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IP Beneficiaries, Engaged in Communal Gardening

The Indigenous peoples of Barangay Manihala, Sitio Palamang comprising of forty-one (41) beneficiaries from both Regular Conditional Cash Transfer (RCCT) and Modified Conditional Cash Transfer (MCCT) of the Panttawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program have joined together to work hand-in-hand to organize a communal garden.

At first, beneficiaries of the said sitio have their individual backyard gardens which became a great source of vegetables for their daily consumption. They have seen positive results with regards to their health condition especially of their children. They have expressed that they do not need to buy vegetables since they can easily harvest their own from their garden and even sell some of it at times. Their determination in maintaining their individual backyard garden has led the Pantawid staff to encourage them to unitedly start their communal garden. 

With this, Pudo Paladan and Analiza Santos, both IP leaders, have led IP beneficiaries to look for an idle land which they can develop into a yielding ground. They were successful to find a land which is around half hectare and said to be owned by a non-beneficiary.

It was during the IP Consultation Dialoge cum Family day last November 6, 2017 that the IP beneficiaries received seedlings from the Department of Agriculture. They were also provided with gardening tools such as rakes, shovels, bolos, and iron bars among others. Additional seedlings and tools were provided by the Local Government Unit during an event initiated by the Municipal Mayor, Hon. Angel M. Saulong.

In January 2018, they started clearing the said idle land which took all forty-one (41) members of the group to clear and finally plant seeds for three (3) days. Most of their crops are different types of vegetables but they’ve also added corn, peanut, ginger and monggo beans.

To ease the difficulty in watering the plants, the water system provided by the Team Mission from Calapan City was extended through the unity and efforts of the members of the group. They have used up the excess hosepipes of the project and installed it near their garden. The Philippine National Police (PNP) Bansud also gave them pails and dippers which they also use in their everyday watering of their vegetables.

Regular meetings are also conducted to ensure the proper maintenance of the communal garden. Agreements were made which are religiously followed by all the members. All the forty-one (41) members were divided into seven (7) groups comprising of six (6) members each which shall have regular daily schedule of watering the plants and cultivating the plots. It was also agreed upon that if a member would not be able to do the task on his/her schedule, the said member shall pay Php 100.00 which will be used to buy food for those who will be working for that day

The group’s vision is to earn from the crops planted and to invest their income. As of the moment, the beneficiaries have expressed that they will continue to maintain their individual backyard gardens for their daily own personal consumption while the communal garden will be for the economic benefit of the group. Since the establishment of their gulayan, they have already acquired an estimated P1,000.00 for their harvest.

The Gulayan sa Barangay Project of Pantawid Pamilya has not only helped the IP beneficiaries on the aspect of health and economic condition but most especially build up camaraderie and unity of the IP beneficiaries.  It serves as a way for them to talk as a group more often and dream bigger together. ###

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Story of Tatay Wilfredo: Serving as the Pillar and the Light of the Home

A food vendor, a farmer, a hog raiser, an active church member, a Barangay Tanod, a Barangay Health Worker, an active PTA President, and a father and mother all at once – these are all of Wilfredo’s duties and responsibilities after he became a widower. Getting by with his small income from farming, he exclaims how he give his best to provide for his 6 children even without their mother.


Becoming a Solo Parent

When he was in his teenage years, Wilfredo V. Turiana, a native of Tilik, Lubang, Occidental Mindoro, decided to go to Manila to work instead of studying because his parents cannot afford to get him to school. He decided to work in a small grocery store which is owned by a relative but he did not stay long because he got sick. When he recovered his good health, he applied again for work as gasoline boy in Novaliches, Caloocan City.

At the age of 18 he met and fell in love with Marina Joy Locay who later on became her wife. In 1992, they decided to settle down in Wilfredo’s hometown in Occidental Mindoro, where they planned to build their family. They got married in a mass wedding in 1998 and were blessed with 6 children, 3 boys and 3 girls. They live a simple life only depending to Wilfredo’s income from farming in sustaining the needs of their family. But an unfortunate situation happened in the year 2008 when his wife died in delivering their youngest son.

Wilfredo still reminisces those memories he has when their family is still complete. Even though they were experiencing difficulties in life, it seems to him that he has a perfect family since they are always happy together.

Working and taking care of the family alone for their children is a lot harder than Wilfredo thought. Having both the responsibility of a mother and a father, Wilfredo do household chores such as washing clothes, preparing food for his children, and cleaning the house. After that incident, Wilfredo knows that he has to find ways to ensure that he can provide the needs of his children. Hence, he continues to work hard as a farmer. He also tends to work as a garbage collector and house cleaner when there is no work in the farm. Moreover, he collects and sells dry woods, cooks kakanin to sell in the port, and raises hogs and chicken.

He always says that their family have ups and downs because of their situation. But nurturing his sons and daughters is his first priority as he ensures that all of them can go to school since he believes that education can help them create a good future.


Finding a ‘partner’ in the program

Wilfredo has big dreams for his children. Not being able to finish his studies, he aims to send his children to school as well as provide them their needs. However, he struggles to support them as much as he wanted to because he has an unstable source of income.

In 2009, a year after the death of his wife, Wilfredo shared how lucky he was as he felt she found a partner in raising his children after he became a Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program beneficiary.

Pantawid Pamilya is a human development program implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) that invests in the health and education of poor families, primarily those with children aged 0-18. It provides monthly cash grants to beneficiaries who comply with the conditions of sending their children to school, bringing them to health centers, and attending the Family Development Sessions (FDS).

Wilfredo was very thankful because it lessens his burden financially and was able to learn deeply to appreciate what they have.

Other than the cash grants being provided by the program, he is also thankful because this program taught her to be a better parent through her regular attendance to the Family Development Session (FDS). He acknowledges it as very essential in guiding every Filipino family.

Being a member of Pantawid Pamilya also opens a lot of opportunities for Wilfredo as he was chosen the Parent Leader of their cluster. He also becomes an active member of the community. He also started to serve his barangay as Barangay Tanod which has helped him won as Barangay Kagawad from 2010-2013. He also became an active president of the Parent-Teachers Association from 2007 to 20018 in elementary and secondary schools in their barangay. Furthermore, he is currently serving as a Barangay Health Worker (BHW) to their community and a Hermano Mayor, Lector and commentator, and Lay Minister of the Eucharist in the Parish of San Nicholas Church even though he has his own duties at home.


Getting Stronger for the Family

Because of his eagerness to make money for his family, there were times when Wilfredo forgets to attend to the needs of their children.

“Minsan nagtrabaho ako sa bukid dahil biglaang tawag ng kapwa magsasaka at nakalimutang maghanda ng pagkaing pananghali di nakakain ang aking mga anak at ako’y awang awa at halos tumulo na aking luha,” he shared.

According to him, the program has helped him realize that always being there for his children is the most important.

For Wilfredo, the happiness they share today because of their good relationship at home and the accomplishments of her children in school reflects his success as a solo parent. This is what keeps him going every day and continuously inspires him to work harder until all his children achieve their dreams. ###

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SLP, EEI Corporation nagsagawa ng Local Recruitment Activity sa Oriental Mindoro

ORIENTAL MINDORO – Kamakailan lamang, ang Sustainable Livelihood Program ay nagsagawa ng Local Recruitment Activity sa Calapan, Pinamalayan, at Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro nitong ika-29 hanggang ika-31 ng Mayo taong 2018.

Sa pakikipag-ugnayan ni Ginang Marites Pones, Private Sector Partnerships Officer ng rehiyon ng MiMaRoPa, ang kumpanyang EEI Corporation ay bumaba sa mga nasabing munisipyo upang magsagawa ng on-the-spot hiring sa mga aplikante. Ilan sa mga trabahong inalok ng kumpanya ay nasa linya ng konstruksyon tulad ng Masonry, Carpentry, at Tile Setting.

Apatnapu’t walong aplikante sa kabuuan ang natanggap at agad na pinag-asikaso ng mga kinakailangang dokumento upang makumpleto ang proseso. Sila ay nakatakdang ipadala sa Maynila at makatatanggap ng minimum wage na Php 512.00 kada araw, Overtime Pay, at benepisyo mula sa SSS, PhilHealth, Pag-IBIG, at iba pa.

“Natutuwa ako kasi marami na akong experience sa pagma-mason at magagamit ko ito sa trabaho. Pagkatapos nito, pupunta na ako ngayon sa SSS para asikasuhin ‘yung mga requirements ko,” sambit ni Rolando Molina, kauna-unahang aplikante na natanggap sa Masonry.

Katutubong Mangyan ng Bongabong 

Isa sa mga prayoridad ng EEI Corporation na mabigyan ng trabaho ay ang mga miyembro ng Indigenous Peoples sa Pilipinas. Sa katunayan, dalawa sa tatlong katutubong Mangyan na dumalo sa aktibidad ang natanggap upang sumailalim sa pagsasanay.

Sina Mawin Daway, Aytag Yagam-ay, at Altan Angguman ay mga katutubong Mangyan na naninirahan sa Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro. Sila ay magkaka-baryo na ang pangunahing hanapbuhay ay pagtatanim ng saging at kamote sa kabundukan. “Nahihirapan kami sa salapi. Kulang ang kinikita namin,” tugon ni Mawin nang tanungin kung ano ang nag-udyok sa kanya na pumunta sa recruitment. Kwento ni Mawin ay kumikita lamang siya ng limandaan kada buwan at kung minsan pa nga ay dalawampung piso lamang kung natutuyo ang mga saging dahil sa init ng panahon.

Si Aytag naman, 25 anyos, ay nagbaka-sakali lamang na matanggap upang mapagamot ang kanyang ina. “Gusto ko lang po na mapagamot si nanay kasi may TB (tuberculosis) siya,” sambit ni Aytag.

“Kung makakapag-aral, pangarap ko po sana sa buhay ay matulungan ang aking tatlong kapatid. Nagtatanim din sila tapos nahihirapan,” ani Angguman, 22 anyos, nang tanungin kung ano ang pangarap nito sa buhay.

Si Mawin at Angguman ay natanggap upang sumailalim sa dalawampu’t anim na araw na pagsasanay bago sumabak sa trabaho. Hindi man pinalad na makuha dahil sa kapansanan sa paglalakad, si Aytag ay pursigido pa din na makahanap ng trabaho kaya naman mag-iikot pa siya sa munisipyo upang humanap ng oportunidad.

Katuwang na Kawani

Kinikilala ng Public Employment Service Office (PESO) ng Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro ang kahalagahan ng pagdaraos ng mga serbisyong pag-eempleyo. “Sa halip na lumuwas para mag-apply sa Maynila, lumalapit na ang employer at nalalaman agad ang mga problemang maaaring harapin ng mga aplikante kaya mas madali na ang proseso,” sambit ni Ginoong Lowell Anastacio, PESO Manager ng Mansalay.

Ang EEI corporation ay isa sa mga kilala at nangungunang kumpanya sa linya ng konstruksyon sa Pilipinas. Sila ay matatagpuan sa 12 Manggahan, Bagumbayan, Lungsod Quezon, 1110 Kalakhang Maynila.

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DSWD MIMAROPA trains CVs and MCTs in writing Success Stories

Puerto Princesa City, Palawan—Delegates from selected municipalities from the province of Palawan gathered last May 15-18, 2018 for the training on Success Stories and Good Practice Workshop at Citystate Asturias Hotel in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.

Community Volunteers and Municipal Coordinating Team members from the municipalities of Agutaya, Araceli, Magsaysay, Narra, Quezon, and Taytay were selected to participate in the said activity to develop and enrich their knowledge on writing success stories and documenting good practices of their implementation of Kalahi CIDSS.

Miss Ebony Kangleon coaches one of the participants in mind mapping

Miss Ebony Kangleon, Knowledge Management Writer from DSWD Central Office served as the resource speaker of the activity. She discussed the basics of Knowledge Management concepts and focused on the discussion of good practices and success stories. Before the participants put their success stories into writing, they conducted a “mind mapping” workshop. A ‘mind map’ is a tool for organizing thoughts and facts for better translation of one’s thoughts into writing. The participants are tasked to create a mind map of the success story they were going to write.

Afterwards, the participants were handed template for Success Stories along with their ‘mind maps’. These tools served as a guide for the the whole writing activity. As they finished their stories, the participants shared their writings with the other volunteers and their stories where analyzed for improvement. More so, after the writing activity, the participants were taught practical photography which they would use to give their story a detailed spice.

“Masaya po kami na natutuhan naming na magsulat ng mga ganitong teknikal na bagay kasi makakatulong ito sa amin lalo na sa paggawa naming ng mga proposal at sa pag susulat na rin ng mga success stories sa aming bayan po” [We are happy to learn technical writing because it would help us not just in crafting our proposals but also in writing the success stories of our municipality] said Baby Angela Gandola, a community volunteer from the town of Araceli.

The activity ended with the distribution of certificate of participation and a group picture of participants. The success stories written by the participants will be published on a compendium of Kalahi CIDSS MIMAROPA Success Stories.


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DSWD nagsagawa ng Regional Conference sa Legal na Pag-aampon

“Matagal, nakakakaba, nakakapagod na proseso, pero sa huli sulit ang paghihintay at paghihirap, dahil sa wakas, buong buo mo ng matatawag siyang… Anak,” wika ng isang ama ukol sa kanilang paglalakbay tungo sa legal na  pag-aampon.

Sa pangunguna ng Department of Social Welfare and Development MIMAROPA, nagtipon-tipon ang mga pamilyang hindi man magkakadugo ay pinagbuklod-buklod naman ng puso sa ‘Regional Conference on Adoption’, Sabado, ika-5 ng Mayo 2018.

“Pagmamahal Palaganapin, Legal na Pag-aampon Ating Gawin” ito ang tema na nais paigtingin at palaganapin sa nasabing aktibidad.

“Personal sa akin ang adoption. Kasi ang aking brother ay childless. At ang isa ay naglakas ng loob na mag-ampon ng bata. Mahalaga ang legal na pag-aampon para maprotektahan ang kapakanan ng mga bata,” wika ni Regional Direktor Wilma D. Naviamos sa kanyang Opening Remarks.

Sa mensahe naman ni DSWD Officer-In-Charge (OIC) Emmanuel A. Leyco na ipinahayag ni DSWD Protective Services Bureaur (PSB) Director Ma. Alicia Bonoan, inilatag niya ang kahalagan ng legal na pag-aampon sa kabutihan, kaligtasan at siguridad ng ‘adopted child’.

“May katagalan ang proseso ng legal na pag-aampon, pero alam natin na mahalaga ito at kailangang daanan. Ang pagpapaloob natin sa prosesong ito ay napakahalagang patunay din na talagang gusto nating mag-ampon at seryoso tayo sa ating layuning magbigyan ng mapagmahal na tahanan ang mga batang nawalan ng mga magulang dahil sa iba’t-ibang kadahilanan,” mula sa mensahe ni DSWD OIC.

Samantala nagbahagi naman ng kaalaman ang iba’t-ibang Resource Speaker ukol sa Causes and Implication of Adoption Disruption na ipinaliwanag ni Ms. Ma. Alicia S. Bonoan, Director of Protective Services Bureau; Post Adoption Servcies ni Ms. Maricel M. Barnedo, DSWD-NCR; Challenges and Difficulties in the Finalization of Adoption na ibinahagi ni Mr. Fredrick G. Separa, Presiding Judge ng RTC Branch 118 Navotas City Adoptive Parent; Benefits of Adoptive Families ni Ms. Melanie R. Lucszon, PhilHealth at; Effectiveness of E-book in Adoption Telling na ibinahagi ni Ms. Cecilia Velez, Adoptive Mother.

Upang malinaw naman ang mga isyu at tanong ng mga adoptive parents, nagkaroon ng open forum na sinagot ng mga focal persons mula sa iba’t ibang ahensya na gobyerno na sumusuporta sa legal na adoption.

Sa huli, pinarangalan naman ang mga nagwagi sa Poster Making Contest:

  • Mayshelle Janzenne Reyes from Ramon Magsaysay (Cubao) High School – “Legal na Paraan ay Gawin sa Pag-ampon ng Bata Upang Pagmamahal at Pag-aaruga sa Kanya ay Di Mabalewala” (Grand winner)
  • Johann Fredrich Dipasupil from Bauan Technical High School – “Magkaibang Dugo, Iisang Puso (1st runner up)
  • John Emmanuel Morales from Paradise Farms National High School – “Ang Paglaya sa Tanikala ng Kalungkutan” (2nd runner up).

Nagpasalamat ang DSWD sa lahat ng nakilahok sa nasabing aktibidad at sa lahat nagsusulong sa Legal na Pag-aampon. ###







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Press Release: 4Ps beneficiaries to receive grants by May

The Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office MIMAROPA is set to pay the cash grants of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries whose mode of payment is through partner conduits on May 2018.

This includes cash grants under Period 6 (January 2018) and the P2,400 (P200 per month) grants under the Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT). The December 2017 cash grants will not be included in the scheduled payout due to insufficient funds because of increased compliance. Additional funds are now being requested to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

The UCT program covers all beneficiaries who are active and was able to claim for Period 4 (August to September 2017). A total of 182, 220 beneficiaries under Regular Conditional Cash Transfer (RCCT) and Modified Conditional Cash Transfer (MCCT) without cash cards, will be able to receive the UCT grants on the scheduled payout. Meanwhile, only 176,702 beneficiaries who are compliant to the program’s conditionalities for January 2018 will receive their grants for the said month.

The synchronization arrangement for the payout for the regular cash transfer of Pantawid Pamilya and 2018 UCT has caused the delayed payment of grant through OTC transactions. DSWD Field Office MIMAROPA has already paid 15,382 Pantawid households with cash cards last March 2018 covering Period 6 and UCCT grants.

The UCT is a component of the national government’s Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) program that aims to assist indigent Filipinos who will be affected by the rising prices because of the implementation of the new tax reform program.

As stipulated in the TRAIN Act, DSWD will implement the UCT scheme for three years. It will release P2,400 (P200 per month) in 2018 and a total of P3,600 (P300 per month) in 2019 and in 2020. P24 billion has been earmarked for the 2018 UCT implementation in the FY 2018 GAA.

Also included in the 10 million UCT beneficiaries are three million indigent senior citizens nationwide who are also beneficiaries of Social Pension Program which is being implemented with the help of Local Government Units (LGUs) and Special Disbursing Officers (SDOs).

The remaining 2.6 million households nationwide will be selected from the Listahanan or National Household Targeting System (NHTS-PR) which will go through validation. In MIMAROPA, there are 92,790 target households to be validated. ###

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First from the Mountains: A Graduation Story of a Girl from Tau’t Bato

Coming from a tribe who has been long isolated in the mountains, it was difficult for Juda Diklay, 25, from Tau’t Bato tribe, to keep pace with her classmates in the suburb.

It took Juda years to adapt and connect with other people whom she is not familiar with. Since she was the first of her tribe to attend a formal class, she has no knowledge on how things work in a school system. Further, her distance to her family also added to the difficulty in adjusting her life in the lowland.

Mahirap po yung nag-aaral ka sa baba na hindi mo kilala kung sino yung mga nakakasalamuha mo tapos malayo pa sa akin yung pamilya ko. Lagi ko na lang naiisip ang mga negative na bagay at sumuko na lang pero napapaisip rin ako kung anong mangyayari sa akin kapag susuko ako agad sa pag-aaral ko (It was really difficult to study in the lowland since I don’t even know the people I am encountering. Adding to that is the distance of my family to me. But when I thought of negative things, I begin wondering what will happen to me if I give up my studies),” Juda said.

She might have been through a lot of challenges, but her burning desire to learn and discover the world around her has helped her in finding a motivation to keep going. Thus, because of her determination and perseverance, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, making a history as the first Tau’t Bato tribe member to graduate in college.



Living in the Mountains

A group of people from the Palaw’an tribe living in Singnapan Valley are called Tau’t Bato or Taa’wt Bato. Long before, they live inside the crater of an instinct volcano in Palawan, hence their name which literally means “stone people” or “dwellers of the rock”. Today, the Tau’t Bato tribe lives in their homes made of light and sturdy materials such as saplings. Although they do not live in the caves like before, they still find shelter inside it during rainy seasons when the valley is flooded. Other than serving as a shelter, the tribe also seeks protection from the cave as they go inside it when they hear unpleasant stories from the lowland.

“Napakadelikado po nung mga dinadaanan namin papunta sa mga kweba. Puro bato, at kaliwa’t kanang bangin ang dadaanan para makapunta doon at buwis-buhay talaga. May part pa doon na tatawid ng tulay na kailangan nakabalanse ka kung hindi malalaglag ka talaga (The trails going to the caves are very dangerous. We pass through rocks and cliffs to get there and it’s a really a life-threatening experience. There is a part of it where we need to go over a bridge that if we cannot balance ourselves, we will fall),Juda shared.

The tribe rarely goes down from the mountain as they survive through gathering wild fruits and vegetables, hunting, planting crops and rice. Their community can only be reached through an 8-hour hike from Brgy. Ransang, Rizal, Palawan. Because of their distance, most of them do not go to school or have access to different health services.

May mga pumupunta pong misyonaryo sa amin pero kapag napunta sila para kunin yung mga anak nila para pag-aralin sa baba, tinatanggihan nila dahil iniisip nila na mamatay yung anak nila since hindi nila kilala yung mga taga-doon o baka hindi na makabalik agad yung mga anak nila (When missionaries go to our community to help their children go to school in the lowland, parents always decline because they fear that their children will get killed by those people they do not know or their children might not come back home),” Juda said.

Only Juda’s family was convinced to go down the mountains to study. Juda and her younger brother Jonathan, was able to study in elementary after 5 years of being pursued by a Christian missionary group called, Youth with a Mission (YWAM). The group has been visiting their tribe even before Juda was born to share gospels and encourage the parents to send their children to school. YWAM also visits not only their tribes but also other tribes in Palawan and other parts of the country.

“Noong una, ayaw ko naman talagang sumama doon. Si Jonathan ang mas gustong mag-aral pero sabi ng magulang namin sumama na lang daw kami pareho kahit ako lang talaga yung gusto nilang isama (At first, I don’t really want to join them. It was Jonathan who wanted to study but our parents told us to come with them though it’s only me that they invited),” she said.

She was already 10 years old when she studied in Ransang Elementary School with her brother. Afraid and curious at the same time, Juda knows that it will be difficult for a girl from the mountains to begin a new life in the lowland.


New Life in the Lowland

Since Juda was the oldest in their class, it was hard for her to socialize with her classmates.

Ang gawain ko lang po kasi noon, school tapos uuwi na agad sa bahay tapos bahay tapos school lang ulit. Kaya akala ata nung mga kaklase ko ay masungit ako o suplada (What I did back then was go to school then go home after classes are over. That’s why some of my classmates thought that I am snobbish),” she said.

As she gains new friends, there are still others who bully her just because she came from the mountains.

May mga nagsasabi sa akin noon na bakit daw ba ako nag-aaral eh taga-bundok lang naman daw ako. Wala naman daw akong silbi (There were those people questioning me why I am studying in school even if I came from the mountains. They say that I am useless),” she shared.

Juda was disheartened. She told herself that after graduating in elementary, she will already go home. Enduring the pain, she continuously goes to class, pass her homework on time, and study for exams carrying a heavy heart caused by those people who discouraged her.

Little did she know that her hard work will pay off as she was announced as their class Valedictorian.

“Nagulat po talaga ako ‘nun. Kasi noong binubully na nila ako nawalan na talaga ako nang ganang mag-aral tapos bigalang nalaman ko ako pala ang highest sa amin (I was really shocked when I discovered that I got the highest place in class because when I was being bullied I already lost desire to continue studying),” she said.

This event motivated her to continue high school. She was sent by YWAM to Puerto Princesa to study.

Since it was her first time in the big city, it was still uneasy for her to find new friends. And as she was expecting, there are still those people who want to test her determination.

“Nung high school naman po ako, may kaklase ako na sinira yung project na gawa ko dahil nauna akong magpasa sa kanila dahil hindi pa sila tapos at nauna ako sa deadline. Umiyak lang ako noon pag-uwi tapos gumawa na lang ako ng panibago at nagpasa pagkatapos nilang gawin yung kanila (When I was in high school, one of my classmates tore down a project I made because they were not finished yet and I passed mine before deadline. I cried when I got home. I made again another project and passed it after everyone are done with theirs),” she narrated.

Only negative things come to her mind during that moment and she wanted to go back home so badly after experiencing all those pains. Every day after school, she packs her things telling herself that she is ready to go home. She said that she sometimes asks herself, “masama bang mangarap ang isang taga-bundok (is it bad for someone from the mountain to dream)?”

During the hard times, it was only her friends and the people of YWAM who keep on motivating her. She share her stories and heartaches to other scholars of the group whom she knows can understand her.

Ang lagi lang pong sinasabi nila sa akin ay ‘we are living by faith’ kaya lagi ko lang daw silang ipagdasal (They always tell me that ‘we are living by faith’ that’s why I should to pray for them),” she said. Juda was also strengthened by her faith to God.

As she was barely getting through with the difficulties she experienced, Juda was still able to finish high school. Once again, she thought of giving up but the people believing in her ignite her desire to continue with her dreams. And although Jonathan, her brother, went back home after they graduate in high school, Juda went on with her journey as a student.

Sa totoo lang po napaisip din ako noon kung itutuloy ko ba kasi pataas na nang pataas yung level at pahirap na rin nanga pahirap. Minsan natatakot ako nab aka ganun ulit ang mangyari sa akin (The truth is I think of whether continuing because the difficulty is getting high as I leap from one educational stage to another. Sometimes, I fear that those things might happen again),” she said.

Once again eager to experience and learn new things, Juda took up Bachelor of Elementary Education at the Western Philippines University in Puerto Princesa.

After years of staying away from home, Juda became confident of having new friends. This time, she discovered that in college, all of them are unique and no one will indicate their faults of being different.


Getting Support

When Juda was in college, YWAM continued supporting her needs financially but there are still those times when she thought of getting a job to at least acquire even a small amount of money to help her family in the mountains and buy other things she needs in school. This is because the allowance given to her, is still not enough for her needs as her year level moves up.

“Wala po akong mga libro nun. Nagpapaxerox lang ako kapag kailangan naming ng libro at pag may project, hihintayin kong matapos mga kaklase ko para ako naman ang makagamit ng libro (I don’t have any books that time. I usually photocopy pages from the books of my classmates and when we have projects, I wait for my classmate to finish theirs so I can borrow their books).” Juda said.

It was then when Juda became one of the grantees of the Expanded Students’ Grants-in-Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation (ESGP-PA) of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. Juda was given P30, 000.00 for the first semester to cover for her tuition fees and other school fees such as textbooks, board and lodging, etc.

“Nagulat po ako noong nakuha ko yung pera kasi first time ko pong makahawak ng ganoon kalaki. (I was shocked when I was given the grant since it was my first time having such large amount of money),” she exclaimed with joy.  With her grant, she was able to buy all those books that she needs.

Pagkatapos ko pong bilhin yung mga kailangan ko, yung ibang natira po sa pera ko ay ipinadala ko sa amin at sa isa kong kapatid na nag-aaral, (After spending the money on the things I need, I gave what’s left to my family and some for my brother who is also studying),” she said.

It was not only Juda who has been supported by the program. Her family became a Pantawid beneficiary in 2010 and because of it, Noah, one of her younger brothers was able to go to school through the cash grants they receive. He is now studying in Grade 3 at Ransang Elementary School.

According to her, “napakalaki ng pagbabago sa amin sa Tau’t Bato noong dumating ang programa. Nakapag-aral ang mga bata kasi kailangan at nakakapagpacheck-up na sila (there are many changes in our community when the program arrived. Children are able to go to school and take regular check-ups because it is needed).”

Juda’s father also became the only Barangay Health Worker (BHW) in Tau’t Bato to monitor compliance of their community in terms of the health conditionality since he was the only one who knows how to read and write. On the other hand, Jonathan was able to get a job in the program as a Social Welfare Assistance (SWA) of the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer (MCCT) catering to the Indigenous Peoples.


Creating History

Siguro kung nagpadala ako sa mga negative na naiisip ko noon, hindi ako nakapagtapos at may asawa na ako at anak, (If I did not overcome my negative thoughts, I won’t be able to graduate and I already have my own family now),” Juda said.

On April 11, 2018, Juda was finally able to get her degree.

When asked what she will do after, Juda said, “babalik na po ako sa amin at magtuturo ako doon. Ipapakita ko sa kanila kung gaano kahalaga ang edukasyon, (I will come back home and teach there. I will help them realize the importance of education)”.

Juda vows to use what she has learned to improve not only her family’s life but also the lives of other people in her community. She does not want people to belittle them just because they live in the mountains and do not know how to read and write.

“Iniisip ko pong magturo ng ALS doon sa amin para lahat ng mga tao doon ay makapag-aral, (I am thinking of teaching ALS in our community so that our people can study),” she said.

Being the first from her tribe to graduate in college, Juda is now an inspiration to the people of Tau’t Bato in recognizing the full worth of education in overcoming the hardships in life brought about by poverty. ###

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A Broken Heart Beats an Unshattered Dream

Nagkawatak-watak ang aming pamilya at naging mas mahirap pa,” this keeps on in the mind of a 17-year old student from Sitio Kabangkalan, Pinagturilan in the municipality of Sta. Cruz, Occidental Mindoro.

Kristine Joy Bongar cannot forget how their complete family was destroyed by her father’s vices and physical abuse to her mother. According to her, “dinaig pa nito ang hirap ng kumakalam naming sikmura sa tuwing wala kaming maisaing at kulang ang baon para sa pagkain at pamasahe.”

Seeing her father mistreats her mother repeatedly will always be one of her biggest pains. But after their parents got separated, she cannot help but wonder how she and her nine siblings will survive with their mother not having a stable source of income.

From then on, Kristine swore to continue with her dream and strive harder to finish her studies so she can help her mother provide for the family.

On April 3, 2018, Kristine graduated in Grade 12 at Pinagturilan National High School with Highest Honors. She is now one step forward to reach her dreams.

Cutting the Hardship

All throughout her childhood, Kristine has experienced life’s difficulty being raised from a big family. When she reached high school, she managed her P30.00 allowance for her P20.00 fare and the remaining for her lunch, and other school expenses. There were times when she had to walk 6 kilometers back and forth from their house to school when her mother cannot provide an allowance.

Minsan hindi na lang din ako nakain kapag walang pera tapos sa library na lang ako pumupunta para magbasa na lang,” she shared.

At a young age, she knows that her parents’ income from furniture-making is not sufficient to support the needs of their family. When they do not have anything to eat, her mother will often tell her to go to their neighbor and ask for rice. From day-to-day, Kristine can feel the cynical attitude of their neighbors, even their relatives, towards their family whenever they borrow money or ask for food to them.

Life is already hard for Kristine and her family but she never thought it could get any harder when their parents separated.

Mula simula, damang-dama namin yung pagmamalupit ng tatay namin. Palagi silang nag-aaway na kahit sa simpleng bagay lamang, pilit na pinalalaki ni Papang yung gulo,” Kristine shared.

Whenever her father comes home drunk, Kristine said that their parents will start arguing. Her father often utters curse words to their mother and inflicts physical harm to her. Their mother always tells them to get out of the house each time they start fighting so that they will not be involved in their fight.

“Bilang anak, masakit makita na yung mga magulang nag-aaway at walang pinipiling lugar, may mga tao man o wala, sa harap namin o hindi. Umabot pa minsan na hinabol nya si Mamang ng gulok buti na lang nakalayo agad si Mamang. Ngayong wala na si Papang sa bahay, mas panatag na kaming mag-iina,” she added.

When their father left their home, Kristine’s mother became the breadwinner of the family. “Ginagawa ni Mamang ang lahat para matustusan yung pangangailangan namin. Makikipaglabada, magtatanim sa bukid, at minsan nagliliha ng kahoy sa furniture shop,” Kristine said.

During weekends, they help their mother make charcoal to sell or give to their neighbors in exchange for food.

New Chance, Better Life

Despite all the hardships they experienced, Kristine and her family did not lose hope.

When their family became a member of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, Kristine witnessed the changes the program has made in their life.

“Hindi na po akong kailangang utusan na mangutang ng bigas dahil natutustusan na ng cash grant na ibinibigay ang pangkain namin,” she shared.

Kristine became one of the three monitored child grantees of the program. With her compliance to the education condition of having at least 85 percent monthly attendance in school, she receives P500 per month. The family also receives another P500 for her compliance to the deworming condition of the program as well as her mother’s attendance to the monthly Family Development Sessions (FDS). The cash grant they received has helped them pay for their school projects and her school supplies.

Further, their family also learned how to strengthen their relationship and grow as a family through FDS and YDS.

“Dahil sa FDS, mas dito po namin natutunan yung mga karapatan ng kababaihan at mga bata na hindi dapat saktan ng kung sino man,” she said.

The FDS is a component of the Pantawid Pamilya program that teaches parent-grantees on various topics relating to family development including children’s rights, disaster preparedness, and budget management. Attendance to the monthly FDS is a co-responsibility of all beneficiaries with the program.

The program has reminded Kristine’s family that education is their way to get out of poverty.

Sa mga tulong na ibinibigay po sa amin ng programa, mas nagpupursigi po talaga kaming mag-aral nang mabuti dahil parang sinasabi nito na handa yung gobyerno na tulungan kami para suportahan kami para sa aming kinabukasan,” she attested.

True to this, Kristine and her siblings studied hard and found ways for them to continue until they graduate. In fact, her two older sisters were able to graduate in college as working students. Now that they are earning, they were able to help their mother send their siblings, including Kristine, to school.

Moving On, Moving Forward

“Laban lang para sa kinabukasan. Kung kaya nila, kaya ko rin,” Kristine exclaimed.

Kristine knows that life must go on even with all the difficulties that come their way.

All those things that happened to her family have made her stronger and inspired her to pursue her dreams of graduating and finding a good work after. She wanted to achieve not only her dreams but also the dreams of their family to get out of poverty.

Alam ko po mahirap ang buhay lalo na pagdating ko sa college, pero lahat po gagawin ko para makapagtapos rin ako ng pag-aaral,” she said.

Determined to continue her studies, Kristine plans to take Bachelor of Science in Education at the Oriental Mindoro State College.

Kristine might have a broken family, but she vows to make sure that her dreams will never shatter.   ###

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