Bodegon Family: Harvesting Fruits of Hardwork

Published by Marygizelle Mesa on

Bodegon Family Holding the harvested Ampalaya, Pipino, Sitaw, and Kamatis

The household is a member of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program under Set 2A at
Purok 5, Tres Marias Drive, Donsol, Sorsogon since 2009 belonging to the poor
household in Donsol and still an active and compliant household in the program until now.
The grantee is Catherine Sandagon Bodegon, 40 years old and her spouse is Ronaldo
Llarena Bodegon, 42 years old, both currently working in vegetable farming as their main
source of income. The couple is blessed with three children and all are monitored in the
program. The eldest son is John Ronald, currently enrolled as Grade 12, Mark Rhonald,
the middle child is enrolled as Grade 11 and Ma. Katrina the youngest is enrolled in Grade
8. All of the children are compliant in the program and are dedicated to finishing their

Ronaldo was a former truck driver in a private establishment in Daraga, delivering goods
in different stores with minimum wage. He rents a room during his stay as a driver. But
because of the limited income earned and costly room rental, his earnings were not
enough to support him and his family’s daily needs. He then decided to return to Donsol
and work as a street vendor with the help of his wife. Every day, they sell different
household cooking ingredients (pepper, onion, garlic, etc.) to nearby areas especially
where there are cockfights. But by the year 2013, Ronaldo was hospitalized and
diagnosed with kidney stones. Their savings and capital were exhausted thus, they
decided to stop selling in the street.

Ronaldo continued sending his children to school with his income as a tricycle driver and
with the help of the cash grant they receive bi-monthly from the program as Pantawid
members. He then thought of starting to venture into farming with the help of his wife to
augment their livelihood income. At first they planted pechay and sold it on the street and
in the other barangays of Donsol. Because of the income that they earned from that, they realized that planting is a good source of income and it really has a potential to be the
family’s main source of livelihood, thus they decided to focus on farming and added capital
to increase their produce.

But the family faced another challenge when their eldest child John Ronald was
hospitalized and diagnosed with congenital heart disease last May 2019 and needed to
undergo medication. Aside from the family’s low income, the additional burden for their
son’s medication took a toll on the couple. During the hospitalization of John Ronald in
Donsol and eventually during his operation in Manila, the family received a lot of help as
a member of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program because they were able to access the
Philhealth services which lessened their hospital bills. They also received medical
assistance from DSWD Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS), Malasakit
Center, and Central Bank. Teachers and students of Donsol National Comprehensive
High School, where John Ronald studies, also extended help for his medication. With
these and the help of the family’s relatives, they overcame this challenge and now John
Ronald has fully recovered and in his best of health.

As the pandemic hit the Philippines, families strived to survive amid the lockdowns that
led to unemployment and food scarcity. With these, the couple, their children and the other
family members residing in the house decided to intensify their vegetable farming and
added other varieties of vegetable to be planted for additional income. The gardening and
farming served as their “Family Time”. The children would usually help in planting and
harvesting whenever they are done with their school modules. The pandemic gave the
family opportunity to cultivate and develop their vegetable farm not expecting the
possibility that it would open other doors for the family. The household received seeds
from the Municipal Agriculture Office (MAO) and that was a big help for them. Their garden
started to grow more varieties, from pechay as the initial crop in their farm, they then
added sitaw, ampalaya, pipino, upo sili and camatis. They also grew fruits like papaya
and strawberry. The MAO also provided them with organic fertilizers as additional support
in their gardening/farming. Ronaldo and Catherine also learned and gained additional
knowledge and information from the BIO-Intensive Gardening topic in FDS, they were also
able to produce organic fertilizers on their own. They use recyclable materials for the
seedlings to grow before transferring it to plots where they use plastic mulch to minimize
weeding. The skills of the grantee and her husband in farming where honed in the long
run. They learned to produce vegetable depending on the season and demands where
they can have larger yields. Not just by pure luck, but by hard work, the family learned the
secret to a successful vegetable farming.

The Bodegon family now supply their produce to the public market of Donsol and some
vegetable vendors personally visit their farm to buy or place their orders. Their income
increase as well when their farm expanded. With the learnings from the financial literacy
topic in the FDS, the family is able to manage their farm income and household finances

Ronaldo with his sons John Ronald, Mark Rhonald and Daughter Ma. Katrina, harvesting Kamatis

In the past, Ronaldo and Catherine were not popular in their community, they were just
simple residents and Pantawid members just like any other in their Barangay. But,
because of their hard work, most people come to know them in their Barangay and in the
Municipality, especially in the farming and market sector. Ronaldo was even elected as
Vice President in Tres Marias Vegetable Grower Association that as members, they were
granted loans that they use as additional capital for their farming venture. Their household
also became active participants in community activities. They were able to share their
produce to their neighbors and other Pantawid members and they became inspiration for
others in farming.

Bodegon’s family is indeed grateful and thankful for what they are achieving now. They

“We comply with the 4Ps conditionalities not only to receive cash grants but because we are willing to improve our family’s life. We do not rely on our membership with the program but accompany it with our own efforts together with the whole family.”

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