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The right ‘mix’ – extending dreams outside the home

The aroma of ‘pandesal’ fills the humble abode of the Macasaet Family in San Mateo, Rizal Province. For three years now, the bread has not just become a common breakfast food for this family of six. It has become their hope.

“Ang pinaka-goal talaga namin sa pamilya ay maiangat ang antas ng aming pamumuhay,” shares Nemia, 46.

As a mother, Nemia, who used to sell snacks for a living and rely on her husband Medel’s income as a tricycle driver, thought that achieving this goal is impossible. However, with their determination, hard work and the whole family’s commitment to achieve this, they are getting to their goal little by little.

“Hindi naman p’wedeng laging iaasa namin sa gobyerno ang mga kakulangan namin sa buhay. Dapat meron kaming laging ginagawa,” says Nemia with conviction.


Finding the right ‘mix’ towards success

In 2012, the Macasaet Family of Brgy. Ampid I became a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development. For a family whose daily budget was around PhP400 only, the cash grants from the program have been a big help to answer their daily needs, especially the four children’s expenses in school.

However, couple Nemia and Medel understand that the program is temporary. The cash grants they receive every two months are not even sufficient for all their needs. Moreover, they know that the program will not be the answer to their dreams of a better life.

“Ang katwiran namin, binigyan ka (referring to the program), pero, ano ang gagawin mo sa ibinigay sa’yo,” shares Nemia, who relates how they planned and thought of ways to provide a better life for their children while the government is supporting some of their needs.

Knowing that their usual jobs will not be enough, they started their business baking and selling ‘pandesal’ at home. They loaned a small capital from a micro-financing institution to invest on an oven and initial capital for their business.

“Noong una, talagang halos wala kaming kinikita sa pagtitinapay. Pinag-aral namin ang panganay namin ng baking para magkaroon s’ya ng skills. Ngayon, s’ya na ang namamahala ng aming negosyo,” relates Medel.

The bakery, which they call M and Nems, has become their main source of income. On top of Medel’s income as a tricycle driver and Nemia’s income as a vendor, the bakery is able to ensure that their children remain in school.

“Importante sa amin na nag-aaral at nagkakaroon ng skills ang mga bata dahil ito lang ang makasisiguro na magkakaroon sila ng mas maayos na buhay,” says Nemia.

Today, their eldest, 21-year-old Cyrus, is able to support himself while helping the family’s business. Kim, 20, is in second year college while twins Clarence and Lawrence, 16, are in Grade 11.

Ensuring sustainability while helping others

The Macasaet Family credits the success of the bakery and their family to every member.

Every day, at four in the morning, Medel and Nemia start their day baking ‘pandesal’ and selling it to customers. Sometimes, Medel would go back to sleep at 5:30 AM so he can grab enough rest before driving his tricycle all day. Nemia will take charge of the baking and the selling until 9:00 AM.

At 10:00 AM, Cyrus goes around their five branches in other barangays in San Mateo to collect the sales and buy ingredients to prepare for the next day.

In the afternoon, Cyrus starts mixing the dough to cover the needs of all the branches for the next day. When the rest of the children arrive home from school, they start with their usual tasks such as helping in the preparation of the ingredients. At 4:00 PM, Cyrus delivers the dough to the branches.

The operation of this bakery gives the Macasaet Family optimism that they’ll soon be able to reach their dream—which is to improve their living condition. Little by little, this has been evident in their ability to provide for the needs of the children in school and the improvement of their home.

For these small successes, the family is determined to give their blessings to others, too. When choosing branches to expand their business, they ensure that they pick a family whose situation is similar to them. They provide a vendor with an oven and supply them with dough daily. Eighty percent of the sales becomes the income of the vendor.

One of the vendors of the Macasaet Family is Maricel Santos, 43, a resident of Brgy. Sta. Ana. Like them, Maricel’s family is a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilya program.

“Malaki ang naitulong sa akin ng pagtitinda ng pandesal dahil ngayon, nakakatulong na ako sa aking pamilya. Dating nagtitinda lang ako ng junk foods sa bahay namin at kumikita ng P50 sa isang araw. Ngayon, kumikita na ako ng P350 o higit pa sa isang araw,” gladly shares Maricel, who has seven children.

According to Maricel, it gives her pride that she is able to help her husband, a construction worker, to support the needs of the children and no longer is reliant on the cash grants from the Pantawid Pamilya program. Further, she says she now finds better use of her time rather than spend it gossiping with neighbors.

For the Macasaet Family, their goal, just like their business, has expanded as well. Their dream is no longer just an improved life for their family, but more importantly, an improved life for other poor families who need opportunities to start again, earn some and reach their dreams eventually.***

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DSWD strengthens ties with medical service providers


The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) advocates for formal partnership with medical service providers across the CALABARZON Region to ensure a more efficient delivery of financial assistance to individuals and families in need.

In a dialogue conducted last June 7 with representatives from 30 hospitals, five dialysis centers and one pharmacy, the DSWD Field Office IV-A emphasized the importance of entering into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the agency.

“The MOA will ensure smooth transaction between the DSWD and the service providers which eventually benefits our clients. Our goal here is to provide help faster and more conveniently and ease the burden of those seeking for financial assistance,” said Lucia Almeda, social worker and head of the Protective Services Unit of the DSWD Field Office IV-A.

Under the MOA, the service providers can secure a credit line of up to PhP300,000 from the DSWD and ensure that their services are available to the clients.

Instead of providing cash to clients seeking assistance to pay for hospital bills and purchase of medicines, the DSWD will issue a guarantee letter that indicates the amount of assistance being provided based on the DSWD’s assessment.

The service provider will bill the DSWD based on the amount of guarantee letters they have received and processed from clients on a bi-monthly schedule.

“This strategy not only ensures a faster provision of assistance to our clients. Since the DSWD is directly paying the service providers, we are assured that the funds are allotted directly to what the clients are seeking assistance for,” Almeda shared.

To date, there are 30 hospitals, dialysis centers and pharmacies with formal engagement with the DSWD Field Office IV-A for the provision of medical assistance using this kind of strategy in the region.

The DSWD, through the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations, provides financial assistance including medical, educational, burial and transportation to indigent individuals and families in need.***

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Catanauan joins the fight against child labor under SHIELD

The local government of Catanuan, Quezon signed a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Social Welfare and Development IV-A for the pilot implementation of SHIELD against child labor project last April 24, 2016 in Catanauan, Quezon.

SHIELD or Strategic Helpdesks Information Education Livelihood and Developmental Interventions is a project of the DSWD that integrates multi-layered strategies and approaches to help eliminate child labor, particularly its worst forms and those in the blanket ban (child laborers below 15 years old).

During the MOA signing event, Regional Director Leticia T. Diokno of DSWD IV-A expressed her confidence that the program will greatly help the local government units (LGUs) to manage the cases of child labor in their areas.

“We envision that through this, the number of laborers in the region will significantly decrease. We need to develop comprehensive programs and other interventions that will address the root causes of child labor in the region”, shared by Director Diokno.

The DSWD through the SHIELD project will strengthen the capacity of the local government units, child laborers, families and service providers by educating them on child labor, developing information management and monitoring systems and creating immediate and developmental interventions for child laborers and their families.

According to Listahanan, an information management and targeting system utilized by the DSWD in selecting beneficiaries of its social protection programs and services, there are 85, 570 child laborers nationwide who are working in high risk areas such as in agriculture, mining, deep-sea fishing, manufacturing, quarrying and domestic work.

Based on the Philippines Statistics Authority, Region IV-A has the second highest number of child laborers in the county with 174,300. In Catanauan, Quezon, most of the child laborers are involved in deep-sea fishing “pagtutuba”, “pag-uuling”, fish drying and child domestic work.

DSWD Social Technology Bureau Director Thelsa P. Biolena emphasized in her message the importance of the active participation and support of local government units in ending child labor in the Philippines.

The 2-year pilot implementation will enable the LGU of Catanauan and other stakeholders to develop policies and integrate programs for child laborees that will be accessible to the community.

“Sana sa pamamagitan ng programang ito, dadating ang araw na wala na pong child laborers dito sa Catanauan. Sana rin maging magandang halimbawa ang Catanauan sa ibang gustong wakasan ang child labor sa kanilang lugar”, shared by Vice Mayor Juan T. Casal of Catanauan, Quezon.

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‘Mangarap muli’—a mother’s second chance at dreaming

Seeing her children in school now, Maricel Ceballo cannot believe that once in her life, she has lost all her hope.

Maricel, 40, a resident of Brgy. Bukal in Jomalig, Quezon Province, admitted that she and her husband Teody, 41, did not dream of sending their children to school. Despite knowing how important education is for the future of their four children, they did not know how to support them.

“Dati, nangangarap kaming mapag-aral sila kaso kapag dumarating ‘yung panahon na wala na kaming maitustos, nawawalan na kami ng pag-asa,” shared Maricel, who knows that their PhP3,000 combined monthly income doing laundry and farming was not enough to support the family.

Today, however, Maricel is glad that they did not stop there.

A second chance

Maricel’s family became a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in 2010.


The Pantawid Pamilya is a social protection program of the national government that provides conditional cash grants to poor families in support for the needs on health and education of children zero to 18 years old. The cash grants are provided to families in exchange for their compliance to program conditions such as school attendance and monthly health checkups.

Maricel shared that the cash grants provided by the program have been a big help to support the education of their children. However, more than the money, the condition provided by the program became a motivation for them.

“Sa Pantawid Pamilya, isa sa mga kundisyon ay ang pagpapaaral ng mga bata. Noong napag-aral namin sila nang sabay-sabay at nakarating na sila sa high school, naging hamon ito para sa amin. Sabi ko, kakayanin na namin. Doon kami nagsimula ulit,” shared Maricel.

Maricel and Teody began working double to ensure that they can support the needs of their children.

“Nagkaroon kami ng lakas ng loob na magpursige para mangarap muli para sa kinabukasan ng aming mga anak,” said Maricel proudly.

In 2014, Maricel became eager to participate in the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), another program of the DSWD that prioritizes qualified beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilya to capacitate them towards micro-enterprise development or gainful employment.

Maricel attended various orientations and skills training that taught her about starting a small enterprise, managing finances and saving from the daily income.

She loaned PhP9,000 from the SLP, which she used as capital in maintaining a rice field.

“Nakisaka kami sa pinsan ko at ginamit naming mag-asawa yung capital para sa pagpapalinis, pagbili ng binhi at abono,” said Maricel.

According to Maricel, this venture allowed her and her husband to earn more and support their children. In a year, they were able to pay back the loan and save a small amount out of their earnings.

In 2015, she qualified for another loan amounting to PhP15,000. She used this to buy a carabao, which they now use in the farm.

Through the years, they earn around PhP30,000 per harvest season (which happens twice a year). Earning this amount, they are able to ensure the sustainability of their farm and as a result, they become more confident to support their daily needs.

Dreams within reach

Their children Teosel, 20, and Karen Joy, 18, are both in third year college. Teosel is taking up BS Agriculture and is a grantee of Expanded Student Grants-in-Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation (ESGPPA), a program of the Commission on Higher Education for Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries. Karen Joy, on the other hand, is taking up BS Business Administration through a different scholarship.

“Nagpursige po kaming i-apply ng scholarship ‘yang mga anak namin dahil gustong gusto namin silang makapagtapos ng pag-aaral. Hindi namin sinasayang ang mga oportunidad na binibigay sa amin,” shared Maricel.

Their youngest, King Christian, 12, is now in Grade 6 and is the sole child-beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilya in the family. Their eldest, 22, on the other hand, is currently working but is determined to be back in school next school year.

Dreams alive in the community

Maricel is glad that their refueled dream for their children has led them to work harder and become determined to change the course of their lives, at least that of their children’s. But besides this, she is happier to see that it is not just their family who is experiencing this.

“Nakikita ko na ang mga tao dito sa amin ay nangangarap na rin katulad namin. Kung dati, makikita mo na maghapon silang nagsusugal, ngayon, nag-aasikaso na sila ng mga bata, nagpapaaral na at pinipilit maghanapbuhay para sa kanilang pamilya,” shared Maricel, specifically referring to co-beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilya program.

For Maricel, she is grateful that in their far-flung island municipality, which is around six hours away from mainland Quezon Province, dreams are being refueled and more importantly, are being chased now.#

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Bahay Tuluyan Summeer Sport Fest 2017

For many kids, summertime is the season for fun, games and lots of outdoor activities. This includes the residents of the Bahay Tuluyan ng mga Batang Babae in Dasmarinas, Cavite.

During this season, various indoor and outdoor games are conducted by the Center primarily aimed at helping the minor-residents release the tensions and stresses that are within them as cause by their being in their respective difficult circumstances. These activities are also held to help develop the athletic side of the residents and build camaraderie between the residents.

The Center’s summer sports fest was conducted from April 18 to 27, 2017. Among the games / activities conducted were cheering competition, basketball, badminton, table tennis, scrabble and word factory. Minor games such as dama, hulahoop, jackstone, sipa and jumping rope ware also held.

Bahay Tuluyan ng mga Batang Babae (Home for Girls) is a residential facility that provides residential and rehabilitative care to girls ages 15 and below who are victims of all sorts or abuses. Part of the interventions provided to the recreational activities that are geared towards preparing for their eventual reintegration to their respective families and communities.

According to the center head, Ms Brennie Sotto, the activity was very much enjoyed by the residents as they were able bonding with the center staff and other co-residents. Further, the sport fest helped lessen the boredom of the residents as caused by the activities conducted routinely at the Center. Ms Sotto added that the activity not only helped develop the talents of the residents in sports but also taught them the valuable lessons on the need to work hard or struggle in order to become triumphant and on how to accept failure. With reports from ADFernandez and BRSotto

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NTSB 2017 Summer Youth Camping

The National Training School for Boys (NTSB) yearly summer youth camping was held last  April 18-21, 2017 at the NTSB compound in Samapaloc, Tanay, Rizal.

The activity was participated by at least 150 residents and staff of the institution. The objective of the camp is to provide the residents alternative activities that are geared at towards relieving them of their stresses as caused by the circumstances that led to their current situation and enhancement of their rehabilitation through recreational and outdoor activities.

Among the topics and activities conducted during the camp are International Distress Signal, group exercises and bathing games which focuses personal hygiene, a camp fire and cheering competition, and lectures on First Aid, survival, fire building and basic knots. Physical, cerebral and trust building games were also conducted during the camp.

The NTSB is a residential facility managed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development. It provides residential and rehabilitative care to boys, 18 years old and below who are in conflict with the law.

According to the officer-in-charge, Ms Ellen Belmote, the summer camp is the most awaited activity of the residents of the center.  The camp serves as a venue for the residents to showcase their talents and skills and their leadership potentials as well through the different outdoor activities. But aside from the fun-filled outdoor activities, the it also serves a venue for instilling discipline, developing camaraderie, patience and determination among them which are all necessary for the attainment of the respective rehabilitation goals of the residents. With reports from AMGangan and ECBelmonte


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Lenten Celebration at NTSB

Yearly, the observances of the Lenten season at the National Training School for Boys (NTSB) is held through a series of activities aimed at strengthening the spirituality of the residents and staff.

From March 1, (Ash Wednesday) which is the start of Lenten season until the Easter Sunday, different activities were conducted to serve as reflection points of all Christian residents and staff.  Among these activities are observance of Ash Wednesday (putting of ashes on the forehead), observance of Palm Sunday, nightly prayers during the holy week, overnight PABASA, re-enactment of the ‘Washing of the Feet’, station of the cross, and series of Bible sharing and Eucharistic celebrations.

The NTSB is a residential facility managed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development. It provides residential and rehabilitative care to boys, 18 years old and below who are in conflict with the law.

According to Ms. Ellen C. Belmonte, the officer-in-charge of the center, the Lenten observance is undertaken to help strengthen the spiritual beliefs of the residents and staff and hopefully serve and influence them in their day-to-day activities. with reports from JJRuzol and ECBelmonte

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Health first—prioritizing children’s health for a better future

After a week of fighting dengue fever, Melany Caday‟s two sons are finally out in the hospital.

Melany, 40, cannot hide her relief even after seeing their hospital bill.

Normally, she would fret about where to borrow money to cover for the payment of the bills whenever a member of their family is hospitalized. As a „kakanin‟ vendor and a beauty product dealer with a husband who is an on-call construction worker, she admits to not having enough savings for emergency purposes such as this.

But at that time, she had no worries.


Prioritizing the health of the family

Melany, a resident of Brgy. Cometa in the island municipality of Quezon, Quezon Province, animatedly shares how she‟s not afraid to bring family members to the hospital even when she knows they have no extra cash.

“Noon, madalas na magkasakit ang mga anak ko pero talagang dinadala ko sila sa ospital kapag nagkakasakit na. Ang sa akin, importante na maging ligtas sila, kaya kahit walang pera, sige lang. Bahala na kaming dumiskarte „pag lalabas na,” she said.

Today, however, Melany is grateful that she no longer has this problem.

As a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, Melany‟s family has been entitled to the National Health Insurance Program (PhilHealth).

The Pantawid Pamilya is a human capital development program of the national government that provides conditional cash grants to qualified poor families to support zero to 18 years old children‟s needs on health, nutrition and education.

Since beneficiaries of the program are based on the database of poor households of the DSWD‟s National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction, now Listahanan, which is the basis of the identification of PhilHealth‟s sponsored program for those needing urgent assistance, all Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries and their qualified dependents were automatically enrolled through PhilHealth Circular No. 24, Series of 2012.

Beginning 2012, all Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries can avail benefits including primary care package, inpatient and outpatient care services, and No Balance Billing Policy.

This was great news for Melany as this greatly supported her concern for the health of her family.

Last November, Melany‟s two sons—Ken Manuel, 13 and Daniel, 11—were confined in a hospital in Gumaca town. Because of her family‟s sponsored PhilHealth membership, the insurance covered every peso of their PhP20,000 bill.

“Kung walang PhilHealth, hindi ko talaga kayang magbayad ng PhP20,000 paglabas namin ng ospital. Napakalaking tulong po na hindi na kami mangungutang at poproblemahin pa ang pambayad sa opsital,” she gratefully shared.


Importance of good health

For Melany, investing on the health of her children is a priority as it is where everything starts.

“Napaka-importante na napapangalagaan ang kalusugan ng pamilya, lalong lalo na ang mga bata. Sa kanilang maayos na kalusugan, hindi sila uma-absent sa school at madali silang natututo,” said Melany, who thanks the Pantawid Pamilya for emphasizing to every parent the importance of the health besides the education of the children.

Further, she mentions the Family Development Sessions (FDS) of the Pantawid Pamilya program that parent-grantees like her attend to monthly.

“Mas napalakas ng aming mga pag-aaral sa FDS ang pagpapahalaga ng mga magulang sa kalusugan ng mga bata katulad ng regular na pagpapacheck-up, paghahanda ng masustansyang pagkain at paglilinis ng kapaligiran,” Melany added.

In the implementation of the Pantawid Pamilya program, household-beneficiaries are provided with PhP500 monthly health grant to support the health needs of children, especially those zero to five years old. The provision of the said grant is granted to the household upon compliance to program conditions such as monthly preventive health checkups and monthly attendance to FDS.

The FDS is a monthly gathering of parent-grantees facilitated by the DSWD City / Municipal Links, local government partners and civil society organization partners. Sessions include strengthening marital relations, children‟s rights, health and sanitation, budget management and disaster preparedness among others.

For a mother like Melany, having partners to ensure the good health of her children is a big relief.

Without worrying about the health of her children, Melany focuses on working hard to ensure that she and her husband can better provide for their family‟s needs, especially in ensuring the good future of their three children.XXX

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