The outbreak of COVID-19 and the nationwide declaration of community quarantine challenged the country’s economic condition by paralyzing most establishments and services especially the tourism industry which suffered the hardest blow resulting in the displacement of many workers in the leisure and travel sectors.

The Province of Palawan in the Philippines struggled in mobilizing relief and recovery efforts in order to address the cry of its people who lost their regular jobs and income. Implementation of community quarantine protocols by the government restrained the usual activities of the community resulting in financial burdens of low-income earners. Among the many communities affected was Barangay Cataban in the municipality of Taytay situated in the northern part of the province. The majority of the residents of the said barangay depend on their daily sustenance from Kuyawyaw Falls—a famous waterfalls attraction both for local and foreign tourists. Tour guides, lifeguards, receptionists, were the common jobs being enjoyed by the people in Barangay Cataban before the pandemic.

Rowena Santos-Barquilla, an active member of the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program (4Ps), was one of many tour guides who got displaced from their occupation when the Kuyawyaw Falls temporarily stopped its operations in accordance with the quarantine protocols. Before the pandemic, Rowena together with her husband Edgar, was having enough income to provide for the daily needs of their family. Combined family income amounting to Php800 daily solely depends on their services in the waterfalls.

Dealing with difficulties.

Rowena’s family hurdled the challenges in surviving the economic dilemmas in barangay Cataban. With no alternative source of income, Rowena got troubled about how to endure the difficulties they are facing. Her family got dependent on the assistance being provided by the government specifically the 4Ps grant. For almost 6 months, her family kept on finding ways to ensure that their needs will be provided. Prayers coupled with hope, became her weapon as she constantly wishes that everything will go back to normal.

With the rollout of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD)  recovery efforts, Rowena was assessed to be one of the eligible individuals in the priority sector to be served with Livelihood Assistance Grant (LAG) under the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) in their municipality. The roll-out of this program in Taytay, Palawan, focused on giving intervention to displaced tourism industry workers which gave Rowena a spark of hope in doing alternative livelihood to support the daily needs of her family. 

Starting life’s new path.

Rowena was able to receive a total of PhP10,000.00 livelihood assistance grant which was used as the starting capital for food vending. With high hopes to maximize profit, Rowena decided to start a home-based bakery by purchasing a second-hand oven and some ingredients. Rowena started baking pandesal and Spanish bread assisted by her four children while her husband did the delivery in the nearby barangays. Now, with a daily profit of at least Php 600.00, Rowena’s family will no longer struggle to cover the expenses of their household being one of the 355 SLP beneficiaries served in Taytay, Palawan with Php 3,560,000.00 of LAG. 

Despite losing her job and former income from Kuyawyaw Falls, she was able to regain confidence with her skills and determination. Rowena’s family is grateful for giving them an opportunity to shift from being a tour-guide into having a family-managed enterprise which she wishes to continue even when the pandemic is over.

 

Kuyawyaw Falls Signage in Taytay, Palawan

 

Rowena Santos- Barquilla with her freshly made Pandesals.

 

 

-Francis Victor Ruizo – Project Development Officer II

 

 

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