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A Story of Hope

IMG_0044This is the story of a mother who discovered her strength in one of life’s weakest moments. Neri Grano Carumba has always been an honest woman. At 49 years old, she anchored her values and her beliefs on honesty foremost, among all the other virtues. Little did she know that in one eventful point in her life, honesty could give her opportunities she never even dreamed of.

Needing Help, Needing Hope

Neri is married to Ireneo Caritatibo Carumba, a 58-year-old farmer. The Carumba family established their home and their life in Purok Goma, Bgy. Masao, Tungawan, Zamboanga Sibugay. Neri and Irineo have been blessed with 5 children: Irene (25), Airol (23), Irone (22), Ian (13) and Aiza (7). The Carumbas rely on farming their land, a quarter of a hectare, to sustain the family’s needs. However, the little income from the rice field and rubber farm could never hold up, and they always find themselves frustrating over the puzzle of where to get the meal, or how to get through the day.

Thankfully, the Carumbas were chosen to be a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilya Set 2 in 2009. With the Department of Social Welfare and Development program as their formidable support system, life for the Carumbas began to change drastically. The children could now hold their head high in school, as tuition and small contributions are no longer a problem; Neri no longer had to plea and beg off financial obligations because they could finally afford to hand over what is expected of them. The family now had the opportunity to look for other means of income, as they already had the financial power to explore peso-generating projects. Most importantly though, the Carumbas, especially Neri, gradually gained confidence in their worth and value as members of the community.

Neri loved attending the Family Development sessions. It gave her new perspectives on marital relations and motherhood, and gradually, Neri eschewed traditional beliefs and made room for new ones, particularly on household management, strengthening family relationship and disaster preparedness. As her confidence continued to grow, so did her responsibilities, not just at home but in her community as well. She slipped into leadership roles with ease; she became a Catechist Coordinator, a Barangay Health Worker and a Community Health Team-navigator.

The Carumbas live in a humble home. Constructed with light materials, their house has no concrete flooring, and half of the roofing is thatched with nipa. There is little furniture inside the home. Despite the austerity, the Carumbas boast that they have a happy home, and that one could never meet a more contented family than their own, especially now that the DSWD has given them a new chapter in life.

A Test of Strength

Fired up to take on new and more responsibilities, it was no surprise that Neri became a volunteer of KALAHI CIDSS, PAMANA CYCLE 3 in 2010. She became a member of the Monitoring Implementation Team (MIT),which gave her the substantial role of checking whether KALAHI CIDSS projects are being handled well. One incident tested her mettle, when she had been forced to sign a delivery receipt when no materials were provided for a project. Disturbed about the scenario, she immediately coordinated with fellow volunteers, and the KC-MT personnel. Neri then initiated a meeting with the Barangay Captain and with all others concerned, and successfully resolved the issue at hand. After 2 days, the materials for the project were promptly delivered, and as Neri watched the men unload the delivery, she was greatly thankful she had been honest, and that she dared assert her conviction to stay that way.

Neri’s quick response to solve the dilemma earned her the trust and confidence of barangay officials and of her fellow community members. Because of her honesty, she earned numerous rewards, including the awarding of a Municipal Agriculture Office project a Masao Farmers Association (MAFA) initiative that provided financial assistance for Hog Fattening; she also received financial aid for another project that involved poultry rising and goat raising. Being a Catechist Coordinator, Neri also took on an Income Generating project (IGP) that allowed her to do some hog raising. In addition, Neri also became one of the recipients of the Coconut, Cacao and Palay (COCOPAL) under the project of the MAFA. The TATSULO programs helped empower Neri, turning her into an organic fertilizer advocate (vermicasting) and a supporter of the Municipal Demo Farm, wherein she takes care of on-going preparation for broccoli, cabbage and ginger seedling production. Apart from the grants and projects, Neri also became a Sustainable Livelihood Program-Mauswagon SKA member. This entitled her a grant of                     Php 8,000.00 per month, which she used in her food vending project.

When Neri talks about the DSWD, she brightens up with love and gratitude. She is grateful that the TATSULO programs changed her family’s life. The TATSULO planted the seeds of change in each of her children, in her husband and in herself. These seeds continue to germinate, and as the Carumbas spend more years in the TATSULO programs, they are sure to develop and to grow into strong members of the community, empowered and virtuous.

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Education: A key to a better future

IMG_0060“Kruuuuuuuk! Kruuuuuuuuk!” Goes the usual morning chant of Johanna while scattering some fowl feeds.  She was standing next to their humble abode, a wooden structure which is home to her 3 boys and loving hubby, Albert.

At her beck, several large-sized hens and roosters gathered around her, squawking  with delight. “These are my treasures and I owe them much”, she glanced our way, her face beaming with pride.

After casting several more handfuls of rice grains, she sat down with us while watching the fowl peck on their morning meal, and shared highlights of her life as a Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary, an SLP  loan grantee and as KALAHI volunteer.

A Simple life and Education

Thirty-eight year- old Johanna Lerona of Barangay Binoni, Salug, Zamboanga del Norte, wanted nothing more than a simple life and education for her children. Mother to three boys,  with ages 20, 17 and 11,.  She believes that with education, her children will not experience what her family had undergone early on in life.

“It’s really difficult if you have not finished your studies and I just hope that my kids will be able to finish theirs.

She shared with enthusiasm that her eldest, Jerome has graduated from college last March 2013 and is scheduled for training with the Philippine Army soon.   She considers Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program was instrumental in this accomplishment.  Johanna said that because of Pantawid, she was able to focus her other efforts in raising the funds for her boy in college as the program was already taking care of  (her youngest) John’s needs.

Education to her is the key to a good future.  Johanna herself, took the opportunity to continue her studies in 2010-2012

“I took advantage of the opportunity that while the government has been helping my kids, I enrolled myself in college”.  She took up Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education in a college located at the Poblacion in Salug and completed the first 2 years with flying colors.  However, her studies was halted when the school decided to shut down its Salug campus.   But with the determination to go on, despite the bumps in her journey, she diverted her temporary discouragement to her business and provided full-time support to her sons’ schooling.

“I am willing to wait for my turn, but now it’s my role and responsibility to ensure that my children get educated.

Johanna, who believes that education is the key to a better future, constantly reminds other parents of their responsibility in empowering their children.  In Family Development Sessions (FDS), where she serves as a parent leader, she encourages and promotes education as a significant ingredient in building a better future for every child.   With her advocacy, she was even successful in influencing her 70-year old father to complete his secondary education.  Tatay Eduardo Enario,  a widower, graduated from the barangay’s high school last 2013.  He lives with Johanna’s family.

The loan grant that Johanna received from the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) was a contributory to his son’s success in finishing his education.   Jerome had to earn his degree in Criminology in Dipolog City – about 3 hours ride from Salug, as there was no college nearby offering such course..  With the loan grant of 10,000,  the couple invested in hog-raising and poultry.

“Everytime my son would need to pay a project or his tuition fee,  I would turn to my poultry where I can sell each egg at P7 each.  Call it superstitious or what but I guess my hens could sense my need as they would lay as many as 8 eggs a day each time I’m caught in a tight situation.”  the young mother relays.

Volunteer Work

When asked about her undertakings in the community, Johanna revealed that aside from her participation in Pantawid activities, she also assisted in other programs as she believes that volunteering is like serving God.

Only kind words for Johanna can be heard from those four (4) families whom she helped and who are now receiving their grants.  If not for Johanna, these families would never have the courage to go on and follow-up on their applications for change of recipients.  But through her constant prodding and encouragement, these families pursued their cases and are now enjoying the benefits of the program.

“I cannot contain my joy seeing these children receive the grant after their application was approved by DSWD.  These were cases of change of recipients, whom I assisted in processing of documents.  They came back to offer me gifts but I refused knowing too well that they need it the most.  The kids showed me their new bags and new shoes and instances like these are enough for a ‘thank-you’.  Johanna said.

As a volunteer for the KALAHI program, she served as a member of the monitoring and inspection team for the two-room classroom project at their nearby highschool facility.  This facility answered their community’s need for additional rooms for the growing number of students enrolled in the secondary education.

“I am happy that with my efforts, I could say that I contributed something to our community,” the KALAHI monitor-inspector said.


Talking about DSWD programs, Johanna said that the DSWD programs have instilled changes not only in the community but to her as a person, a mother and a resident of Barangay Binoni.  It taught her to become responsible, confident and knowledgeable in some aspects.

The three programs improved her family’s living condition.  Not only did it provided an opportunity for her to upgrade her education but it also made life easier for her and her family.

Through the Sustainable Livelihood Program, the capital seed fund that she was granted, started off her business in poultry and hog-raising.  This project sustained her eldest son’s education.

“During Jerome’s graduation, I felt a sense of accomplishment, aware that it was my personal dream to finish college.  Still I felt proud when it was time for me to put on the professional ring on my son’s  which was part of the graduation ceremony.  At that moment, I felt all my efforts were paid off, not only in full but doubly-paid.”  Johanna uttered, misty-eyed but smiling.

Future plans

As a beneficiary, Johanna expressed that she has learned much from her experiences and volunteer work.  She believes that her faith in the Lord as well as her family’s support allowed her to be an effective volunteer/participant in every undertaking.

“I prefer helping people rather than expecting help from them.  I love what I am doing now and that is serving the people without any expectation.  I feel good and fulfilled everytime I help a neighbor or anybody.”

When asked about her future plans, Johanna intends to pursue her second son’s (Jeryl) college education.  She intends to face this challenge with the support of her husband who shares her dreams for their children.  While she also dream to finish her studies, she sees this as a second priority.  Knowing that the challenge ahead is tough, Johanna believes that she has what it takes to pursue and accomplish that challenge.

What and how?  We asked.

“See those peep of chickens?” pointing to the number of fowl gradually dispersing.  “Those will help me realize my dreams and Ive done it before that’s why I know its possible – – thanks to TATSULO”, Johanna stated confidently.



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Sec. Soliman leads turnover of bunkhouses to Zambo evacuees

Zamboanga City – Department of Social Welfare and Development  (DSWD) Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman led the turnover ceremony yesterday of  five bunkhouses at Barangay Taluksangay for the families whose houses were burned at the height of the clash between government troops and the Moro National Liberation Front-Misuari Faction in September.

Together with Sec. Soliman were Habitat for Humanity Managing Head Charlito Ayco, Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar,  and 2nd District Congresswoman Lilia Nuno.

Representatives of International Organization for Migration (IOM) and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) also joined the turnover.

The five bunkhouses with 54 rooms are part of the 21 to be constructed in the area through the partneship of the Department with Habitat. As of today, eight bunkhouses have been completed.

Witnessing the turnover were the beneficiaries  who transferred there on the same day.

 Starter kits and food packs were also provided to them upon their relocation.

 In her message during the program, Sec. Soliman thanked the partners for their support to the national government in assisting the victims.

She also emphasized that the bunkhouses are only temporary as  President Benigno S. Aquino III has committed to provide better communities after the reconstruction and development of the affected areas.


“Hindi bahay ang mahirap gawin, ang kailangang pagtuunan ng pansin ay ang pagkakaisa natin kahit iba-iba ang ating kultura.  Tayo ay isang komunidad, isang Zamboanga City at isang bansa (It is not difficult to construct houses, what we need to focus on is our unity amid our different cultures. We are one community, one Zamboanga City, one nation),”  Sec. Soliman remarked.

For her part, Mayor Salazar reiterated  President Aquino’s plans for the affected areas.

Ayco, on the other hand, assured their organization’s support to DSWD in providing decent homes to the families.  While DSWD provides the chunk of the budget, Habitat will cover 20% of the costs as their counterpart. They also supervise the actual construction of the houses

Habitat has an existing agreement with DSWD for the construction of the bunkhouses.  Taluksangay Barangay Chair Abdurahman Nuno vowed to ensure cleanliness and peace and order in the area.

“We will take care of these houses,” he swore.

To date, there are still 4,691 families who are in evacuation centers and temporary shelters around the city. ###

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Pantawid Kids joins National Children’s Congress

One of the goals of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program is to promote the rights of the children and make their voices be heard on program issues directly affecting them, in line with the said program goal, a nationwide conduct of Children’s Congress was held at the Philippine International Convention Center last October. The activity was participated by the regional winners of the Search for Exemplary Child along with some other provincial winners. Rea Lyka Bacang, 13 years old from the municipality of Malangas Zamboanga Sibugay represented the region in the nationwide competition of Search for Exemplary Pantawid Child, along with Hainun Munap of Zamboanga City, Jericho Jarlego from Zamboanga del Norte, Khim Ritchel Abapo from Zamboanga del Sur and Jerah Mae Pitalgo from Zamboanga Sibugay.

Several activities were prepared for the National Children’s Congress (NCC), which include the awardings of the national winners, workshops and lecture on children’s rights and the question and answer with some media personalities. The children participants were also brought to the National Museum and Museong Pambata to expose them with the richness of the Philippines in the preservation of cultures and art works.

The activity is a way to equip the children with essential faculties that would help them reach their full potential as child beneficiary as the program also aims that these children be capacitated to contribute to nation-building in the long run and be active citizens of the country.

It was indeed a remarkable experience for the children to participate in the said activity. But more even to the experience is the friendship built with other regional participants truly made the activity significantly memorable in the lives of the children. ###JLE###

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DSWD celebrates Children’s Month for Children Evacuess

October is the month for children as this was tagged as the children’s month. A nationwide celebration for children to showcase their talents and skills. In line with the Children’s Month celebration, DSWD conducted a Children’s Congress for children evacuees from the armed conflict in Zamboanga City. This year, DSWD gave significance to affected children with the said conflict to at least show importance that despite the incident children has still the right to enjoy life.

The activity showcased the creativity of the children with the theme: “Kahirapan ay Wakasan, Karapatan ng Bata ay Ipaglaban”. Each evacuation center has their own contestants from categories  3-5, 6-12 and 13-17 years old. With the Draw and Tell contest, each contestant were given 30 minutes to draw their interpretation in this years theme and were given the chance to explain what they have drawn.

For category 3-5 years old,Yolly Alejo from the Grandstand evacuation ranked 3rd place, Richard Repolon ranked 2nd from Tetuan Central School Evacuation Center while Arwina Wahid from Baliwan Central School Evacuation Center bagged the 1st Place. For category 6-12 years old, Jeralyn Castro from Sta. Maria Elementary School Evacuation finished as 3rd placer while Kezrie Hayudini a student representative from East Central School ranked as 2nd placer and Ferdinand Abdurahman from West High School evacuation center was awarded as the 1st placer. For the 7-17 years old Category, Shiela Mae Flores from Tetuan Central School evacuation center landed on the 3rd place and Joshua Nationales from Sta. Maria Evacuation ranked as 2nd placer while Bash Idlasan from West High School evacuation was awarded as the 1st placer.

All the contestants showed their creativity and fluency in the said Draw and Tell contest. Each piece explains their experiences during the conflict and their views to overcome such crisis situation. It was indeed an impressive output from children evacuees how positive they foresee their life in the years to come after having the traumatic experience once they had.### JLE###

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Geo-tagging of Kalahi-CIDSS sub-projects in Region 9 kicks off

With the goal of firming up the Project Information Management System and strengthening the practice of transparency in the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS), the Agency’s community-driven (CDD) development program, started off the geo-tagging of sub-projects in some municipalities in the Zamboanga Peninsula.

Monitoring and Evaluation Officer IV Mr. Rodolfo Nillosquin III, together with Regional Infrastructure Assistant Ms. Chona Gorda, visited the municipalities of Kumalarang, Zamboanga del Sur and Kabasalan and Ipil in Zamboanga Sibugay to conduct geo-tagging during their sub-project inspection. Mr. Nillosquin explained that through geo-tagging, project stakeholders and even the public can readily check the status of the infrastructures built through Kalahi-CIDSS in the different localities through Google Earth, a web-based application. “All they have to do is download the application. While browsing the map, there are labels and pinned locations where the subproject is located, a tracked trail to guide you on how to get Geo tagging is an Information Communication Technology tool where digital resources are associated with physical location through pictures, videos and other forms of media with corresponding coordinates. Geo-tagging can help users find a wide variety of location-specific information”, he said.

Mr. Nillosquin explained how geo-tagging will be able to help promote transparency and minimize the risk of corruption of the program’s resources. “Ghost projects will now be eliminated as this ensures the public that the picture attached in that specific location is the real image of the project built in the said site”, he said.

As of press time, the Regional Program Management Team of KC has geo-tagged a total of 59 sub-projects in 6 municipalities including municipalities of Tabina, Tukuran and Tigbao, Zamboanga del Sur.

Regional Program Coordinator Marilyn Fabian clarified that there is no projected timeline to geo-tag all the sub-projects in region IX. “We are not chasing on any due date to finish all the sub-projects to be geo-tagged. The goal is to do geo-tagging activity alongside regular Kalahi-CIDSS activities if opportunity warrants.” Fabian stated.

On the other hand, DSWD Regional Director Zenaida L. Arevalo is positive that this initiative will bring good results for both the Department and the public in terms of monitoring government projects. “The geo-tagging will continue until all the Kalahi-CIDSS subprojects in all areas will be covered. We take pride and honor to benchmark and institutionalize this innovative tool in our agency to validate and monitor infrastructure projects and thereby promote transparency, accountability, and efficient and cost-effective project management in remote areas. Kalahi-CIDSS will continue to embark on undertakings which are deemed necessary for the improvement of the program and the welfare of the people”, said Director Arevalo.

Kalahi-CIDSS is one of the three core social protection programs of DSWD in combating poverty. It uses the community-driven development (CDD) strategy to empower ordinary citizens to actively and directly participate in local governance by identifying their own community needs, planning, implementing, and monitoring projects together to address local poverty issues.

Prepared by:

Lei Madeline S. Mohammad


Noted by:

Marilyn Fabian


Approved for Posting/Publishing:

Zenaida L. Arevalo

Regional Director

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More relief goods arrive in Zamboanga City

Zamboanga City, September 22 – Two Philippine Coast Guard ships arrived in this city yesterday bringing in additional relief goods from the National Resource Operations Center (NROC) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for the families affected by the crisis in the area.

Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman inspected the items at the local wharf and instructed for its transfer to the warehouses for repacking. NROC goods arrival (3)

The BRP EDSA, the first ship to arrive under the command of Lt. Col. Joe Mark Angge, contained relief goods of 17,500 family food packs and 400 boxes of high-energy biscuits.

The second ship Corregidor 892, under Lcdr. Ludovico Librilla, Commanding Officer, carried relief goods comprising 650 family packs, 4,000 family kits that include cooking and eating utensils, 1,000 pieces of blankets, 1,000 pieces of mats, 1,000 pieces of mosquito nets, and 380 tents.

Relief goods from USAID

(Center) DSWD Sec. Dinky thanks USAID through their Area Team Leader Ainee Amboy (right) for the three truckloads of relief goods donated by USAID that were brought to the DPWH warehouse for repacking.

(Center) DSWD Sec. Dinky thanks USAID through their Area Team Leader Ainee Amboy (right) for the three truckloads of relief goods donated by USAID that were brought to the DPWH warehouse for repacking.

Meanwhile, Secretary Soliman also met with the officials of United States Agency for International Development (USAID) at the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) compound yesterday morning, to officially receive relief goods for the evacuees.

Ms. Ainee Amboy, USAID Area Team Leader for Mindanao, turned over to the DSWD three truckloads of non-food items (NFI) containing hygiene kits, sleeping gears, and kitchen items.  The donations, as accounted by the DSWD, comprised of 10,000 pieces of bath soap, 10,000 pieces of towels, 10,000 pieces of laundry soaps, 5,000 tubes of toothpaste, 25,000 pieces of toothbrush, 5,000 bottles of alcohol, 9,710 pieces of blankets, 5,000 pieces of sleeping mats, and kitchen items like ladles, cooking pots, and water basins at 5,000 pieces each.

Secretary Soliman ordered for the immediate repacking of these goods for its timely release to the evacuees by Sept. 23.

“I commend the USAID, other donor agencies, civil ociety Organizations, faith-based groups, and kind-hearted individuals for their continued support extended to our brothers and sisters in Zamboanga who are ruthlessly affected by the crisis instigated by MNLF-Misuari faction,” Secretary Soliman said.  ###

– See more at:

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The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) represented by Director Zenaida Arevalo of Regional Office IX recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the 52ndEngineering Brigade of the Armed Forces of the Philippines represented by Col. Reynaldo Mutiangpili for the construction of the 96 bunkhouses for victims of the armed conflict in Zamboanga who are staying at the Joaquin F. Enriquez Sports Complex. The MoA signing was held at the DSWD Regional Office.

The MOA stipulates the arrangements of both parties in the realization of the P10.8M worth of temporary shelters for the armed conflict victims.

As agreed, both parties shall jointly formulate plans and specifications as well as programs of work for the construction of bunkhouses, latrines, and kitchen.

According to Director Arevalo, the labor or workforce will be hired from the project’s beneficiaries. “We are going to tap the beneficiaries themselves particularly the family heads for the additional help that the engineering brigade needs for the project. This is to maximize their participation/involvement and to imbibe in them the sense of ownership over these shelters,” she said.

As arranged, the funds that will be transferred to the AFP Engineering Brigade will be in a form of check and shall be released within this week.SAM_0848

Inline image 2 The DSWD and the Engineering Brigade have started to build the bunkhouses at the JFE Sports Complex. Col. Mutiangpili said that his group can complete the project in 60 days. Due to the urgency, Col. Mutianglili stressed that they intend to fast track the work in the interest of providing comfort to the families as soon as possible and before the yuletide season begins this December.

The Engineering brigade is slated to build 21 bunkhouses at JFE Sports Complex. Each bunkhouse has 12 rooms with each room to accommodate one (1) family of 6-10 members. Estimated cost for each bunkhouse is Php 516,284 with a total amount of P10,841,964 for the 21 bunkhouses.

To ensure transparency and accountability, Director Arevalo said both parties shall comply with the provision on standard reporting such as the submission of bi-monthly accomplishment status and physical and audited financial reports, which shall be made readily available to the inquiring public. ### October 22, 2013 (DSWD-Social Marketing Service)

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