Filling the void with a new family

Katarina Machtemes (lower, center), a Filipina, now living in Germany as a phramacy aide. She was one of the children placed for adoption in 1995 by DSWD from its Reception and Study Center (RSCC).

Katarina Machtemes found the cure to fill the gaps in her life. But she endured the wounds that molded her today.

One of the punitive moments for her was when she was abandoned by her mother in 1994 who left her at a DSWD office in Daet, Camarines Norte. Katarina, who was four at that time, was then brought to DSWD Reception and Study Center (RSCC) in Legazpi City that gave her the temporary care.

In this difficult time, she slowly recovered from the distress because of the people who showed love and compassion.

According to Katarina, the social workers at RSCC described her as a cheerful child who wants to be cuddled all the time. Their arms served as a refuge to a lost child that longed for a family.

After a year of staying in the Center, Katarina was blessed with a family who gave her not only a permanent home but unconditional love. Through intercountry adoption, she met and lived with them in Germany.

“Though I’m not the only child in the family, I experienced being loved and accepted wholeheartedly,” she said.

Katarina also said that she did not feel any hint of pity being an adopted child because her new family nurtured and helped her reach her dreams. Her siblings were ready to help and support her aspirations.

“I never felt scared or doubted my capacity,” she added.

Moreover, she took Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy and currently working as a pharmacy aide at one of the drugstores in Germany.

Katarina thought things are working well for her, however, her adoptive parents struggled with their marriage that led to their separation.

Her siblings got their own families as well that incited for Katarina to look for her biological parents in the Philippines.

“I felt the desire to look and meet my family in the Philippines when I started to feel that there’s something missing,” she said.

She started to ask questions like what does her family looks like; are they still looking and thinking of her; what’s their condition now.

Her boyfriend arranged her motherland tour in 2016. Finally, she was able to fly to the Philippines.

Katarina felt a sense of belongingness and extreme joy when she saw her fellow countrymen.

Her adoptive brother who is also a Filipino accompanied her to meet and look for her family.

She met her relatives but not her biological mother. However, she was happy to hear stories about her as a child and her mom.

“For unknown reason, I felt relieved on what I heard from them. I am hopeful to meet my biological mom the very soon I get back again to the Philippines,” Katarina said.

Moreover, she was grateful to meet the people behind RSCC who introduced her to the life she has now.

“They were adorable, accommodating and approachable. They assisted me all throughout my motherland tour and made it a successful one,” she said.

Katarina was more than thankful that she was one of those children placed under the care of the center rather than living on the streets with full of uncertainties.

Despite of the doubt and all the wounds she withstood through time, Katarina was able to find the cure in her emptiness.

“I am more than complete and would always want to thank all the people who helped me to grow into an independent person,” she said.

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DSWD calls for internship program applications

Legazpi City—DSWD FO V is now accepting application for its Government Internship Program (GIP) with 80 available slots until March 13, 2019.

The selection of the qualified applicants will be based on the following: a) 18-25 years old; b) Educational background (High School graduates, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Certificate holders, Alternative Learning System (ALS) certificate holders, incoming first to fourth year college students for school year 2019-2020; c) in good health condition; d) monthly family income not more than Php8,022.00; e) Pag-asa Youth Association of the Philippines (PYAP) member; f) Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiary or Listahanan-identified poor.

Listahanan is an information management system that aims to establish a database of poor households that serve as basis in prioritizing the poor as beneficiaries of social protection programs while 4Ps is a human development measure of national government providing conditional cash grants to poor families to improve the health, nutrition and education of children aged 0-18.

Interested persons must fill-out the GIP application form available at Protective Services Unit (PSU) of DSWD Field Office V or coordinate with the Youth Service Provider at the Local Social Welfare and Development Offices (LSWDOs). They must submit photocopy of birth certificate, most recent school registration form or certification from the school indicating the recent year/semester of the applicant’s school attendance, photocopy of income tax return (ITR) of parent/guardian or Barangay Certificate of Indigence and medical certificate indicating that the applicant is fit to work.

All requirements must be submitted before March 13, 2019 to the Protective Services Unit (PSU) personnel at DSWD Field Office V, Buraguis, Legazpi City or look for the PYAP Youth Service Provider at LSWDOs.

Incomplete documents will be disqualified. Only applicants who passed the screening process will be notified through text or phone call.

Moreover, there will be an orientation to GIP qualifiers on April 5, 2019 in Legazpi City (venue to be determined).

Each GIP beneficiary will receive a total stipend of PhP6,862.50 or 75% of the regional daily minimum wage rate of PhP228.27.

The duration of GIP is good for 30 working days only. It will begin on April 15, 2019 until May 29, 2019 but may be extended if there are official holidays or celebrations. The GIP evaluation is scheduled on June 5, 2019.

The GIP’s will be deployed at the DSWD Field Office V and local government units (LGUs) implementing PYAP.

Queries can be sent to the DSWD Youth Focal Person Ms. Kathe Sabdao through her mobile number: 09121160438.

The GIP is implemented by the DSWD in its regional offices. It is one of the components of the Kabataan 2000 program of the government. It aims to provide in-school youths and out-of-school youths an opportunity to learn about the government and develop skills with hands-on experience to work in the government, which they can use if they decide to join public service in the future.

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New DSWD rehab center for boys starts construction in its new location

DSWD Field Office V Regional Director Arnel B. Garcia with the Provincial Local Government of Albay joins the Groundbreaking Ceremony of the Regional Rehabilitation Center for Youth (RRCY) Building in Oas, Albay.

The Groundbreaking Ceremony of the Regional Rehabilitation Center for Youth (RRCY) was conducted yesterday with key officials from the Albay local governments and DSWD Field Office V.

The RRCY of DSWD Field Office V will transfer to a bigger facility at Brgy. San Vicente, Oas, Albay once the new building is completed. This is through the partnership of the Provincial Local Government Unit (PLGU) of Albay and DSWD.

“We would like to thank the PLGU of Albay through the leadership of Gov. Al Francis Bichara because we will transfer the RRCY to a convenient location,” DSWD Dir. Arnel Garcia said.

Furthermore, Gov. Bichara said that the PLGU is open to any future partnerships with DSWD to support the enhanced delivery of social services to its target clientele.

The new RRCY building under phase 1 construction is expected to be completed in one year based on the technical plan with Delpar Construction and Supplies as its contractor.

DSWD allocated a total of P150 million to construct the new RRCY building in the two-hectare land property of PLGU-Albay under Usufruct Agreement with DSWD. The new bilding will include the following amenities and facilities: two-storey administrative building, two-storey boys quarter building, road network, parking and drainage, perimeter fence and entrance gate, water facilities (water tank and accessories), electrical facilities (power house, electric post and accessories), clinic/infirmary building, guardhouse with receiving and inspection area, drying and laundry room, productivity building, staff house, receiving area with cottage for visitors, multi-purpose covered court, motor pool and landscape.

The new RRCY will feature a rain collector system and will also have an agricultural and gardening area.

DSWD’s RRCY is currently located at a residential area in Brgy. Pangpang, Sorsogon City with only 45 bed capacity.

The relocation to a new site was prompted by complaints received from the homeowners and residents at Brgy. Pangpang due to the observed behavior by the boys undergoing rehabilitation.

With the ongoing construction of its new building, the RRCY in Oas will have an increased bed capacity good for 150 clients with ameliorated facilities to help the children in conflict with the law (CICL) in a non-residential area.

The RRCY provides 24-hour care, treatment and rehabilitation services under the guidance of trained staff where residents are cared for under structured therapeutic environment with the end view of reintegrating them into their families and communities as well as to help them become socially functioning individuals.

It provides the following services: Social Services, Home Life Services/Group, Living Environment, Educational Services, Productivity Livelihood Services, Socio-Cultural and Recreational Services, Spiritual Enhancement Services, Medical/health/Psychological and Dental Services, Legal Services and Other Therapeutic Services.

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Adoption Consciousness Week Celebration commences; DSWD Field Office V urges legal adoption

Various government agencies join the official kickoff event of the Adoption Consciousness Week Celebration at Puro, Legazpi City.

Legazpi City-The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Field Office V has officially commenced with its annual celebration of the Adoption Consciousness Week yesterday at Puro, Legazpi City.

The theme of this year’s celebration is “Pagmamahal palaganapin, legal na pag-aampon ating gawin (Spread unconditional love through legal adoption)”.

Different government agencies were present yesterday who joined the foot parade and Zumba as part of the opening program. Local officials from National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM), Philippine Information Agency (PIA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Educo, National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), Civil Service Commission (CSC), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Commission on Population (POPCOM) were present.

“We would like to inform the public that DSWD will guide you with the legal adoption process. Consultation with us is free of service,” DSWD Regional Director Arnel Garcia said.

As part of the weeklong celebration, the DSWD will put up inquiry desks at SM Legazpi and SM Naga on February 14-15, 2019, 10:00AM-5:30 PM to respond to queries about adoption and foster care.

Also, a poster contest is scheduled at DSWD Field Office V, Legazpi City on February 19, 2019.

The Adoption Consciousness Week Celebration will culminate on February 21, 2019, 1:00-5:00 PM with a forum about foster care and legal adoption at PNP Regional Office V, Camp Simeon Ola, Legazpi City. Admission is free and snacks will be served to first 50 guests. Interested individuals or parties may contact 09171426963 to confirm attendance or send queries about the said forum.

Moreover, DSWD Field Office V has its own adoption text lines: 09475854675 or 09171426963.

Any interested individuals may seek DSWD’s free services. For those who want to adopt, they can visit DSWD Region V ARRS located at Buraguis, Legazpi City or may call (052) 8201309. However, applicants are advised that they need to spend a considerable amount on legal services and documentary requirements in line with the adoption and foster care process.

Adoption as an alternative parental care program is one of the statutory programs of the DSWD for abandoned and neglected children as guided by Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8552 known as the Domestic Adoption Act of 1998 and R.A. No.9523, also known as an Act Authorizing the Secretary of DSWD to issue a Certification Declaring a Child Legally Available for Adoption (CDCLAA).

Adoption is a socio-legal process of providing a permanent family to a child who is legally available for adoption while foster care refers to the provision of planned temporary substitute parental care to a child by a foster parent.

A Foster Parent/Family is issued a license by the DSWD after a favorable assessment and recommendation. A Foster Placement Authority is also issued by the Department to authorize the placement of a child/children to a licensed foster parent/family.
In 2018, DSWD Field Office V was able to place 11 children for adoption, 25 children for foster care and 13 children were endorsed for inter-country adoption.

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The reflections of the enlightened CICL

Life is like a candle. Darkness enfolded a child when life hit him hard and lost any sight of the light at a young age.

Jose, not his real name, was a victim of inhospitable circumstances. His parents lived separately with his mother who shouldered the sole parental responsibility over four children in the family while his father sent them money to support them financially.

Moreover, he was confronted with a life changing event after his father’s death in 2009. His mother pulled the ends together by exploring alternative livelihood activities for their daily sustenance including the payment for their school expenses.

According to Jose, from being a household manager, his mom attended trainings in cosmetics and caregiving, hence, she worked as part-time on call beautician and caregiver thereafter.

In the absence of his mother, Jose’s eldest sibling replaced his mother. But according to him, it was not enough.

He admitted that they had more time to engage with their peers due to limited adult’s supervision.

Jose discovered the life without boundaries. A life where he can decide on his own without his parents’ reprimand.

Soon, Jose engaged with friends who introduced him to different vices.

“I cut classes. I learned how to smoke and drink alcohol while my older brother got into illegal drugs,” he said.

Jose became unstoppable. In 2015, Jose who was in third year high school decided to steal a motorcycle parked in his school because he wanted to have his own service; something that his mom cannot afford.

However, his world crumbled down when he was apprehended the same year. He violated the Anti-Fencing Law and was admitted at DSWD’s Regional Rehabilitation for Youth (RRCY) in Sorsogon City for his suspended sentence and directed him to undergo rehabilitation instead of full blown court trial.

After his three-year stay at RRCY, he was discharged out of the facility and was integrated to his family.

At RRCY, a residential institution that provides protection, care, treatment and rehabilitation to abused and exploited boys below 18 years of age, Jose received the following from DSWD: social services, home life services, educational services, health services, psychological services, spiritual enrichment services, productivity program and socio-cultural and recreational services.

After all those years, the most valuable lesson he learned is that life is important.

Jose described life like a candle. Its light may end in an instant if not taken care of.

But the people who gave them the opportunity to live a reformed life kept the light burning and its continuing illumination serves a source of inspiration to those who were lost in the darkness.

According to U.S. President John F. Kennedy: “We are not here to curse the darkness, but to light the candle that can guide us through that darkness to a safe and sane future”.

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DSWD conducts bloodletting activity in line with its anniversary

DSWD Field Office V Regional Director Arnel B. Garcia encouraged employees to donate blood last January 21,2019 as part of the 68th DSWD Anniversary Celebration.

Legazpi City— DSWD Field Office V conducted a bloodletting activity last January 21, 2019 in connection with the DSWD 68th Anniversary Celebration.

The founding anniversary is observed every January. For the 68th anniversary, a bloodletting activity was facilitated by DSWD FO V Human Resource Welfare Section in collaboration with Philippine National Red Cross- Albay Chapter and Department of Health Regional Office V. This was simultaneously done by other Regional Offices all over the country.

22 eligible DSWD employees participated in the activity who were assessed during the registration process.

Regional Director Arnel B. Garcia encouraged the employees to join this advocacy to help save lives through blood donation.

“It is a rewarding experience for us because we can extend the life of others,” Dir. Garcia added.

Doctor Alan Lucañas, the team leader of the bloodletting activity, acknowledged this initiative and expressed interest to accept similar engagements with DSWD to augment the scarce blood supply.

All the DSWD blood donors received snacks and freebies from DOH and were excused at work to take a break after.

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More DSWD programs for ‘Usman’ victims in Bicol

The assessment and interview of Melissa Dubos from Brgy. Bariis yesterday. She was one of the ‘Usman’ victims in Tiwi, Albay that DSWD Field Office V provided with financial assistance with provision of outright cash PhP5,000.00 (maximum).

Legazpi City—The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Field Office V is currently providing other assistance through its existing programs to help the families affected by Tropical Depression (TD) Usman that triggered landslides and severe flooding in Bicol almost two weeks ago.

Based on the January 8, 2019, 11PM Disaster Response Operations Monitoring and Information Center (DROMIC) report, 2,137 of the 80,982 affected families are still in the evacuation centers. DSWD also recorded 121 dead, 89 injured and 23 missing.

Furthermore, DSWD’s cost of assistance reached PhP24,446,438.25 which includes food and non-food items such as family food packs (FFPs), sleeping kits, hygiene kits, kitchen kits, blankets and malong.

“Though we have noted the increase in evacuation center decampment, we are also facilitating the provision of financial assistance to those families with death and injury,” Dir. Garcia said.

The DSWD social workers are currently conducting interview, assessment and payout to the reported families with death and injury among its members. DSWD will provide a maximum outright cash of PhP5,000.00 for the financial assistance.

The DSWD social workers went personally to Tiwi, Albay yesterday to distribute burial assistance to some of the ‘Usman’ victims.

Melissa Dubos of Brgy. Bariis in Tiwi is one of the recipients of DSWD’s burial assistance. She lost her partner in the early evening of December 29, 2018 when toppled posts caused by a landslide strung him by the electricity cables.

She can clearly recall her wounded partner fighting for his life as they traversed the mountains on foot for more than an hour to get him to the nearest hospital but the large debris of soil and rock hindered their way to the town leaving him succumb to death.

“Sa December 29 pa sana siya uuwi mula Cavite kaso nag request yung mga anak ko na makasama siya nang mas maaga (He is supposed to go home last December 29, 2018, however, he came earlier because of my children’s request),” Melissa said.

She was advised by the DSWD social worker during the interview and stress debriefing that despite of the inevitable challenges, she needs to stay strong for her two children and keep them motivated by assuring them that they can get through this together.

“Nagpapasalmat ako dahil may mga nakarating nang tulong sa amin ngunit mas masaya sana kung kasama pa din namin siya ngayon (I’m grateful of the aid we received but we can be happier if he is still with us today),” Melissa said.

The medical and burial assistance is part of the DSWD Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS). AICS is a social safety net or a stop-gap mechanism to support the recovery of individuals and families from unexpected crisis such as illness or death of a family member, natural and man-made calamities, and other crisis situations.

Dir. Garcia also clarified that the abovementioned programs do not automatically cover everyone. The identification of the program beneficiaries is based on the local government unit (LGU) disaster report validated by the DSWD Field Office V.

“We have sufficient resources to aid the Usman victims, however, we also prioritize those people inside the evacuation centers,” he added.

He also said that augmentation to LGUs DSWD’s primary role during Disaster Response.

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TD Usman DSWD disaster preparedness update

Legazpi City—The Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office V has its stockpiles ready for the effects of Tropical Depression Usman which is expected to be felt in Bicol tomorrow (December 27, 2018) according to the latest Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Service Administration (PAGASA) weather bulletin released at 11am today.

Based on the December 25, 2018 Disaster Response Operations Monitoring and Information Center (DROMIC) report for Bicol, there are 6,323 family food packs (FFPs) available at DSWD Warehouse located Bogtong, Legazpi City.

Other food items at the DSWD warehouse are still for repacking which includes the following items: 403 sacks of NFA rice, 436 boxes Argentina beef loaf, 420 boxes of 555 Tuna flakes, 551 boxes of Sardines, 1,194 boxes of corned beef, 487 boxes of 3in1 coffee.

While the table below shows the standby goods allocated to different areas and will be released and distributed by DSWD volunteers upon the official DSWD announcement:

Non-food items are available such as 376 sets of tents, 9,063 boxes of sleeping kit, 623 pcs dignity kit, 1,996 boxes family kit, 2, 295 boxes hygiene kit, 110,296 pcs. Malong, 327 rolls laminated sacks, and 46,346 pcs blanket.

The DSWD Field Office V has Php3,229,182.32 stand by funds for disaster operations.

Moreover, DSWD FO V Disaster Response and Management Division (DRMD) is closely monitoring the weather updates and information while the DSWD FO V Quick Response Teams (QRTs) were alerted and advised to be prepared for augmentation support needed from the field and/or 24/7 duty at the DRMD Operation Center.

The Provincial Action Team (PAT) and City/Municipal Action team (C/MAT) members in the six provinces are on standby. The DSWD employees deployed in different cities/municipalities were instructed to coordinate with the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Offices (LDRRMOs) for status reports and updates.

In case of power and communication outage, DSWD’s Emergency Telecommunication Equipment is on standby and ready for deployment as the need arises.

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