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DSWD NCR stages Santacruzan Festival

The ladies and gentlemen of DSWD NCR wearing their best dresses during the Santacruzan

The DSWD-NCR celebrated the Santacruzan on May 28, 2019 at the Field Office Grounds as part of the Wellness Program of the Department which was participated by the staff of the Field Office. The Santacruzan 2019 provides opportunities and avenue to promote and uphold the well-being of staff in the areas of interpersonal relationships designed to boost the moral and the ability to cope with challenges in the workplace.

The Santacruzan re-enacts the finding of the Cross of Christ in the Holy Land by Queen Helene, the mother of Emperor Constantine. The procession stages the biblical personages that played roles in the story of Jesus and the Cross. It is also a religious-historical beauty pageant held in many cities, towns, and even in small communities throughout the Philippines during May. The Field Office is in its fourth year of observing this festivity.

A Eucharistic celebration was facilitated as an opening activity followed by the procession of the image of Blessed Virgin Mary. Selected female staff dressed in beautiful gowns (known as “Sagala”), their respective escorts and Field Office employees participated in this momentous event. Each Sagala portrays the roles of biblical characters which are connected with the mythical event of searching for the Holy Cross. After the procession, participants honoured the Blessed Virgin Mary through offering of flowers to her Holy image.

As part of the culminating activity, five (5) awards were given to some of the participants. Awards are (1) Best Arch / Float, (2) Best Dress Male Category, (3) Best Dress Female Category, (4) Face of the Day Male Category and (5) Face of the Day Female Category.

The Santacruzan is a religious-historical parade which started in the mid-1800s, with the first being held in Malolos, Bulacan. ###

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A blind man who sees his future

Vincent, standing with pride during the 7th PSC-PHILSPADA

Vincent Lubaton, a dreamer from Caloocan City, successfully completed his training at the National Vocational Rehabilitation Center (NVRC) on March 5, 2019. He came to the center with full of hope and determination as he rose from his darkest days.

Growing up, it was hard for Vincent to accept his family situation because of his parents’ unfortunate separation. At the age of 13, Vincent stayed with his relatives and venture to different jobs to support his study. He finished secondary level of education with his own effort. He pursued College but forced to stop because of financial difficulties.

To support his daily subsistence, Vincent worked as a Truck helper in Manila where he met the woman he wishes to marry, Rosalyn Aligarbes, a house helper at the company. Vincent and Rosalyn lived together and were blessed with a son whom they named, John Vincent Lubaton. For quite sometime, they lived a simple and happy life. However, the happiness was replaced with sadness as they encountered the most tremendous challenge in their family life.

In 2014, Vincent was diagnosed with Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a rare and serious disorder of the skin and mucous membrane that caused eye inflammation which led to his blindness. Because of this mishap, Vincent’s wife left him and he chose to live with his mother. He suffered depression and lost his confidence but through his mother, relatives and huge faith in God, his hope for a better and brighter future returned. He also turned negative things and occurrences in his life into positive outlook. Vincent started to have a regular checkup and medication at the Philippine General Hospital as he is eager to improve his condition to continue in order to find light amidst darkness. DSWD Crisis Intervention Unit has been an active support system of Vincent as he regularly availed the medical assistance of the program.

Through a good friend, Vincent learned about the programs and services of the National Vocational Rehabilitation Center (NVRC). He came to know that the government does not only provide immediate assistance to the individuals in crisis situation but there is a long-term assistance that is provided for the differently-abled.

He started his training on Massage Therapy on March 5, 2018 wherein he showed positive behaviors and satisfactory performance. After a year, he successfully finished his training which made him a Massage Therapist in a Visual Massage Clinic. He underwent On- The Job- training and earned enough money to sustain his daily needs. He also registered in the Social Security System and pay the annual contribution amounting to P3, 600 for his future pension.

Vincent has gained a lot of friends and his workplace became his second home. After long way of searching, he is very thankful as the Center also paved way for him to meet his fiancé, Rochelle Borlagdan, a co- trainee at NVRC. He happily pronounced their plan of getting married by June or July of 2019 which is a dream come true for Vincent.

Apart from the excellent work performance, he also managed to actively participate at the 7th Philippine Paralympic Committee-Philippine Sports Association for the Differently-Abled (PSC-PHILSPADA). Vincent joined the Javelin throw competition on May 26 to 31, 2019 at Malolos Bulacan Sports Complex.

Today, Vincent is looking forward to inspire more differently-abled through sharing his story and hopefully, changing their perspectives to aspire for a brighter future.

National Vocational Rehabilitation Center (NVRC) is a non-residential institution that provides training and rehabilitation programs and services to persons with disabilities and special groups, including the elderly and dependent of PWDs. It is located at J.P Burgos Street, Project 4, Quezon City. ###

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Struggle for Success

“Success is a series of small wins.”
– Glenda A. Rieza

We, Filipinos see education as a way to break free from the bars of poverty; that the lessons we learned in and out of school will equip and prepare us for our future. Glenda A. Rieza of Barangay Santolan, Pasig City is one of the Filipinos who believe in the power of education. She is an outstanding student of Central Colleges of the Philippines gaining a General Weighted Average of 96%. She is motivated to be an achiever not just because of the career path she wants to take but most especially, she is looking forward to help her family rise from poverty and eventually, achieve a better future for them.

Her journey is a series of struggles and success. It is quite an unfortunate circumstance for her as she battles against leukaemia. In 2007, she was diagnosed with chronic leukaemia, a disease which threatens the blood systems of one’s body. Since then, her family succumbed with thoughts of losing her at a very young age. But that did not stop her from becoming an honor student. Her dream of a better future for her family is far bigger than her disease. She is determined to chase her dreams regardless of the challenges that she is facing.

While making her way to the top, she decided to keep her disease confidential to avoid sympathies from the people around. She wanted to be an achiever in a fair way, to show that she can endure her personal struggles and at the same time, become one of the top performing students in their class. With vigor and rigor, she was able to gain achievements and recognitions from her teachers and school officials. Her perseverance paid off and she became an academic achiever.

Leukaemia is a disease that requires constant maintenance which her family attends together with her other necessities. She is really blessed to have a family who has her back whom she considers as source of strength to go through every day. Her mother, Elsa works as a tailor and her father, Hernando works as a carpenter. Their meager income is solely the source of her medical needs along with the support of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Philippine Children Medical Center, The Organized Assistance to Treatment and Healthcare Solutions Society, and the Local Government.

Glenda as she delivers her speech

At first, the assistance they are receiving is more than enough to sustain her medications however, due to the increasing cost of the medicines needed, it became a challenge for the family financially. One could say that her case is a miracle for they were able to make both ends meet. Considering her condition, she was able to graduate with flying colors.

The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program is a great help for the family in facing the difficult situations they are confronted with. Through the cash grants, they were able to provide the family’s daily needs and at the same time, attend to her medical concerns. Their engagement with the Program links them to receive assistance from other programs that the Department is providing particularly, the medical assistance from the Crisis Intervention Unit. The Family Development Sessions became vital in their journey these make their family resilient in facing all these challenges.

Today, Glenda is still needing a lot of support as she combats leukaemia. With a brave heart, she is certain that they will continuously fight to win over this biggest challenge. She believes that her disease is not a hindrance which will prevent her from achieving her dreams. After all, hope shines brightest during the darkest days. ###

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Find Your Balance

Yoga is not just about working out, it’s about a healthy lifestyle. The practice of yoga allows clients to find stillness in a world consumed with chaos. Finding Ones Balance. Peace and tranquility achieved through focused training appeals to everyone.

Some residents of Sanctuary Center during their yoga session

Certified Calm, one of the nation’s leading providers of health and wellness gear, and a long time champion of community wellness endeavors, through the initiative of Ms. Darcy Ong, Managing Director and Ms. Monique Sian, Assistant Marketing Manager, conducted a yoga class for thirty manageable residents of the Sanctuary Center on May 21, 2019. The activity aims to promote yoga as a holistic approach in improving overall wellness of heart, mind and body. The event was in part with their advocacy to strengthened the advocacy of women empowerment of the women of Sanctuary Center diagnosed with mental health condition.

Ms. Isabel Naval, Yoga Instructor introduced the yoga to the residents. Ms. Naval emphasized that yoga includes breathing exercises which intend to support relaxation, meditation which reduce stress. Ms. Sian added that practicing yoga is said to provide many health benefits both physical and mental. It has a significant effect on lowering the level of stress, anxiety and depression which are common symptoms of most of the residents of the Center. Sense of peace can be found while doing the activity in the form of relaxation and meditation. It was also found out that if improves quality of sleep. Yoga can also enhance body movement by increasing their flexibility and balance.

After the yoga session, residents seem calm and relaxed. Parlor games, meals and gift packs were given to all participants at the end of the activity.

Sanctuary Center is a half-way home for female, 18 years old and above who are improving from psychosis and other mental illness, managed by DSWD – NCR. It has a 100 bed capacity and is located in Welfareville Compound, Acacia Lane Mandaluyong City.###

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The Dream of a homeless

This is a story about a former homeless individual who have big dreams for her family. Her name is Liwanag Lopez Ocampo, who turned 41 years old on May 14, 2019. Her story is an inspiration to the members of the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer for Homeless Street Families (MCCT-HSF) in Navotas. Liwanag represents other MCCT members who looks forward of having a good and better life for their families. They are also the people who are striving hard to experience wellness in their lives.

Liwanag lived quite a privileged life during her younger years. Her parents both worked at the Fishport of Navotas as vendors and biyahero as well. She studied in a well- known private school and reached second year college. During those times, she was living her dream and was ready to finish college. However, when she met Marlon, her common- law partner and better half, she began to experience a 360 degree turn in her life. She got pregnant at quite a young age of 19 years old.

Liway, as her friends call her experienced living life away from her parents and family. She started living with Marlon’s family while the latter, tried working to various jobs. Marlon finished a vocational course as electrician which he took for two (2) years. Life back then became quite difficult for Liway because of the adjustments she had to make. The couple was blessed with four (4) children. Her eldest is now a mother herself to a one year- old daughter. She stopped from school but she is now planning to enrol in Alternative Learning System (ALS) since her child is already able to walk and move along at home.

The three (3) children are now studying and being monitored as beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) for MCCT- HSF in the City of Navotas.

Liwanag’s family experienced their worst living condition when a misunderstanding between them and Marlon’s biological family arose. He was then working as a call center agent and eventually, stopped working. Since then, he started changing his ways toward his family and engaged himself in vices such as alcoholism and womanizing. Because of this, the couple’s relationship became a little shaky. From being a regular employee in a company, he turned into a caretaker of a small computer shop located in the same Barangay where they live.

Because of the problems that arose from their situation, the couple decided to move out of Marlon’s family house and lived under the ceiling of the computer shop where he worked. Given their family size, one could only imagine how hard it was for them to live the life of a homeless family. Liwanag tried selling different food outside of the said establishment to help her on the household expenses.

In the year 2015, the family was enumerated by the Listahanan and were assessed to be from eligible members of the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer for Homeless Street Families (MCCT- HSF). They have been provided with rental assistance which they used wisely and is still sustainable until today.

Liway with one of her students

Because of her determination, Liway is now working as a private school teacher in Caloocan City and earns the starting salary of six thousand pesos (P6,000.00) which increases over time. She applied for a low tuition fee education at Navotas Polytechnic College and graduated in the year 2018 with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Education Major in General Education. During interview, Liway said giving her children the best future they deserved is what she always dreamed of. She also wants to inspire Marlon by being a good example to him through graduating and being a good provider for their family.

The cash grants which they received from their compliance with the conditionalities of the program were used for her children’s school needs. By proper management of said cash grants, improvement on their lives is being felt.

Presently, Liway is being encouraged by the Case Worker handling their Pantawid membership to apply for a vacant position at the Regional Office of DSWD- NCR to help improve their family’s overall well-being. Her husband on the other hand is presently looking for a job in the LGU of Navotas to assist Liway in providing for their basis sustenance.

Continuous mentoring is Liwanag’s pledge for her children to have a better future. She encourages them to dream big and dream like her because she believes that nothing is impossible if someone wants to improve his or her life. She also continues to impart the importance of education to her children and she sets good example. She also reminds them to always be grateful to the program which helped them during their plight.

“Ang maipapayo ko lang ay una, magdasal. Pangalawa, magkaroon ng target o goal na araw- araw iisipin kung paano ba magiging posible. Tapos maghanap ng mga tao o ahensya ng gobyerno na handang tumulong dahil mahirap bumangon ng nag-iisa. Mayroong mga scholarship programs at educational assistance ang gobyerno. Kailangan lang po ng sipag, tiyaga, determinasyon, inspirasyon at paraan para po magtapos sila sa pag- aaral at makuha ang mga pangarap nila. Ngunit kailangan ding tandaan na huwag abusuhin at dumepende lamang sa tulong.” – Liway Liwanang

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Working Together

Through the initiative of the City Links and in collaboration with the Local Government Unit of Caloocan, Tala High School, Pantawid Pamilya members and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, a garden was established inside the School.

In June 2018, the City Agriculture Office of Caloocan conducted training on Urban Farming to more than 100 Pantawid Pamilya members from Barangays 188, 187 and 176. Also DENR provided more than 1,200 various seedlings such as: eggplants, chili pepper, red chili, cabbage and okra.

Eventually, Parent leaders involved their children in gardening by bringing rice hull, chicken coop and providing recycled bottles for plant containers. These efforts, contributed to the progress of the gardening initiative. Said garden bonded the community relations between the Tala High school and Pantawid Pamilya members from said communities since most of the student members who were enrolled in the school belong from the said Barangays. It helped made their children be responsible not only academically but also in other extra-curricular activities which encouraged them to be more efficient and effective students and youth in their community.

Presently, the school’s feeding program benefited from the Urban Garden where half of the total harvested crops from the garden proceeded to the school and half to the Pantawid Pamilya members.

Clearly, all the activities and efforts only prove that we can achieve and make a change through working hand in hand by maximizing services of the National and Local Government agencies as well as other stakeholders who actively cooperated to bring this project to success.

“Working with the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program members is one of my most fulfilling moments,” said Mrs. Jocelyn D.G. Antipala, School Focal Person. ###

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Rising from the Downfall

“Salamat po ng marami sa Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program dahil isa po ito sa nakatulong sa aming Pamilya. Kahit papaano po ang aming pangarap ay unti-unti na po naming nakakamit. Salamat po sa lahat ng bumubuo ng Programa, sa DSWD at sa Poong Maykapal. Maraming salamat po”. – Jennilyn and Benigno

Jennilyn with her family

At their early age, Jennilyn Marinas and Benigno Delbarrio started a family wherein both of them were not prepared for. Benigno was pushed to be a pedicab driver earning Php200.00 if he is lucky and sometimes, Php 50.00 which is indeed not enough to suffice their daily needs. To help her husband, Jennilyn decided to enroll in TESDA by taking up cosmetology focusing on manicure and pedicure. She provided manicure services to her neighbors as her initial customers and charged only Php20.00 per service. There were times that she and her husband had a fight due to financial problem and was left with no choice but to borrow money for them to survive.

On October 17, 2007, they experienced the most hard-hit downfall when their house got burned down and lose everything they had. This mishap made them live with their relatives in Bulacan and transferred to her mother-in-law in Montalban, Rizal after a year and went back to Paranaque on the same year.

Another sad moment was during Rhapunzel’ birthday. It truly broke their hearts as parents as they were not able to provide anything for their daughter. She is the eldest among her two (2) siblings and studying in Paranaque National High School-Main as Grade 8 student. Her brother’s name is Rhaven whi is in Grade II and Raizelyn, Kinder student in San Antonio Elementary School.

To sustain the needs of their children, Benigno simultaneously worked hard for multiple jobs as construction worker, water delivery boy and tricycle driver for additional income. The ray of hope on their lives eventually happened when they became member of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in 2014. Since then, they were able to provide their children’s needs in school and they can now celebrate birthdays. Sacrifices were replaced by motivation and inspiration by their children’s success and achievements.

Rhapunzel holding her award

As a member of the Program, doors of opportunities opened to Rhapunzel. She was encouraged to join school, church and other community activities as a choir member. She was also given the chance to take up voice lessons. She performed during the “Grand Vocal Recital of San Isidro Children Lesson Voice Program and won awards to every competition she joined.

In 2017, she joined the gymnastic class in high school and won the Bronze Medal during the Palarong Pambansa held in NCR on February 19, 2019.

Her perseverance and passion made her decide to join to participate in the cheering squad wherein their group won 2nd Place during the National Capital Region Cheer and Dance Qualifiers. Moving to the next round, they grabbed the 1st place in the “COED Senior Chher of National Cheerleading Champion” on March 10, 2019.

Meanwhile, the younger child, Ravhen also got an award from his school during their Recognition day on March 26, 2019 as “Natatanging Mag-aaral mula 1st-4th Grading Period.” Mrs. Marinas was able to get a new job as a Free Lance Senior Hairstylist while her husband has a regular job as a messenger. All of these hardworks and detrmination resulted to another worthwhile blessing, their new house in Cavite City.

“Lahat ng tagumpay na aming natatamo ay masasabi kong tagumpay rin ng programa ng Pantawid Pamilya. Kabahagi naming ito sa pagbangon sa aming buhay,” said Jennilyn. ###

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A blessing to everyone

May Malasakit Story of Pastora Lydia Serrano

Pastor Lydia Serrano is a senior Reverend of Christian Challenge Church. Primarily, she is a Resource Speaker in the conduct of FDS. But through her passion to her field, Pastor became Coordinator of International Holistic Engagement for Life and Progress (IHELP) – National Capital Region from 2012 to 2018. And now, the National Coordinator of I-HELP.

It has been more than eight meaningful years that the said CSO partner works with the Department in the implementation of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program particularly in the facilitation of Family Development Sessions. Through the FDS-Plus implementation in 2012, I-HELP partnered with the program. Though the FDS-Plus ended in 2013, it did not hamper the said organization to continuously reach Pantawid Pamilya communities with their values formations and help poor families through the provisions of social assistance available in their affiliated and community based churches.

Pastor Lydia is considered one of the passionate Partners of the Department to different initiatives and undertakings. She spearheaded historical and worthwhile activities which include – mobilization and motivation of Pantawid Pamilya members in Manila to hold a Unity Walk towards institutionalization of the program on April 2016 as well as the active lobbying of the program to legislators and senate offices. She also provided and developed various activities to Pantawid Pamilya members in NCR such as – counseling for conflict couples, emergency assistance for fire victims and burial assistance. She even expanded her networks and social mobilizations to share the opportunities for members in Tondo, Manila on livelihood, skills and employment prospects. Additionally, she mentored Parent Leaders, feeding and provision of school supplies and after school care to children members. She untiringly conducted stress management / debriefing activities to Pantawid Pamilya staff which make her recognized as the spiritual advisor of some of the staff as well.

Recently, she told an incident which truly describes her kindness. “One of the youth came with his half-brother asking for assistance and an alleged victim of domestic violence. “Madalas po akong pinapalo ng tubo na bakal”, according to the child. The victim went to sought assistance from nearby Precinct and the official advised the child to undergo “medico legal” in order to file the case. Pastor Lydia assisted the family through financial assistance for medical examination and accompanied them to the precinct and barangay for blotter filling. During the counseling, she found out that the child is a Pantawid Pamilya member and she immediately referred to the concerned Area Coordinator.

Her compassion showed kindness, caring, and willingness to help others in need without expecting anything in return. Despite the usual activities of their church, she managed to extend aid for the needy. Out of her pocket, she pooled resource. Pastor Lydia has sited stories on helping members experiencing the same difficulties in life.

Because of these, she is motivated and grateful with the positive changes to the Pantawid Pamilya members especially on their spiritual well-being. Likewise, the Pantawid Pamilya staff appreciates her untiring support to the program and the program members. Also, for being a life and spiritual mentor to some Pantawid Pamilya personnel.

“Hindi ako mag-sasawang tumulong sa ating mga miyembro dahil alam ko na kalooban ng Diyos ang mga ginagawa ko at hindi Siya nag-sasawa sa pag-bibigay ng kalakasan, karunungan at biyaya sa buhay ko at ng aking pamilya. – Pastor Lydia A. Serrano


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