Nanay Nelia express her motherly love by caressing Ruby. She said all she could hope for is to provide Ruby a normal life and a sustainable livelihood for her family.


At the age of 60, people expect elders to be at home, living a simple, happy and contented life but not in the case of Nelia Ilacad, who still performs the role of a mother to her full-grown children and even her grandchildren.

Nanay Nelia, as she is fondly called off by her friends lives in Barangay Cale, Tiwi in the Province of Albay. She has seven children living with her and five grandchildren.

Maski igwang kanya-kanyang pamilya na ang mga aki ko ay hirap talaga ang buhay namon. Wara sinda pwedeng arong digdi lang sakuyang barong-barong. Su mga apo ko man wara pwedeng mag-alaga kundi ako lang ta nagtatrabaho su mga gurang ninda. [Although my children have their own family but they have no place to live, only here in our shanty house. There is no one to take care of some of my grandchildren also because their parents are working]. Nelia said.

Her world was even harder when she found out that one of her grandchildren, Ruby Colot, 9, has autism.  “Nung 2 years old si Ruby, nailing mi ang kakaibang ugali niya kumpara sa ibang mga aki. [When Ruby was 2 years old, we have noticed the difference in her attitude compared with other kids]. She said.

This piece of information turned her mother world upside down but she accepted everything and faces all the challenges that come. “Ako na ang naging magurang kaini ni Ruby ta su Ina niya nagtatrabahong katabang sa Manila asin ang Ama niya ay nasa kulungan. [I am the one who stood as a mother of Ruby because her mother worked as a helper in Manila and her Father is in jail].

Nanay Nelia recognized and fully acknowledged the fact that her mom-job would entail a lot more than feeding to Ruby and the rest of her family members.

Hence, she worked hard to earn at least P300-500 a week through “paghahabi” of abaca to sustain her family needs. “Sinda ang sakuyang kayamanan asin sainda ako minakua nin kusog. Sakatunayan, mas natatabangan ako ni Ruby kaysa ako saiya. [They are my treasure and I gain strength from them. In fact, Ruby has benefitted me more than I did for her]. She stated.

Help Comes

Despite Nanay Nelia’s dire living condition, she still sees hope that their condition will improve.

Until, help comes and Nanay Nelia found a renewed sense of hope when she was included in the list of beneficiaries under Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Modified Conditional Cash Transfer (MCCT) program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

“Salamat po sa pagtaong tabang kay Ruby. Dakulaon na tabang ini para makaray an samuyang kondisyon. [Thank you for helping Ruby. It is a big aid to our family to improve our condition]. Nanay Nelia said with smile in her face.

MCCT is a prototype of Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program which was implemented last 2012 to provide and strengthen the safety, protection and development of children in difficult circumstances.

Under MCCT, families with special needs are provided with P300 educational cash grant per month per child and 500 pesos health cash grant for the family. Eventually, these families will be mainstreamed to regular Pantawid Pamilya Program.

These family beneficiaries in need of special protection are those with children with disabilities, child-laborers, street/homeless families, indigenous peoples, migrants, and displaced families due to man-made and natural disasters.

Like in Pantawid Pamilya, beneficiaries of MCCT engaged in Family Development Sessions (FDS). The children must also attend an alternative mode of learning or formal schools, and visit health centers.

After six months of social preparation the family must reside in a permanent home.

In Bicol Region, a total of 472 registered families benefited from the said program.

“Sa tabang kan programa, naukudan ko kung pano’ mag-ataman kan arog ni Ruby asin makiiba sa ibang tawo. [With the help of the program, I learned how to handle children like Ruby and deal with other people].

Mother of All

More than being a Mother to her children and to Ruby, who is in need of special treatment, Nanay Nelia still finds energy to give something to other people.

Nanay Nelia became a parent leader. She oversees 20 families of Pantawid Pamilya residing in their barangay, monitors the use of cash grants and attendance during family development sessions.

Also, she served her community folks by being barangay health worker and community based rehabilitation worker. “Dakula po ang naukudan ko sa pagiging aktibo sa barangay. [It widens my knowledge through engaging actively in the community],” she stated.

Nanay Nelias unrelenting will to make the most out of her life, her commitment to serve, her dedication to her role as a mother and her level of understanding and awareness despite her struggle are living proof of the unrelenting human will. She said all she could hope for is to have a better source of income for her family and education to Ruby. “Gabos na pangarap mi pwedeng mangyari sa pagpangadyi asin pagtiya-tiyaga. [All of our dreams can be attained through prayers and perseverance]. She ended. ***G.A.N. Lindio, Information Officer –Pantawid Pamilya