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RD’s Message to 4Ps Graduates

ATTY. SITTIE RAIFAH M. PAMALOY-HASSAN
OIC-Regional Director
DSWD Field Office IX

You are a 4Ps Champion! In over a decade, we have seen several lives that changed, lives that succeeded, and lives that become sturdy pillars in nation-building. This graduation ceremony is proof of how far we all have come as beneficiaries, as program implementers, and as contributors to the well-being of the poor, vulnerable, and marginalized families and individuals.

As your OIC Regional Director, it gives me so much joy and fulfillment to see that families who were once at survival state are now realizing their dreams, their aspirations, and they continue to strive hard to unleash their true potential –that despite the limited resources of the government, they can step out of the vicious cycle of poverty. Many have been said about the program and its beneficiaries, yet you are here, the living documents that tell the world that the poor is worth fighting for.

Today, you are provided with equal opportunities to start over, to stand on your own feet, and to chase the life that you all deserve and have dreamt for your families.

To the 4Ps graduates, celebrate, but remain motivated. As you move up from this program, I want you to focus even harder on your goal. Bring with you the things that you have learned from the program, use it to maximize your potential of success. Always remember that 4Ps has prepared you to be life-ready. If you keep that mind, you will win your battle against poverty.

To our very own City and Municipal Links, our Social Welfare Officers, the Provincial Links, and all field staffs, you are the true frontline warriors in this social welfare battlefield. I know how difficult and how stressful your job is, many times you go beyond your expected duties, you spent countless sleepless nights doing case managements and ensuring that every family is monitored and given appropriate intervention. For that, you deserve the best form of accolades. Words can never measure up to our appreciation to your efforts and hard-work. You all did a very good job!

May this day be a day of celebration and inspiration to all. Thank you for letting us be instruments of change, for letting us be part of your success, and for giving us the opportunity to touch lives in the most humble and genuine way.

 Once again, congratulations and continue to be champions in life.

RPC’s Message to 4Ps Graduates

FLORDELIZA A. ATUY
Regional Program Coordinator
Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program

My warmest felicitations to all graduates of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. We have been together for the past decade and your accomplishments fill our hearts with so much fulfillment. This graduation is what we can consider as one of the highlights of the decade as we witness and reap the fruits of the program.

As you leave the comfort of Pantawid guidance, may you always remember the knowledge that the program instilled in you. Let this occasion be an opportune time for you to reflect on the beautiful experiences you have had with 4Ps that, in one way or another, have molded you to become strong, resilient, and ready for whatever life throws you.

Your journey with 4Ps ends here but the program and the Department will always be on the lookout for better services for you and other families that we may be of help to. Let this also be a challenge to you; a challenge that will serve as your propeller that will push you to do better, to reach higher, and to aim further.

4Ps has only shown you what you already have: the will, the determination, the help from the government and non-government agencies. It is up to you now to start acting on these things and brave the challenge ahead of you.

The road to a better quality of life is never easy, nevertheless, it is not impossible. You always have us by your side continuously guiding your way to your success. And with the help of a bigger coalition now between the LGU and other partner stakeholders, I personally know that you can reach your goals.

To the graduates, continue to be an emblem of excellence in your community. Be an epitome of what a 4Ps family is even when you are already alumni of the program.   

My desire is that when we meet again, you will be able to look back to your past with gratefulness and look forward to your future with confidence.

Congratulations and may your graduation be the beginning of more triumphs in your life.

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MMFF 2020: Merlinda’s Merienda For Frontliners

People often think that in this generation, genuine kindness is something that you can only see in movies in film festivals. It is rare in real life as if it is a make-belief. One would argue that it must be scripted or staged to find a person who, despite having less in life, will share the little things he or she has with others. But one story from an old town in RT Lim, Zamboanga Sibugay Province would tell you a different picture of reality.

When Corona Virus hit the country in the early days of 2020 and lockdowns were imposed, the struggle is real for every one. Malls, restaurants, pharmacies, grocery stores were forcibly shut down for the safety of many. Undoubtedly, this precaution took a toll not only on the economy but also on the lifestyle and needs of many people. Food suddenly became a scarcity as many could not go out to earn a living for their daily needs, even for those who are in the forefront in protecting the people whom we call the ‘frontliners’; who continuously perform their sworn duties for the country despite the invisible yet fatal threat. The world was truly shaken to its core.

Seeing the situation unfold right before her eyes, Merlina Beborde Maderada, a 55-year old mother of 5 and a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), could not sit still knowing that people’s stomachs are mostly empty and they sacrifice their own safety for the common good of many.

CONCEPT PITCHING: LET US HELP

This is where the idea came to Merlina. As an active committee chairwoman at Sea Gentiles Christ Ministry, she knew that she had to do something. She convened her fellow members of the ministry and discussed to them her plans on helping out the community. The initiative was warmly embraced by the members and approved.

On April and May of 2020, Merlina and her group were able to distribute a total of 287 food packs and donated them to families who were directly affected by the implementation of safety measures in their municipality. Understandably, the first to be catered were the members of the ministry which they serve.

She was fulfilled to be able to be of help to her fellow ministry members. This drove her to do more and explore other things that she could do for others especially outside the ministry.

Nakit-an nako nga bisan naay Covid, adunay mga tawo nga nagserve pa gihapon sa gawas kanang sa checkpoint mga sundalo, pulis, og mga tanod (I saw that despite the presence of Covid-19, there were people who continuously serve at checkpoints such as men in uniform and our barangay patrols),” Merlina said.

With the dedication of these men, Merlina thought to help them in ways she knows how.

NOW SHOWING : SERVING THE FRONTLINERS

Merlina knows that the duty of a frontliner is not like watching your favourite movie on a comfortable couch. In fact, it is far from that. Wearing protective gears under the scorching heat of the sun all day can be extremely difficult.

When her initiative with the ministry became successful, she thought it would be easier this time. But she failed to remember other factors that needed to be considered in performing her initiatives –money, resources, and manpower.

Now that she plans to help people outside the ministry, who would help her? How can she finance this initiative when she herself has no money?

It is a good thing and a blessing that she is compliant to the mandates of the 4Ps program especially on maintaining backyard and communal gardens. From these, she harvested some vegetables to give to the frontliners. She was able to donate okra, sprouted monggo, string beans and eggplant and firewood to the 11 front liners assigned at the checkpoint en route to barangay Calula.

Her gardens have helped her realize many of her visions such as helping the community and providing healthy staple foods on their plate. Literally, it also brought her to places that she knows she could never have gone to if not because of her gardens. In 2016 she was the representative to the vegetables congress held in Tacloban City. In 2017 she also representative their home town in the vegetables congress held in Cebu City.

Kanang akuang garden nakatabang na sa amoa, sa akuang mga silingan, karon pati pud mga frontliners. Happy pud ko. (My garden helps us, it has also helped my neighbours and now it has helped the frontliners. I am glad),” Merlina shares her happiness to 4Ps city link.

NEXT PICTURE: MERIENDA NI MERLINA

It is not a secret in their little municipality that Merlina is a Kakanin or Merienda vendor. Many locals compliment her for her cooking skills. It can be considered as her expertise.

She used her expertise to help assuage the hardship that the frontliners experience while performing their duties. From her own pocket, she bought ingredients to cook and provide for the frontliners. Every three weeks, Merlina gives them mango pies, pancakes, and cold beverage (palamig) to thank them for their hardwork.

All of these, she does in the name of bayanihan or a custom of working together to achieve a common goal.

With this, Merlina feels like she does something for the community in this trying time of global pandemic. She thinks that her gesture is simple and small but to the people that she has helped, the idea of volunteering is already a big step that surely contributes to community healing.

“Kani lang pud ang pwede nako ikahatag labi na karon kay pandemic. Pasalamat mi kay naa ang 4Ps, wa mi naglisod kayo poreso murag kani na lang pud ang akoang ibalik para sa mga blessing og katabang na nadawat namo nga pamilya. (This is the only thing that I can contribute especially during the pandemic. I feel grateful that we are in the 4Ps program, at least the struggle is less that is why I do this as a give back for all the blessings that my family has received,)” Merlina says when asked why she started all of these initiatives.

Personally, Merlina is already content with her achievements in life. With the help of her husband who is a farmer, they were able to send their children to school and have 3 of her children graduate from college. 

She is the President of their Parent Leaders group and handles 11 parent leaders in her management.

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‘Walang Forever’ leads to ‘May ginhawa’

Walang Forever –we all have heard of this famous Philippine millennial phrase that literally translates to nothing lasts forever. It has been uttered probably a million times by millions of Filipinos. It was heard from the mouth of the rich and famous people, the poor and poorest of the poor, the elders and the children. In many occasions, it has been used as a mockery or a joke to certain unfortunate situations.

But one 4Ps beneficiary took this phrase very seriously and used it as her daily reminder of life.

This story tells how Milagros Barcelona, a mother of 5 from San Roque, Zamboanga City, changed the seemingly negative phrase “Walang Forever” to her favor as a beneficiary of the country’s conditional cash transfer program, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

WORDS FROM CHILDREN HIT DIFFERENTLY

Almost every household-beneficiary of the 4Ps has a fair share of story about struggle and adversities in life. Many could surely tell someone a story about how they strive to go to school or how they cannot pay the bills in time due to low or no income at all. These are common scenarios for a typical 4Ps household.

Despite living in an urban area that has very easy access to social services, life was still tough for the Barcelona family. With both household heads having no job, how could they afford to supply the needs of their growing family that then had 3 children back in 2009? How could they afford the schooling of their children? They could not even provide a decent meal for the entire family, to say the least.

As difficult as their situation back then, Milagros knew that they had screwed their children’s welfare. And as a mother, it was very painful for her to know that they offered this kind of life to their children. But you know what they say about problems in life, when it rains, it pours.

Not only that they have not a single centavo in their pockets and empty stomach, the hardest part was that she had to hear it straight from her son’s mouth.

“Porque ba ustedes ya casa temprano? Kame el ta sufri ahora. Con ambre ya yo. (Why did you marry at such a young age? We are the ones who suffer now. I am famished,)” says her son in a casual yet weighty tone.

Though it was articulated in a casual manner, a part of Milagros’ heart seemed to have been poked by a needle. It was subtle yet it hit differently. It went straight to the core of their being parents.

She knew then that their life must be changed.

POSITIVE OUTLOOK REAPS POSITIVE OUTCOME

The words of her son were engraved in Milagros’ mind like a daily note to continuously strive and enhance their way of life. It served as a driving force for her and her husband to hustle and wrestle with opportunities and win.

Milagros made sure that those words will never be uttered again by her children. So, with a renewed positive outlook in life and even stronger driving force, she took it as a challenge to work harder, taking whatever chances that came her way, every opportunity to make a living was grabbed like it is the best opportunity that they have got.

Edgardo, her husband, despite losing his main source of revenue as a tricycle driver, unlocked a completely different set of skills in construction.

It is as if they have been reborn to gain what they deserve.

And when you help yourself, you will be able to see things in positive point of view. It is when you will be able to see the opportunities that have always been there waiting for you to grab it.

In 2011, Barcelona family became one of the beneficiaries of the 4Ps in Barangay San Roque. Milagros was told by a neighbor that her name was in the list of new beneficiaries of the program. Though skeptical at first, she was delighted when she personally read her name on it.

“Ta acorda yo dol tan lutao yo ta camina na camino. Ya puede yo habla na mi cuerpo cay answered prayer ya gaha este. (I recall it was as if I was floating as a walked down the street. I told myself that this could be an answered prayer,)” Milagros shared as she recounts when she knew about them being a member of 4Ps.

Many years have passed and they were able to stand on their feet with strong foundation from the program.

When they first started in 4Ps, they were at SURVIVAL level of well-being, the lowest among the levels. During the 2015 Social Welfare and Development Indicator (SWDI) assessment, it was found out that they improved to SUBSISTENCE level. In 2019, the Barcelona family was declared as one of the successful SELF-SUFFICIENT families produced by 4Ps.

They now have a stable, small sari-sari store which serves as the main means of support of the family, they were also able to acquire 2 tricycle units that they offer for rent. As of today, they run a small printing services shop with 2 computer units as augmentation to their income.

Their house, which used to be made of bamboo, is now built from concrete and sturdy materials and their area is already flood-free. And though not yet fully paid, they already posted payment for their lot which is way better than their situation before.

THE CHILDREN ARE THEIR TRUE SUCCESS

More than the financial stability that the Barcelona family now enjoys, what they consider their true success is the achievements of their children. If not for them, their strength, resiliency, determination, and these milestones would not be possible.

Inspired by the 4Ps field staff that monitored and guided the progress of the Barcelona family for years, Chandhaya, the eldest child, saw the beauty of the field of social work. She aspired to do the same thing that contributed to the success of her family. Chandhaya decided to study Social Work and is already a Registered Social Worker today. She currently serves as a Social Welfare Assistant in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay.

When asked about why she pursued Social Work, she said that this is her way to give back to the community for all of the beautiful things that she received from the government and the people.

Rainjain, the second child, was also able to finish a college degree in Marine Engineering. He is now waiting to be called for his apprenticeship.

Shrijivan, the third child, is in Grade 12 –Senior High School and plans to take up the same course as his brother did.

Shrigijon and Shrijusen are in Grade 9 and Grade 2, respectively.

“Si hinde kame miyembro del 4Ps, baka puede man entra escuela mi maga anak pero sigurao lleno kame de debe ahora. (If we were not beneficiaries of the 4Ps program, we may have sent our children to school but surely we will be full of debt by now),” says Milagros.

MORE THAN JUST GRANTS

Milagros admits that she has gained more from the program than just financial grants. In one of the Family Development Sessions (FDS) that she attended, she recalls a particular discussion that struck to her core as a parent.

It was about parenting and children’s rights. The kind of discipline that she enforced to her children back when she still knows little was very traditional. It was not until she learned in FDS that there are many other and more effective ways to discipline a child without using violence, deprivation, and fear.

In the past, she said, she would lock her children in chicken’s cage or sometimes she would beat them. And she feels embarrassed recounting it now. It was a good thing that 4Ps has an avenue for growth for beneficiaries/grantees to help them become better parents to their children.

Milagros noticed a behavioral change in the way she handles her children and her family. And for her, it is something that she will bring on and live by as she exits from the program.

Barcelona family is one of the household-beneficiaries that will graduate from the program on June 10, 2021. Milagros says they are ready and grateful that they have experienced being part of a program that changes lives of the people.

“Hinde yo forever na Pantawid, sabe yo se. Life changing gayot el programa. Si nohay ese, no sabe yo si puede man enjoy mi maga anak el cosa sila tan enjoy ahora (I know that I will not stay in 4Ps forever. 4Ps is life changing. Without it, I don’t know if my children will be able to enjoy what they enjoy right now,) Milagros added.

They say that nothing in this world stays forever and so we have to seize every opportunity and make the most out of it. Yes, walang forever may be true. But if you work hard, nurture the good things that you currently have, you will surely reap the fruits of labor in the future.

The Barcelona Family (Self-Sufficient family from Zamboanga City)

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IP Communities receive livelihood kits from 4Ps

85 Indigenous People (IP) families from the Municipality of Mabuhay, Zamboanga Sibugay have received motorized boats as livelihood kits from the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) under the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer (MCCT) track.

Turn-over Ceremony of Motorized Boats to MCCT Associations in 4 Barangays of Mabuhay, Zamboanga Sibugay Province

Four barangays and associations benefited from the initiative namely: Taguisian Islanders Association (42 beneficiaries); Tandu-Comot Taguisian Islanders Association (22 beneficiaries); and CaliPam (Caliran and Pamansaan) Islanders Association with 21 beneficiaries.

The turn-over of livelihood kits was possible through the Support Service Intervention (SSI) feature of the program which aims to uplift the socio-economic status of the MCCT beneficiaries through services such as Cash For Work (CFW), livelihood assistance, grassroots organizing activities, family camp, and rent subsidy for Homeless Street Families (HSF) and IP Itinerant beneficiaries.

The Department has utilized a total amount of P360,000 for these motorized boats livelihood SSI.

According to the MCCT Focal in DSWD-9, Germiah Bongabong, “the 4Ps program does not only provide grants for the beneficiaries. More than that, we engage and empower them through capacity building and skills trainings so they themselves could create livelihood opportunities in their communities.”

Missong A. Hadjael, 35, a member of Sama Tribe in the municipality of Mabuhay, Zamboanga Sibugay, recounted his story as a beneficiary of the 4Ps MCCT as he gratefully rides his new motorboat.

Missong Hadjael on his first ride on the newly turned-over motorized boat to their association.

“Malaking tulong ito sa aking pamilya para matustusan ko ang mga pangangailangan nila, lalo na sa pag aaral ng anak ko… natutugunan ang aming pangkabuhayan, gaya nito napabilanga ako sa isang asosasyon na kung saan kami ay nabigyan ng pumpboat na magagamit namin para madagdagan pa ang aming pangkabuhayan. (This is a big help to my family so I could provide their needs especially in the education of my children.. our livelihood needs are met such as this motorized boat which we acquired from being part of the association),” Hadjael said.

The DSWD provides cash aid to the IPs, especially those living in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDAs) through its Modified Conditional Cash Transfer Program. As of today, the program has a total of 95,653 active beneficiaries in Region 9.

DSWD’s Memorandum Circular No. 2 series of 2018 states that the cash transfer program is a sub-component of the 4Ps, which uses a modified approach in implementing the conditional cash transfer program for poor families, including homeless street families (HSF), IPs, and Families in Need of Special Protection.

Turn-Over Ceremony held at Pamansaan, Municipality of Mabuhay, Zamboanga Sibugay last February 23, 2021

Photos by: Abnier Muallam (Community Facilitator)

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QUARANTeacher ON A MISSION

Though she is from a barrio called “Binuangan”, which literally translates to either fooled or taking something light-heartedly in the English language, Sheila Mae Dagondong, a 30-year old mother of 2 from Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte is very much serious in her advocacy to help her community in this trying times when the world is covered in fear by a pandemic.

The Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) has literally frozen life as we know it – establishments were closed, passenger vehicles were nowhere in the streets and highways, people stay indoors, the town was a bit of a ghost town, and the economy is at a brink of falling.

As a mother and a future educator, what concerns Sheila most is how it poses a threat to students’ education and development since they are on indefinite holiday break. She understands how important learning and education is as she, herself, also currently struggles to finish her studies for better future.

DOORS OF OPPORTUNITIES

All her life, Sheila has been a devoted follower of God. She serves in the Pentecostal church; she attends daily bible reading activities, youth camps, and other religious activities.

When she married her husband, Jeffrey, she has brought her entire family to serve the Lord as well. Together, they actively participate in church activities as the core foundation of their family relationship.

Their religious commitments and participations have enabled them to be part of their community even as a member of the Pure Bagobo tribe.

Since both of them have not finished their education, they had to strive to provide for their growing family. Jeffrey, as the head of the household, hits the road as a driver in order to bring food on the table.

In 2014, they became part of the country’s conditional cash transfer program, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) under the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer program for Indigenous People (MCCT-IP).

Sheila claims that being a member of the program opened a lot of doors of opportunities for her and her family. She was able to attend trainings that developed her skills and boosted her confidence such as Parent Leader training, ECCD training, and skills training on cookery among others.

The learning that she has acquired form these trainings have helped her in her own home and in leading the group of 4Ps members in her barangay.

She and her husband have also received a scholarship grant as members of a tribal group who are given priority opportunity by the school where she is enrolled in.

Currently, she is taking up Bachelor of Science in Education major in English.

Now that her husband, her children, and her self all go to school to finish their studies, Sheila thinks that she is much closer to the fulfillment of their individual and family goals.

And while it is difficult to juggle studies, work, and family, Dagondong family is all up to the challenge knowing that the government is on their back.

OUR LABOR IS NOT VAIN IN THE SIGHT OF GOD

Sheila has always believed that to serve the Lord, one must serve His people.

During the Community Quarantine period, she volunteered to be of service in the barangay by assisting in the orderly implementation of SAP, packing and distribution of relief goods in their area, and community cleaning as a safety measure against the virus.

She also volunteered to help monitor those who are in quarantine. Her main task was to keep track of the body temperature and report unusual conditions of the Persons Under Monitoring (PUMs).

Though she knows how dangerous the task is, not only to her but also to her family, she said that she must do her part in the name of bayanihan to heal from this crisis.

NEVER TOO EARLY TO EDUCATE

As a future educator, Sheila understands the importance of uninterrupted learning especially with children.

With COVID-19 lurking around, the government had ceased classes in all levels since mid-March. It is still uncertain when classes will resume or how classes will be back to normal. Nonetheless, Sheila believes that, with proper caution and safety protocols practiced, children may still continue learning amidst crisis.

Along other Parent Leaders and Pantawid members, they were able to gather a couple of children in their community and teach them moral values, art, and music while classes in their regular schools are suspended.

Sheila thinks that other than educational purposes, this is also one way to unload the stress amongst children brought about by the pandemic.

And though she is not yet a professional teacher, it is never too early to teach young minds especially in the situation that we are in right now.

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DSWD SALUTES 4Ps SON, NOW CADET 1st CLASS

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) highly salutes Jefferson Yamson Salazar, a 4Ps beneficiary’s son who recently marched as Cadet First Class in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Masidlawin Class of 2020.

Among the 196 graduates, Salazar ranked 3rd along with Cadet First Class Gemalyn Sugui (Valedictorian) and Cadet First Class Jade Villanueva (Salutatorian) being in the Top 3.

PMA TOP 3. L-R Cadet First Class Jade Villanueva (Salutatorian), Cadet First Class Gemalyn Deocares Sugui (Valedictorian), and Cadet First Class Jefferson Yamson Salazar (3rd placer).
Photos courtesy: PMA

Jefferson is the fourth child of tricycle driver Jose and snack vendor Marites Salazar who are members of DSWD’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

In an interview, Marites says that her son has always been a good student. Jefferson usually does not bring notebook in class because according to him, he ensures that he understands the lectures and everything he learns is kept in his mind.

Marites recalls that even when they were struggling financially, she has always seen the big potential in Jefferson and was confident that he can achieve his goals despite the hardships in life.

“Hindi hadlang ang kahirapan kaya huwag mawalan ng pag-asa at mag-aral ng mabuti para makamit nila ang pangarap nila at magtagumpay, (Poverty is not a hindrance so don’t lose hope and study hard to achieve your dreams and succeed,)” Marites shares her message to her co-4Ps family beneficiaries.

As a young boy, Jefferson was a consistent honor student of his class. Because of poverty, he has seen his eldest sibling sacrificed her education for a job to help sustain their family. And so he made sure to keep an eye on his goal.

In college, he took up Bachelor of Science in Physics at Western Mindanao State University then proceeded to pursue his studies in PMA and succeeded.

Despite not being able to attend the graduation rite last May 22 due to COVID-19 protocols, Jefferson’s family was very proud of his achievement.

Marites also expressed how thankful she is for the support that she has received from family, relatives, and the government.

“Naging malaking tulong yung natatanggap namin na cash assistance dahil nagkaroon ako ng karagdagang kapital sa pagtitinda. Ang programa ng gobyerno gaya ng 4Ps ay may layuning tumulong sa mga nangangailangan; nasa tao na kung papaano niya ito gamitin, (The cash assistance has been a great help especially as augmentation to our livelihood. Government programs such as the 4Ps aim to help families in need but it is up to the people to make something out of it,” says Marites.

Salazar family has been a beneficiary of the 4Ps since 2013. Jefferson’s older sister who was a monitored child of 4Ps will soon take her licensure board exam in December. To this date, only their youngest child who is in Grade 9 is monitored by the program. 

Now, Salazar family celebrates the achievement of each of their family members. 

The eldest daughter, after working for several years to help support the family, is now back in school taking up BS Chemistry in WMSU;

The second child, who was also a scholar of DSWD’s Sulong Dunong, already graduated from a 2-year degree;

The third child supported herself in college by joining a school-funded organization and earning on the side from being a School Assistant;

The 4th child (Jefferson) will soon join the Philippine Navy;

The 5th child will soon graduate with a degree in Political Science;

The 6th child will take her licensure board exam as a Pharmacist in December; and

The youngest one is currently in Grade 9, GT STEM.

Salazar family, proud 4Ps beneficiary.

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Empowered SLPAs in Zambo lead production of free masks for community, frontliners

The seams and stitches have brought changes in the lives of SLP associations. Recounted through the years of successful livelihood of sewing, the dreams and hopes of program participants are intertwined through collective efforts and desire to sustain the change in their community. These opportunities were made possible through the funded skills training to provide seed capital funds for Microenterprise development of the SLPAs.

Little did they know that apart from learning the skills from these dressmaking businesses can not only provide income for their members and support their family but can also turn into blessings to others.

Challenged by the unforeseen enemies brought by the threat of COVID-19 in the country, many of the people in the communities were affected by these dilemmas. The stringent social distancing measures due to declaration of enhanced community quarantine has affected the majority of the population not only in COVID stricken areas in Luzon but also in Zamboanga City which has recorded five confirmed to date.  These directives have led to massive panic buying and unavailability of stocks most especially in disinfectants, alcohols and masks. 

However, the formidable situation didn’t hinder the members of the Sustainable Livelihood Program Associations in Zamboanga City to stop their operation but instead they find this opportunity as blessing in disguise to render their services and help those who are in dire need of masks for protection. The scarcity of face masks led the associations to initiate its production so they can help their community protect themselves. The associations of STARLIGHT and Sistrera Dela Victoria SLPAs were able to initially produce more than 1,000 washable face masks. The situation has shed light to members of these SLPAs to utilize their skills of sewing in their livelihood. These initiatives were made possible using the materials from their own miscut cloths.  Only a few of their produced face masks were sold for only Php10-Php20 while some were given for free among their neighbors, family members including those frontliners in their vicinity.

“Alegre kame cay ta puede kame ayuda na otro. Necesita man ayudahan kita, que rico man o pobre necesita man uyun kita para puede kita man fight con este cosa ta pasa ara y man share kita el blessing con aquelos bien necesita gayod ayuda. Ohala descansa ya este calamidad. Ohala hindi kita viola na cosa ta abla el govierno canaton, esta kita na casa para hindi este man calayat” Said Alejandra Dela Cruz, President of Sistrera Dela Victoria SLPA

(We are happy that we are able to help others, we need to help each other. Regardless of our social status, we need to go along with each other and face the challenges ahead of us. We also need to share what we have, to those who have little, or none at all. We hope this calamity will end soon and  hoping no one will violate what the government is requesting for us to do to in order to prevent the spread of the virus.)

“Man  junto junto kita ayuda maga hente que necesita ayuda. Hace kita este contribucion na de aton ciudad.”  Salvacion G. Mabologtong, President of Ayala Starlight SLPA added.

(Let’s help people together who are in need. Let this be our contribution to our city)

Indeed during difficult times, the Bayanihan spirit will always prevail among Filipinos. For more than a year, the bags, dresses and other woven materials they have produced have represented their hopes and aspirations that are woven through their seamless determination towards sustainable change.

More SLPAs have followed the initiative in giving out masks to the public and barangay officials in the community.

The Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) is a capability-buildingprogram of the DSWD for poor, vulnerable and marginalized households and communities to improve their socio-economic conditions through accessing and acquiring necessary assets to engage in and maintain thriving livelihoods.
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TEAMPURA is the main course

Teampura is a coined term from the acronyms derived from the phrase: Together, Everyone Achieves More Positive Understanding and Responsive Action (TEAMPURA), a mantra that drives the passion of the DSWD Zamboanga Sibugay staff.

And just like the famous Japanese dish, Teampura is served hot and served as the primary dish in a meal of services that are being offered in Zamboanga Sibugay Province, as if it is the main course to a fine social service delivery.

The Municipality of Titay is a 2nd class municipality in the Province of Zamboanga Sibugay with 30 barangays. Titay is known as an agricultural municipality wherein farming is the main source of livelihood and income for most of its residents.

Having a population of 49,673 the Listahanan has identified 4,354 poor families in the municipality which ranks Titay as the 14th poorest municipality out of 16 municipalities in the entire Zamboanga Sibugay Province.

With this, the DSWD implements the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in the said municipality to reach out to the poor families with a total of 4,663 beneficiaries composed of 4,132 beneficiaries under the Regular Conditional Cash Transfer (RCCT) and 531 under the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer for Indigenous Peoples (MCCT-IP).

And with such huge numbers to cater to, teampura is the key to be able to efficiently serve and bring social services on the table and plates of the vulnerable sectors.

The team was initially established as Tulosulo last 2017 as the KC NCDDP was implemented in the municipality of Titay, Zamboanga Sibugay. The team was composed of 22 team members: 4 of which are SLP PDO II, 4 KC NCDDP implementers and 14 Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program workers.

These workers from various programs and projects complement each other for an efficient delivery of services. Several activities are conducted with the coordination of field implementers such as the Municipal Inter-Agency Committee (MIAC) stakeholders meeting, Municipal Action Team (MAT) meeting implementation of Convergence Initiative, close review and implementation of Convergence Municipal Action Plan especially stakeholders commitments and household monitoring. The team members are guided and informed of the different plans of their respective programs/projects so as to ensure that all beneficiaries are provided with appropriate intervention.

The Local Government Unit of Titay is also very well-involved and is very supportive of the DSWD’s programs and activities through the provision of different resources, legislations, and mobilization of communities to improve the level of well-being of the partner beneficiaries.

The MAT, MIAC and CSO’s work hand-in-hand to create convergence as an initiative to answer the gaps felt by the communities/partner beneficiaries.

Teampura ensures that everyone is involved in all endeavors of the Department to guarantee that maximum success potential is achieved and all seeds planted will grow abundantly.

PLANT YOUR SAVINGS

With the introduction of the Bio-Intensive Gardening (BIG) in the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) as part of its mandate, sprout the Convergence Initiative (CI) 2017 dubbed as “DAGDAG KITA SA BAKURAN.”

It aims to assist 100% of our partner beneficiaries to have a secured source of nutrition and staple food on the table through the establishment of backyard and communal gardens thus decreasing the health issues and sustainable food security concerns in the area.

Apart from addressing the nutritional gaps of a household, the gardening activities also helped the beneficiaries augment their income. Teampura helped the beneficiaries strategically perform their best practices in the gardening by providing them technical assistance such as maintenance, logistical support, and bookkeeping among others. The team strengthened the implementation through sustained information dissemination, various orientations on organic gardening which led to the upgrade of the convergence initiative from Dagdag Kita sa Bakuran to “Save a Peso a Day” which was launched last November 19, 2017.

Its primary objective is to inculcate the practice of saving for when it is needed. From mere planting vegetables, the initiative has now flourished into potential savings.

SAVE A PESO A DAY Saves the Day

Prior to the implementation of the C.I., the provincial office in Zamboanga Sibugay constantly receives several financial concerns daily from the 4Ps beneficiaries that vary from needs for household expenses, educational expenses, emergency medical expenditures and etc.

SAVE A PESO A DAY is seen as the answer to the unexpected crises and financial difficulties which our partner beneficiaries may encounter in the future.

Evident in their individual savings account, the partner beneficiaries are now able to save money from their income in their backyard and communal garden. As aggressive as some of them are, some of the beneficiaries are able to use their additional income as a startup capital to put up a small business, they also invested in group lending where everybody benefits from the interest, others even used their money to venture into poultry and hog raising business.

The partner beneficiaries express that they are now less worried about unexpected crises or even about hospitalization concerns that go beyond the “zero billing” policy of accredited hospitals.

With this observable impact of the convergence initiative in the lives of the partner beneficiaries, the Team and MIAC came up with the next step of the Convergence Initiative in the 2nd semester 2018, the level up the previous Convergence Initiative to “GUGMA SA NEGOSYO, IPON KO, CAPITAL KO.

This initiative was launched last December 6, 2018. It focuses on the strengthening of organized community groups for effective income generating activities. The C/MAT Team conducted several Organizational Development, Financial Management Session, and Simple Bookkeeping seminars for the beneficiaries that helped them in sustaining their income-generating activities, installation of simple accounting system, local accreditation, and construction of by-laws.

The TEAMPURA at school

Since Teampura is a collaboration of all stakeholders to address gaps and provide appropriate interventions, one gap has caught the attention of the team –the alarming increase in number of the children not attending school or what the 4Ps program call the “NAS children”.

This led the team to implement a project entitled “SPG – Estudyante, Pamilya at Gobyerno; Hawak kamay para sa Pagbabago”, an initiative launched last May 3, 2019.

It ensures 100% school enrollees among children beneficiaries and sustain their attendance to school. This is in support to the Bata: Balik Eskwela campaign of the national office to bring the Not Attending School (NAS) children back in school either through regular classes or in Alternative Learning System (ALS).

With this convergence initiative, almost 233 children went back to school even those children not monitored by the program.

During the launching of the project, all MIAC members were present and contributed a lot in the implementation of the initiative. Department heads from the LGU and the PNP Officers served as Resource Speakers for the parents, DepEd/ ALS Personnel served as resource speakers for the children, our partners in the Religious Sector provided Moral recovery sessions both for parents and children.

As a result, Titay-LGU committed to provide school supplies for the children –a commitment that is well-commended by the Department as this shows the strong convergence power of the team in the area which inspired a lot of other teams not only in the Zamboanga Sibugay Province but in the entire Zamboanga Peninsula as well.

Teampura and its special sauce

Just like a regular tempura, Teampura also needs sauce to make it more special and more delicious before it is served to the public. The special sauce of the Teampura is their external sources and support from partners.

Through the strong relationship that was built overtime, the team was able to seek help from its partners in the successful implementation of their initiatives. Because of the well-established coordination, the Local Government Unit in the municipality of Titay funded all of the initiatives presented by the team.

In a validation activity conducted by the PRAISE Committee, Teampura mentioned that they have never encountered rejections be it funds or mobilization support from the LGU.

As Local Chief Executive Hon. Leonardo Talania, Municipal Mayor, said in one of the local events “in any activity for the people wherein the team needs augmentation and assistance, just provide a project proposal and the LGU will gladly accommodate your requests such as sources for funds or logistical support for the activities.”

We already know from the stories mentioned in the first half of this article that the team has a strong support from other national government agencies, to wit: the Department of Education which was their partner during the “SPG“ launching as majority of the preparation of the event was lodged to the DepEd (ie Venue, Sound system, Stage and Emcee) with the amount of 64,000 for the food and school supplies.

In addition, the Municipal Agriculture office had also provided several variety seeds worth 100,000 and animal dispersal to our beneficiaries for their gardening project, the Dagdag Kita sa Bakuran.

The Municipal Administrator voluntarily donated 10,000 pesos cash to purchased seedlings for beneficiaries and pledged 10,000 pesos annual donation for the search for modelong gulayan.

The Barangay Local Government Unit of all barangays also showed support by their commitment in monitoring the Communal Gardens as well as the behaviors of the target children beneficiaries.

TEAMPURA –not a dish but an ingredient

It has been proven that the system and strategy of the team is effective in bring social welfare services closer to the reach of their target beneficiaries. But for the team members of Teampura, the success that they see now is not necessarily because of them. Rather the result of the effort of all people working together to achieve common goals, one step at a time.

For them, Teampura acts like an ingredient that pulls together all other major ingredients to come up with one very tasty offering to their clients. That’s the secret recipe to a successful dish.

As their name says, Together, Everyone Achieves More Positive Understanding and Responsive Action.

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