Building the foundation of a family requires a resilient core to create a sturdy structure with support, understanding, and love.  In the heart of Barangay Gabas, Buhi, Camarines Sur, Mike Anthony Castillo, 28, a father of two (2) daughters proved it was possible.

Originally, Mike worked as a vegetable farmer in Antipolo, Rizal but due to increasing expenses of the family during the pandemic and to take care of his sick wife, Jonalyn, the family decided to go back to his hometown in 2022.

Kaya pinasya naming [umuwi], humingi po kami ng tulong doon sa tinatrabahuhan ko rin. Binigyan po kami kahit kaunti kaya po kami nakauwi dito [sa probinsya],” he explained.

(We decided to go back to our hometown so we sought help from my employer. I was able to receive assistance from them for the expenses of traveling back home.)

Yearning for a better life for his family, Mike came to know the Balik-Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development from a friend so he took the opportunity to avail the assistance.

Guided by the program’s initiative, the Castillo family received PHP 88,750.00 in assistance of which PHP 38,750.00 for Transitory Family Support Package and PHP 50,000.00 for Livelihood Settlement Grant.

Using the assistance received, Mike set up various kinds of livelihood that would sustain his family.

With the help of his wife, they establish a mini sari-sari store offering basic food ingredients for cooking dishes in front of their house. On the other hand, Mike would go from house to house around town to sell bread, meats, poultry, and fish.

Kaya ang gawa ko noon, para kumita masyado hindi lang Tilapia ang kinukuha ko. Kumukuha rin ako ng pandagat. Saka sinasamahan ko ng manok, karne. Para yung byahe ko, hindi naman sayang,” he said.

(To earn more income, my strategy is not to bring not only Tilapia. I would include saltwater fish, chicken, and meat so that my travel would not go to waste.)

Mike’s determination to uplift the financial stability of his family did not stop at food vending; he also ventured into piggery farm and hollow blocks manufacturing business.

Mike Anthony Castillo, 28, carries hollow blocks for delivery.

With various businesses established, the couple would divide the income based on their financial priorities. Jonalyn would keep the income earned from the hollow blocks as part of their savings and rolling budget while the income from food vending businesses was used for basic living expenses.

Kaya yung binigay talaga po sa akin na puhunan, hindi ko talaga sinayang. Kahit sabihin nila na medyo matipid ako sa pera, pero pinapahalagahan ko iyon,” Mike stated.

(I did not put the livelihood investment to waste. Even though other people would say that I’m too thrifty, I still value the assistance provided.)

As the Castillo family lays each block, creates new chapters, and turns adversity into opportunities, they are not just building a life but they are crafting a masterpiece that strengthens the well-being of the family.   ###