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DSWD provides assistance to Typhoon Nona Victims in MiMaRoPA


Delivery of truck load of food packs to the local government unit of Oriental Mindoro.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) IV-MiMaRoPa through the Local Government Units (LGUs) of Oriental and Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque and Romblon provided assistance to the victims of Typhoon ‘Nona’ which hit MiMARoPA on Monday, December 14, 2015.

As of 9 p.m., December 18, 2015, a total of 503 barangays in 53 municipalities of MiMaRoPa has been lambasted by Typhoon ‘Nona’.

It is lamentable to note that, as a result of typhoon, there are 21,706 houses which are totally damaged while 25,819 houses are partially damaged in the said provinces.

Meanwhile, the entire number of casualties recorded in MiMaRoPa is 233 inviduals: 217 of whom are injured; 15 are deceased; and 1 is still missing.

It is also noteworthy that there’s a significant decrease of 80% in the number of evacuation centers (EC) in MiMaRoPa, from 582 ECs to 114 ECs since the typhoon struck the area. Except for only one 1 EC in Romblon, all of these ECs accounted for are located in Oriental Mindoro.  It is currently operating 113 evacuation centers serving 4, 985 families or 20, 567 individuals.

The foregoing data reveals that greatest devastation is experienced by Oriental Mindoro in terms of the number of damaged houses which incurred a total of 17, 842 partially damaged houses and 20, 314 totally damaged.

As of 3 p.m., December 19, 2015, a total of ₱9,007,588.98 assistance has been provided to Typhoon ‘Nona’ Victims in MiMaRoPa. ₱4,521,708.98 of which was distributed by the frontline service provider, the LGUs, in the form of family food packs while the national government through DSWD has given a resource augmentation of ₱4,435,800.00. Also, non-government organizations (NGOs) donated ₱50,080.00 worth of food packs.


DSWD IV-MiMaRoPa Quick Response Team monitoring the impacts of Typhoon Nona in MiMaRoPA

The Quick Response Team of DSWD MiMaRoPa is continuously monitoring and validating data received in the field for further resource augmentation on a 24 hour basis.

Mindful that it was the start of the traditional ‘Simbang Gabi’ when the typhoon struck the area, the community members prayed fervently in the evacuation centers for the safety of their loved ones and eventual good weather condition especially during this Christmas season. ###


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Development Partners Hold a Joint Implementation Support Mission in Region IV-Mimaropa

Manila, Philippines – KALAHI-CIDSS IV-MiMaRoPa successfully staged the fourth Joint Implementation Support Mission in Busuanga and Coron, Palawan last October 6 – 9, 2015. This is part of the regular activity conducted by the development partners jointly with the key officials of KALAHI-CIDSS and national government agencies (NGAs) in order to determine if covenants and performance targets are being met. This collaborative effort is a milestone in the pursuit of mainstreaming community-driven development in the region.

The mission team was comprised of Leonardo Paat of World Bank; Joel Mangahas, Yukiko Ito and Jane Austria-Young of Asian Development Bank (ADB); Edwin Concepcion and Evelyn Diezmo of Department of Energy and Natural Resources (DENR); Raul Alamis of Department of Health (DOH); Edelito Sumangil of National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP); Rodrigo Emag, Sr. of National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC); and Benilda Redaja, Jay Aribbay, Rannon Padriano, Joyce Palacol, Bessie Magtangob, Sylvia Nachura and Regina Jezika Escudero from the National Program Management Office (NPMO). Participants were split into two groups to simultaneously interview stakeholders in four barangays of the municipality of Busuanga and Coron.

The mission kicked off with a dialogue with the Municipal Inter-Agency Committee (MIAC) members of municipality of Busuanga, led by Vice-Mayor Elizabeth Cervantes. This was immediately followed with an on-site visit to Brgy. New Busuanga and Brgy. Quezon for an open forum with the barangay officials and community volunteers. On the next day, the team visited Brgy. Cabugao and Brgy. Lajala in Coron. A focus group discussion with the MIAC members, led by Municipal Assessor Reynario Labrador, was also conducted.

National Program Manager Benilda Redaja commended the strong involvement and participation in the communities. She added, “They demonstrated strong ownership over their sub-project and effectively articulated not just how it responds to their need but how it links up to other priorities and funding opportunities.”

KALAHI-CIDSS is a DSWD program that seeks to alleviate poverty using the Community-Driven Development (CDD) approach as its over-all community development approach and strategy. The CDD approach ensures that development priorities are addressed in a participatory, collective, inclusive, and in demand-driven way. This is done through localized decision-making during social preparation activities, and in the identification, development, prioritization, establishment, and operationalization of community projects. ###

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Gateway to a brighter future


Blessing of the building after the ribbon cutting ceremony

Blessing of the building after the ribbon cutting ceremony

Roxas, Oriental Mindoro, known as a temporary stop for travelers headed for the white sand beaches of Boracay Island, have earned the title “Gateway to paradise” for its Port of Roxas which provides a fairly less expensive way  to reach Caticlan.

In the coming years however, Roxas will no longer be recognized just as a transitory passage to beautiful places, but a path towards greater opportunities and possibilities for growth and learning.

The Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) funded by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) granted more than P5 Million to the community of Brgy. Dangay. Together with the local government of Roxas and Brgy. Dangay, they constructed a two-storey technical vocational school building for the Dangay Community College. The project, which started in 2012, was recently inaugurated and turned-over to the local government.


Hon. Jackson Cinco Dy, Mayor of Roxas Oriental Mindoro and DRPM Irene Roque applauding the presentation of the barangay during the inauguration and turn-over event

Brgy. Dangay is one of the 20 barangays in the municipality of Roxas, with almost eight hundred households. According to a situational analysis, interrelated problems in the locality were identified as the leading causes of poverty in the area. One of these is increasing number of out of school youth.

There are approximately 207 out of school youth in Brgy. Dangay alone. Because of the lack of permanent sources of income and the seasonal livelihoods such as farming and fishing, parents are not able to sustain their children’s education. Other students choose to seek employment in other places to be able to lighten their parents’ burden of earning enough money for the family.

Some students who are fortunate enough to attend college have to travel to neighboring towns, which only adds to the family’s expenses. The few private colleges in Roxas, on the other hand, require expensive tuition fees. On both cases, many students are still drop out and are unable to graduate because of financial troubles.

Recognizing their need, the community proposed the construction of an additional two-storey school building where students will be trained on technical vocational courses such as welding, electronics, and bookkeeping. According to Roxas Vice Mayor, Hon. Violeta L. Dimapilis, “Ito ay pundasyon na magagamit ng mga kabataan na nagnanais na mapagtapos sa pagaaral (This will be the foundation for the youth who are aspiring to finish their studies)”.

Because the youth of Roxas and nearby municipalities will finally have access to affordable and quality education, the sub-project will consequently provide economic opportunities to graduates of the courses. “Five years from now, we may encounter professionals and ask them where they graduated and they would tell us, from Dangay Community College, by Kalahi-CIDSS” said Irene Roque, Deputy Regional Program Manager (DPRM) of Kalahi-CIDSS MiMaRoPa.

The “Inauguration and Turn-over Ceremony of Kalahi CIDSS Subproject” was held last September 28 at the Dangay Community College. The volunteers, Area Coordinating Team and the local government all expressed their joy in the realization of the sub-project. Vice Mayor Dimapilis also conveyed her utmost appreciation to the Kalahi-CIDSS program and to everyone who exerted effort for the project and especially for the people who have been involved since the very beginning until its completion.


The Area Coordinating Team together with the Barangay officials and Kalahi-CIDSS staff

DPRM Roque also thanked the team saying, “kayo ang tunay na naglilingkod sa ating bansa (You are the true servants of our country)”. She also added that the Kalahi-CIDSS program in Roxas, Oriental Mindoro, would not be possible without the cooperation of the municipal and barangay LGUs and other partners.

The lack of a public college is one of the most pressing problems of the Brgy. Dangay and all the other barangays in Roxas. The local government will also be providing scholarships for students who aspire to finish their studies and are in need of financial assistance.

The Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan- Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) is a DSWD program that seeks to help alleviate poverty through community-driven development. Community-Driven Development (CDD) puts power back in the hands of the people by giving them the opportunity to make informed decisions on locally identified options for development and manage resources to implement sub-projects that address needs identified by communities themselves. ###

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Urduja of Seaweeds Production in Taytay Palawan


Gaudiosa M. Alto, president of Bagong Pag-asa Association, is known as Urduja of Seaweeds Production

Urduja is a legendary Filipino heroine recognized for her strong leadership and passion for serving the people. Deviating from stereotype about woman being weak and passive, Urduja showed that she is a ruler who can mobilize and defend her people. She is a true legendary warrior.

In the midst of sea paradise in Taytay Palawan, there is also a strong, independent and dedicated woman recognized as Urduja of Seaweeds Farming.

Gaudiosa M. Alto, 63, is the president of Bagong Pag-Asa Association (BPA), an organization guided by Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) IV- MiMaRoPa Sustainable Livelihood Program.

During the field visit, as the cold breeze touched her skin and splash of water lingered in her feet, Gaudiosa started to tell her story. Her stories pierced the heart and soul of the listeners. She looked straight into our eyes and sincerely told every chapter of the book of her life: every journey she had encountered, every failure she had tasted and every triumph she had reached.

As she gazed in the sky painted with mixture of  gray and tangerine triggering a feeling of longing, she reminisced her experiences before the SLP Seaweeds Production.

Life dark as a coal

Life before the SLP seaweeds production was full of hardship and uncertainty.

“Mahirap po ang buhay namin dati bago ‘yang SLP, para pong laging may pangamba,” recalled Gaudiosa.

Coal mining was her primary source of income.  As a coal miner, Gaudiosa’s life was full of darkness and fear.  It was always like a vacuum: sufocated with emptiness and no direction.

Her life was always at risk.

“Dati po kaming nag-uuling. Para kami ay maka-survive (pinasok na namin ang pag-uuling). Ay mahirap mag-uling! Buhay ang nakataya dyan,” said Gaudiosa while trying to control the crystal clear tears from falling in her eyes.

Aside from being illegal, coal mining posed risks in her health and her environment.

However difficult life has been, she didn’t lose hope.  Risks of her previous work pushed her to look for greater opportunities.  With the help of Edilberto Y. Felizarte, Pamantulon Taytay Palawan Barangay Chairman, Gaudiosa discovered the opportunities offered by SLP.

“Huminigi si kapitan ng tulong sa SLP kung pwede raw bigyan kami ng hanapbuhay. Ito nga ang binigay, ang pagse-seaweads,” Gaudiosa stated.

Seaweeds: treasure in the heart of sea paradise of Taytay, Palawan

Sustainable Livelihood Program introduced Seaweeds Production in 2013.  This project has been offered by DSWD-SLP to Gaudiosa since the municipality of Taytay provides a sustainable environment for seaweed production because it is strategically located in a relatively typhoon-free area having wide reef areas, extended marine coastlines and wide coastal shelves.

Aiming to improve their knowledge and skills in seaweeds farming, Gaudiosa, together with other partner-beneficiaries, undergone the six (6) day training of SLP provided by the Department of Agriculture Bureaus of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Regional Fisheries Training Center Palawan and DSWD-SLP.

This six days of training changed their lives forever.

Asked about her life transformation, Gaudiosa answered genuinely. Her voice rattled and became more sincere.  Her eyes widened as if letting you glimpse into her soul.

“Napakasaya ko po. Malaking tulong talaga pag-seaweeds sa amin. Laking pagbabago po talaga,” said Gaudiosa while posing her sweetest and sincerest smile.

She was able to breakaway from dragging and hazardous livelihood. No more sleepless nights worrying what will happen to them during their work. No more despair on things they can’t give and promise to their family. No more emptiness, risk and darkness — only light and future full of hope and prosperity.

Godsend Wealth: Benefits of Seaweeds


Seaweeds farmers preparing the propagules for planting in the sea paradise of Taytay, Palawan.

Treasure in the heart of sea paradise of Taytay Palawan brought illuminating light in the dark life of Gaudiosa.

Every strand of seaweeds is like a rope made of gold, a discovered wealth.  Seaweeds served as the primary source of income, it strengthen the tie of relationship with her family and knitted her closely with the community.

Gaudiosa’s wealth is her family. As bread winner,  she spends all her income for her family, most specially for the education of her grandchildren.

“Dito kami kumukuha ng pagkain at mga gamit na pampaaral sa aming mga anak.”

Seaweeds also transformed the lives of members of her community.

With the help of DSWD-SLP, two major associations were organized: Bagong Pag-asa and Taytay Palawan Seaweed Farmers Federation.

Gaudiosa is the president of Bagong Pag-asa. It is noticeable that all her members are all men and yet, everyone of them has high regard and respect for Gaudiosa. She really shows great leadership in the members of her association. Indeed, she is Urduja of the seaweeds production.

During the  planting and harvesting season, everyone gathers together —  sharing unceasing stories, unwavering hopes and never-ending laughters.

Everlasting Treasure: Sustainability of Seaweeds Production

With the success she has tasted, Gaudiosa don’t want to remain dependent on what SLP and other agencies have given them. She wants a sustainable business. She is dreaming of being in full control of seaweeds production, free from the abuse and cruelty of middle men.

“ Malaki na po ang tulong ng SLP. Pero syempre po hinihiling ko po na kami na talaga mamahala sa seaweeds. Para po hindi na kami umaasa sa mga middle man. Madalas po kasi lugi kami,” emphasized by Gaudiosa.

Seaweeds is in demand in the market all year round thus making it more sustainbale with the technical support from partner agencies in the areas of organizational development and marketing.

Victory of Urduja of Seaweeds Production

Gaudiosa like Urduja has tasted countless battles in her life but she remained standing like a true warrior. In her journey, no matter how many gigantic waves will come and collosal combats she will encounter, she will alsways give a whirl in order to protect and serve her family and her people.

For all the victories she has achieved, she is grateful to her family and seaweeds farming: the true treasure of her life. ###


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To the Top: A Journey Towards Volunteerism and Leadership


ACTIVE VOLUNTEERISM- Giovannie Fabro, 32 represents their community’s Operation and Maintenance Group on the Organizational Development and Management Training of Kalahi CIDSS.

Traversing the coconut plantation in the morning and organizing youth groups in the afternoon has been the routine of Giovannie, a dark, well-built man in his early thirties with a face chiseled by hard work and a heart molded by volunteerism.

Giovannie Fabro, more well-known in his community as Giovan is the Barangay Sub-Project Management Committee (BSPMC) Chairperson of Barangay Toctoc in Banton Romblon. From a by-stander to a volunteer, Giovan said that he has found more meaning in life when he was immersed in volunteerism and in Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi CIDSS).

New Chapter

Like many of the youths in Banton, Giovan worked in Manila. Numerous factories hired him until he has worked himself to exhaustion. Realizing that his income was not enough to support his family in the province, Giovan decided to go back home to take care of his parents.

He worked on their copras business to earn a living. Even with lesser income, he admitted that going back home was one of the best decisions he has ever done.

His caring and gregarious personality earned him a lot of buddies in Brgy. Toctoc. They usually hang-out and play basketball on the community court where the Kalahi CIDSS Barangay Assemblies (BA) were frequently conducted. This hobby of his had introduced him to the program and to volunteerism.

The raising hands of the people in the half court intrigued Giovan as they rest after a basketball game and he listened to what they discussed. He learned that the people were voting for a sub-project that they wanted to have in their community. Amazed on how the people are given the freedom to have a project of their choice, Giovan decided to join the next meetings.

In the beginning, he admitted that attending the assemblies of Kalahi CIDSS was like learning a foreign language. “Napakadaming acronyms yung nababanggit nila at hindi ko talaga maintindihan kaya tinatanong ko yung katabi ko.” (I do not understand the numerous acronyms that they mention thus I ask the person next to me about the meaning of those acronyms.)

He chuckled as he added, “umabot na sa pagkakataon sa assembly na nainis na yung katabi ko sa katatanong ko kaya linayasan nya na ko.” (One time, during the assembly, my seatmate got tired of my asking thus he walked away.)

The Heart of a Volunteer

On the second cycle of Kalahi CIDSS, he actively participated and was elected as a member of the Project Implementation Team (PIT).

A sudden change in Giovan’s routine had happened when he became a volunteer. His usual lazy afternoons were changed to attending meetings of the BSPMC and studying the community procurement manual.

Eventually, he discovered his passion to volunteerism when he attended the community volunteers’ training. This has also been his inspiration to organize a youth group called Uswag Banton. The group aims to re-plant trees in the area.  In addition, he encouraged the members of the group to take part in Kalahi CIDSS and they help the community empowerment facilitator to gather people during barangay assemblies.

The community members witnessed his industry as a community volunteer. Thus, they decided to elect him as the BSPMC chairperson of Barangay Toctoc on the third cycle of the program. Mrs. Yolly Felita, one of the elders in Brgy Toctoc said that she is convinced that Giovan will be a good BSPMC chairperson.

Despite this, Giovan admitted that he had second thoughts on accepting the new post.

Nevertheless, his dream of giving his community a safe and sustainable drinking water has surfaced than his fear of greater responsibility. “Sabi ko sa sarili ko, ngayon pa ba ako titigil kung kelan malapit na naming makamit ang pangangailangan ng aming komunidad?” (I said to myself, would I stop now, now that the need of our community is almost within our reach?)

Community Empowerment Facilitator of Brgy. Toctoc Shirley Vallez recounted a story on how Giovan has shown his dedication to the project. According to her, “Si Giovan ang nanguna noong kailangang i-konekta pababa sa bundok yung tubig kahit medyo masama yung pakiramdam nya. Na-amaze ako sa batang yan kasi kita mo sakanya yung passion na tumulong kahit may sinat sya.” (Giovan lead the community to connect the water from its source in the mountain down to their community and he was not feeling well when he did it. I was amazed on that kid because you can see his passion to help even he is sick.)

Beyond service

Giovan saw how the community driven development process has transformed his flat and passive community into an active one. From his account, he was amazed on how his community was able to work together in spite of political ramifications because of their common goal of having access to clean and potable water.

Consequently, Giovannie discovered his leadership talents in becoming a Kalahi CIDSS volunteer. From the timid man, he was now able to s
peak in front of his community andother crowds. He recounted the moment where he shared his reflection during the BSPMC training in Makati and he said he never felt so proud before.

“Kung may sasabihin ako at alam kong tama at makakabuti, sasabihin ko yun” (If I have something to say that I know is rightand will contribute to the greater good, then I will say it) said Giovannie. He added “Sana ganun din ang gawin ng mga ka-barangay ko“(I wish that the people in my community would also do the same.)

Giovannie has been a volunteer of Kalahi for 2 years now and as a volunteer he had a lot of realizations in life, in his community and in the municipality of Banton. “Sana ay tigilan na ng kababayan ko ang panlilibak sa iba dahil lang sa pulitika. Panira sa pag kakaisa ng Bantoanon yang ganang gawain.” (I wish that people would stop destroying others for the sake of their political endeavors. This kind of action destroys our hope of uniting the Bantoanons for the common good).

All of Giovannie’s BSPMC colleagues have previously held posts in public service. With this, he was teased by his ‘kuyas’ that he must try his luck in politics and run as a barangay councilor. He said that he feels awkward whenever such topics are being discussed.

All Giovan know is his true calling is to serve his community beyond Kalahi CIDSS.

Kalahi CIDSS is a poverty alleviating program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development that employs the process of community driven development to empower the community which would empower the people, promote good governance, and alleviate poverty in the community. ###

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DSWD MiMaRoPa Launches Unified Government Agencies toward Sustainable Livelihoods for Mindoreños



Last November 16, 2015, as spearheaded by Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) MiMaRoPa through its Sustainable Livelihood Program, the various national government agencies and the provincial government of Oriental Mindoro convened for the partnership launching and signing of memorandum of understanding dubbed as UGAT-SLM or Unified Agencies toward Sustainable Livelihood for Mindoreños.

Present in the said event are the following: Wilma D. Naviamos, Regional Director of DSWD IV-MiMaRoPa; Mr. Nelson B. Melgar, representing the provincial government of Oriental Mindoro; Mr. Renato M. Pantaleon, Provincial Director of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA); Mr. Jesse M. Pine, Provincial Science and Technology Director; Engr. Juliana Ortega, Chief Labor and Employment Office Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Mr. Andrew B. Barrientos, Provincial Director of Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Training Institute (DA-ATI).  Also, members of the partnership are the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR).


Heads of the Various Government Agencies during Signing the Memorandum of Understanding


Unified Government Agencies Toward Sustainable Livelihood for Mindoreños (UGAT-SLM) aims to facilitate the effective and efficient delivery of services for poverty alleviation by providing accessible employment and other livelihood opportunities, capacity building and skills enhancement trainings and product promotion and market linkage to Pantawid Pamilya.





Further, it aims to avoid duplication of services provided to the beneficiaries as well as promote cooperation and complementation of the different programs and services of government agencies. (Arnel Gonzales) ###

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DSWD MiMaRoPa Sustainable Livelihood Program overall winner in Bangon Kabuhayan 2015

SLP Seaweeds Production in Taytay, Palawan (1st Place, Best Enterprise and Best Agribusiness)
SLP Pre-Licensing Training Course in Agutaya, Palawan (3rd Place, Best Employment Model)

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One true believer

Among the crowd, you will notice those big, smiley eyes looking at you. Unassuming and just smiling, the charming lass was careful to follow instructions for the preparation of the opening number of the Regional Search for Exemplary Pantawid Pamilya Children.

In its fourth year of the search, who would have thought that this year’s winner will come again from the province of Occidental Mindoro, making it their third; but then again, it was the bright smile and confidence of a pretty young lady from the municipality of Rizal that captivated the hearts of many.

Cherry Ann says, "Kaya kong hilahin ang kahirapan patungong tagumpay." AS a young achiever, she believes that her dreams will come true with hardwork.

Cherry Ann says, “Kaya kong hilahin ang kahirapan patungong tagumpay.” As a young achiever, she believes that her dreams will come true with hard work.

Cherry Ann Abracia, 14, prefers to stay inside the house rather than play outside. “Nagugulat nga po yung mga kamag-anak namin kasi raw parang lumaki na raw ako at di nga nila ako napagkikita at di po kasi ako pala-labas,” said Cheche as what her family and friends call her.

A good daughter

 Si Cherry Ann po ay isang mabuting anak, mabait po, mapagmahal, maalalahanin sa magulang,” says Charity, Cheche’s mother, while trying to keep her voice still and refraining herself from crying.

Nanay Charity narrates their daily routine in the family, giving a picture of how their day is.

Hinahandaan (ko) ng pagkain pagkagising sa umaga, magliligpit (sila) ng pinaghigaan, magwawalis ng unti, sabay-sabay maliligo. Siya (Cheche) na rin magbibihis sa dalawa niyang batang kapatid,” recounted Nanay Charity.

Then, the children will go to school. Sometimes, Nanay Charity lets Cheche goes to school earlier since their house is far from school.

Minsan ay siya ang una kong pinapaalis kasi malayo ang school nila. Minsan walang service at nagko-commute, minsan hinahatid ng Papa niya. ‘Pag walang sasakyan ay naglalakad na lang siya pag maraming pasahero,” said Nanay Charity.

If a single motorcycle will be used, the Abracia house to Manoot High School will take almost 30 minutes to ride. If Cheche walks, it will take her an hour to get to school.

She doesn’t mind walking that far as long as she can study and learn. “Minsan, ginagabi rin kasi may iba pang gagawin after ng klase, sumasabay nalang po ako sa mga kakilala ko,” says Cheche. Distance does not matter for a heart wanting to achieve her dreams.

Nanay Charity further narrates, “Pag-uwi, minsan wala pa kami sa bahay ay siya ang magsasaing na at mag-aasikaso ng mga kapatid niya.”

Cheche added that she is used to taking care of her younger siblings. She will attend to her siblings’ assignments first before doing her own. “Yung mga bata niyang kapatid tutulungan niya sa assignments, tuturuan niyang magbasa,” says Nanay Charity.

Tatay Alvin could not agree more as he sees how diligent her daughter is in helping them. “Mabait po talaga yan. Wala po talaga akong masabi kundi mabait na anak talaga,” tells Tatay Alvin while keeping himself from crying just like her wife Charity.

Relaxed as they may seem at first, keeping still during the interview, but as Nanay Charity and Tatay Alvin sit beside their daughter, it is seen in their eyes and heard in their voices that they are proud of Cheche.

Cherry Ann sheds tears of joy as she receives plaque and 15,000 pesos for being the 2015 regional winner.

Cherry Ann sheds tears of joy as she receives plaque and 15,000 pesos for being the 2015 regional winner.

An active student

At a young age, Cheche is an achiever. Joining various clubs and competing in different quiz bees gave her confidence. She is a consistent honor student and even graduated as Valedictorian in elementary.

Now that she is in high school, Cheche admits to being more active in extracurricular activities. It is in these activities that she gets to travel in other places and meet new people. After school, Cheche usually practices for their band and lyre and trains for their Arnis Team.

Asked why she chose Arnis, she simply says that she loves it. “Gusto ko po talaga. Dahil ginawa ko yung gusto ko, nakapunta po ako sa iba’t ibang lugar at marami akong nakilalang mga tao,” says Cheche. Her sport paved way for her to gain more confidence in herself.

Minsan pag may gusto siyang puntahan, mag-iipon po yan ng allowance. Minsan, pinapakiusap ko nalang po sa adviser niya at buti nalang po natutulungan din naman kami,” tells Nanay Charity.

Due to financial limitations of the family, whenever Cheche needs to travel to other places to compete, they cannot fully provide for her expenses and sometimes seek help from others like her adviser.

A young dreamer

 Marami po akong pangarap sa buhay. Marami po akong gustong puntahang lugar. Marami akong gustong marating,” exclaims Cheche.

One of her dreams is to be a teacher. “Gusto ko po maging teacher. Gustong-gusto ko po magdiscuss sa harapan at gusto ko rin po magturo, magshare ng mga nalalaman ko,” tells Cheche.

This is not surprising as this is also evident in the way she takes care of her younger siblings, teaching them to read and guiding them in their assignments. She is also often chosen by her teachers to take charge in classes, leading her classmates in some of their lessons.

A young dreamer indeed, when asked where she wants to go, she says, “Gusto ko, someday, makapunta ako ng Paris at Canada.” Asked why, she simply says, “Bata pa lang kasi ako nakikita ko na kung gaano kaganda sa mga lugar na ‘yon, sa mga aklat, mga magazines.” Those are the top places in her bucket list.

It is seen in the way her eyes sparkle that Cheche truthfully dreams of going to the said two countries. It was like seeing a young girl gushing over her crush. An impossible dream for the likes of Cheche’s family considering their economic status but a young believer lives in the heart of this 14 year old girl. With hard work, Cheche believes this will happen. Not only thinking of herself, she says that she wants to go to these places with her family.

As of now, Cheche is making a step in achieving her dreams by studying hard. Slowly but surely, she believes all the things she dreams can come true. “Sa oras ngayon, gusto ko lang makapagtapos ng pag-aaral. Matapos ko yung kolehiyo. Matulungan yung mga magulang ko. After nun, makapaghanap ng trabaho para matustusan ko pa rin yung mga pangangailangan at pag-aaral ng mga kapatid ko,” tells Cheche.

It is these kinds of dreams of people who seem to have nothing, but in the end, achieved it that inspires people and make others believe that dreaming the impossible is possible.

Abracia family poses for the camera with the usual field that they see from the back of their home.

Abracia family poses for the camera with the usual field that they see from the back of their home.

Working for a bright future

 After winning all the cash prizes from the provincial and regional searches, Cheche gave all of her winnings to her mother. As a treasurer in their church that records all the finances, Nanay Charity saves most of her daughter’s winning in the bank.

They plan to buy three pigs that will serve as another source of income for the family in the future. Being farmers, the family’s earnings are seasonal. Cheche’s parents mostly rely on the vegetables that they plant and their everyday earnings in ‘gapasan’. Tatay Alvin and Nanay Charity earn 150 pesos per day per person, at most 300/day/person, if their body can still work under the sun’s heat for longer hours and wider fields.

The cash grant that the family receives from Pantawid Pamilya is just what they need. Not worrying on where to get their children’s expenses for school assignments and projects is like lifting a weight from their shoulders.

Sabi ko po sa sarili ko ay itataguyod ko ang pag-aaral ng mga anak ko,” says Tatay Alvin. He is thankful that his children are hard working. He doesn’t mind working in the field for long hours as long as he can see that his family is taken care of. “Gusto ko makatapos talaga ang mga anak ko ng pag-aaral para hindi lang din sa bukid ang maging trabaho nila,” adds Nanay Charity.

That is why Cheche is determined to finish her studies. She believes that education can uplift their family’s status. More than that, she believes in herself. “Kaya kong makapagtapos ng pag-aaral. Kaya kong hilahin si kahirapan patungong tagumpay,” ends Cheche. She can, and she will, being a true believer that she is. ###

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