“Noon sinuwerte lang siguro kame sa kalsada at walang kapahamakan na nangyari sa amin, pero ngayon, di na ako papayag na manirahan ulit kami sa kalsada… masyadong delikado…”
This is the realization of Mr. Nicanor Ripalda Raz, 48 years old, a beneficiary of Modified Conditional Cash Transfer for Homeless Street Families (MCCT-HSF) in Metro Manila who was registered in the program in August 2012.
Currently, Mr. Raz with his wife Marivic Beatriz Raz, 38 years old and their eight (8) children aged 15, 13, 12, 8, 6, 4, 3 and 5 months old twin, are living at Singalong, Manila, renting a house, away from the risk and noise of the street.
Survival on the street
“Halos walong taon kaming nahirahan sa kalsada… minsan makikitira sa kamag-anak tapos pag nagkakaproblema dahil sa amin, umaalis kami at bumabalik ulit sa kalsada,” Nicanor narrated.
Nicanor, also called as “Nik Nik” shared their humiliating life on the street as sometimes, his family was accused either as robber or snatcher by the people passing by at Paso Dilao in Paco, Manila where they spent their almost eight (8) years street life.
“Sobrang nakakapanliit ang tingin ng mga tao noon… ‘di naman ako pwedeng magtago lang dahil sa kalsada talaga kami kumukuha ng ikinabubuhay namin… pero sa tanang buhay ko, ‘di ako gumawa ng masama para ipakain sa pamilya ko,” Nik emphasized.
After Nick’s quarrel with his brother in Calumpit, Bulacan in March 2006, where they originally live, he decided to bring his family to Metro Manila to stay out of trouble.
Then they went to their relatives in Metro Manila and requested temporary shelter where they can spend some days, until the time came that they no longer have a relative who is willing to share their house to them.
The main source of livelihood of Raz family is from popcorn vending which Nik untiringly sells in schools and churches during Sunday, with no bother in the skin-burning heat of the sun or even the cold plunge of drizzle or heavy rain during rainy season.
The sign of intervention
Nick shared that every night, he prays for their life to improve because he does not want his children to pass that kind of lifestyle to his grandchildren. He is aware that it is risky especially to his small children, yet, they cannot afford to rent/own a house and before, he does not consider the shelter as a major need.
Until in June 2012, a field office staff from DSWD interviewed Nik’s family and other street families dwelling in the same area which they occupy.
“Akala nga namin nung ininterview kami ay aayain kame sa dasalan, tapos sermon, kantahan at sayawan, tapos pakakainin kami… pero nung sinabi nung nag-interview na galing siya sa DSWD, kahit ‘di siya nangako ng tulong samen, alam kong may tulong na darating,” he stated.
Changes brought by the program
From then, they became a potential beneficiary of the MCCT-HSF and eventually availed the assistance under the program as they religiously comply to its conditionalities.
Aside from the cash grants, the family also received assistance for the Alternative Family Homes (AFH) from November 2012 to May 2013 wherein they rent a house being subsided by the government for six (6) months in paying the rental. Today, however, they are proud that they maintain the payment by themselves.
Also, through the program, Nik was accessed to employment facilitation at Philippine Sundt Construction where he is a construction helper and earning P350/day.
Currently, five (5) of his children are regularly going to school as compliance to the conditionalities of the program. According to Nik, “Noong una, pinapapasok ko lang sila para makakuha kami ng cash grants… pero ngayon, naisip ko na mahalaga ang edukasyon… yung pagbalik sa kalsada, iniwasan ko rin ‘yun pagkatapos ng anim na buwan dahil nakalagay sa kasunduan na mawawala kami sa programa pag bumalik kami. Higit sa lahat ngayon, naisip ko na mahalaga ang tahanan, lalo may kambal akong anak.”
Also Nik promised to himself that as long as he lives, he will never let his family dwell on the street again. He assured himself that he will continue to apply to their lifestyle the learnings he acquired from the Family Development Sessions.
As can be gleaned from Nik’s family, they have found the new normal in their life… a life towards mending dignity and valuing the real necessity of a human being. ### (DSWD FO-NCR, Social Marketing Office/ MTC/ April 15, 2014)