Pantawid Pamilya conducts whole day activity for Contemporary Women of MiMaRoPa

MALATE, Manila – The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development Region MiMaRoPa held a whole day event for the winners of the Regional Search for Contemporary Woman from Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan on May 25, 2017.

Educational discussion with Ms Joms Salvador of GABRIELA

The activity, which aims to recognize women’s efforts, initiatives, and achievements in promoting women empowerment, started with an agency visit at the GABRIELA National Alliance of Filipino Women. Ms. Joms Salvador, Secretary General of GABRIELA provided an educational discussion to the five contemporary women from the provinces who are Marites Bolasco of Occidental Mindoro; Jeneper Fajilan of Oriental Mindoro; Analiza Lupangco of Marinduque; Marife Fabito of Romblon; and Maylende Esler of Palawan.

After the agency visit, winners were invited to be interviewed in DZRB Radyo ng Bayan 738 Khz through the Philippine Commission on Women. They were able to share their stories of empowerment and give testimonies on their experiences with Pantawid Pamilya.

Radio guesting at DZRB Radyo ng Bayan

The activity ended with a symposium entitled, Women Leading Change: A Symposium on Women Empowerment held at the Noel B. Benitez Hall, Philippine Women University (PWU), Taft Avenue, Manila. The symposium, which aims to increase awareness and level of participation on women empowerment and gender equality, was attended by BS Social Work students and faculties from PWU.  The five contemporary women discussed their stories to the participants on how they promote women empowerment on aid, religion, education, and politics. Ms. Mary Nhiang Sung, a social worker from Myanmar served as the guest speaker for the program, who shared her research study on “Women Empowerment in the UN Context and Social Work Perspective”.

 

Five winners of the Regional Search for Contemporary Woman with DSWD staff and professors from PWU after the awarding at the Noel B. Benitez Hall, PWU, Taft Avenue, Manila

The awarding of the winners for the Regional Search of Contemporary Woman commenced at the end of the symposium.  Jeneper Fajilan from Oriental Mindoro was crowned the Grand Winner, while Marife Fabito from Romblon got the Second Place. The Third Place award was conferred to Marites Bolasco of Occidental Mindoro, followed by Maylende Esler of Palawan and Analiza Lupangco of Marinduque at Fourth and Fifth Place, respectively.

All five winners will serve as active partners of Pantawid Pamilya in promoting gender equality in their respective provinces. ###

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Finding The Way Forward

For the economically challenged households, getting through life with their small income is difficult. And as they struggle to ensure that their family can be able to eat at least three meals per day, some of them look at education as more of a privilege than a need. Of the 2.8 million adults in a poor household, on average, 1.6 million (58 percent) completed primary schooling at most, one million (35 percent) either reached or completed secondary schooling, while the remaining 0.2 million (7 percent) reached college.

But Henny’s family begs to differ. Although her family belongs to what the government refer to as the marginalized sector, they are on their way to pursue their dreams believing that education is a key to their success.
Genuine smile of success

Henny smiles widely in front of their house

Living in a small abode in Brgy. Bangon, Odiongan, Romblon is the family of Henny Fodulla Fabellon. Henny, a mother of three, is one of the mothers who work tirelessly to get their children to finish college. Henny and his husband, Willy, do not have a stable source of income but they are able to send their children to school to provide them good education.

Henny and Willy are tenant farmers with only enough income to provide for their family’s every day needs. To add up to their income, Henny takes whatever job she is given, like sewing nipa shingles for 120 pesos for 40 pieces and doing laundry services. They manage to get their everyday food in their farm and backyard garden.

Sending their children to school is hard, but getting all of them to enter college is harder. But for Henny, anything is possible with a considerable amount of hard work and determination. She managed to get her eldest child, John Rey to finish BS Agricultural Engineering in 2015. John Rey passed the board exam last year in August and he is now working at the Department of Agriculture in Manila.  Her second child, Pauline Kris is now on her 4th year as a Civil Engineering student at Romblon State University (RSU). Meanwhile, her youngest child, Clarize Mae is a 3rd year Information Technology student, also at RSU.

 

Getting there

Henny never thought that she can be able to send her children to college given their economic status. She almost gave up when John Rey and Pauline Kris entered college both at the same time. Henny and his husband are giving the best they can to send all of them to school but sending two of them in college was difficult. Henny asked Pauline Kris if she could stop schooling to give way for her older brother. But Pauline Kris refused. She wanted to continue her studies because that is her dream.

It breaks her heart seeing her children cry hence, Henny looked for ways to let all of her children continue going to school. She gets a loan in their cooperative and asked her friends for help. She even sold sack of rice they harvested in their farm which is supposedly for their own consumption. “Sabi ko nun, bahala na kung anong makain namin. Ang mahalaga makapasok sila, (I told myself that it does not matter what we will eat, as long as my children can go to school, that’s all that matter),” Henny recounted. Henny was able to enroll her children to school that year, but she continuously worries about the future of her children’s education. Timely enough, a year after it happened, Pauline Grace was listed as one of the student-grantees of the Expanded Students’ Grants-In-Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation (ESGPPA), which has helped Henny and his family greatly.

ESGPPA is a program of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) in coordination with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) which provides scholarships to beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilya. Beneficiaries will receive a maximum of Php 60,000 for tuition fee, textbooks/learning materials and allowance for transportation, board and lodging and other school supplies.

According to Henny, Pauline Kris spends the grant she is receiving to help her mother with their daily expenses. Pauline Kris shares her money to her siblings especially whenever Henny and Willy cannot provide them their allowances and school expenses.

 

Education as the key to success

Edukasyon ang tanging pamana ng magulang sa kanyang mga anak (Education is the only inheritance that a parent can give to their children).

Parents, especially from the small-earner, working class are often heard saying this phrase to their children. True indeed, education is an eternal treasure a parent can give to their children which cannot be taken away from them. Henny’s family believes that education is the main pathway to extend their life across poverty and lead their life forward. They believed that poverty is not a hindrance; but more of a challenge for them to push harder.

There are times when Henny thinks of giving up her children’s education. But whenever she sees them willing and determined to finish their studies, she stops worrying and continue working in order to achieve her dreams and her children’s dreams. Although she gets tired, she never fails to wear her smile to let her children see that they can get through whatever difficulty life may bring. ###

 

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The Seven Gardens of Barangay Mendoza

A member beneficiary from the Purok Mauranen cluster taking out weeds in their garden

Within the mountainous land bound area of Barangay Mendoza in Palawan lays seven bio-intensive gardens in Sitio Taliwara/Little Baguio, Purok Mauranen, Purok Durian, Purok Malungkot, Purok Old site, Purok Proper 1, and Purok Proper 2. It is with the aim to address malnutrition and food insecurity that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program enjoins program beneficiaries from these communities in adopting bio-intensive-gardening (BIG).

BIG is a gardening technique where indigenous seeds and organic fertilizers are used to grow vegetables. It is an organic agricultural system which focuses on simultaneously increasing biodiversity. This technique is most suitable to remote areas as it focuses on achieving maximum yields using small patch of land. The difference of this technique to the common farming method is that seeds are planted in more saving arrangements so that farmers can utilize the land more efficiently. This will allow them to plant different kinds of vegetables for them to consume.

Barangay Mendoza has been continuously on top of the list of barangays in the municipality with the highest rate of malnutrition. It was found out in last year that out of ten children in the barangay, eight of them are malnourished.  The family development session (FDS) of Pantawid was used as an avenue to discuss the necessary actions to undertake in order to resolve the problems in the area. And with insights from the FDS with the topic on environmental education and information and organic agriculture orientation, the conduct of BIG project was proposed.

Through the help and initiative of their municipal link, Valerie Magallado, each clusters conducted their own group meetings separately in the leadership of their parent leaders. In here, they discussed groupings and distributed tasks among each group to take up with their community garden. They have also discussed and agreed upon schedules to take turns in caring for the garden. After several meetings, the community gardens were established in December 2016.

For the seeds that they use, some usually comes from member’s own backyard garden while some were bought from the market. Vegetables which are usually planted are eggplants, okra, tomatoes, string beans, radish, squash, and sili among others. They also plant flowers and other plants to repel unwanted insects in their crops.

Partner-beneficiaries and their garden in Purok Proper 2 (upper left), Purok Proper 1 (upper right), Purok Old site (left center), Purok Malungkot (right center), Purok Durian (lower left), and Sitio Taliwara/Little Baguio (lower right).

Few months after the establishment, there have been bountiful harvests from the garden. It was decided that the yield will be sold to members with a price relatively cheaper than those in the markets. The money which they accrued from their yield is saved for the future uses of the group since it was a collective effort. Some of the clusters wanted their money to be used as capital to buy female swine. The piglets of the swine will be distributed to each of its members rotationally for their personal consumption.  For their first harvest, each cluster has gained 500 to 3,000 pesos.

Seeing the benefits from the garden in the long term, most of the members of the seven clusters want to sustain the project as it provides them cheaper and nutritious food for their families to consume. “Dati yung mga bata wala talagang makain dito sa amin lalo na’t mahal ang mga pagkain, pero ngayon kumukuha na lang kami sa garden namin para may mapakain sa mga anak namin (Children in our community before do not have anything to eat since food is expensive, but now with the vegetables from our garden, we can already provide them food to eat),” said Emmi Delaguna, parent leader of Purok Proper 2. More than the money they get, the members said that they can also practice bayanihan which strengthens their sense of camaraderie.

But while most of the members showed eagerness to perform their assigned duties and responsibilities to maintain their garden, members of some clusters showed disinterest due to problems with the location, which is in the case of Purok Malungkot and Purok Proper 1. The garden of Purok Malungkot was situated near their barangay hall which is far from the houses of other members. Therefore, some members find it inconvenient to go to their community garden as they also have their own backyard gardens at home. Meanwhile, in Purok Proper 1, members are having a hard time watering the garden since they only rely on the river near it, which most of the time dries out. When asked about their future plans, parent leader Melanie Cadenas of Purok Proper 1 and parent leader Adeliza Heredero of Purok Malungkot said that their members think of finding another location for the garden to start again.

In the initial phase of project implementation, the community gardens have successfully served as main or alternative source of nutritious food for the partner beneficiaries. And despite challenges being encountered in the project, it is hoped that hunger and food insecurity among the Pantawid beneficiaries in the area will be eliminated in the long term, in order to reduce the impact of poverty in the poor Filipino families. The project is also set towards improving and increasing vegetable production and consumption in the succeeding months by tapping additional partners such as the Department of Agriculture, to teach the members with the methods of sustainable food production. ###

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