DSWD 4Ps Bicol conducts LGU Stakeholders Conference

DSWD Regional Director Arnel B. Garcia giving message to the Mayor’s of Camarines Sur

The Department of Social Welfare and Development Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) Bicol held a Local Government Unit (LGU) Stakeholder’s Conference at Prime Days Hotel, Naga City last August 28, 2018.

The activity aims to provide the status of implementation of 4Ps in Bicol Region to Local Chief Executives (LCEs) of various Municipalities in the Province of Camarines Sur.

According to Regional Director Arnel B. Garcia, the forum is the Program’s way to reach out to the LCEs in order to address their concerns or other issues about the programs and services being extended by DSWD.

A total of 45 participants attended the said activity which includes the Municipal Mayors and other LGU Representatives.

The Municipal Mayors who attended the conference are Hon. Anthony Reyes of Milaor, Hon. Filimon Goyer of Presentacion, Hon. Ace Cruz of Pamplona, Hon. Oscar Borja of Bombon, Hon. Tomas Bongalonta of Pili.

During the said activity, an orientation about 4Ps was discussed by Provincial Link Arlene Fabellare while the status of accomplishments of the program was presented by Camarines Sur Provincial Link Rina Apuyan.

Thereafter, an open forum with the Mayors ensued to address issues on 4Ps and other programs extended by DSWD.

Meanwhile, Social Welfare Officer III Ma. Magdalena T. Magallano presented the various activities, other initiatives conducted by the Program and other issues that needs to be addressed under 4Ps implementation.

According to Dir. Garcia, the same conference will be conducted on August 29, 2018 to Barangay Captains of various Municipalities in Camarines Sur. “Also, the conference was already conducted in Masbate, Catanduanes, Sorsogon and Camarines Norte while Albay is scheduled on September 5, 2018,” he added.

To date, there are 373, 853 household 4Ps beneficiaries in Bicol Region. ***G.Lindio-4Ps-IO

Municipal Mayor Ace Cruz of Pamplona, Camarines Sur clarifying issues about Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA)

Dir. Garcia with the Mayors of Camarines Sur

 

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Poor Kid of Naga City graduated with High Honor

Dhonnabelle Cultivo, 19, graduated with high honor in Concepcion Pequena National High School, a beneficiary of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program

Born in a poor family in Barangay Concepcion Pequena, Naga City, graduating with high honor is the best payback she could give to her working parents who served as her inspiration and hope to continue achieving her dreams to have a good life for her family.

Nineteen-year old Dhonnabelle Cultivo, earns the top rating in her graduating class in Concepcion Pequena National High School. “Para sa inyo po ito Ma, Pa, sa mga kapatid ko, sa sakripisyo niyo para makagraduate ako sa High School [This is for you Mother, Father and my siblings, for your sacrifices just to let me finish High School],” she said.

Dhonna is the third child among the six siblings of her parents Mariel, 43, working in a canteen and Alvin, 45, a carpenter who gets paid of P200.00 per day whenever chances given for construction work.

Since almost all of her siblings are going to school, her parent’s earnings only went to pay all their loans, electric bills and for their daily food, she said she would go to school with almost P30.00 in her pocket only sufficient as fare for her transportation.

“Mahirap po mga pinagdaanan, pero sinikap ko po na mag-top para po may full scholarship po ako sa College [I went through hard times, but I persevere to be on top to have a full college scholarship],” Dhonna said.

She knew she would go through a lot even harder in college having less but she said it will not stop her to enter the course of Geology or Biology. “Yan po ang pangarap ko na kurso, [It is my dream course],” she said.

According to her Mother Mariel, if it needs to triple themselves (parents) to finance their children’s education she would do it. “Pangarap po namin na makapagtapos sila ng pag-aaral kaya po gagawin namin lahat para suportahan sila, [We dream to let them—children finish education that is why we will do everything to support them.],” she added.

Staying on Focus

Back when she is still going to class, Dhonna recalls that early in the morning she needed to carry a huge pail of water to get to school. The Cultivo’s only had water supply in their house last year.

Also, during her elementary years, she said she literally burns the midnight oil in order for her to study.

Her mother also said that buying uniforms may be simple for other’s but for them they consider it as a momentary luxury of giving her children their needs.

Na-alala ko dati narinig ko yung isang magulang, hindi daw mananalo anak ko sa school kompetisyon nila dahil sa gamit pa nga lang daw na uniform talo na. Ang sakit nun sa akin pero tiniis ko yun. [I remember before I overheard a parent says that my child will not won the competition due to the uniform that she is wearing. It was painful for me but I let it –my suffering pass], Mariel said with tears in her eyes.

Her Family’s difficult situation was even aggravated when her Father had a Pneumonia and at the same time her Mother’s job contract ended.

Lugaw na lang kinakain namin noon pero basta may laman ang tiyan makapasok lang [We only eat porridge that time, but it is ok so long as we have something on our stomach],” Dhonna said.

Moving Forward

Dhonnabelle with her Mother Mariel during her High School graduation

Despite all the suffering Dhonna had gone through, she transform all the pains and suffering into challenges that made her persevere to study more. “Kinaya ko lahat–trabaho sa bahay para makatulong kila Mama, tapos tutulungan ko mga kapatid ko sa homework nila. Tapos, mag-aaral ako kahit gabi na [I did everything—the household choirs to help my parents, then, help my siblings on their homework, then, I would study at night],” she said.

Also, being one of the 368,196 beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4ps) of Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Bicol Region, the cash assistance that the family received had augmented their educational and health needs.

Maraming salamat po, nung dumating po ang programa dun po namin masasabi na nakakabangon na kami kahit paunti-unti. Thank you, when the program came to us, we can say that it is where our life is improving even a little bit],” her mother said.

In addition, Dhonna’s second sibling Alvin is a grantee of Student Grant-in-Aid for Poverty Alleviation (ESGP-PA).

ESGP-PA is an educational grant which gives priority to the beneficiaries of 4Ps by providing them opportunity to get college education, increase their chance to get better employment in the future and ultimately uplift the lives of their family so that they become contributors to national development.

Sakin po, sobrang laki po ang tulong ng 4Ps, kasi yung totoo po, mayna-aabot na po si Mama na pera para sa projects ko, nabibilhan na niya kami ng sapatos, tapos bagong uniform pag recognition, nabawasan din ung pasan nila sa tuition fee namin [To me, 4Ps is a huge help, because the truth is, my Mother can lend money to us when we have school projects, she can buy us shoes, then, new uniforms during recognition, it lessen their burden where to get our tuition fee],” she said with conviction.

Her Dreams

The fire to learn is still very alive in Dhonnabelle as she takes another challenge in pursuing her college.

Kailangan ko na mag-aral ng kolehiyo para pagdating ng araw ay magkaroon ako ng magandang trabaho at ma-alis ko pamilya ko sa ganitong kalagayan [I have to study in college so I can find a decent job and help my family get out of poverty],” she said when she was asked about her plans.

Like any other young kids, with full of hope and dreams for her future and her family. Dhonnabelle is a fine example of how infinite the possibilities are for people who work hard to achieve their dreams saying “Not all people are given the opportunity to pursue college, but despite how hard the future awaits me, with determination and perseverance I will get my family out of poverty. I know we will not be in this situation for long.”GLindio-IO-4Ps

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Single Mom earns college diploma despite poverty

Rigie May R. Marbella, graduate of Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education in Bicol University Polangui Campus, a proud ESGP-PA grantee, an Honorific-Academic Awardee

Being a single mother while pursuing college degree is a huge struggle, but for 23-year-old Rigie May R. Marbella of Barangay Millabas, Pilar, Sorsogon, balancing her life as a student and a mother has inspired her to achieve her life’s goal.

“May” as she is fondly called by her friends got pregnant at the age of 19. However, it did not break her spirit and pursued to continue her studies. Today, she is on her way graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with Honorific-Academic Award from Bicol University (BU) Polangui Campus.

In her facebook post, she expressed her thanks to her family which became her strength to persevere. “Maraming Salamat po Ma Gina and Pa sa inyong walang sawang pagmamahal at pag-unawa sa akin. Napakaswerte ko dahil kayo ang naging magulang ko. Hindi man tayo mayaman at madalas kapos sa pera, pero hindi ninyo ako pinabayaan. Kahit na kahihiyan ang ibinigay ko sa inyo noon, mas naramdam ko ang pagmamahal kaysa sa panunumbat na siyang naging dahilan upang patawarin ko ang sarili ko. Salamat po sa lahat ng hirap at sakripisyo. Salamat din sa mga kapatid ko dahil nanatili tayong buo sa kabila ng lahat [Thank you, Mother Gina and Father, for your tireless love and understanding. I am lucky to have you as my parents. We may not be rich and oftentimes we do not have enough money but you did not abandon me. Although, I gave you shame, but, I felt much of your love instead of blame—which made me forgive myself.  Thank you for the hardships and sacrifices you made. Thank you to my siblings because our family remain complete and whole despite of what happen],” she stated.

Her struggle as a Mother

Rigie May with her three-year old daughter

After four years of being employed in various companies in Metro Manila, she found out that she was pregnant on her four months in her first year in college. “May scholarship sana ako pagtapos ng High School pero hindi ko gusto ang kursong education noon kaya naglayas ako at nagtrabaho bilang cashier sa isang electronics company, sa iba’t ibang factory sa Manila para kumita at matulungan ang pamilya ko [I could have a scholarship after High School but, before, I do not like the education as my course so, I ran away from home and worked as a cashier in an electronics company and various factories in Manila to earn and help my family finance their daily expenses],” she said in an interview.

Having experienced the hardships of being employed with no permanent job, and with minimum earnings, she opted to pursue her college and embrace the course – education given the opportunity to be a grantee of Expanded Student Grant-in-Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation (ESGP-PA)

ESGP-PA is an educational grant which gives priority to the beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) by providing them opportunity to get college education, increase their chance to get better employment in the future and ultimately uplift the lives of their family so that they become contributors to national development.

The ESGP-PA is implemented by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

According to May, she do not regret having a three-year old daughter but she recalled that the odds are heavy, stressful and college life pushes her to cry many times. “Sobrang hirap. Ang hirap mag-aral habang iniisip kung saan kukuha ng pang gastos sa mga susunod na araw, kapag sabay-sabay ang deadlines ng projects, kapag wala ng gatas si baby tapos sasabayan pa ng sakit. Pero lahat ng yun ay pwede naman pala malagpasan. Lahat ng hirap, pagod, puyat, hiya at kapal ng mukha ay magkakaroon din ng bunga sa huli [It was so hard. It was so hard to study while you were thinking where to get money for your expenses on the following day, when the all the deadlines on our projects are overlapping, when my baby have no more milk and at the same time she is sick. But, all these can be surpassed. All the adversities, weary, sleepless nights, shame, countenances paid off in the end],” she shared.

Her suffering was even aggravated back in the year 2015, when she was still pregnant and was hospitalized due to eclampsia with severe anemia and occurred for four times. “Pangalawang buhay ko na po ito, sabi nila mamatay na po ako noon pero laking pasasalamat namin dahil pati si baby ay nabuhay [This would be my second life, they said I could have died but we are grateful because even my baby survived and lived],” she said while wiping her tears with her hands.

May said that a lot of people ask her how she could possibly finish school with a baby. But, she has learned not to care, even though other people’s judgments hurt her and her parents, and that stereotypes do not define people.

Nagpapasalamat sa magulang ko ng sobra sa pagtanggap nila sa akin at sa pagsuporta sa kabila ng lahat. Sila ang naging sandigan ko. Tinulungan nila ako sa pag-aalaga sa anak ko tuwing kailangan kong iwan siya upang bumalik sa paaralan, kapag hindi ako makauwi kasi wala akong pamasake at delay ang allowance namin [I thank my parents this much for accepting and supporting me all the way. They were the ones I depend on. They took the responsibility of taking good care of my daughter when I have to leave her and go back to school, when I could not go back home because I have no money, and when my allowances are delayed], she said.

Some single parents — and grandparents — nearly collapse under the strain of working and raising children. But other parents rise to the challenge. May wants to tell all single mother saying “life is tough but they can do it.”

“I want to express my deepest gratitude to DSWD in partnership with LGU Pilar Municipal Mayor Carolyn Reyes, to BU for giving me this chance to change my life. Thank you Ma’am Arvie and DSWD staff — Team Pilar for all the support and encouragement. I am very blessed to be an ESGP-PA grantee,” she added.

Her Success

I am proud that I have a daughter and I offer what I have achieved to my daughter, parents, my siblings, relatives who helped me, to all my friends, to all the schools Magurang Elementary School and Polangui North Central School for my field study 1-6. My practice teaching would not be this memorable, to all my classmates, to my best friend Honey Jhoanne, thank you,” she added.

Rigie May’s story is a vivid proof that teenage pregnancy may not hamper a woman’s ambition in life. “Pero heto ako ngayon. Suot na ang simbolo ng tagumpay. [But here I am now, wearing the symbol of my success],” she proudly said.

May plans to take a review class and pass the licensure examination and have a good job. “Malaki po ang pangarap ko sa aking pamilya, anak. Balang araw, alam ko maabot din namin ang lahat ng aming pinapangarap at ginhawa [I have huge plans to my family, my child. In the near future I know we can attain our dreams and have a financially stable life],” she said.

Also, it is huge for her to be an inspiration to others and left all people who are in the same situation saying that “look around you, there are still good people who will guide and help you, a miracle is just another term for hard effort, so if I can, you can.” ***GLindio, IO-4Ps

 

Rigie Mae with her parents and younger siblings

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DSWD Bicol clarifies delayed 4Ps cash grants

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Bicol clarified that the delay of release of cash assistance to 4Ps beneficiaries in the Region was due to the seven-day extension requested by the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) to download the funds to its partner conduits that are responsible to directly release the cash grants to the beneficiaries.

The pay-out which was supposed to start last April 17 will be rescheduled on April 24. The cash assistance that will be received by the beneficiaries on the said re-scheduled date covers the month of January 2018 along with the education grants which includes P500 for children in High School or P300 for children in elementary, health assistance amounting to P500.00, rice subsidy amounting to P600.00. Also, it includes the assistance for the Unconditional Cash Transfer Program (UCT) amounting to P2,400 (200.00 per month) for the whole year (January – December 2018).

A total of 258, 215 beneficiaries are affected of the delay. These beneficiaries include the Indigenous Peoples under Modified Conditional Cash Transfer Program (MCCT) and those who are without LBP cash cards who received their grants through over-the counter pay-out.

However, those beneficiaries who have LBP cash cards, have already received their cash assistance last March 2018.

According to Regional Director Arnel B. Garcia, DSWD is saddened about the delay of pay-out. “We understand the clamor of beneficiaries for not receiving their cash assistance on time. We also know that they needed the assistance for health and education specially, that some of their children will graduate or will enroll for the next school year,” he said.

“At this point, we ask for the patience of our beneficiaries and we ensure that the cash assistance meant for them will be received by the beneficiaries themselves,” he added.

In addition, the cash assistance for the month of December 2017 is set to be included in July 2018 pay-out which includes the cash assistance for the months of April – May 2018.

For the cash assistance for Months of February to May 2018, it will be released in accordance to its scheduled pay-out but can be subject to change upon advisory of DSWD Central Office.***GLindio-IO-4Ps.

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DSWD Bicol renewed its partnership with Ago General Hospital and PAKISAMA Bicol

MOA Signing. Reigonal Director Arnel B. Garcia (center) together with representatives from various Civil Society Organizations (CSOs)

 

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Bicol has renewed its partnership with two Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in support to Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries through signing a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) held during the First Quarterly Meeting with Partner Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) at Fiesta Ballroom, Legazpi City, today, April 10.

The signing of the agreement was participated by DSWD Regional Director Arnel B. Garcia and two CSOs, namely, Ago General Hospital and Pambansang Kilusan ng Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA) Bicol. Ago General Hospital was represented by Ms. Remedios A. Lorilla while PAKISAMA Bicol was represented by its Coordinator Arnel Basquinas.

Under the agreement, the Ago General Hospital will implement the “No Balance Billing” scheme which would mean that 4Ps beneficiaries who are automatically qualified as Philhealth members, will no longer pay for any balance if they are discharged from the said medical facility.

According to Lorilla, it will be the government and the hospital or other institutions who will take care of the bills.

On the other hand, the PAKISAMA Bicol agreed to provide livelihood and entrepreneurial skills trainings to 4Ps beneficiaries. Also, they will help provide linkages for the beneficiaries to get a job or be employed in various institutions, organizations in the Region.

In addition, PAKISAMA Bicol will help in facilitating the conduct of Family Development Session (FDS). Some of the topics included for discussion are “Paghahanda sa Buhay Pamilya at Partisipasyon ng Pamilyang Pilipino sa Gawaing Pangkomunidad.”

The FDS is a monthly activity being conducted to beneficiaries of the Program. It is a venue for educational, interpersonal, interactive and adult learning engagement that aims to empower and strengthen the relationship and ties among family members and the community.

The renewal of partnership covers the 4Ps beneficiaries in the entire Bicol Region. Its duration shall be one (1) year commencing its effectivity and renewable upon the consensual agreement of the parties.

Regional Director Garcia, expressed his gratitude to CSOs for their full and continuous support in extending help and provision of assistance to vulnerable sectors and the poor.

Other CSOs were represented by Lydia B. Repuya of Sorsogon Integrated Health Services Foundation, Eduardo Tupas of Cebuana Lhuillier- Masbate, Mary Joy De La Cruz of JLO Big Heart Foundation, Erudita D. Madrid of Philippine Tuberculosis Society Incorporated, Steven Guinan of National Auxiliary Chaplaincy of the Philippines, Mary Jonelyn Ardales of Camalig Bank Foundation Incorporated, Alex Basabe of Universal Peace Federation, Raul B. Diata of Federation Associations for Communities and Children’s Empowerment Incorporated, Natividad A. Lanuza of International Holistic for Life and Progress Incorporated, Augustus P. Onturia of Kabalikat Civicom, Donsol Chapter, Rose Rivero of Philippine Red Cross, Erma H. Areola of Women’s Federation Incorporated, Pilar, Sorsogon.***GLindio,IO-4Ps.

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4Ps beneficiaries help feed Mayon Evacuees in Albay

4Ps help feed Mayon Evacuees. Affected families of Mayon Volcano eruption housed in Guinobatan West Central School lined-up for the feeding activity of Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries in Guinobatan, Albay.

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Beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) of Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Bicol help feed the affected families of Mayon Volcano eruption through their community garden.

From their bountiful harvest of fresh vegetables and crops these 4Ps beneficiaries of Barangay Calzada, Guinobatan, Albay provided a sumptuous meal to a total of 542 affected families temporarily housed in Guinobatan West Central School.

According to Charmaine Gadgode, municipal link deployed to provide the current status of affected families in the evacuation center, although they (beneficiaries) are evacuees as well, they opted to return the blessings they received through helping their co-residents.

“The money they spent to provide the meals come from the produced vegetables and root crops in their community garden located at the said barangay. Plus, the remaining money of P4,000.00 that the group has from joining the last year’s competition of Albay Family Based Food Production program organized by the Provincial Government of Albay,” Gadgode said.

Pride of the accomplishment of the group, she added it was last August 2017 that beneficiaries thought of joining the competition. “They won first place at the Municipal level and fifth place at the Provincial Level Competition with P8,000.00 as their cash prize,” Gadgode said.

Michelle Odono Cabellero, beneficiary and parent leader said that as a beneficiary of the Program they were urged and thought on how to plant vegetables, fruits and herbs from their own backyard using the Bio-intensive gardening (BIG) technique—which uses organic fertilizer to grow vegetables.

Tapos, nag-isip po kami—kadaklan samo mga benepisyaryo na magtanom nin sari-saring gulay, herbal plants sa bakanteng lote mi didi sa barangay Calzada. Nagpa-aram kami ki Kapitan [Then, we (residents) of which, many are beneficiaries, thought of planting various kinds of vegetables and herbs in the vacant lot here in Barangay Calzada. We asked approval from our Barangay Captain],” she said.

Ginna Basquilos, 37, of Barangay Masarawag, an evacuee who fled from the eruption of Mayon Volcano together with his two kids and her mother, expressed his gratitude to the kindness of beneficiaries. “Salamat, naisip ninda na magtabang man samo. Masiramon su pagkakan mi ta fresh su gulay, tapos dakol sahog, [Thank you, they thought of helping us. The food was delicious because the vegetables are fresh and it has a lot of ingredients],” Ginna said.

The BIG Project

According to Regional Director Arnel B. Garcia, the Project BIG encourages 4Ps beneficiaries from rural, or even in urban areas to plant vegetables in small pots of lands and even in pots. “In this way beneficiaries are becoming empowered to provide for themselves and their families through their own efforts. Enabling them to learn to fight poverty and become more conscious of improving their nutrition habit,” he said.

Also, he noted that BIG may seem like a simple project. “But it goes a long way towards eradicating hunger and providing food security among our beneficiaries. It is an effective strategy towards reducing the impact of poverty on families,” he added.

At present, Project BIG has saturated all the 114 Municipalities in Bicol Region with a total of 327,087 pantawid pamilya household beneficiaries who has their own backyard garden or container gardens at their home.

In addition, through the collective efforts of 4Ps beneficiaries in whole Region, they are able establish 10,471 communal gardens located in their respective barangay and 7,560 communal gardens found inside the school.

The Communal Garden

Michelle stated that it was through the efforts of the Barangay Council, women’s organization and farmer’s association, Bicol University College of Agriculture and Forestry (BUCAF), together with the 4Ps beneficiaries that they were able to put their communal garden.

She added that everyone selflessly shared their plants, and BUCAF provided them with variety of seedlings to plant.

May 30 na tanom po kami didi, may sitaw, petchay, mustasa, talong, kamatis, lada, okra, luya, carrots, labanos, kamote, apay, balingoy, saging, kalunggay, papaya, patola, kangkong bean na saradayot, ampalaya, bell pepper, niyog, alugbati, puru-pagolong, oregano, tanglad, madre de kakaw, sibulyas, bawang, mani, pakwan [We have 30 variety of plants here, we have legumes, cabbage, mustard, egg plant, tomatoes, wild chili, gumbo, ginger, carrots, raddish, sweet potato, gabi, cassava, banana, horseradish, papaya, patola, water spinach, bitter gourd, bell pepper, coconut, malabar nightshade, oregano, lemon grass, madre de cacao, onion, garlic, peanut and watermelon],” Michelle said.

Since last year until now, BUCAF continuously conduct a two-hour weekly session, to beneficiaries and trained them on how to properly cultivate land, plant various kinds of vegetables and produce organic fertilizers from animal wastes, or dried plants.

Maogma po kami ta naukudan mi ang tamang pagtanom, pag mantenir asin sustenir nin samuya na garden, [We are glad that we are able to know the proper way of planting, maintaining and sustaining our garden,” Michelle stated.

With the help of Department of Agriculture, they (beneficiaries) were also provided with farm tools such as trowel and fork.

However, due to the continuous activity of Mayon Volcano spewing thick pillar of smoke and ashes some of their plants and fruits are burned and damaged.

Wala din kaming bakod kaya may mga kambing tapos iba pang hayop na kikaon su pananom, [We do not have a fence around that is why the goats and other animals owned by my co-villagers ate our plants],” she explained.

Its benefits

Amid the Mayon volcano’s continued eruption, beneficiaries continue to produce vegetables and fruits from their garden ang generate income.

Last September 2017, they are able to harvest 15 kilos of mustard, cabbage and other crops earning more than 1,000.00 from their produce. “Ginagamit namon po sa pagmantenir nin garden [We used our earnings to maintain our garden],” she stated.

Also, It has addressed the nutritional gaps in their community having seven malnourished children from last year to zero number of malnourished children as of this March 8, 2018.

Nagbibigay din po kami ng mga gulay sa Child Care Center sa feeding nila para makatulong sa mga bata na mas maging malusog sila [We also provide vegetables to Child Care Center during their feeding activity to help kids grow healthier],” she added.

Some of the villagers are free to harvest in the communal garden so long as they ask permission to the person in charge.

Pwede po sinda na magkua nin gulay o ano man na pananom didi lalo na po su mga nanganaipo na warang mailuto [They can get vegetables or any kind of plants especially those persons who do not have anything to cook],” Michelle said.

Michelle, being one of the active beneficiary who maintain their communal garden said it offers many benefits such as stress relief, helps building her self-esteem and fights depression.

Solo parent po ako, tulo ang aki, tapos duwang taon na po kami na hiwalay nin agom ko. Playboy, kaya sa pagtanom po nakagaan po nin boot [I am a solo parent with three children and we are separated for two years. He is a playboy and through planting it helps ease my lowness],” she explained.

The communal garden provided these beneficiaries an opportunity to enjoy nutritious food at little cost or no cost. It has provided the opportunity for people from different backgrounds to come together and foster a sense of ownership, selfless service and undertaking their social responsibility in their community. ***GLindio, IO-4Ps

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A Noble Man with his noble deeds

Growing up in a community with and little hope of changing your circumstances does not seem like a promising start for anyone. But, for Melchor Buenaflor, 48, of Barangay Tinago, Ligao, Albay his childhood taught him tenacity and strength that served him well in years spent being a missionary—helping others those who are in need.

A missionary, explorer, and champion of the poor, ”Choi” as he is fondly called by everyone, used his experiences to fight great wrongs in the society and to blaze the path for the poor to improve their living.

He believed that he was called to serve God as he was called to finding routes and resources that would help the poor gain profit. He was loved by many and respected by a lot of people with whom he had contact with.

His beginnings

Choi’s childhood years is not that easy. He grew up in shantytown and worked to help support his poverty-stricken family.

Being the eldest in 10 siblings, he took the responsibility of helping his parents gain income. He wakes up  early morning as young as seven years old to sell fish in the local markets. He was trained to raise money for his school and personal needs to lessen the financial loads of his parents.

During his college years, he was given no choice but to take up the course Industrial Education since his parents cannot finance his dream to pursue Architecture.

While studying in Bicol University, his parents felt hard to finance his day-to-day expenditures. Thus, to continue his college education, he made use of his exceptional talent in arts and design and accepted t-shirt printing and other art works.

Choi had faced sufferings and hardships and once considered giving up. He reached a point in his life questioning why there are so much injustices in the society and why there are people who suffer from extreme poverty and people with so much wealth in life.

For quite some time, Choi struggled to face the reality of his life and started to use prohibited drugs because of his .

His turning point

While, Choi was out with his friends, they met a missionary preaching Jesus’ words to a group of people in their community.

As the missionary said, “Your life will never have direction; it will be hopeless without God guiding you. Why not receive Christ in your heart tonight and receive forgiveness of your sins and salvation for your soul. So doing you will start having relationship with God as your father thru Christ.”

The man’s words kept on taunting him and caused him a nightmare. Those words moved him and finally realized to change his life and return back to God. It was then, Choi decided to focus on his studies, be more diligent and optimistic in performing his duties and responsibilities to his family.

He learned perseverance and went on to put himself to finish his studies and become an instructor at Bicol University College of Industrial Technology (formerly BUSAT) handling college and last section high school students

More so, he was able to support the education of his two siblings and let them finish their college degree. He also inculcated to them the value of education and sacrifice to help one another.

His Mission

Eager to help more people who experienced the same hardship as his, he equipped himself with greater knowledge and understanding of the distinctions of every community or group of people by studying Cross Cultural Community Development Course.

Back in 1988, he started his mission trip in Thailand conducting literacy and community development endeavors in depressed areas in Indo-China Region (Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam & Laos). His wife Alma, fully embraced their calling in helping people in need doing medical missions and other community-based projects that would alleviate people from the quagmire of poverty.

“It is of our responsibility to help those who are in need,” he said.

While serving other countries, they too are fully engaged in the Philippines and continue their mission in their hometown in Ligao City.

There, they spend their own money for feeding more than 50 children for three years to free them from hunger and abuse.

Having known for their mission, an Australian partners help fund their missionary activities. They were able to build a non-government and a non-profit organization named Asian Community Christian Centre based in Ligao City, Albay.

At present, his son is also engaged in his family’s missionary works conducting values formation programs to people in prison ministry and in different communities local and abroad. They serve people through medical missions, giving educational assistance to poor yet determined students, feeding program for severely wasted children which has expanded in nearby municipalities.

“Our family together with our children will continue helping others. And, we encourage everyone to do the same—simple act of noble kindness is of is of great value to others,” he added.

Although, he had a lot of challenges along the way in fulfilling his mission, it did not stop him from helping others, instead, he expanded his service works and assist in spearheading the International Holistic for Life and Progress Incorporated (i-Help) in Bicol Region.

I-Help is a non-profit organization that aims to seek linkages with other Non-government organizations and faith based organizations to provide livelihood and entrepreneurial trainings to vulnerable sectors of the society.

It is one of the active civil society organization (CSO) partners of DSWD providing capacity and livelihood training, facilitator and resource persons during family development sessions to more than 15,000 family beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program is (4Ps) is a human development measure of the national government that provides conditional cash grants to the poorest of the poor, to improve the health, nutrition, and the education of children aged 0-18.

Today, Pastor Choi being the Regional Coordinator of i-Help earned the love and respect of many and was able to spread the gospel to areas like no other missionary could. ***G.Lindio, with reports from Michelle Rebato

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A total of P276M UCT assistance released to Pantawid Pamilya Beneficiaries in Bicol

An amount of P276,854,400 have been released to 115,356 Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program beneficiaries in Bicol for the Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) Program of Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries with land bank cash cards are the first to receive the UCT assistance of P2,400 (P200 per month) for the whole year (2018). The remaining 258,215 pantawid pamilya beneficiaries of which 252,552 beneficiaries come from Regular Pantawid Pamilya and 5,663 beneficiaries come from Modified Conditional Cash Transfer without cash cards will receive the UCT grants on April 2018 through partner conduits.

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

As stipulated in the TRAIN act, DSWD is responsible for the implementation the UCT scheme for three years.

For this year 2018, an amount of P2,400 (P200 per month) will be released. For 2019 and 2020 an amount of P3,600 (P300 per month) will be provided to beneficiaries of UCT.

Among the beneficiaries of UCT in the Philippines, are 4.4 million Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, three million indigent senior citizens of Social Pension Program and 2.6 million households selected from the Listahanan or National Household Targeting System (NHTS-PR) which will undergo through validation process.

According to Regional Director Arnel B. Garcia, the validation process of Listahanan is expected to last for three months and the final list of beneficiaries are targeted to be out by the end of May. “Thus, distribution of the UCT assistance for Listahanan are targeted to be done by June 2018,” he explained.

One of the Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries who received the cash grant for UCT is thirty-eight year old Cherry Escario of Busay, Daraga, Albay. “Hindi po namin ito inaasahan, pero maraming maraming salamat po. Gagraduate na po ang anak ko ngayon na Marso at malaki po itong tulong sa amin, lalo na sa pag-paaral ng tatlo ko pong anak,” she said.***GLindio,IO-4Ps

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