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Meaningful Smiles

Maglisod mi og come up sa among daily nga panginahanglanon. Dili jud mi makahatag sa among mga anak og 3 times ka meal sa usa ka adlaw.

This is how Vilma A. Tandus, 33 years old recounted her early struggles in life before she became a beneficiary of DSWD programs. She lived with her husband and two children together with her parents for 5 years in Sanito, Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay.

Mangaon ra mi og alternatibo nga pagkaon mga root crops, kamanting, saging. Dili permanente ang kan.on. Sauna akong bana walay klaro nga trabaho, usahay magpa labor sa copra, kung naa maka apply sa construction didto pod sya magtrabaho. Ako that time wala koy income sa akoang kaugalingon.” She added.

Through her eyes and smiles, she clearly manifest a resilient woman inside who have battled the tests of time. Every day, she needs to gather these strength to overcome her fears and to start stronger for her family.

She narrated how her children had to walk to and from school every day at times even with an empty stomach. Vilma could not take the situation seeing her family suffer this much. After she tried her luck in Manila being a house helper, she made her quit the job after a year of work due to the difficulty of distance and communication. She became saleslady by then and peddled banana cue in the community when she decided to come back. She almost narrated all possible means to earn to augment and suffice the daily needs of their family along with his husbdand who is also trying his best to sustain everything. Giving up for both of them became not an option, they were even optimistic to survive these challenges.

In 2012, Vilma became a Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program beneficiary, She admitted that in the past she never pays attention to the activities conduted in their barangay. But, her neighbour consistently tried to persuade her to come, and that eventually changed her perception along with the guidance and help by her Municipal Link. She became active and was even nominated as parent leader. A change that she always been thankful for. The trust and confidence given by her co-beneficiaries challenged her to be empowered not only for the beneficiaries but also for her family. Though a bit challenged but no can ever replace the fact that change is truly happening even within.

Dili diay dapat ang pobre magpakahilom hilom, kay ang usa ka tawo wala’y ma-gain nga mga knowledge og skills nga gihatag sa barangay og di ka manggilabot. Kinahanglan ikaw mismo sa imong kaogalingon maningkamot ka.” She expressed.

Vilma and her husband slowly managed to acquire their own house, this was because their family was growing, and a better environment for their children was needed. Vilma religiously sets aside the money she receives from the pantawid program for her children’s education, since this is everything that she want for them.

In 2016, she eventually became a member of the Sanito Motherhood Pantawid SKA under the Sustainable Livelihood Program’s Micro-Enterprise Track, where it provides seed capital assistance to beneficiaries to start and engage themselves to economic activities through the CDED process.  The association she is part of produces wide array of food products and catering services depending on the market’s demand. As a member she helps in packing their products on banana chips, peanut butter, and sweet coated peanuts. They also earn through their catering by providing quality food service in the community. The LGU also assisted them by providing referrals to their products and services. Through the said association, an assisted project with SLP, She was able to earn not only extra income and but also worthwhile experience she can always takes pride.

As of the moment, Vilma and her family are now living in their own simple abode,

a dream that has truly came true. They have 6 children who are now confident to socialize with their classmates and friends because of the new hope and opportunities provided by the DSWD.

“Sauna manilingan mi mag tan-aw salida sa TV. Karon sa balay dili na sila mohawa, karon dili na sila mag hike kay naa na mi kaugalingon nga sakyanan maskin hulugan okay ra.” She said.

Sa SLP og DSWD, pasalamat ko og dako nga ang ilahang pagtabang sa amoa na palambo namo. Naan a mi dugang income para sa among panimalay para maabot dyud namo among kinahanglan.” She added.

In behalf of her family, Vilma expressed how truly grateful and blessed she was with the brand new hope and experiences the DSWD have given them. She prayed hard to God to help them uplift their condition and she never ceased to be thankful for the new tomorrow.

###Bernely Sheilaine Nemil

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VEGGIES, NOT SHARKS

Poverty is one, if not the biggest, challenge in the country that many Filipinos suffer from. In fact, on its second round of assessment, the Listahanan, a database management system of the DSWD that identifies who and where the poor are, identified over 5.2 million households as poor. This pressing problem stems many other problems such as problems in education, health and nutrition that make Filipinos even poorer.

One of the country’s efforts in addressing these issues is by creating a mindset of positive outlook and assisting the poor households by providing them cash grants through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. The beneficiaries were introduced to several components of the program that may help them uplift their lives from survival state to self-sufficiency.

The Bio-Intensive Gardening (BIG) was launched to further assist the beneficiaries in their needs particularly on nutrition and extra income. Several initiatives by the members were also noted along with the launching of this endeavor.

The Kayaban Group from Barangay Palomoc, Titay, Zamboanga Sibugay was  established for one simple goal –that is to plow a communal garden that could provide sufficient and nutritious food for its members, generate  additional income & savings, and develop positive outlook among the 308 family beneficiaries in the area.

As recounted by the members themselves, sweat and tears were invested to establish the group and encourage a behavioral and lifestyle change. Parent Leader Lucila Banuag together with 15 other members never let go of their grip on hope and persevered to influence one another to  be able for them to succeed and achieve their goal.

Parent Leader Banuag regularly checked the attendance of the members while they sought the help of their Municipal Link (ML), Ramoga to encourage more members to join their group. The ML assisted them in the establishment of the garden particularly on the coordination with the LGU for possible support such as vegetable seeds.

As days and months went by all of the members noticeably appreciated and now actively participate in their communal garden with the commitment to spend time despite their individual responsibilities to their families and other livelihood activities.

In December 2017, the group was able to see the fruit of their labor. The group has generated their first income and agreed that a portion of it will be used in their group Christmas Party and some will be kept as an additional capital for their project.

Back in the days, when a household beneficiary experiences financial difficulty, the immediate answer to such problem is a loan shark or a lending company that offers money with high interest in return.

Their BIG project has opened doors for them and let them explore many other alternatives in addressing financial issues –alternatives that are even healthy.

In January 2018, the group received vegetable seeds from the Municipal Agriculture which helped them save some amount for other cultivation materials. At present, the group members already opened their own group bank account and deposited a pretty decent amount from their communal income and continue in their income-generating activity.

Everyone shows dedication and commitment in maintaining their communal garden as the source of their additional income. The ML has observed that the members developed a sense of responsibility and accountability as they take on their individual roles in the group.

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Meaningful Smiles

Maglisod mi og come up sa among daily nga panginahanglanon. Dili jud mi makahatag sa among mga anak og 3 times ka meal sa usa ka adlaw.

This is how Vilma A. Tandus, 33 years old recounted her early struggles in life before she became a beneficiary of DSWD programs. She lived with her husband and two children together with her parents for 5 years in Sanito, Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay.

Mangaon ra mi og alternatibo nga pagkaon mga root crops, kamanting, saging. Dili permanente ang kan.on. Sauna akong bana walay klaro nga trabaho, usahay magpa labor sa copra, kung naa maka apply sa construction didto pod sya magtrabaho. Ako that time wala koy income sa akoang kaugalingon.” She added.

Through her eyes and smiles, she clearly manifest a resilient woman inside who have battled the tests of time. Every day, she needs to gather these strength to overcome her fears and to start stronger for her family.

She narrated how her children had to walk to and from school every day at times even with an empty stomach. Vilma could not take the situation seeing her family suffer this much. After she tried her luck in Manila being a house helper, she made her quit the job after a year of work due to the difficulty of distance and communication. She became saleslady by then and peddled banana cue in the community when she decided to come back. She almost narrated all possible means to earn to augment and suffice the daily needs of their family along with his husbdand who is also trying his best to sustain everything. Giving up for both of them became not an option, they were even optimistic to survive these challenges.

In 2012, Vilma became a Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program beneficiary, She admitted that in the past she never pays attention to the activities conduted in their barangay. But, her neighbour consistently tried to persuade her to come, and that eventually changed her perception along with the guidance and help by her Municipal Link. She became active and was even nominated as parent leader. A change that she always been thankful for. The trust and confidence given by her co-beneficiaries challenged her to be empowered not only for the beneficiaries but also for her family. Though a bit challenged but no can ever replace the fact that change is truly happening even within.

Dili diay dapat ang pobre magpakahilom hilom, kay ang usa ka tawo wala’y ma-gain nga mga knowledge og skills nga gihatag sa barangay og di ka manggilabot. Kinahanglan ikaw mismo sa imong kaogalingon maningkamot ka.” She expressed.

Vilma and her husband slowly managed to acquire their own house, this was because their family was growing, and a better environment for their children was needed. Vilma religiously sets aside the money she receives from the pantawid program for her children’s education, since this is everything that she want for them.

In 2016, she eventually became a member of the Sanito Motherhood Pantawid SKA under the Sustainable Livelihood Program’s Micro-Enterprise Track, where it provides seed capital assistance to beneficiaries to start and engage themselves to economic activities through the CDED process.  The association she is part of produces wide array of food products and catering services depending on the market’s demand. As a member she helps in packing their products on banana chips, peanut butter, and sweet coated peanuts. They also earn through their catering by providing quality food service in the community. The LGU also assisted them by providing referrals to their products and services. Through the said association, an assisted project with SLP, She was able to earn not only extra income and but also worthwhile experience she can always takes pride.

As of the moment, Vilma and her family are now living in their own simple abode, a dream that has truly

came true. They have 6 children who are now confident to socialize with their classmates and friends because of the new hope and opportunities provided by the DSWD.

“Sauna manilingan mi mag tan-aw salida sa TV. Karon sa balay dili na sila mohawa, karon dili na sila mag hike kay naa na mi kaugalingon nga sakyanan maskin hulugan okay ra.” She said.

Sa SLP og DSWD, pasalamat ko og dako nga ang ilahang pagtabang sa amoa na palambo namo. Naan a mi dugang income para sa among panimalay para maabot dyud namo among kinahanglan.” She added.

In behalf of her family, Vilma expressed how truly grateful and blessed she was with the brand new hope and experiences the DSWD have given them. She prayed hard to God to help them uplift their condition and she never ceased to be thankful for the new tomorrow.

###BernelySheilaineNemil

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A Bucketlist of Dreams

The Bucketlist That She Never Wanted

The millennial generation is constantly on the lookout for things to do to unmark whatever is on their bucket list. The most common goals that we hear from the millennial today are about travelling, going on vacations, attending a concert, and owning a car. But these things are far from what really fulfills the heart especially of someone who had nothing from the start.

Jeselle Buen, like many of us, had a bucket list of her own. But hers is a little different. Instead of listing down material things that she would like to own or happenings that she would like to experience, hers is about having a complete and intact family –a family that she never had with her parents back then.

As a little kid in an urban community in Ayala, Zamboanga City, Jeselle experienced being bullied for being in a situation that is not commonly understood by the society. They belong to what we call a “second” family. Growing up, she barely has seen her father as he was always with his first immediate family.

Things did not get better when her mother united with another man who they later knew had a severe vice. In Jeselle’s memory, this was when they were in the most unlikeable situation.

Jeselle remembers having to ask her classmates for food because she did not have any baon in school. At this point, she never has seen nor talked to her father anymore. She did not know where he was nor how to contact him for support. What she only knew was that they needed to strive very hard to survive a day and not die in hunger. There were even days when they only eat 1 meal.

Needless to say, this is not part of the bucket list that anyone would want to experience. She just bore in mind that as the eldest in the siblings of 7, she had to stand firm and be strong for her brothers and sisters and her single mom as well.

She helps her mother prepare kakanin at dawn that she would later sell in school. When asked about how this very tedious job affected her studies, Jeselle said that she would fall asleep in her first or second subject because she had to wake up early to prepare their commodities. She added that her teachers understood her because they knew about her situation. But she knew that it negatively affected her status and she understood that she did not perform well in school.

“How could I? How can I be an honor student if I regularly fall asleep during class? I couldn’t help it because my body was so tired every day from doing school works, doing household chores, watching over my 6 siblings, helping my mom prepare kakanin and selling them. All of those things did not allow me to perform better in school,” Jeselle said.

To sum it all, Jeselle did not have an intact family, did not have decent food on the table, and did not perform well in her academics. Basically she couldn’t put a check mark to any of the bucket list of needs. But she had one thing, she had a dream. She wanted to finish her studies and be a teacher someday.

 

Education: A Pipe Dream (or I thought so)

Jeselle was totally driven by her dream. But it seemed a little hard to reach when you have less access to it. She understood that her mother couldn’t even provide for their adequate meal. What more a college education?

After finishing high school, she accepted that she can never go to college. She stopped schooling for a year. Jeselle used her time and energy to look for work and earn to help her striving mom. Fortunately, she was hired in a canning factory where the only qualification is to have at least a high school diploma.

Looking around her community, Jeselle felt somewhat fidgety.

“Parang di ako mapakali. Nakita ko yung mga kapitbahay ko nagkaroon na ng anak at an early age, walang trabaho, nasa bahay lang. So sabi ko sa sarili ko ayokong manatili sa ganon. Gusto kong makapagtapos. Gusto kong makahanap ng mas magandang trabaho,” Jeselle uttered.

In 2013, her family’s religious compliance to the conditionalities of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program paved the way for Jeselle to secure a slot in the program’s Expanded Students’ Grant in Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation (ESGPPA).

As an ESGPPA grantee, Jeselle was entitled to receive a maximum of P60,000  grant per school year for her tuition and other school/college fees. She also received 2,500 monthly stipend to support her other educational expenses such as book fees and an additional 3,500 as monthly allowance.

She mentioned how Pantawid Pamilya has helped her family understand the value of education and its role in uplifting the lives of poor families from poverty.

Jeselle admitted that she was not really focused on education when she was in elementary and high school because to her, there were a lot more important things to think about at that time like food for their empty stomach. But this time, she says, it is different.

“Nung elementary at high school wala akong naibigay sa mama ko na something na ikakaproud niya. Kaya nung napasok ako sa ESGPPA, ginusto ko na sa pagkakataong ito, may maiabot ako sa kanya. Nandyan na eh. May pera na para sa tuition, sa project. Effort ko na lang ang kailangan,” Jeselle added.

One of her bucket list items is now checked.

 

Your Determination Is Bigger Than Poverty

Jeselle Buen was a remarkable student as reflected in her report cards in college. She became a consistent Dean’s Lister from first year until fourth year. It was probably a bit surprising for Jeselle’s mom to see how determined her daughter was. The former did not even believe and have never attended any of Jeselle’s recognition day activities because she thought Jeselle was just joking around when she said that she was a Dean’s Lister.

But before her graduation day, Jeselle made sure that her mom will witness the fruits of all of her hard work and that she will make her mom proud. Without saying anything about her being a Cum Laude, she asked her mom to go to school saying that her teacher wants to see her.

“She thought that I got in trouble in school that’s why she was called. Little did she know, she will be attending my recognition day where I will deliver a speech. And she cried a river the entire time that I was delivering my speech,” Jeselle proudly recounted.

A month after her graduation, she was immediately hired in one of the private companies in Zamboanga City and 7 months later, she was recruited to work as a visiting lecturer at Western Mindanao State University (WMSU-External Studies Unit).

Perhaps the universe wanted to repay her for all of the hard work that she has done for her family. So in addition to her stint at WMSU which schedule is from 5pm to 8pm, she was also hired in the local government unit of the Municipality of Mabuhay, Zamboanga Sibugay as an Agricultural Technician where she works from 8am to 5pm.

 

 

One year later after her graduation as an ESGPPA  grantee, Jeselle was already able to chec

k majority of her bucket list items to include a house renovation and extension, additional appliances for the convenience of her siblings while studying at home, a piggery business, and they also recently started building a boarding ho

use for rental services. She is also supporting the education of her 6 siblings in Zamboanga.

“Poverty is really not a hindrance to success. It may sound cliché to many, but it speaks truth. As long as you are determined, you can achieve your dreams and aspirations. You just have to remember that your determination is bigger than poverty.”

 

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Sustainable Livelihood Program’s Paskujuan on its 3rd Celebration

 

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Field Office through Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) held its 3rd celebration of Paskujuan last December 10, 2017 at Paseo del Mar, Open Ground, Zamboanga City.

Paskujuan o “Pasko ni Juan” is an annual event of the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) wherein the highlight of the activity is the program participant’s product display to the general public. Twenty two (22) SLP and Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) Associations participated in this activity.

“Alalahanin po natin na ang tunay na diwa ng pasko ay ang pagbibigay. Ang pinaka-best na atin pong maibigay na regalo ay ang ating pagtangkilik po sa ating produkto ng ating mga tunay na Juan.” Ramina S. Dimalapang, SLP Regional Program Coordinator expressively said.

Aside from the product display, simultaneously, a Job Fair was conducted in partnership with Public Employment Service Office (PSEO) held at Centro Latino which was open for beneficiaries and walk -in applicants. There were ten (10) local and international epmployers during the event.

“Paskujuan is a special event to highlight the significant change of our Sustainable Livelihood Program. It is a celebration of thanksgiving and empowerment after having been engaged in the economic activity not only their skills and development but also their quality of life.” said Atty. Araceli F. Solamillo CESO II, Regional Director.

It was a whole-day full of entertainment, and camaraderie among the participants. Every Juan went home happily. Apart from the Noche Buena gift packs they won from the raffle draw, all of the participants received food packs.

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“Overcoming Fears, Reaching Success”

Everyone has their own fear, fear of failure, being left behind, or poverty. For Renelyn H. Toong, 34, she’s afraid of the word “debt”.

 

Renelyn lives with her family in barangay Bacong, in the so-called Magnificent View Capital of Zamboanga del Norte, the municipality of Salug. She and her husband were able to support their living through selling charcoal from the coconut trees in their little property. Their children live with their relatives while they are out working. However, the daily income they earn is just enough for their needs for the day. This situation forced the couple to work even harder, to the point where there are no idle moments every minute of every day.

 

But there was something not everybody knew, even the couple themselves where not very aware of the skills they already knew. This skill, if only they knew howto make the best out of it, could help them uplift their lives. All they needed too was capital, which at the time, they also did not have.

 

The Toong family are pantawid beneficiaries, when the blessing through the face of SEA-K opportunity came, their reaction was unusual. They had second thoughts because in the amount of ten thousand pesos they are afraid that they cannot pay back. Day passed as they were analysing on what to do, the pastor in their place advised them to grab the opportunity.

 

“Kuha na mo ana (SEA-K), kay naa gud moy mga gamit unya kulang nalang mo’g ipuhunan.” The pastor said.

 

Renelyn then decided to go and register for the help. Luckily it was also the day that photos will be taken of beneficiaries who are interested to avail SEA-K. She later became part of a group that consists of 15 members.

 

When Renelyn received the grant worth ten thousand pesos (10,000) she bought the needed materials for their dream bakery. She was also able to buy a motorcycle at an instalment basis, which they used to be able to make things easier when they bought materials for their business, as well as for deliveries.

 

Renelyn passionately did her work as part of the business. At first, they they were only able to buy ingredients by kilos, but eventually, as their income became consistent, and started to grow, they were able to get these by sacks.

 

Nag antos dyud mi hangtod nga medyo makapalit na mi’g sinako. Sauna kinilo ra’g asukal, unya karon by sack na.” Said Renelyn.

 

Slowly they were able to add materials in their business, especially when they were blessed with another capital. Renelyn became a PAMANA grantee. She received worth twenty thousand pesos (20,000) which she was very grateful of.

 

 

Today, Renelyn doesn’t need to worry much about the expenses at home.

In their everyday delivery through his husband’s effort, they earn 3,000-4,000pesos, while they earn 800-1,500 for the products they have on display in the bakery per day.

 

When Renelyn remembers their life in the past, she still cannot believe that she was able to manage the money properly. She was also amazed of herself because before she was afraid to take money from debt.

 

“Sa permero mura dyud ko naguol kay sukad sukad wala man ko nakahulam og ing-ani, makahulam ko 100 pesos lang, pero maguol na gale ko kay di kabayad. Pero sa dihang nakadawat ko og tabang sa SEA-K, ako ning gigamit, ginegosyo og gihandle uban sa akong bana: okay man kay nigawas ang maayong resulta. Kung unsay among kita, okay dyud.” Said Renelyn comicly.

 

“Sa panahon nga nakaapil mi sa SEA-K nakatabng dyud siya, dako kaayog katabang sa panginabuhi.”

“Kaning maong programa dako dyud kaayo ni siya’g ikatabang sa amoa, sa mga pobre, basta ayuhan ra pod ang pagdumala sa tabang nga ihatag sa atoa, mo okay dyud ang negosyo. Mas nindot dyud kung mokuha ta ani unya atong idapat sa maong negosyo, kay kung imong i-negosyo motubo man gyud na siya.”

 

“Sa DSWD og SLP, pasalamaton kaayo ko sa tanan sa nagadumala, nagdala ani, dako kaayo siyag ikatabang sa akong pamilya. Salamat kaayo nga niabot ning program nga nakatabang dyud sa akong pamilya.” – Renelyn

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“My Almost Dream”

“Bata palang ko, gusto na nako magtrabaho sa hotel. Poreso gusto nako magtake og HRM.” Said Genefer.

The eldest sibling in the family, Genefer G. Parsaban, 19 grew up in Tugbungan, Zamboanga City. Genefer’s mother, Nelsin G. Parsaban, 45 is a bonafide resident of Brgy Limonan, San Miguel, Zamboanga del Sur who transferred to Zamboanga City when she got married to her husband, Jerry G. Parsaban, 45.

Money to pay for the expenses for their family’s daily needs is hard to produce, since Genefer’s father only earns at least 300 pesos a day as a pedicab driver, while her mother earns only 100 pesos per day as an assistant in a carenderia in their barangay. Gratefully, her parents are able to pay for their food, electricity and water. However, there were also days when they could not afford for their necessities. Genefer grew up used to their situation, but she promised to herself that one day she will be able to help her family.

“Ang lisod kaayo kanang pamasahe, usahay moabsent nalang ko kay walay kwarta. Usahay manghulam lang sa silingan.” Genefer sadly expressed.

This is their everyday scene since she was in elementary, up until she reached high school. She sometimes walks to school just to be able to attend her classes. Having no money was not a hindrance for her; she still manages to maintain good grades. Genefer is very determined to learn and earn her diploma. However, when she graduated in high school, she was not able to proceed to college. She stopped because of the insufficiency of money. She thought that if she will take the course that she is rooting for, which is Hotel and Restaurant Management. Her parents expressed anxiety that they might not be able to afford for her uniform and other requirements. Genefer do not want to be a burden to her parents, therefore, she willingly helped them and worked in her mother’s working place to be able to augment their money for their expenses.

After 2 years of working, her mother asked her to go for a vacation with her cousin in Brgy. Limonan. While she was away for a needed rest, her neighbour from Zamboanga called her.

“Gitawagan ko sa akong silingan nga naay libre nga training sa usa ka technical vocational school tungod sa DSWD. Wala ko nag duha duha, niuli dayon ko diri sa Zamboanga.”

Genefer didn’t let this opportunity pass. She submitted the necessary requirements as soon as she could. She did not wait for too long for the training, after her validation as a pantawid beneficiary, orientation was given right away the next day. There were 40 participants who underwent the training for Housekeeping National Certificate II in Global Technical School of Zamboanga.

“Daghan ko natun.an, kanang mag arrange sa bed, mag limpyo og CR. Dayon mag vacuum og washing. Ganahan jud ko.” Said Genefer happily.

After 25 days of capacitating Genefer with the skills, she was assisted by the Technical Vocational Institute (TVI) partner in applying at KCC-Zamboanga right after their graduation. Genefer is fortunate to have been given the opportunity to be trained for it is a guaranteed employment. It was incorporated in the Memorandum of Agreement between the DSWD and TVI partner institution as an understanding that they will ensure right after the training; the graduates of SLP skills training will land a job.

Genefer submitted the requirements needed and was instantly contacted for an interview. Thankfully, she was immediately absorbed by the company. It was a 6-month contract with the employer, and if they had a good performance, they may be subject for extension.

Genefer is now earning 296 pesos per day. You can now see her in the school supplies department as a saleslady in KCC, serving the clients with a happy heart. On her first salary, she proudly shared that she bought school shoes for her brother and sisters. Seeing them smile gives her the motivation to do more.

“Masaya ako kase matutulungan ko yung pamilya ko lalo na kung may kailangan sila.”

She is now able to help with the expenses of the family. Genefer is aiming to earn so she can continue her studies and attain her dream in life.

“Nagpapasalamat po ako ng lubos sa SLP at DSWD dahil hindi lahat makakaranas ng ganitong pagkakataon, swerte po talaga. Nagpapasalamat din ako sa pasensya ng trainor naming si Sir James. Salamat rin sa panginoon kase kung wala siya, wala tayo.” – Genefer

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Struggle for Success

Hamida Ordonez, 43 started her life in Kabasalan, Zamboanga Sibugay Province. When she was younger, her family moved to Isabela City since her father worked as a logging driver.

Hamida married Sanny, 46 and recounted the days when their life was too difficult to bear. Their humble dwelling is made of make shift hut, in the upper regions of Isabela, Kapayawan. Their life was hard and challenging where it came to the point that the only meal served in their table was boiled banana with garlic and onions. Amid the struggles of having a family at a very young age, Hamida still managed to attend school. She walked for several kilometers from Kapayawan, the farthest and most critical area, to the city proper where she tried to finish high school.

Unfortunately, she had to leave her family in search of better opportunities. In the early 2000s, she decided to work overseas and leave her children with her husband. Things became better, whatever she earned overseas, she sent back to her husband, and they used it for their children. Sanny managed their finances very well and set aside some amount to be used for business. In 2004, Hamida came back to Isabela and continued her studies. Whatever was left of the money they set aside, they used for their needs, and also invested in a small “sari-sari” store business. After years juggling between being a mother, a wife, a student, and a vendor, in 2009, she finally graduated with a degree in Bachelor of Elementary Education at Claret College of Isabela.

In 2013, she started a business selling fishballs and tempura near a local school. This was also the year when PAMANA was introduced to them. One day, a Project Development Officer (PDO) and their Barangay Chairman went to her and asked her to select 30 beneficiaries. Fifteen for the Pantawid Program, and another Fifteen women.

Hamida was hesitant and told their chairman about it. She was afraid because it involved money and she never wanted to have to do anything with money. She was afraid of having the responsibility of having to handle a huge amount of money. But still the chairman chose her to be the leader of the group. She still insisted not to take responsibility, but the chairman told her, if she would not be the leader, then they would not push through with this project. This was when she decided to take the risk because she also wanted to help the other people in the group, to uplift the status of their lives.

Hamida and the group then started their own meetings and decided on which business they wanted to push through, they had to consider many things and one of the most difficult aspects was their distance from the city proper where they had to get their stocks from. To add to the difficulty, more than the distance, they also had trouble since there were no decent roads from their area to the city. The group had regular meetings and some of the members were starting to become reluctant, they were arguing that the project was not legitimate and was only done because elections were fast approaching. The members thought that this was propaganda and that this was a form of campaign. Hamida explained to them that they needed to wait, that they needed to undergo the process and that members needed to go through seminars. But the members grew even more reluctant as days passed.

February of 2014, long after the elections, the cheque was finally released to the group, but even then, the members were still unconvinced and things got a little out of hand. The members accused Hamida of stealing their money since she could not show the money to them yet. She was accused of having spent the money for “shopping” and even their new barangay chairman believed on this. Again, she had to call a meeting to explain to the members that the money was not to be distributed to them just yet. She explained to them that they needed to open a bank account named after the association. They then tried to open their own account and deposit their capital fund. They needed a lot of requirements and payments to be able to do this, but since the group did not have actual money yet, Hamida used her own money to pay for the fees and all the expenses to be able to process their application. The group also needed to ask for certification from DOLE to be able to start their business; this was given to them after several weeks from application.

After all the necessary processes were fulfilled and approved, they started the construction of their business. They began construction of their business beside the Ordonez’s residence; they had the help from an engineer from the City Hall. During the construction of the building, the members had “bayanihan”, they helped each other build their business which lessened their expenses to 75,000pesos. The construction did not take a month to finish, and they started to follow up on other needs for the business. They had bidding for the suppliers of the business and they followed the required processes. They also decided and assigned procurement officer, a bookkeeper; business manager, inventory officer and all of the officers fit their job description.

June 21, 2014, when all requirements and all papers were accomplished, they finally opened their business. They spent 209,000pesos for both the building and supplies. The store opens at 7AM and closes at 6PM. They took turns in managing the store and they were given 50pesos each, they needed 2 staff during operations apart from the secretary who needed to be there every day. On the first month of business, they earned 80,000pesos. They had regular meeting on the 3rd Tuesday of the month, and agreed that their income will be equally divided after 6months.
They also practice the act of giving, when a family member belonging to the barangay dies, they offer snacks and other commodities to the family as well as for the people who come to visit and vigil.

Hamida’s association is doing good and have been a reliable source of help for the members of the association, as well as their community. It has given the members extra income which they badly need, at the same time the community is having the benefit of convenience especially for their needs, from textiles to school supplies and other basic needs. The association has an average of 50,000pesos per month and still expanding. They are now venturing into the cassava business. They already purchased the basics for cassava production and also a carabao.

Up to this day, Hamida invites other people to join them in their association in her quest to help others uplift their life the same way the association has done for her.

“malaki po talaga ang pasasalamat namin sa DSWD in behalf of Kapayawan kase lahat po kame natulungan. Laking pasasalamat na may programa silang ganyan, pantawid at PAMANA.”

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