Like the past countless morning, Jenny greeted the crowning of roosters with a sigh of desperation. The sight of the children sprawling on the bamboo floor made her quiver in fear thinking how to get through that another day with less stress.

Jenny Malabat , 29 years old of Barangay Mactan, Cawayan, Masbate is a plain housewife with four siblings three boys and a girl. The poor housewife describes her surrounding and their makeshift shanty to be engulfed by darkness that she could hardly see the horizon. Her husband Allan is a tenant of a one hectare rice land in their barangay yielding approximately 30 sacks of rice every harvest and 10% of its produce is his share. He also tends hogs and carabao for a neighbor. In exchange for this he is given a calf or piglet every time that these animals give birth. Allan also renders carpentry services to their neighbors when requested.

The family’s house which stood in the middle of a farm in Barangay Mactan was made of light materials: its roofing and walling were made of cogon grass, the flooring of bamboo Aside from their house susceptibility to natural calamities, it was too small for them.

Life for Jenny was so hard especially that they have four children to feed and send to school. But for the Malabat, life must go on. “We have to work hard in order to help both ends meet:, Jenny quipped.” Buti na lang napakasipag nang aking asawa” bared Jenny. It was in 2007 when the eldest son of Jenny graduated in high school. Jenny wanted her son to pursue his studies in college but her son has resistance to continue his studies. In order to provide work for her son Jenny sold one of their carabao and bought a tricycle for his son to operate.

In 2009, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program embraced the province of Masbate and Cawayan is one among the eight towns where the program was piloted.The Malabat family is one among those who qualified for the program. Jenny said that the program brought a lot of hopes to them. Sending their two children to school and providing the health needs of the children is not anymore a problem to the family as shared by Jenny. Before the inception of Pantawid Pamilya, she could hardly settle the children’s obligation and could not even buy at least two sets of uniform for the children. Now they are able to settle the children’s school fees and provide the health needs of the children. The couple aims high for the future of the children and also envisions that someday they are able to have their house improved.

According to Jenny, Pantawid Pamilya has also helped mold their personality. From a shy housewife she is now able to relate with her neighbors and she and her husband now actively participate in the community activities.

It was in the year 2011 when the DSWD introduced the Self- Employment Assistance- Kaunlaran (SEA-K) Program in Cawayan. During the identification of the potential beneficiaries, Jenny was adamant. To her mind, SEA- K is just one of the many false promises of the government. But because of curiosity, Jenny attended the orientation until she found herself already a member of the Mactan SEA-K Association. With a capital loan of P5, 000 she ventured on vending cooked food and set-up a small store Del Carmen High School, a neighboring barangay of Mactan and also opened a sari-sari store in their residence.

A year after its project implementation Jenny found out that the project is gaining profit and she was able to pay the monthly roll back. With that realization, Jenny out of her savings, she started to give some amount to her husband to buy materials for their house renovation. Allan, has augmented the money given by Jenny. From their joint resources, the couple was able to have a new house constructed. An abode made of cogon grass and bamboo, the Malabat now have a house which they can call a home. A home not anymore vulnerable to disaster and have enough space for the family.

“ A dream come true for me, my husband and my children”, shared Jenny with glee. Now, Jenny has fully paid her loan. She also started to save at BPI Globe Banko in Cawayan. The family now owns four “habal-habal” which serves as a public transportation in their locality. This means an additional income of the family and they are also able to employ some neighbors as “habal-habal” drivers. Jenny also proudly disclosed that they are able to help a neighbor find a living by giving them a unit of tricycle for freel “I feel happy and proud that I am able to help my neighbor have a regular source of livelihood. “ Hardwirk, thrift and perseverance really counts.” quipped Jenny. From our savings we were also able a one hectare farm lot.

In one of the FDS attended by the couple, Jenny was asked on how her project was managed. Jenny could hardly articulate her happiness. Jenny confides that she is saving money out of her earnings from the store and her husband is working hard too. “ Wala siyang bisyo, Ang sabi ng aking asawa, ang isang pirasong sigarilyo ay siya lang ang manginginabang samantalang kung ang bibilhin ay asin lahat kami ay makakatikim.” We have high ambitions for our children. We want them to finish college as we don’t want them to be like us that we were not able to continue higher education. I have to take advantage of this opportunity given by the government. # # # #eejerusalem