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Life is like a Classroom

The goal of breaking the inter-generational cycle of poverty in the country is a long and winding road. Many would argue that education is one the causes of the poverty, that it is essential for us to achieve our goals and vision. Daniella Baluyot of Barangay San Roque, Navotas City is one of those students who value education that regardless of what she has gone through, she continues her schooling.

Daniella is the eldest among the four (4) children in Baluyot family. Her father who works as helper in a shipyard raised the family by earning 500 Pesos a day that they budget to cover their daily necessities. With the meager income along with the cash grants they are receiving from the Pantawid Pamilya, keeping the children in school is quite a challenge for the family. Regardless of the situation, they did not let the children stop from education because according to her, her parents believe that education is their key for their success. Financial problems stand as a wall on their way out of poverty. In 2017, she met her boyfriend who eventually became the father of her child. She became part of the grappling high number of teenage pregnancy cases in the country. According to the most recent National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS 2017) from the Department of Health (DOH), the incidence of teenage or adolescent pregnancies remains at a considerable rate. Overall, some nine percent of women from the age of 15 to 19 have already started childbearing.

She received criticisms and judgments from the people around her but she took it as a blessing instead of regret. The family is presented with another challenge and in most cases; teenage pregnancy increases the out-of-school cases due to the responsibility of raising a child. Being a teenage mother is tough according to her, the stigma attached to teenage pregnancy along with the culture of blaming pummeled her self-esteem and positive outlook in life. Adding to the stress are the mounting expenses of raising a child. Despite of the circumstances, she is one of the few teenage mothers who did not sacrifice her education. She said that, her mother constantly reminded her on the importance of education especially for the future of her growing child. She is now a Grade 11 student at San Roque National High School in Navotas City. She dreamt of becoming an accountant someday.

She shared what she has learned as a teenage mother, it is to be mindful on the consequences of your actions so as not to have regrets in the end. “Sa mga kapwa kong bata at nag-aaral, sa lahat po ng ginagawa natin dapat po laging may limitasyon kasi ang pag-aaral lang po ang tanging yaman na maibabalik natin sa ating mga magulang,” she added. She is very thankful that the Program continuously supported their family even if she is now a teenage mother. She ended with a reminder for those out-of-school children and youth that they are not yet late, that they could still finish their studies. We can only achieve our dreams if we work our way through it. ###

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From homeless to an achiever

Rikki Mae is a 19 years old Grade 12 student at Datamex College of St. Adeline and the third child of Charito Macalalad, a solo parent. According to her, Rikki Mae is a consistent top student since grade school. She graduated with honors at Paranaque National High School in March 2017. Aside from being a performing student, she also engaged in extracurricular activities that honed her competencies such as Leadership Development Program, Journalism Summit and Spelling Bee. On March 29, 2019, she succesfully finished her Senior High and was hailed as the Top 1 among the Grade 12 students. She is definitely an epitome of a passionate student.

Rikki Mae’s family is one of the members of the Modified Conditional Cash Tranfser – Homeless Street Families. They were reached out in a public cemetery at Himlayang Palanyag, Barangay San Dionisio, Paranaque City. They became part of the Program in 2014 and received a package of Support Service Interventions such as financial assistance for 12 months house rental, cash for work, starter kit, homelife cash assistance along with the grants they are receiving. With the help of the Program, they are able to trudge up from being a homeless family, to a family with a sustained happy home. They are recommended to be mainstreamed on the Regular Conditional Cash Transfer of Pantawid Pamilya through the progressive interventions they have received.

Charito strive hard as a solo parent despite the financial difficulties they had experienced. Her children who performed well in their studies provide her the strength and motivation to surpass the predicaments that once took their hope for a better future. Rikki Mae fosters a positive outlook in life regardless of what they had gone through as a child. During home visits, the child was observed as respectful to older people. She also helps in doing the household chores and looks after her sister when her mother is not around. According to her Class Adviser, she is studious, active and obedient as a student while her friends described her as friendly and helpful. In addition, aside from Rikki Mae, John Renzo Santos, fourth child of Charito is also an honor student who graduated in the same school. He is the Top 2 in their class. Hanna Kim Santos, fifth child is the top 6 in their class.

Rikki Mae wanted to become a psychologist. She is motivated to improve her family’s living condition. Despite of the low income of the family, they were able to surpass the challenges and support the education of the children. Rikki Mae is now applying in universities to fulfill her dreams. ###

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Sanctuary within the Sanctuary: Harvesting what is sown

“Nagsimula ang aming gulayan dahil ito ang desire ng puso namin- ang magtanim. Ginagawa namin ito ng may pagkakaisa, pagmamahalan at pagtutulungan…” –Jenna A. Camara (President, Sanctuary Pantawid Urban Garden)

Establishing the Sanctuary Pantawid Urban Garden in Mandaluyong City was an arduous collective effort of the Pantawid Pamilya farmers, given the fact that establishing and maintaining an urban garden is quite a challenge in highly urbanized areas where space and source of water which are essential in farming are of major concerns. The difficulties did not stand as hindrance for the farmers in the strides they took while achieving their goal of establishing a garden. They firmly believe the law of nature that you will harvest what you planted thus, they planted their passion, dedication and camaraderie in their gulayan and now they are harvesting their success with abundance. Last year, they won as the Best Gulayan sa Barangay in the National Capital Region during The Regional Search for Best Gulayan sa Barangay 2018.

During Feeding Program

They started in 2012 by utilizing the available land in DSWD-NCR’s Sanctuary Center located at Mandaluyong City due to limited space in their community for urban agriculture. They were only provided ½ hectare of land for their gulayan in the said center. The Pantawid Pamilya farmers felt the scarce supply of water in the following year, some of the plants withered especially during summer. They did not give up and as a proactive response to the matter, they carry gallons of water every day to water their plants. Their act of hard work and perseverance to sustain their gulayan, have given the LGU of Mandaluyong enough reason to reward them by installing a source of water for their urban gardening in 2016. In addition, when the Center noticed the significant change in terms of cleanliness and orderliness in their premises, they granted the expansion of their urban gardening, allowing the farmers to cover more idle land in the center which has an estimated land size of more than a hectare. This allowed them to maximize the land and plant more varieties of vegetables.

The Pantawid Pamilya farmers always believe in the magic of sharing and they think that it is the key to their success. They believe that the more they give to others, the more they will receive in abundance. Eventually, they grow individually through the spirit of sharing and now, they are applying the lessons they have learned and used their group as an instrument to affect positive change not just to their fellow Pantawid Pamilya members but the whole community. They regularly conduct feeding program every Saturday morning to different evacuation centers around Mandaluyong City.  The fund they used for their initiative comes from a portion of their income in selling their harvests as well as from the donations of their friends. They cooked their harvested vegetables during the Feeding Program to serve nutritious food. They also cultivate herbal plants and provide free herbal medicines whenever someone is in need. In their account, they already provided to those indigent individuals who have Urinary Tract Infection, Cancer, Mayoma, Dengue etc. Also, they are giving a portion of their harvest once a month for the clients at the Sanctuary Center.

They have served as resource speakers during the Family Development Sessions at Barangay Zaniga, Buayang Bato, Malamig and in Addition Hills to share their good practices, techniques, strategies, experiences, and the effects of urban gardening in their lives during the celebration of 2018 Nutrition Month. It is their advocacy to establish more Gulayan sa Barangay in their locality.

One of the Pantawid Pamilya Farmers watering their garden.

In order to sustain the group and to build the culture of sharing and caring, the members on a regular basis are having their meetings and bible studies every Saturday. They have also extended their activity to other barangays namely, Brgy. Botanical, Brgy. Panatag and Brgy. Adddition Hills Blk 36 and Blk 38.

Recently, the group received a Nipa hut from their LGU where they gather for their meetings, recreations and bible studies. They no longer need to borrow the facility of the Sanctuary Center to have their regular activities. The place also serves as receiving area for their visitors. 

The once squandered idle land is now a home for nutritious vegetables. Urban gardening becomes a pleasurable activity for them as it serve not just a resting and stress relieving place, but also an entertaining place for them when they feel stressed and exhausted. The ambiance of the place provides peace of mind, it brings them closer to the nature and helps strengthen the companionship among them. ###

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Resisting Together

On June 29, 2019, the Department of Social Welfare and Development – National Capital Region joined the LGBTQIA+ Community and its supporters to march in solidarity and celebrate with pride, with the aim of fighting injustices against the community. This is being done in celebration of the 25th Metro Manila Pride March 2019 with the theme, “Resist Together”, held at the Marikina Sports Center.

DSWD-NCR staff during the Pride March 2019

From 5,000 participants in 2017 to 25,000 last year, the number of participants in this year’s Pride March rose up to 77,000; making Metro Manila Pride the biggest in Southeast Asia. The event was known for providing a safe space for the LGBTQIA+, wherein love and diversity have thrived. Power hugs from moms, dads, and even straight participants were overflowing.

As part of the Department’s advocacy for equality and support to all marginalized sectors, the DSWD-NCR staff, together with the LGBTQIA+ Community, sang and chanted while raising their placards and pride flags calling for an end to discrimination, for the start of gender equality, and for resisting oppression and social injustice.

Part of the event was the lighting of the 12-meter symbolic monument which stands firm at the Cityhood Park, illuminating rainbow colors which represent the LGBTQIA+. The event was graced by the presence of Mayor Marcelino Teodoro and Vice Mayor Marion Andres of Marikina City.

Some of the participants of the Pride March 2019 together with their placards and rainbow flag

“Nagpapasalamat tayo sa LGBTQ+ community dahil binibigyan nila ng kulay ang ating lungsod. Naipapakita natin na at the end of the day, we are all equally created. Isang malaking karangalan na dito natin ilulunsad ang ceremonial lighting of LGBTQ+ colors. At the same time, gusto natin palakasin ang ating institusyon na may malaking pagsuporta sa pagkapantay-pantay ng bawat isa,” Mayor  Teodoro said.

Despite the heavy rain, Marikina was still covered with colorful outfits, avant-garde floats, and upbeat music of the participants chanting for equality – Resisting together.

“The Church should just embrace differences, because being different doesn’t mean bad.” – Pope Francis ###

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RSW simultaneously celebrates NDPR Week and Nutrition Month

Officer In Charge, Mr. Arnel Bautista delivering his message during the celebration

The Rehabilitation Sheltered Workshop (RSW) celebrated the 41st National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation (NDPR) week along with the Nutrition Month on July 15-19, 2019 at the RSW compound.

With the theme, “Lokal na Pamahalaan: Kabalikat sa Pagtupad ng Karapatan ng mga Taong may Kapansanan”, the activity aims to remind everyone to understand the needs and capabilities of Persons with Disabilities and to provide them opportunities to become more productive, self-reliant, and empowered to participate and contribute for the development of the country.

The celebration started with a parade followed by a simple opening program led by RSW Officer In-Charge, Mr. Arnel L. Bautista and a spiritual sharing led by Rev. Roel S. Nilo of Capitol City Foursquare Church (CCFC).

From July 16 to 18, simultaneous activities were facilitated which include poster making contest, cooking contest, and showcasing of talents via group dancing and solo singing participated in by different RSW project workers and clients.

RSW’s partner stakeholders, namely, Ms. Camille Albarracin of Everything Green (Greenelas Project), Mr. Francis Fracisco of SAVANT, Ms. Chicky Cabunagan of Cotton & Canvas, Rev. Roel Nilo, Ms. Aya Sunit, and Mr. Robert Lopez, an RSW volunteer artist, served as judges during the competition.

“Ang mga kapatid nating may kapansanan ay may parehas na importansya para makatulong sa ating komunidad, sa kabila ng kanilang mga limitasyon, ang RSW at DSWD ay laging handa upang maging kabalikat sa pagtupad ng karapatan ng mga taong may kapansanan,” Mr. Bautista said, emphasizing that the contribution of local government for the welfare of Persons with Disabilities in RSW does not only support the Department, but also plays a huge role in inspiring the Persons with Disabilities to become better people.

Healthy food served as part of the celebration

The celebration of NDPR week also serves as an opportunity to celebrate the Nutrition Month to promote the consumption of healthy diet, increased physical activity, and to promote active lifestyle among individuals and families.

Meanwhile, the Department of Engineering of Quezon City was acknowledged for their valuable effort on the Gawad Kalinga Housing Project for the construction of RSW Building, asphalting of NVRC and RSW pathways, and for the assessment of structural integrity and safety of RSW facilities.

The NDPR Week is being celebrated every third week of July pursuant to Proclamation No. 361, signifying the birthday of the sublime paralytic, Apolinario Mabini, whose exemplary heroic acts during the Philippine Revolution made him an outstanding icon for Persons With Disabilities. ###

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Nayon ng Kabataan’s Sunduan 2019

Last June 28, the residents and staff of DSWD-NCR’s Nayon ng Kabataan (NK) commemorated the street pageant dating called “Sunduan”, a style of courtship which dates back to the 16th Century. It is a Spanish culture which was embraced by the Filipinos due to its ethical values.

Sunduan is one of the center’s activities which practices the residents of NK on social interaction to improve their social behavior. This activity is being done yearly as part of the Center’s socio-cultural and recreational services.

To make the event more memorable, staff and residents of NK helped each other design and make props out of scrap materials. The stage was beautified with balloons and garland flowers. The front of the designated areas wherein the female clients are waiting to be fetched are full of flower decorations. A few unique “sulo” or torch made out of empty soft drink cans were lit inside the “palayok” to light up the way for the participants while marching in procession.

Ms. Asuncion M. Flores, Center Head, did the opening remarks and acknowledged everyone who participated in the said event. This was followed by modern cotillion dance performed by the selected participants. The event ended magnificently as the residents of Nayon ng Kabataan portrayed a tradition that edifies values for the present generation.

Nayon ng Kabataan is a residential care facility for the abused, orphaned, abandoned, neglected, and exploited children ages 7-17 years old, both male and female. It is located at Barangay Addition Hills, Mandaluyong City. ###

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Fruit of Hardwork: Jasmin Salonga’s Success Story

Being independent at an early age is considered an achievement by many, but not for Jasmin. For her, growing up without parents to guide her entails a lot of hardships and challenges. Her father died when she was just six (6) years old, while her mother decided to work as an OFW to support her financial needs.

Jasmin’s life in Marillac Hills started on February 2015 when the transfer took place by virtue of the Regional Trial Court in Cagayan de Oro City, when she was involved in a drug- related offense. At the age of 16, she was brought to Marillac Hills for training and rehabilitation.

Living and staying with different people is one of the challenges that Jasmin faced during her stay at the institution. When she was a newcomer, some of the residents were afraid and intimidated by her presence. Jasmin had a hard time building camaraderie with her co-residents which once got her into trouble. Even so, Jasmin immediately apologized and sincerely promised to be more patient and considerate of others.

During her stay at Marillac Hills, Jasmin learned a lot of life lessons. She learned how to control her temper, learned how to say sorry, learned how to be contented, learned how to accept her own flaws, mistakes, and the weaknesses of her co-residents, and through that, Jasmin eventually learned to develop her leadership skills.

Jasmin was one of the recommended residents of Marillac to avail the scholarship program of Rotary Club of Metro Aurora, called the Cooking for Life Program–a short term course for culinary offered by the Center for Culinary Arts. Because of her determination and perseverance, she performed well in school and was commended as an “Outstanding Student” by her grantee and passed the National Certificate (NC II) test given by TESDA.

After completing the course which ran from August 2017 to March 2018, she had her On-the Job trainings at the Premier Hotel in Sta. Rosa, Laguna and at the Cravings Restaurant in Katipunan, Quezon City. Finally, after all her hard work, she successfully graduated from the Cooking for Life Program on Commercial Cooking II under the Culinary Education Foundation and was awarded rank 7 in her class.

After being reunited with her family on April 28, 2019, Jasmin continued her education at STI College – Alabang taking up a four-year course in Hospitality Management.

Jasmin accepted all the challenges in life and made it her inspiration. She chose not to dwell in loneliness and instead, she focused her energy on improving her skills. Her determination, courage, and passion helped her conquer all the hardships she faced and led her into being an active member of the Rotary Club. ###

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The Elsie Gaches Village (EGV) participated in the Hilot training provided by the Technical Institute – TESDA last May 22- July 5, 2019 held at the EGV productivity area.

Twenty-five (25) residents consisting of 16 females and 9 males under the upper trainable cottage have completed the course with 20 sessions including On-the-Job training. The first two weeks of the training focused on the lecture and actual demonstration on how to properly do the activity. The modules used by the MCTI-TESDA were all appropriate and convenient for the level of comprehensions of the participants, considering their special conditions.

The participants were evaluated based on the skills and performances they showed during the Hilot training. The grades were submitted and evaluated by the EGV Productivity supervisor, Ms. Teresa Miclat.

A simple graduation ceremony was prepared to give the residents acknowledgement and special awards for their hard work and cooperation all throughout the training activity.

As a result of the 30-day training, the residents showed improvements on their capacity, acquired new skills, increased their attention span, learned how to focus, gained self-confidence, and showed improved ability to interact with different people.

The activity aims to provide the residents of EGV skills training that may use in socializing and in managing their attitude and behavior towards work. ###

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