DSWD beneficiaries return the favor to their community

“Mayo lamang nagkakaginiribo (They do nothing).”

This is the popular remark towards Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program recipients that Leoncia Bigay, one of its beneficiaries in Ocampo, Camarines Sur, would like to confute.

At present, she is the parent leader of 36 Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries in Zone 3 of Brgy. Salvacion and also a volunteer of Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS), another DSWD poverty alleviation program employing community-driven development (CDD) approach.

CDD puts the power 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.

Moreover, Pantawid Pamilya or conditional cash transfer (CCT) is a program that invests in human capital that is contributory to poverty-reduction. It provides monthly cash grants of P500 in health and P300 (elementary) or P500 (high school) in a family for maximum of three children, ages 0-18, enrolled in the program.

“Dakulang bagay ang 4Ps [Pantawid Pamilya] ta nakatabang sa edukasyon asin pagkakan (Pantawid Pamilya is a big help for education and food),” Bigay said.

Aside from the cash grants to support poor families in health and education, discussions on interpersonal, interactive and adult learning engagement are emphasized to empower and strengthen the relationship and ties among family members and the community.

The Pantawid Pamilya Municipal Link assigned to Salvacion, Domaida Latumbo, reiterated the importance of their roles as active citizens through regular meetings and monthly Family Development Session (FDS).

“Tinutukduan mi po sinda maging active sa barangay activities and maging huwarang mamayan (We teach them to become active citizens through community service and become role models),” Latumbo said.

Consequently, Bigay had already mobilized her members to become active members of the society through monthly community service.

As part of this, their newest undertaking was conducted last February 4, 2015 wherein all of them fused with other residents who joined in the clearing works during the ongoing construction of their drainage canal constructed through Kalahi-CIDSS.

Beforehand, Bigay suggested to Latumbo that they can render clean-up drive in Zone 3 when Latumbo asked for their community service initiatives in their FDS last January which impressed her for such great proposal.

“Kami man lang kaiyan manginabang (We will benefit from it),”explained by Bigay to Latumbo.

Bigay also coordinated to her co-volunteers, the frontline implementers of the drainage canal in Salvacion, through its head, Asuncion Ponce.

She recommended to Ponce that they are willing to assist them in any way to which the latter enthused about since she really promotes community participation.

“Maray pang magrarabus kitang mga magurang para makatabang kami sa Kalahi-CIDSS pati na sa mga laborers (It’s better for us parents to help the laborers in the clean-up for Kalahi-CIDSS)”Bigay told her colleagues.

Both women leaders tapped their barangay officials to solicit food for the half-day activity starting from seven in the morning until noon.

The barangay council sponsored pansit, bread and toasted siopao while the beneficiaries brought juice and water.

All Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries of Zone 3 thronged to the construction site and weeded out grass and disposed trash.

The laborers were delighted to see them carry and transfer rocks as part of the clearing works in the said construction.

According to Rosa Lustina, the Community Empowerment Facilitator assigned by Kalahi-CIDSS in Salvacion, that through their bayanihan efforts, they have shorten the time spent for clearing rocks and grubbing to where the drainage canal will be constructed.

The people of Salvacion agreed to propose the construction of drainage canal for funding because of the imminent threat of flood in the area affecting their livelihood and social conditions.

The barangay officials greatly supported the priorities of its inhabitants by providing 10% local counterpart contribution of the total community project cost of P1,973,000.00 in which Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the development partner of Kalahi-CIDSS, provided 1,636,655.00 as community grant.

“Ang barangay council supportive maray sa arog kaining proyekto ta gusto mi ning development. Nagabot po sa P197,300.00 ang counterpart hale sa Internal and Revenue Allotment (IRA) kang barangay (The barangay council is very supportive. Our counterpart amounted to P197,300 from our IRA,” Brgy. Capt. Nicolas Dela Cruz.

Salvacion is also a recipient of DSWD’s Supplemental Feeding Program wherein 15 of 22 beneficiaries are also Pantawid Pamilya. In total, SFP caters to 1,585 beneficiaries to 56 Day Care Centers in Ocmpo.

The municipality of Ocampo is also a recipient 85 core shelters under DSWD’s Core Shelter Assistance Program (CSAP) and 207 of its senior citizens receive Social Pension downloaded by DSWD to the local government unit (LGU).

“Nagpapasalamat kami sa mga programa ning DSWD kaya gigibohun mi man ang samong maitatabang para makabalos man kami mask diit (We thank DSWD for these programs so we will return the favor by helping even in the simplest way),” Bigay said.

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Poor communities affected by disasters get funding from DSWD, complete start-up activities

DSWD derived the final list of prioritized poor communities to be funded under Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS), one of its poverty reduction programs, from recently completed Municipal Forums in 88 municipalities in Bicol last January.

From 2014-2015 alone, Bicol is allocated with P2,301,239,625.00 out of P4,497,448,175.00 grant allocation for its five-year implementation in the region. One of the Kalahi-CIDSS’ thrusts is to support the post-disaster response and development in Typhoon Yolanda-affected municipalities covered by the program. Areas for coverage were also selected based on poverty incidence.

The Municipal Forum convened all the communities represented by the barangay captains, residents elected as community volunteers, civil society organizations (CSOs), people’s organizations (POs) and representatives of national government agencies (NGAs) together with the mayors and Sangguniang Bayan (SB) members to confirm prioritized projects through a resolution of grant allocation that will respond to the needs of the barangays specially those who are affected by and vulnerable to disasters.

The criteria on how poor communities were prioritized for funding were based on the community’s population, number of Listahanan poor households and the number of damage affected households.

Listahanan is an information management system that identifies who and where the poor by making the database of poor families available and becomes the basis in identifying potential beneficiaries of social protection programs and services.

Initial set of community activities were conducted last October to November 2014 wherein 2,490 barangays participated in the consultation meetings facilitated by DSWD field workers together with the respective barangay officials through the barangay assemblies. The residents agreed and approved the list of priority needs and projects which were generated from the damage assessment and needs analysis (DANA) results provided by the local government units (LGUs) which were extensively validated by the residents and DSWD.

“The participation of ordinary residents in the program is very crucial in the development priorities of the government since they know what they need to solve poverty,” Dir. Arnel Gracia said.

Barangay Assembly is a major avenue for direct participation of the people in local governance agenda for Kalahi-CIDSS, where issues are discussed and decisions are documented and supported.

Kalahi-CIDSS has an “open menu” wherein communities can propose any project, provided the amount involved is within the municipal allocation and does not belong to its negative list.

The prioritized communities are now preparing their respective project proposals to utilize the approved fund allocated to them for projects like multi-purpose building, concrete pathway

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Seawall built by villagers breaks down barriers

Rosa Gonzales, 76, sighed with a relief when she recalled how she and her colleagues erected a great wall which eliminated doubts from others.

Even more, her worries subsided when that 60-meter seawall was completed in June 27, 2014 though Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS).

Kalahi-CIDSS is a DSWD program that seeks to alleviate poverty through community-driven development (CDD) by giving the people the opportunity to make informed decisions on locally identified options for development and manage resources to implement community projects that address needs identified by the people themselves.

Rosa is one of the 1,278 residents of Brgy. Tinago who was chosen to become a Kalahi-CIDSS volunteer for the construction of their seawall for the protection of their village from big waves specially during typhoons.

The coastal village of Tinago is one of the 31 barangays of Viga, Catanduanes where most of its inhabitants rely on fishing and agriculture for their livelihood. Rosa was just lucky enough to graduate from one of the reputable schools in Manila and went home to Viga to spend 41 years as a teacher with a stable job to support her family.

However, most people of Tinago, 20 km east of Viga town, yield low income because of expensive transportation of products to the market in town and typhoons usually damage crops while fishing activity is held in abeyance due to bad weather.

Not only the people are scourged with relatively small income, the threats of typhoons pummeling the area bring dangerous surges to this coastal village extremely endangering the lives of 135 households in its two puroks/sitios.

Worst storm to hit Tinago
Another volunteer, Estelita Bayaban, also Rosa’s colleague, formerly resided near the shore but relocated after Super Typhoon Rosing, one of the worst storms in the Philippines, hit Tinago,

In November 1995, Rosing lashed Viga and washed away houses in Tinago and turned them into rubbles. There were no reported casualties that time but the homes of Estelita and Rosa were not spared from this catastrophe.

During the height of Super Typhoon Rosing, both ladies and their families left their homes and evacuated to their neighbors for their safety. They brought nothing except their lives and the clothes they were wearing.
Estelita’s stilt house was swept away by the strong winds and big waves reaching more than five feet high and her neighbor, Rosa, discovered after the typhoon that her concrete house was roofless and all their belongings were drenched.

With the extensive damage of Super Typhoon Rosing to Tinago, transportation to Viga was difficult that time. The community plunged even more into poverty wherein food supply was extremely scarce that they need to tread for hours to buy something to eat in Gigmoto, an adjacent town to Tinago.

That fateful experience led Estelita to relocate her family away from the shoreline.

It was also a motivating experience for both of them to perform their jobs as volunteers wholeheartedly.

Small deeds, great impact
Recently, Rosa and Estelita submit themselves in volunteerism to ensure that the additional 60-meter concrete barrier to the existing 40-meters seawall was totally constructed conforming to the highest quality standards.

Both knew that the seawall would reduce the exposure to disaster risks for the residents of Purok 6 and 8 when typhoons visit them.

As volunteers of Kalahi-CIDSS, they devoted their time and effort to the extent that they would rise at two in the morning, their earliest, to supervise the construction of the said seawall during a low tide.

They would guard the construction materials so that all must be put into proper use based on the plans.

Rosa, a volunteer under Monitoring and Inspection Team (MIT), acted as a bodegera or warehouse checker. She would never leave her post during her duty and persistently checked that the construction materials are properly stored and audited.

“Dapat dae mawara ang materyales (materials should not be stolen),” she said.

While Estelita, the head of the community volunteers, would join the rest of the laborers during their shift to watch over them. She would check if all of them are present and reprimanded those lax workers to take their jobs more seriously.

Cooperative endeavor
Good working relationship is the key to successful endeavors.

Rosa compared the relationship of the volunteers and the barangay LGU to a broom wherein it cannot be ripped apart when in bundle.

“Kayang-kaya palan ang dakulang proyekto matapos basta tarabang-tabang kami (We can complete a big project as long we are united),” Rosa said.

The local officials and the residents worked perfectly in harmony by demonstrating respect, patience, understanding and commitment to the community. Juan Soreta, the barangay captain of Tinago, supported the volunteers even from the beginning.

However, certain people in their village doubted the seawall’s completion. It sounded demeaning but Soreta and the volunteers remained loyal to their responsibility.

“Ang ibang tao daeng tiwala kaya nagging challenge samo sa council and volunteers (Other people did not trust us so we thought of it as a challenge), Soreta said.

Rosa and Estelita can relate to Soreta on how others underestimated them but became thankful because they were able to gain the confidence of these people when they have shown a constructed seawall in the community last year.

“Nawara ang paksyon sa Tinago ta gabos naging parte asin namulat ang iba nung natapos ang proyekto, (Factions were dissolved because everyone participated and others were convinced when they saw the project completed),” Soreta said.

The seawall amounting to P2,137,752.00, was the product of bayanihan in Tinago. The barangay local government unit had provided P136, 420.00 for their counterpart while the in-kind contributions from the community amounted to P109,918.00.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), an independent U.S. foreign aid agency created in 2004 aims to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by helping countries promote economic growth, provided a total grant of 1,576,178.00 to realize the construction of the seawall in Tinago. Also, the remaining amount was the counterpart contribution of the provincial and municipal LGUs.

In spite of that, the volunteers of Tinago had moved their resources to put these into the right project through honest service to the community expecting nothing in return through volunteerism.

“Every cent was well-accounted,” Estelita said.

From 2012 to present, MCC had already funded 479 community subprojects under Kalahi-CIDSS with a total grant of 591,300,000.00 in Bicol region.

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Water system built through DSWD program puts a new song in the hearts of residents in Catanduanes town

Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent,” says Victor Hugo.

This cannot be truer for Flordeliz Olesco, a 67-year-old retired teacher from Barangay Ananong in Viga, Catanduanes, who found herself writing a song as a way to show her gratitude when her community finally got a water system through Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS), one of the programs of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

She wrote a song and made her neighbors sing.

Pampamahalaang ahensya
Tumutulong sa sambayanan
Sa paglutas ng kahirapan

Kalahi-CIDSS was a DSWD program aimed at helping alleviate poverty through community-driven development (CDD), a strategy that 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.

Kalahi-CIDSS has since been scaled up into the National Community-Driven Development Program (KALAHI CIDSS-NCDDP), which targets 847 of the poorest municipalities in the country.

One of its development partners is the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), an independent U.S. foreign aid agency created in 2004 to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals by assisting countries promote economic growth.

KALAHI-CIDSS sa aming barangay
Tulong nito ay tunay
Sa tubig na ipinagawa
Gumaganda ang pamumuhay

Ananong is a farming village with abaca as its chief product, which Flordeliz describes as being rich in natural resources yet hampered by various circumstances. Residents yield little income because their area is frequently visited by typhoons, as their crops are frequently damaged by strong winds.

This is already bad enough for the residents, but their most pressing problem directly affects their survival: they had limited access to potable water.

Jesus Cervantes, the barangay captain of Ananong, said that while they had an existing 55-year-old water system, its water was no longer fit for drinking. With its reservoir being located near the riverbank, it was common for dirty water to get into the rusty pipes, which already had several holes.

This problem had health consequences to the residents, as the family of Teresita Santos, one of the residents of Barangay Ananong, testified.

She said that two of her relatives had a four-day hospital confinement, during which they incurred bills beyond P5,000, a large sum for a family struggling with finances.

The problem was, although they knew they had a serious problem in their hands, the local officials could not just construct the water system.

“Hindi kaya ng barangay council na magpagawa ng water system kung nakadepende lang kami sa Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) (The barangay council would not be able to construct our water system if we only depended on our IRA),” Jesus said.

As such, when Kalahi-CIDSS reached their village, it came as no surprise that the villagers chose and implemented the water systems for their village.

The sub-project cost P1,063,806.72 and was built through the joint efforts of Kalahi-CIDSS, the local government unit (LGU), and the community, with funding support from MCC, serves 88 households in Barangay Ananong.

“Malaki ang pasasalamat namin sa KalahI-CIDSS (We are very thankful of Kalahi-CIDSS),” he added.

Si Sir Russell ang AC
Engineer Joson ang DAC
Si Ma’am Shie ang MFA
Si Sir Bryan ang CF

While Flordeliz, through her song, was quick to thank the Area Coordinating Team (ACT), the Kalahi-CIDSS staff working in the municipality for the water system, it is largely because of the community’s own efforts that they were able to get their much-desired sub-project.

As a CDD program, Kalahi-CIDSS ensures that the people are involved in the development process. From the identification of the sub-project to its actual implementation and operations and maintenance, it relies on citizen participation to ensure that the sub-project will be carried out and is responsive to their needs.

At the same time, they will have more ownership of their sub-project as they are the ones who gave their time, talent, and resources for this.

For example, Jesus donated 3×4 meters of his property for the new water system’s intake tank.

Flordeliz, meanwhile, served as the Barangay Sub-Project Management Chairperson (BSPMC), the leader of the Kalahi-CIDSS volunteers in the area. Despite her age, she was able to perform her tasks effectively.

According to Bryan Tatad, the Kalahi-CIDSS’ community facilitator assigned to Ananong, Flordeliz always explains the importance of their community project to her fellow residents and encourages them to participate in all community activities.

“She is very dedicated to her responsibilities. Despite her age, she can manage to engage in physical activities. She is a living example of a good leader and a good follower,” said Bryan of her.

Through Flordeliz’s leadership, dedication, and diligence, their community was finally able to realize the new water system.

Masaya ang mga taga-Ananong
Sa tubig na pinagawa
Sa tulong niyo’y “Maraming Salamat!”

Flordeliz’s delight in finally having her community get its long-waited water system was expressed in the way she knew best: through song.

Known as the resident composer in her village, she penned the song, which is sang to the tune of Catandungan Inang Bayan, within five minutes, right after she was able to see their water system sub-project completed.

Flordeliz said that the song was a unique way of affirming the success of the Kalahi-CIDSS in Ananong during the inauguration of their water system.

“Dapat kasi may kakaiba sa inauguration kaya gumawa ako ng kanta (Our inauguration must have something different so I decided to write a song),” she said.

She had shared the song to her fellow volunteers in the community and rallied them to sing it aloud during the simple ceremony of the water supply system’s inauguration and turnover, held last August 5, 2014 at the barangay plaza.

The song was met with delighted surprise by Bryan, who said he did not know about Flordeliz’s composition and who thought that the melody was run-of-the-mill until he realized what the lyrics were about.

“I felt happy and proud hearing the song because they were very appreciative of the project despite the difficult processes they’ve been through,” Bryan said.

“Masaya ang mga taga-Ananong sa tubig na ipinagawa. DSWD, MCC, Kalahi-CIDSS. Sa tulong niyo’y maraming salamat (The people in Ananong is happy with the construction of our water system. DSWD, MCC, Kalahi-CIDSS, thank you for your assistance),” Flordeliz together with her colleagues sang the last few lines.

Through Kalahi-CIDSS, Flordeliz and her fellow residents in Ananong now have a new song in their hearts, a song of hope for a better, healthier future.

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Teachers hailed as DSWD songwriting contest grand winners

The family of school teachers from Legazpi City had won the DSWD songwriting contest last October 18, 2014 held at Pacific Mall, Legazpi City.

The song entitled “Kapit-Bisig” of SOP band made the audience burst into loud cheers while impressing the judges with their vocal stunts and outstanding musicality adjudging them as the grand winner of the recently concluded KALAHI CIDSS─NCDDP PAMANA Songwriting Contest taking home P30,000.00 as the grand prize.

The seven-piece band is composed of Jona Joy Orobia as the lead vocalist, Joash Orobia on bass guitar, Jephthah Orobia on keyboards, Leo Rosales on drums and Jediael Canicula on guitars with Joshua and Jireh Orobia as the lyricists and musical arrangers. Most of them are public school teachers.

The group’s original song conveyed the theme on community-driven development, a successful poverty-reduction strategy used in Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS).

According to Jireh, the band’s representative, the inspiration for their composition was about the love for God and love for the country.

“We believe that a transformed nation starts from changed individuals. We also believe that when we move together with the government, we can do better than just finger-pointing at anybody,” he added.

Moreover, the same group won as the People’s Choice Award with the most number of likes in DSWD Field Office V’s official Facebook fan page with P5,000.00 incentive. They were also recognized as the best interpreter.

The band SOP had bested the other four finalists, namely, Mash-up, Team Gubat, Jan Aldrin and Rocha Sisters. Non-winners received P5,000.00 each as consolation prize.

The songs were judged based on their performance (20%), musical arrangement (40%) and lyrics and its relevance to the theme (40%).

In addition, Joshua and Jireh of SOP were awarded as the best musical arrangers and Jane Rocha of Rocha Sisters was the best lyricist.

The judges were Melanie Sison, the Communication Specialist from DSWD Central Office, Carlo Aycocho and Armand Mikhail Templado of DSWD FO V and Jospeh Perez and Victor Medalla. Dir. Arnel Garcia was also present during the activity together with Asst. RD Corazon Miña and Information Officer Evelyn Jerusalem.

The grand winner is a Christian band with progressive rock genre who aims to influence and promote transformation of nation through music and original compositions. They started playing together as a kids’ band in the year 2000, trained by their parents who were band members of Sounds Of Praise where the band’s name originated. They were frequently invited to play in different events around the region.

They also joined some contests and bagged awards. They won their first song-writing championship in the 2000 PhilHealth Jingle Writing Contest when they were still kids. This year they won in the Bottle of the Bands Song-Writing Title and also won the Best Composition and other major awards in the Magayon Festival Battle of the Bands 2014.

SOP will record their winning piece with DSWD as part of their responsibility as the grand winner. The other four finalists will also be invited to record their original compositions to form an album compilation for Kalahi CIDSS.

The said contest was an initiative of the field office to promote CDD and Kalahi CIDSS to the public specially to the new areas covered by the program’s expansion this year. (with reports from Jireh Orobia)

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DSWD launches 4.5 billion poverty-reduction program in Bicol

Legazpi City─The DSWD Field Office V officially launched the National Community-Driven Program (NCDDP) last October 16, 2014 at Police Regional Office V, Camp General Simeon A. Ola, Legazpi City with the attendance of mayors and governors who forged the Memorandum of Agreement to formally start its implementation.

Dir. Garcia together with the mayors all over Bicol region has formalized the engagement of local government units (LGUs) through the ceremonial signing of the MOA to address poverty and accept KALAHI CIDSS─NCDDP in their respective municipalities.

They released balloons as symbol of rise from poverty and the leaders showed their support to the project by stamping their handprints on the commitment board with the project’s tagline, “Kaya natin ang pagbabago kapag magkakapit-bisig tayo!”

NCDDP scales-up the community-driven development (CDD) strategy, which was proven effective by Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI CIDSS) in its past 11 years of implementation in the Philippines.

CDD champions, the advocates of KALAHI CIDSS─NCDDP, who had previously implemented the project, were also present during the launching. They shared their experiences on how the project had improved the quality of the Bicolanos’ lives through the CDD approach.

KALAHI CIDSS has been implemented in all six provinces of Bicol region since 2003, addressing the most pressing need of a village with the collaborative efforts of local residents and their LGUs.

From 48 municipalities it will now expand to 101 municipalities from 2014 to 2018. About 4.5 billion is the total community grant to fund the expansion of the project in all provinces.

This year, 92 municipalities will implement the said project and the remaining will implement in the succeeding years.

The table below shows the total grant allocation per province under KALAHI CIDSS─NCDDP implementation 2014-2018:

Province Community Grant
Albay 304,884,950.00
Camarines Norte 459,157,540.00
Camarines Sur 1,888,007,990.00
Catanduanes 247,146,675.00
Masbate 941,078,020.00
Sorsogon 657,173,000.00
TOTAL 4,497,448,175.00

The selection of the municipalities was based on 2010 poverty incidence and those affected by Typhoon Yolanda. Last June, all eligible LGUs were required by DSWD to submit enrolment requirements to check their capacities in implementing the project.

Moreover, LGUs are engaged in providing technical assistance and local counterpart contribution to pursue subprojects such as health centers, school buildings, concrete pathways, water systems and other development interventions funded under KALAHI CIDSS─NCDDP.

“The involvement of the people in the implementation of community-identified subprojects promotes the key principles of participation, transparency and accountability in KALAHI CIDSS─NCDDP which improves our local governance,” DSWD Dir. Arnel B. Garcia said.

CDD puts the 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 subprojects that address needs identified by communities themselves.

KALAHI CIDSS─NCDDP is one of the poverty alleviation programs of the Philippine Government being implemented by the DSWD along with Panatwid Pamilyang Pilipino Program and Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP). One of the target groups of the KALAHI CIDSS─NCDDP community subprojects are Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries as well.

The DSWD in Bicol had started to pool applicants last March to fill up 1,315 job vacancies for the project’s expansion this year. The training for the hired field staff had started last September until next month.

The national launching of the project was done in Ormoc, Leyte last June 23, 2014.

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Suzan’s Relief

Suzan and her family almost died in 1995. They even lost their home after that fateful day in November 2, 1995.

It was raining for over a week before Typhoon Rosing swept away their house leaving it in rubbles. Suzan clearly remembered how they dealt with the sudden surge of water and ran for their lives. For them, Typhoon Rosing was the most destructive storm.

Just before All Soul’s Day, Suzan together with her children setup their small stall in the municipal cemetery to sell candles, food and drinks for the weather had improved until the rain started to pour again during night time forcing them to put away their goods.

After returning home, they salvaged their belongings and transferred everything to their neighbour. They were on guard that night because they knew the condition may worsen after knowing the announcements over the radio and television. Heavy rains started to pour at around eleven in the evening and after an hour, the water had increasingly flooded their home. Suzan, whose height is around 5’3”, said that the water had reached her chest level around two in the morning, prompting them to leave. Thereafter, they transferred to the barangay outpost just few meters away from their home, to stay for the rest of the night.

She was dismayed to discover that it was a goodbye for their 11-year old house costing to almost Php10,000.00 when it was constructed.

Suzan Tuazon, now 53, had relocated to a safer ground but did not forget the most pressing moment of her life. Carrying the memory of the tragic past, she was able to become part of the people who found the solution to Zone 2’s frequent flooding.

She took part in the construction of their drainage system in the most critical area of Brgy. Puro Batia wherein it is considered to be the lowest portion of Libaman, Camarines Sur and the catch basin of Sipocot, a neighbouring municipality.

In between the municipal cemetery and 70 households of Zone 2, Puro Batia, is a stream which connects from Sipocot to Libamanan. Even during regular rainy days, Suzan described that the water level can reach knee level and flooding could subside after a week.

She became one of the community implementers of the drainage system which amounted to Php770,600.00 under the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan─ Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI CIDSS), a poverty-reduction project of DSWD.
Being aware of the danger that the creek posed to the residents, she had spent her time as a volunteer to target the construction of their drainage, funded by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), an international donor of KALAHI CIDSS–NCDDP.

“Nagvolunteer ako ta gusto kong makatabang na makakuang project ang sumuyang barangay [I became a volunteer because I want to help our community to get a project],”Suzan said.

Since community participation was the main requirement by the project, Suzan had successfully joined the rest of the volunteers in complying with this and had found relief after the community-managed project had been completed this year.

Even the eight-hour wrath of Typhoon Glenda which lambasted most parts of Bicol region last July 15 did not endanger the households of Zone 2, Puro Batia because of the drainage.

According to Suzan, the drainage contributed to the unclogged creek and the continuous flow of water to the adjacent river cause no harm to the villagers.
The living and the dead are now saved from the threats of flooding in their community.

According to Dir. Arnel B. Garcia of DSWD Field Office V, the MCC provided a total grant of Php614,284,050 for the implementation of KALAHI CIDSS from 2012-2015.

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The women who changed Laurente

Laurente is utterly poor and several persons can attest to this.

Teresita lived through the pains of indigence. She lived in a community with profuse natural endowments but few opportunities. As a fish vendor, she even traveled to other villages to increase her sales. She usually carried a bucketful of fish and sometimes traversed a slick and muddy foot path during the rainy days which turned out to be a non-profitable trade for the drenched seller.

“Dati po, naga buy and sell po ako. Sus na sakit, mam. May surusuknong ako na balde. Pag mahalnas, nadudulas po ako. Tirigaya! Purot ko naman su mga sira. Ilaog ko naman sa balde [I used to buy and sell. Gosh, it was difficult! I am carrying a pail. The path was slippery, I slipped and stumbled. I just collected the fish and returned to its container],” she explained in zeal while she gestured her mishap.

Teresita also added that it embarrassed her to push for a sale with the mud-spattered fish on hand. With this, she only got a very low profit out of the fish supplies she hauled.

The bounty of fish in their coastal community did not guarantee Teresita and her fellow fishermen a dependable livelihood for their families. Even its transportation to town along with agricultural goods is considered to be a constraint for their business because they lack an access road to the town proper. Some of the buyers who came from town even haggled for a lower price because of the distance and travel time.

In the same neighborhood, another woman commiserated Teresita who likely relates to her predicaments. Mary Jane is one of those few women in their community who went to high school back in 1990’s. She got herself a boarding house near San Pascual National High School to pursue her formal education. For four years, she was accustomed to going on foot for one and a half hours from their village to town. She departed home on Sundays and returned Friday afternoon to spend the weekend with her family.

Mary Jane said they would seek shorter routes to cut the travel time despite of unforeseen harm along the way. Consequently, she and her friends would deal with bothersome cows as they scurried and crossed the pasture to hardly avoid them. However, there were instances they could no longer flee when they already provoked the cattle.

“Tiglalamag kami kang baka [Cows run after us],” she added.

Mary Jane vividly reminisced her brief encounters with furious cows that became part of her youth until she got a hold of her diploma in 1992. Contrary to the popular belief of their neighbors with low regard on education, her parents sent her to school to finish her studies.

She claimed that most of the residents in their community cannot afford to send their kids to school. Most graduates of elementary no longer step high school because it is expensive and distant from their village. Parents would make an excuse that their income is only enough to feed their families in which Teresita, an elementary graduate, could also affirm.

Another mother asserted this to be true. Gregoria had the same situation with Mary Jane. She admitted that it was a great struggle to complete her studies.

Similarly, Elizabeth also recounted how her fellow mothers would go a long way to reach the rural health center in town. She felt the troubles of pregnant women who also took the same route on foot just to avail of medical services they need.

Being a community health worker since 2009, she said that they lack the facility to accommodate the people in their small and dilapidated health center. Only ten people can come in and the rest of them would wait outside.

“Pagkasadit-sadit kang samuyang health center. Masikip talaga siya [Our health center is very small. It’s really crowded,” she described.

Improved well-being
When the opportunity came to their village, the people never wasted the chance.

The stories of Teresita, Mary Jane, Gregoria and Elizabeth propelled them to become even more participative and active to attain prosperity for their families and community.

Luckily, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program of DSWD came in 2009 investing in the health and education of poor households, particularly of children aged 0-18 years old that provides cash grants to compliant beneficiaries.

Teresita and Gregoria were one of those qualified beneficiaries molded by Pantawid Pamilya to become responsible parents. They have highly recognized the value of health care for their kids.

“Naaraman ko po kung malnourished ang aki ko ta regular kami magpacheckup [I am aware if my child is malnourished because we go to regular checkups],” Teresita said.

Aside from the cash grant that augmented their children’s allowances to sustain their daily needs and keep them in school, Teresita and Gregoria together with other beneficiaries attended monthly Family Development Sessions (FDS) where educational, interpersonal, interactive and adult learning engagement are discussed to empower and strengthen the relationship and ties among family members and the community.

“Grabe samuya ang tabang ki 4Ps (referring to Pantawid Pamilya). Natugunan ang sa health, edukasyon asin dakol nabago sa sakuyang sa sadiri dahil sa FDS [Pantawid Pamilya greatly helped us. Health and educational needs are met and I changed myself in many ways because of FDS],” Gregoria said.

She also added that she was able to buy decent clothing, school supplies and black shoes for her children replacing the tattered and old ones.

Moreover, social infrastructures were constructed with the funding support from DSWD and other development partners.

The four women were some of the volunteers under the community implementation team of KALAHI CIDSS, a successful poverty-reduction project of DSWD using citizen participation.

Through the PODER 5, a Spanish-funded KALAHI CIDSS project responding to health needs, they were able to fully implement and complete the construction of their new health center in 2010. Likewise, the construction of the concrete pathway in 2012 under PODER 7 was realized through the concerted efforts of the local residents, barangay council and volunteers.

Moreover, the construction of their 410 meter-long concrete pathway implemented through Payapa at Masaganag Pamayanan (PAMANA), another KALAHI CIDSS modality funded by Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP), responded to their hopes of an access road. At present, an additional 210-meter concrete pathway will be constructed under the same modality.

Thus, travel time is now reduced into thirty minutes by riding motorbikes or tricycles.

Fishermen can now sell their products in the market for a more competitive price than before. Agricultural products are hauled easily to the public market and other barangays. More children are attending high school and there is ease of commuting pregnant and sick people who need special medical care.

The community heroes

“Dae matatapos ang proyekto kung dae kami nagkasararo [The project will not be completed unless we come together],” Mary Jane revealed.

The implementation and construction of the concrete pathway and health center was entrusted to its residents under the care of its volunteers.

Being elected as one of the volunteers to take the lead, Teresita, Mary Jane, Gregoria and Elizabeth never failed their neighbors. They never rejected the offer knowing that they will not receive any additional income except that they will leave a mark of change in their community.

“Magadan man ako, marurumduman ninda [her children], si mama palan nagtabang diyan [Even if I die, they will remember that it’s their mother who helped out],” Gregoria said.

Aside from bulky paper works performed by the volunteers for their compliance to the project completion, Gregoria and her children rendered a four-day free labor service during the construction of their pathway in 2013.

“Ining pathway, kung maagi ako, marumduman ko na saro ako jan sa nagtabang, pati mga aki ko [If walk on our pathway, I will remember my children and I extended our assistance]” she added.

On top of being a mother, they devoted a great amount of their time in trainings and seminars outside their community to get acquainted on how to run and implement a community infrastructure. Tired but they never wavered.

“Ginibo mi ang tama kahit anong nagabot na problema para ingatan ang tiwala ning mga tawo [We’ve done what is right despite of problems to keep the people’s trust],” Elizabeth said.

She was amused to learn that one cubic meter of sand is equal to around 56 regular [biscuit] cans. This simple computation made her more knowledgeable in ensuring the quality of their project.

On the other hand, there were few inevitable setbacks but it did not dispirit Gregoria. One of which was to deal with some stubborn people.

“Natuto ako magdara ning tawo na may iba-ibang attitude [I learned to handle people with different attitudes],” she said.

According to Elizabeth, they focused not on the problems but they looked on the brighter side of life. They sought for solutions to resolve problems that may delay the implementation of their project.

Teresita Talisic, Mary Jane Bani, Gregoria Rudina and Elizabeth Marquez are the few of those committed volunteers who served the people of and sacrificed for Laurente.

Barangay Laurente is one of the 22 barangays of San Pascual, Masbate considered as poor. At present, Laurente is home to 420 households. Based on the 2011 Listahan data, there are 276 poor households who are recipients of Pantawid Pamilya and there are now 55 beneficiaries of Sustainable Livelihood Program.

Now, they can take full advantage of their natural resources with the improved access to basic social services.

With the improved access road, Teresita can now sell her fish riding in a motorcycle while Mary Jane’s children can just commute in a tricycle to San Pascual National High School. Elizabeth’s grandchildren can also avail of the basic health care services in a more conducive health facility.

“Kayang-kaya na ning Brgy. Laurente na magtindog bilang sarong komunidad para ipadagos ang paguswag [Brgy. Laurente can now stand as a community to continue our development],” Mary Jane said in confidence.

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