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Finding the Hero Inside Us

Elen Hermosura Tee with her children Manuel and Emmanuel

“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”- Christopher Reeve

We hear stories of heroes and how they influenced or changed history, but we don’t read in history pages the characteristic that made them heroes. The story of Eleanor Hermosura Tee, or Ate Elen as friends and neighbours call our members call her, tells the tale of someone who is the personification of selflessness – a trait that truly defines a hero.

Elen is from Solis Street in Tondo, Manila. She is the barangay-appointed Treasurer of their area and is also a small retail store owner. She is blessed with two sons: Emmanuel Glynn, 25 years old, and Manuel, 13 years old. Like any other family, Elen highly values her relationship with her children. She works hard every day to provide them with a better quality of life.

As a parent, Elen takes pride in raising both her children alone and has taken on different roles to meet their needs. Unfortunately, Elen’s marriage ended when she realized that living with her former partner did not help make their lives any easier. The death of their youngest child served as a ‘wake-up call’ from the never-ending acts of bigamy committed by her former partner. It was during this tragic event that she realized there is no way for her to be a mother and a partner at the same time if she wants a better life for her children. She decided to become the hero her children could look up to.

After her marriage fell apart, Elen felt that she was back to zero. However, it was also this time that her opportunities to become an inspiration to others began opening up. Her path to becoming a selfless leader started in 2012 when Elen was elected as the Parent Leader of the community.

She her described role as a parent leader as being a model of strength and compassion. Despite the challenges of poverty and economic limitations, it was important for Elen to sustain the morale in her community that they will survive life’s problems. As the Parent Leader, our hero embraced the responsibilities that came with the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

Elen was known as a formidable parent leader in their community. She was able to sustain the high level of participation of members during assemblies and puts priority in validation and keeping members compliant with the conditions of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

But becoming a Parent Leader was not a walk in the park. Elen describes the role as a parent leader to be full of challenges that transcends from personal and domestic life to relationship with members and the community. It was important for our protagonist to set an example to members on how to cope with everyday survival. Elen’s family story, while full of hardships and not-so-perfect, allowed our hero to relate to the experiences of other members and helped her to understand their pain and struggles.

Elen’s passion in making the program successful is attributed her personal style of leadership that is rooted to the way of life of her co-members. Whenever there are conflicts within the community, especially if it involves money, our hero resolves it by making other members understand the process of a mature and responsible conversation. Elen also takes time to make members understand that the cash grants are intended for the welfare and the needs of the children. After every training or meeting, Ate Elen reinforces the concepts and processes to every member, increasing their sense of accountability and responsibility. She believes that it is always important to do what is right and to always do good.

Of course, Elen’s story is more relatable and personal when there are people who attempt to discredit her capabilities. As the barangay-appointed Treasurer, people used to think Elen will mishandle the funds and will be tempted to commit acts of corruption. But Elen’s strong sense of public service made it possible to rise above criticisms and continue pursuing selfless acts, proving the allegations wrong. She emphasized that “success is not always about money”. It is this principle that gave our hero the reputation as a responsible and reliable member of the community and parent leader.

For Elen, it is not about how we make ourselves successful that count as heroism. It is how we open up ourselves to serve others. It is this story of selflessness that makes Elen, not only as a hero of their community but a living proof that heroism lives among the many people of the Pantawid Pamilya Program. This story is our story when we build communities and make relationships stronger. This story, worthy of being celebrated, is not measured by wealth, but by the number of lives that our hero has changed.

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DSWD NCR spearheads PWD Got Talent

The organizers of PWD GOT TALENT

The Department of Social Welfare and Development National Capital Region (DSWD NCR), in coordination with the Federation of Persons with Disability NCR and Regional Committee on Disability Affairs (RCDA) conducted their first “PWD GOT TALENT” in line with  celebration of the National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation on August 11, 2018 held at Ayala Mall South Park Alabang, Muntinlupa City.

The event was made to promote and empower Persons With Disabilities on how they can share their skills and talents. More so, the event aimed to stimulate public awareness on the condition of our PWD brothers and sisters who should not be pitied nor discriminated but rather encouraged to take part actively in nation-building.

PWD Got Talent paved way to re-affirm the support of the National Government to the PWD communities in partnership with the Pilipinong May Kapansanan Foundation, Inc., National Council for the Welfare of Disabled Persons (NCWDP), and  NCR PWD Federation, Inc.

John Michael Brecino from Makati City got the 1st place in the Children’s Category while Shaira Yalung from Caloocan City got the 2nd place and Jade Jerrald Balaños from Muntinlupa City got the 3rd place. On the other hand, Ms. Anderson Afafara got the 1st place in the Adult Category while Mariel Padrinas and Roseilen Tual got the 2nd and 3rd place, respectively.

“Patuloy na tutulong at susuporta ang DSWD NCR sa mga gawain para sa mga kapatid nating may kapansanan. Kasama natin sila sa pag-unlad,” said Ms. Ma. Liza F. Mahinay, Social Welfare Specialist for PWD.

Almost all the Local Government Units participated in this worthwhile activity. The DSWD NCR continuously advocate for the welfare of the PWDs to ensure that their rights are protected and promoted. ###

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RSCC celebrates 54th Founding Anniversary

The Reception and Study Center for Children (RSCC) commemorated its 54th founding anniversary on August 10, 2018.

The program with the theme, “Pagkalinga at Pag-aruga Ng May Malasakit at Pagmamahal Sa Mga Bata” was held at the center’s multi-purpose hall.

Social Welfare Officer IV Glenda M. Derla, the concurrent head of the RSCC, acknowledged and welcomed the guests at the start of the event.

DSWD-NCR Regional Director Vincent Andrew T. Leyson lauded the center’s notable achievements in his opening remarks. He said that the Department is currently improving its centers and institutions in the region, including RSCC’s facilities.

Mr. Leyson added that the Department is also increasing the center’s workforce  in order to provide better services to the residents of RSCC.

One of the highlights of the celebration was the inspirational messages from previous residents of RSCC.  Partners, donors, and private institutions were also recognized during the celebration for their continuous support of RSCC’s activities and initiatives.

Employees and residents of RSCC showcased their talent through dance and song numbers during the program which were in line with the celebration’s pista ng nayon theme.

RSCC is a center of the DSWD that provides protection, treatment, rehabilitation and eventual placement to children 0-6 years old who were neglected, abandoned, exploited, and abused.  At present, the center has 100 children under its care. ###

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DSWD-NCR partners with Landbank for Unconditional Cash Transfer Payout

From the left: DSWD-NCR Deputy Regional Project Manager Mark Garcia, LBP Assistant Vice President (AVP) Josa Paderogo, AVP Isidro Bautista, AVP Virgilio Paranial, Senior Vice President Ramon Monteloyola, DSWD-NCR Regional Information Technology Officer Michael Mercado, LBP Senior Vice President Leila Martin, DSWD-NCR Regional Director Vincent Andrew T. Leyson, LBP AVP Domingo Conrado Galsim, DSWD-NCR Regional Field Coordinator Amado Suarez, LBP Branch head Nardo Masa, AVP Elenita Manucom, and Branch Head Manuel Ylanan during the meeting regarding the UCT payout.

Beginning August 28, 2018, the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) will support the Department of Social Welfare and Development – National Capital Region (DSWD-NCR) in conducting the payout of the Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) for selected beneficiaries.

The partnership was agreed upon in a meeting between representatives of DSWD-NCR and Land Bank held recently at the Office of the Secretary Conference room of the Field Office NCR.

During the meeting, DSWD-NCR Regional Director Vincent Andrew T. Leyson said that there was a total of 22, 180 selected UCT beneficiaries which were identified through the Proxy Means Test (PMT) application for the successfully validated households. He also presented the strategies for the Land Bank branches in the region for the distribution of the Cash Grants. He added that Listahanan will certify the list of beneficiaries.

One of the agenda during the meeting was the valid Identification Cards (IDs) that the beneficiaries will present during the registration. Participants of the meeting also discussed ways to make the process more efficient and convenient for the identified beneficiaries.

UCT is the biggest social mitigation program under the Duterte administration to aid families who will not benefit from the lower income tax rates but will be adversely affected by rising prices of basic commodities. Recipients will receive P200.00 per month this year and P300.00/month in 2019 and 2020. ###

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DSWD-NCR Kicks Off Second Kalinga Caravan

The Department of Social Welfare and Development – National Capital Region (DSWD-NCR) launched the second round of Kalinga Caravan at the Patricia Sports Complex of Brgy. 177, Gagalangin, Tondo, Manila on August 6, 2018.

The “Kalinga Caravan” is an information caravan that aims to orient constituents of an identified Barangay of the programs and services of the DSWD.

Francisco M. Domagoso, the DSWD Undersecretary for Luzon Affairs and Special Concerns, gave a short inspirational message for the residents attending the caravan. DSWD-NCR Regional Director Vincent Andrew T. Leyson was also present during the event.

Mr. Edwin S. Morata, the Officer in Charge of the DSWD’s Crisis Intervention Unit, gave a brief orientation on the types of assistance that the Department provides through its Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS) program. The program offers burial, educational, medical, and Balik-Probinsya assistance.

The Regional Social Pension program, which provides indigent senior citizens with additional stipend to augment their daily subsistence and other needs, was also presented during the caravan.

Meanwhile, Social Welfare Officer III Ms. Marlene Guzman gave an orientation on the Lingap at Gabay Para sa May Sakit (LinGaP sa Masa), a program  which aims to help indigent Filipinos have access to free medical services.

Around 750 constituents of Barangay 177 received onsite assesment for assistance and for potential Social Pension beneficiaries during the caravan. Out of the attendees, about 250 were assessed for Social Pension beneficiaries, while around 500 were evaluated for the AICS program.

The DSWD-NCR is planning to conduct more Kalinga Caravans for the remainder of the year. ###


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DSWD NCR celebrates 44th PYAP Day

The Department of Social Welfare and Development – National Capital Region in partnership with the Pag-asa Youth Association of the Philippines National Capital Region (PYAP NCR) celebrates its 44th year Anniversary with the theme; “Redefining of Filipino Youth in Nation towards Sustainable Development” last July 27, 2018 held at Marikina Sports Complex.

The activity commenced with the parade participated by the 17 LGUs followed by the invocation from Marikina and an opening message from DSWD NCR Regional Director Vincent Andrew T. Leyson.

This is a momentous day for the members of PYAP as they were gathered to showcase their talents, mingle with friends and enjoy the extraordinary experience. DSWD NCR prepared various Palarong Pinoy, different contests such as Poster Making, Spoken Word Poetry, and among others which the youth participated actively. The highlight of the event is the Search for the Ambassador and Ambassadress of PYAP NCR 2018.

The main event started right after the presentation of the LGUs featuring the different festivities celebrated by provinces in the Philippines.  The youth participants prepared the National Costume, Casual Wear, Formal Wear and Talent of their respective representatives. Confidence of the contestants vying for the title was shown during the Question and Answer Portion.

Mr. Kenneth Friginal of Marikina City and Ms. Jimmaine Bernabe of Valenzuela City are hailed the PYAP Ambassador and PYAP Ambassadress 2018, respectively. On the other hand, Russel Maedali of Pateros and Mariel Dulay of Marikina City were awarded 1st runner up. San Juan City representatives Jervin Torres and Marian Kimberly Recel got the 3rd runner up award.

This event aims to promote the development of the out-of-school youth and other disadvantaged youth to become self-reliant, economically productive, and socially responsible citizens able to contribute to the development of their family and community.

The Pag-asa Youth Association of the Philippines, Inc. or PYAP is a duly constituted barangay-based organization of the out-of school-youth between 15-24 years old who are eager to pursue their dreams to become better persons within their community. ###

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Tapat na Paglilingkod

PL’s training-orientation sa pangunguna ni Ginoong Lolito Tuplano na dinaluhang ng 13 Parent Leaders noong Hunyo 21-22, 2018


Ang tapat na paglilingkod ng mga kawani ng gobyerno ay makatutulong sa pagkakabuklod ng mga Pilipino: ito ang prinsipyong isinasabuhay ni Ginoong Lolito M. Tuplano Jr. o mas kilala sa tawag na Tolits. Maliban sa kanyang ipinamalas niyang sipag at tiyaga bilang isang City Link ng Kagawaran ng Kagalingan at Pagpapaunlad Panlipunan partikular sa Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program ay naging kilala din siya sa kanyang kabutihan sa lahat ng kanyang mga kasamahan sa trabaho at mga benepisyaryo ng programa.

Si Tolits ay nagsimulang magsilbi bilang isang City Link mula taong 2011 at mahigit na pitong taon na siyang tumutugon sa pangangailangan ng mga miyembro ng Pantawid Pamilya sa Pasay City.

Masigasig na ginagampanan ni Tolits kanyang mga tungkulin bilang isang City Link. Isa sa mga regular na ginagawa niya ay ang Family Development Session (FDS) isang beses sa isang buwan.  Hindi lang siya nagtatalakay ngunit nagsasagawa din siya ng malikhaing FDS sa pamamagitan ng aktibidades/workshop sa bawat grupo tulad ng dula-dulaan at pagpapangkat batay sa konsepto ng kanyang paksa. Sinisigurado niya na pagkatapos ng sesyon ay natutugunan niya ng bawat isyu o alalahanin ng kanyang benepisyaryo.

Regular din niyang isinasagawa ang pagsubaybay sa mga batang benepisyaryo na nag-aaral sa paaralan at mga nagpapakonsulta sa Health Center para sa wastong nutrisyon at pagkakaroon ng mabuting kalusugan. Siya ay regular na nakikipag-usap sa mga Focal Persons sa eskwelahan at Health Center para pagtibayan ang koordinasyon sa kanila at tiyakin na ang mga bata ay nasusubaybayan nang maayos.

Personal siyang bumibisita sa mga pamilyang miyembro lalo na sa mga consistent non-compliant upang masuri niya ang dahilan ng kanilang pagliban sa mga aktibidad ng programa. Pinaliliwanag niya ang kabutihang maidudulot ng FDS sa kanilang pamilya.  May mga pagkakataon din na nagsasagawa din siya ng espesyal na FDS sa mga hindi nakakadalo sa kanilang skedyul.

Kanyang isinasaalang-alang din ang pagbibigay ng oportunidad para sa trabaho o pangkabuhayan upang mapataas ang pang-ekonimikong kalagayan. Kamakailan ay inimbitahan niya din ang ahensya ng Pacific Star upang magsagawa ng orientasyon sa mga benepisyaryong may kakahayan o skills na maaring mapalago at magsilbing oportunidad para sa trabaho na makatutulong sa kanilang pang araw-araw na pamumuhay. Ayon sa kanya, “Alam naman natin na limitado lamang ang serbisyo na binibigay ng ahensya kaya ang isa sa aking ginagawa ay ang pakikipag-ugnayan sa iba’t ibang ahensya na maaaring magbigay ng iba pang serbisyo na magdadagdag benipisyo para sa pamilyang aking pinagsisilbihan.”

Nagsagawa din siya ng Bazaar noong taong 2015 at 2016 na dinaluhan ng mga benepisyaryo ng iba’t ibang barangay sa Pasay upang ilatag ang kani-kanilang produkto at paninda para kumita at makatulong sa kanilang hanapbuhay.

Nagkaroon siya ng inisyatibo upang paunlarin ang urban gardening sa kanilang lugar.  Pinagtibay niya ang koordinasyon sa punong barangay, opisyales, at Homeowners Association sa Barangay 201. Unti-unting lumaganap sa hinahawakan niyang mga benepisyaryo ang konsepto ng urban gardening, ang proseso ng pagtatanim at pagpapalaki ng anumang uri ng halaman, prutas, o gulay sa loob ng isang komunidad.  

Nagsagawa din siya ng inisyatibo upang magkaroon ng capability building para sa mga bagong halal na Parent Leaders sa kanyang lugar. Siya ay nagdaos ng oryentasyon at workshop patungkol sa iba’t ibang sistema na mayroon ang programa, tungkulin ng isang lider, at pagtuturo ng paraan upang maiwasan ang stress o tensiyon para sa mga Parent Leaders noong Hunyo 21-22, 2018 sa Barangay 201. Ang kanyang mga natutunan na stratehiya sa mga trainings at seminar na kanyang dinaluhan ay kanyang ibinahagi sa kanila.

Ngunit ang kanyang kaibahan sa ibang City Link ay ang mga inisyatibong kanyang ginawa upang maging mas maginhawa ang buhay ng kanyang mga benepisyaryo. Sinusugurado niya na ang bawat isyu at alalahanin ng kanyang miyembro ay kanyang tinutugunan. Hindi man lagi sa pinansyal na paraan ngunit sa pagpapatibay ng kanilang kalooban at pagbibigay ng karampatang solusyon batay sa kanilang pangangailangan.           

Ito ay pinatuyan ni Ginang Rosalinda Pimentel, isang benepisyaryo. “Alam ninyo po, si Sir Tolits, lagi siyang handang magresponde lalo na noong nasunugan kami dito sa Barangay 201, nagpupunta siya dito may pasok man o wala. Minsan nga magugulat na lang kami at nandito siya kahit Sabado. Talagang binabantayan ni Sir Tolits kung maayos ang bawat pamilya na apektado ng sunog. Tapos kakamustahin ka niya kung ano ang kalagayan mo. Isang napakalaking bagay na iyon,” sabi ni Ginang Pimentel.

Si Ginang Liza Doring, isa ding miyembro ng programa, ay nagpatunay din sa pagmamalasakit ni Tolits. “Naalala ko noong nagpasama si Sir Tolits na bumisita sa mga bahay-bahay para siya ay magsagawa ng one-on-one na balidasyon, at biglang umulan. Nakita niya ang isang member, matanda na si nanay, senior citizen na at walang dalang payong. Sobra akong naantig sa ginawa niya dahil pinahinto niya muna ako sa may silong at inihatid ang miyembro sa kanyang bahay. Hindi ko akalain na sobrang malaki ang puso niya lalo na pagdating sa mga nakatatanda sa kanya.”

“Isa sa hindi ko makakalimutan ay noong dying ang ang ina, nagsabi ako kay Sir at sinabihan niya ako na magproseso ng mga kailangan at inirefer sa CIU sa DSWD-NCR. At ayoko man sabihin pero nagbigay din siya ng tulong pinansyal at pinalakas niya ang aking kalooban”, ayon kay Ginang Rose, isang Parent Leader. “Isang araw noong kami ay may meeting ay bigla akong tinanong ni Sir, “Ate, may gusto ka ba sabihin, may problema ka po ba na gustong pag-usapan?” Ayon pa sakanya,  “Pilit kong sinasabi na wala akong problema pero si Sir handang makinig at dahil doon hindi na ako nahiyang magsabi sa kanya kahit wala itong kaugnayan sa programa at ito ay personal.”

Si Ginoong Tuplano Jr. ay may taglay ding malaikhaing pag-iisip at laging nakaalalay upang magbigay ng suportang moral. Nang magkaroon ng paligsahan ng Ginang at Ginoong Pantawid noong nakaraang taon na ginanap sa Teatro Marikina, tumulong si Ginoong Tuplano Jr. para sa magiging kasuotan ng benipsyaryo sa paligsahan. Pinagpuyatan niya ito ng ilang araw sa gitna ng maraming trabaho.  Siya din ay nakasuporta at nakasubaybay tulad ng kanyang pag-alalay sa mga benepisyaryo niyang naging kandidato sa Huwarang Pamilya.

Ang pagiging committed niya sa kanyang trabaho ay ang dedikasyon niya sa mga tungkulin na kanyang ginagampanan. Tunay din na nakitaan siya ng pagpapahalaga sa kanyang mga benepisyaryo. Pinagbubuti niya ang mga gawaing nakaatang sa kanya, inuuna niya ang kabutihan ng  nakararami, at hindi siya tumatanggap ng pabuya sa anumang paglilingkod na kanyang ibinibigay sa benepisyaryo.

“Nabigyan ako ng pagkakataon na makapaglingkod sa bayan sa pamamagitan ng aking trabaho kaya dapat itong pagbutihan. Napakasarap na makita mo na ang mga benepisyaryo na iyong pinaglilingkuran ay masaya sa nagawa mo na labis na nakakatulong sa kanila. Ang sarap sa pakiramdam kapag nakita mo ang ngiti ng iyong miyembro, ito ay higit pa sa mga parangal at iba bang rekognisyon na maaring iagawad sa iyo, ” sabi ni Tolits.

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The Power of Effort


Pantawid Members during seed distribution on April 20, 2018 at M. Hizon Elementary School


“Noong simula ay marami kaming nagtutulungan sa garden. Ngayon kahit kaunti na ang natira, hindi yun naging dahilan para tumigil kami,” said a passionate Pantawid Pamilya gardener of M. Hizon Elementary School.

When the garden started in 2016 with the help of their City Link, there were 60 members who participated in the initiative.  It was launched with the Pantawid Pamilya’s initiative without attending SM Foundation’s Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan Urban Farmer’s training.

Upon establishing their garden, they received help from M. Hizon Elementary School, which gave them permission to use the land within the school’s perimeter with an agreement of harvest sharing. Pantawid Pamilya members sometimes consumed their harvest or sold it and used the money to buy seeds and other gardening tools as part of their initiative. They received seedlings last April through the coordination of City Link – Community Organizers with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

“Minsan dito na kami kumukuha ng uulamin naming. Kapag may harvest ay naghahati-hati kami, o kaya naman minsan kapag pwede na kukunin na lang namin. Malaki ang tulong nito para sa mga bata dahil natuturuan namin silang kumain ng gulay,” one of the farmers said when asked about the impact of the Gulayan sa Barangay project on their family.

However, as time went by, the number of the members working on the garden dwindled, until only three farmers remained.

“Siguro eto yung realidad talaga para sa aming mga nagtatanim na kakaunti na lang kami. Pero ganoon pa man, kahit bahain, malubog, at masira yung mga tanim namin ay gusto naming itong ginagawa naming kaya babalik at babalik pa rin kami,”  one of the members said. Sustaining a garden is not easy. A lot of challenges came from every direction. Through their garden, the members of the Power Puff Garden want to serve as an inspiration. Regardless of the situation they are in, they will continue to be committed to their work.

When asked what is special or extraordinary about their garden, one respondent proudly said it was “effort”. The respondent said that their effort has not only helped in growing their garden, but their knowledge as well. There have also been several instances when they went the extra mile for their garden.”Minsan kahit bumabagyo na nagpipilit pa rin kaming pumasok sa eskuwelahan para tignan yung garden kase yun ang pinaka-kalaban namin dito yung ulan,” one of the members said.

The remaining members are still hoping that the Pantawid members who have abandoned the garden will return and become involved in the Gulayan once more, especially since they are planning develop and improve their garden by applying other methods of gardening. They have also saved seeds that will be planted after they harvest. The farmers are looking forward to a bountiful harvest as they forge on with their steadfast dedication to the garden.

The story of the PowerPuff Garden provides a glimpse on the reality of establishing and maintaining a Gulayan. Sometimes only a few members will stay committed and it will be a challenge for the program implementers to make Pantawid Pamilya members recognize the positive outcome from the initiative and how it will help their family not just in terms of food security, but how it will help them develop themselves individually and as a member of the community.

It is truly a challenge to encourage all Pantawid Pamilya partners to engage in urban gardening.  But aside from the nutritious vegetables and fruits, the essence of camaraderie and lessons about responsibility are some of the valuable outcomes that members could harvest from the Gulayan.

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