not a lucrative job so most of the time, what they get from farming is what they serve on their plates.

Unlike many of us who live in an urban community, Del Rosario family eats ground corn in substitute for rice. Though grateful, it is inevitable that their children would sometimes ask about why they eat corn instead of rice.

“Moreklamo man gud sila panalagsa kay hait daw itulon ang mais (Sometimes they would complain because corn feels itchy and can be difficult to swallow),” said Evanjelyn when asked about how her children described their meal.

It brought her tears to know that they cannot sufficiently provide for their children’s physiological needs.

Just when she started to think about it, a good news came to her through an orientation by the DSWD’s Municipal Link in San Miguel. They were oriented on the additional provision of Rice Subsidy to compliant Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino beneficiaries worth P600 per month.

She was elated and became more than ecstatic after hearing the news. To her, it was an answered prayer which made her feel that God listens and works through people who show compassion and care to the needy.

In an interview, Evanjelyn was asked how she manages their consumption since P600 or equivalent to a half sack of rice seems not enough to feed an entire family in a month. She shares that sometimes they mix rice with ground corn to make a satisfying meal for their family.

Evanjelyn recalls the first time she prepared cooked rice for her children and cannot forget how their reaction was.

“Ay, humay! Salamat Mang! (Oh, rice! Thanks Mom.)” And they hugged her tight.

Evanjelyn Del Rosario narrates how DSWD’s Rice Subsidy
significantly helped nurture her relationship with her children.

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Malangas enters LGU-Led KC-NCDDP

The Municipality of Malangas under the leadership of Honorable Mayor Marcelo M. Baquial Jr. recently launched the LGU-Led KC-NCDDP on July 13, 2017, making it the 12th partner-municipality to enter into MOA with the department after completed 3 cycles with Kalahi-CIDSS from 2012.
Witnessing the event are Municipal and Barangay Officials and Sangguniang Bayang Members together with the Kalahi-CIDSS RPC-Designate Roleiste Falsis and Sub-regional Project Coordinator Melanie M. Saragena.
The KC-NCDDP is one of the poverty reduction programs of DSWD that uses the community driven development (CDD) approach in implementing projects that aim to provide the community access to basic services. It is the expanded implementation of the previous program Kalahi-CIDSS. This enables the communities and the local government units in the said areas to implement disaster responsive or preventive projects that may include fast rehabilitation of destroyed infrastructures and livelihoods projects.
The chief executive believed that with the intervention of the national government through the DSWD, Malangas will realize its dream in no time. Thus he emphasized that it takes a concerted efforts from the grassroots, the community and the barangay leaders to participate in the implementation.
RPC-designate Falsis expressed his gratitude, in his words, “Malangas has become a venue of opportunities for Kalahi-CIDSS to implement, to impose Community-Driven Development program”, and encouraged Malangas to continue to provide opportunities on the grassroots level, to continue to give the community the chance to be empowered, to think about their issues and give them the chance to raise interventions on how to solve their problems. ### (JGA)

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Rebokon’s Gain

Annabelle C. Neri, 43, and Lorena A. Codilla, 40, are among the members of “Rewasa” which stands for Rebokon Water-System Association, a group that manages water-system project they had as volunteers of Kalahi in Dumalinao, Zamboanga del Sur.

When asked about what and how much they know of DSWD services then, they all gave the same response limited to just child/dren’s care and assistance. Little did they know of the various programs and services that the department is offering until Kalahi-CIDSS was introduced in barangay Rebokon on 2013.

Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi – CIDSS) is one of the three core programs of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). It uses the CDD strategy to empower ordinary citizens to actively and directly participate in local governance of identifying their own community needs, planning, implementing and monitoring projects together to address local poverty issues.

At first they thought Kalahi-CIDSS was an entirely different program apart from the department, but soon after they were made to understand what the program is all about to include its processes, they’re glad to find out that they will be participating.

Although a little hesitant they were at the start, not knowing what to expect with the roles given to them by their fellow volunteers, but instead they focus on what they could benefit out of joining the program as a community.

Annabelle, a teacher by profession, found her way in Kalahi-CIDSS program and now the association’s president. She recalled how much hardwork they’ve been through while campaigning for their sub-project which later led to an eventual prioritization.

“Tanan nga pakiluoy, pakiusap sa kanila na sana iboto nila kami, kay dito wala kaming tubig. Lisud baya ang tubig sa una, magpila pa para makatubig”, she related.

(We appealed to them to vote for us, because we hardly have water around, we need to get in line to fetch some).
The community saw the need to an improve access to safe water especially during rainy season when the water source is hardly clear. What makes it all the more difficult for them is that they have to wake up at dawn to secure gallons of water to avoid other inconveniences.

Despite the struggles in transporting the materials to the area, their sub-project was completed by 2013.
Lorena, who used to run a small-time “carenderia”, for additional income since farming alone could not suffice their daily needs, later joined the program after she heard it from her husband who is also a volunteer.

She could have focused her attention to their small eatery house but she couldn’t let their efforts go to waste. She felt that she could do a difference by taking on the role as the association treasurer, she wanted to make sure that the recording is accurately done.

Admittedly though, she lacks confidence in pursuing a career due to her right-eye condition but she had worked as bookkeeper then during college. But she has overcome her insecurities and regained confidence after volunteering for Kalahi-CIDSS. She said this is one of the legacies that she could leave the community, that she could be remembered for her work ethics especially in keeping accurate recording for their association.

Thus the intention of charging installation fees for water supply and collection per gallon was primarily for operations and maintenance purposes.

With an increase in income, they were able to allot allowance of 1000 each monthly for four plumbers who monitor water supply, leaking and other necessary repairs. They also conducts monthly meeting for income updates since they were provided space by the barangay officials to convene.

Both Annabelle and Lorena were glad that such services of the department came, “apil man diay ning Kalahi sa DSWD, mas maayo man, maguba ang among tubig sa una, tagtulo, tagduha ka adlaw dili moagas… karun maguba aron, dili muagas mga pila lang kaoras kay naa na mag maintain, magtinabangay man”.

(It’s good that Kalahi is a part of DSWD. Before it would take us three or two days to repair when we encounter problem with the water stand, but now it take us only hours to repair since there is someone’s incharge of the maintenance and everyone would help out).

Today “Rewasa” has been servicing to 6 out of the 11 puroks within Rebokon. ###

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Pantawid IP beneficiaries finish skills training in Zambo

To empower the indigent indigenous peoples in Zamboanga City covered by Modified Conditional Cash Transfer (MCCT) under Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) facilitated a 15-day skills training.

A total of 784 beneficiaries have received their certificates of completion and starter kits for various courses enrolled such as Domestic Work, Food Processing, Electrical Installation and Maintenance, and Motorcycle and Small Engine Servicing.

“This is to empower our clients, especially the MCCT-IPs, by capacitating them with practical skills for their possible employment,” says MCCT-IP Focal of Pantawid Pamilya, Germiah Bongabong.

The department has allocated 20,000 pesos for each beneficiary or a total of 15,680,000 million pesos budget for this program which covers training costs, allowances, and starter kits for the beneficiaries.

The training was conducted through the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), a capacity building program under DSWD that provides opportunities to indigent individuals through employment facilitation and/or skills training. The said training and completion rites were made possible through 1 and ALL Technical Institute, Inc.

TESDA will soon schedule an assessment for national certification of the abovementioned courses.

Guaranteed employment facilitation will be provided by the service provider for the graduates of Domestic Work while Micro-Enterprise facilitation will be provided by the SLP for the graduates of Motorcycle and Small Engine Servicing, and Electrical Installation.

During the graduation, DSWD-9 Regional Director, Atty. Araceli F. Solamillo inspired the graduates by encouraging them to do more as empowered citizens of the society.

“Tayo ay empowered IPs. Ibig sabihin may kakayahan tayong mapagtagumpayan ang anumang hirap ng buhay. Sana ay gamitin natin itong mga natutunan natin dito sa skills training upang maabot ang ating mga pangarap sa buhay habang sinisikap nating mapanatili ang ganda ng ating kultura at tribo sa pagtutulungan ninyo at ng mapagkalingang serbisyo ng DSWD. (We are empowered IPs which means that we have the strength to combat life’s difficulties. I hope that we will be able to use the skills that we have acquired in this training to achieve our aspirations in life while we nurture the beauty of our culture and tribes with your coordination and the DSWD),” Solamillo said.

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