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Embracing the challenges of fieldwork: A story of a field validator

For the past 6 years Catalina Abing, 35 years old, a Bachelor of Education Major in Elementary Education graduate of Brgy. San Vicente, Carlos P. Garcia, Bohol has decided to take a different path of career – a chosen career she didn’t expect to be passionate about that has unexpectedly given her in-depth life lessons.

Catalina Abing (in red vest) administers validation to a household in Brgy. Kampikit, Carlos P. Garcia, Bohol for the implementation of the Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) program.

Currently working as one of the field validators of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) – 7 under the Listahanan for the implementation of the Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) program, Catalina has nothing but joy as she fulfills her duty as a field worker every day, unmindful of the distance that she had to walk under the heat of the sun only to reach the hopeful potential beneficiaries/households on her list to be validated.

The discrepancy of some information on her birth certificate caused her a difficulty in taking the Licensure Examination for Teachers and securing a license. This is one of the factors for her to take on a different job.

Before she got hired as a field validator of the department, Catalina has already worked as a field staff for the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Department of Agriculture (DA) and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) for the implementation of their projects. In 2015, she was hired as enumerator for more than a month of the DSWD-7 Listahanan during the second round of household assessment and has worked as an Area Supervisor of the Population Census (PopCen) of the PSA for three months.

Embracing the challenging nature of field work has also meant embracing the sacrifices that the field work has asked from Catalina. She had to sacrifice the time that should be allotted to and shared with her three children (Jonaline, 12, Josuana, 10 and Joliana, 5) for she became pre-occupied of the tasks that she had to effectively accomplish in the field.

Gisakripisyo nako akong pamilya para pagtuman sa akong trabaho. Nisakripisyo ko gumikan kay maayo raman pud akong tumong. Nagtrabaho ko para sa uban nga nanginahanglan sa programa sa gobyerno ug para naa pud koy ikabuhi sa akong pamilya (I have sacrificed my family to fulfill my job. I am doing it for a good cause. I was working for the people who deserve to benefit the programs of the government and I was working to feed my family at the same time),” said Catalina.

Those glitches weren’t enough reasons for her to quit what she had started.

Catalina continued doing what has already become her passion that her husband eventually understood. Jonas later on became supportive of what Catalina was doing. Field validation work, crossing islands, maneuvering off-road routes of far flung areas, encounter with heavy rains and dangerous animals and the unfamiliar surroundings with different risks are among the travel hurdles that Catalina had bravely faced in fulfilling the significant task of gathering data from different households entrusted to her.

Dili lang kay gigukod kog iro. Naa sad toy higayon nga natunok ko unya nagtaki-ang nako. Pero gipaningkamotan gyud nako nga makapadayon gihapon nga matiwas nako og adto ang mga balay nga survey-hunon pa (I wasn’t just chased by a dog. I even got pricked by a thorn and was already limping but, I’ve tried hard to still walk and continue the survey of the remaining households),” Catalina narrated.

Field validation work can get very arduous every day but Catalina has never complained about the struggles she’d gone through. For her, everything became worth it when she reached the area and saw the dire need of the deserving people to benefit the programs and services of the government.

For her, skipping a single house means depriving a household of the opportunity to be included in the programs and services of the government. “Mura ra pud nag gihikawan sila ilang katungod nga maapil unta sa programa sa gobyerno (It seemed like I am taking away from them their right to benefit from government’s programs and services),” Catalina added.

Catalina Abing (second from left) together with the other field validators, strikes a pose for a photo souvenir before they dispersed themselves to their respective areas of assignment for the UCT field validation.

One thing that Catalina learned while doing such task is learning to be grateful even in the most little blessing provided instead of whining for not having the things one lack. “Bisan sa among kalisud nga nasinati, na-realize nako unsa diay ko ka blessed tungod kay naay mga higayon nga sa akong pag survey naa koy maabtan nga grabi kalisud nga wa na gyud gikaon ug ultimo sa pagpamiste lisud kaayo (Despite our difficulties, I realized that I am blessed because there were times when I was doing validation I witness families in dire status who have nothing to eat and where clothing is a problem), she expressed.

Now, she feels grateful and proud seeing those households she had surveyed or validated already enjoying some programs and services of the government. It was satisfying on her part knowing that her sacrifices while doing field work benefited the poor. It was then that she come to realize how important her role as a field staff is in helping the government choose the right people to benefit from its social protection programs.

Catalina looks forward to doing more of fieldwork as she saw the beauty of the career she has chosen. She may have not successfully pursued her teaching profession but she believes she is still doing an equally fulfilling public service. ###

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