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Pantawid bene’s daughter: Stop at Nothing

While life never ceases to offer inevitable challenges, Ma. Casandra C. Acab, a daughter of a Pantawid partner-beneficiary, has also constantly kept an indomitable fighting chi to combat all these that have tried to hamper her way in sailing through her studies, fulfilling not just her dream but her mother’s too.

Casandra, the fourth child among the eight siblings in the family, hails from Manjuyod, Negros Oriental whose mother, Mary Ann, is a housewife and father, Rene, is an all-around worker who roughly earns Php 200 every day.

A daughter of a Pantawid partner-beneficiary in Manjuyod, Negros Oriental, Ma. Casandra C. Acab happily poses for a photo op after receiving her diploma and medal for academic excellence award.

Eager to help in sustaining their family needs and be able to buy school supplies, the young Casandra, together with her other siblings used to scavenge for tin cans and would trade them for Php 15 per kilo every weekend.

Despite the circumstances of sometimes having to skip classes as she had to take over her mother in looking after her younger siblings every time Mary Ann gets sick or had to ran other important errands, Casandra still managed to cope up with her absences and has graduated as 2nd Honorable Mention in her elementary years in school.

“There was even a time when I had to attend a school competition but was asked by my mother to stay in the house and baby sit my younger siblings instead, as she was feeling under the weather again. Not wanting to skip the competition, what I did was, I woke up early and prepared everything for my younger siblings and for my mother. Then, I immediately rushed to the testing site and notwithstanding my late entrance, I was glad to have finished fourth still,” Casandra amusingly narrated.

Anchored on the belief that education opens door to limitless opportunities and not wanting to live a struggling life forever, she worked as a help of her former teacher’s sister-in-law for a year to be able to continue pursuing her studies and eventually graduated as the class Valedictorian at Manjuyod National High School.

“Before our family became a Pantawid beneficiary, I could hardly comply with the school projects because we didn’t have extra money. If wala pa mi naapil sa Pantawid, pareha ra siguro gihapon mi pag elementary nako nga dili makapalit og sapatos ug papel, (If we had not been in Pantawid, we would still have the same hitches when I was in elementary, incapable of buying shoes and school supplies),said Casandra.

Despite the criticism she heard from other people on how incompetent they see her to enroll in prestigious schools like Silliman University, as they thought that she only fits in public universities or colleges, she enrolled in Silliman University in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental and pursued Bachelor in Secondary Education Major in English.

Graduating as valedictorian, she was granted with the Portal Scholarship in Silliman which covers 75% of her tuition fee given that she will work 200 hours per semester with wage and maintain an average grade of 2.8 equivalent to 88% every academic year. The Portal Scholarship however was not enough to cover her entire school fees, so instead of settling with an average of 2.8 every semester, she strived to successfully maintain a 3.25 average equivalent to 93% and enjoy the Academic Grant for honor students covering her remaining tuition fee.

Attending her classes as early as 7:00 in the morning up to 10:00 am and reporting to her assigned department to work from 12 noon to 9:00 in the evening have drained Casandra physically and mentally for a lot of times, bringing her almost on the brink of giving up.

Casandra’s parent’s nevertheless, especially her mother, who has dreamt of finishing college but has failed to do so, have been a very good support system to her and have been her inspiration to always keep going and stop at nothing.

“Naay mga times nga kanang gikapoy nako, pero akong gihunahuna nga kung gikapoy ko mas gikapoy siguro ang nagpa-eskuwela nako. Dili sad ko ganahan nga pirme lang mi ingon ani nga naglisud, mao nga naningkamot gyud ko (For a lot of times that I felt tired I always thought that the people who are supporting my studies probably feel more tired than me too. I also do not want to live like this forever, struggling. That is why I really worked hard),” she emotionally expressed.

Casandra worked beyond the required hours (200 hrs) of her scholarship to withdraw extra wages that has covered her daily allowance but has managed to still maintain a 3.25 academic average. She was also grateful of the support of her elder sister who is already working especially when she worked on her thesis.

On March 2018, Cassandra graduated as a Cum Laude, bringing pride to her family and proving to the people that everything is possible with full tenacity and vibrant aspiration to succeed and that she is capable of fitting in wherever.

“Education for me is a life’s trophy. A lot of opportunities will be opened or are open for you if you have a diploma. Others may see this educational achievement as a minor thing, but this for me is already a significant milestone. Success doesn’t have to be big to be called one. I have done all my best on this and I am more than happy to fulfill not just my dream, but my mother’s too,” Casandra gleefully said

She was overjoyed as she watched her parents get emotional when they come up on stage to proudly hang her academic medal around her neck which she considers as one of the beautiful highlights of her life.  With all the learnings she acquired in life, it is not the ones she got from school that she values the most but, the lesson she got while she went into overdrive, which is to never look at challenges negatively, but to look at the beauty of negative things that would help a person go all-out to transform them into positive ones.

When asked what message she has for other youth who are struggling but has the burning desire to also succeed, she said “Ilahang prayer ug paningkamot dapat mag-uban gyud. Ang paningkamot dili igo kung wala kay pag-ampo, Siguro kung wala sad nako hugti akong pag-ampo dili ko maka-graduate (Their prayer and effort should always go together. Effort is not enough without prayer. Had I not prayed hard, I think I would not be able to graduate).”

Now, apart from helping her parents establish a small business and sending her other siblings in school, one of her plans also is to connect with other people, touch more lives and inspire them through her chosen profession as she is to start a new career at Saint Mary’s Academy in San Nicolas, Cebu City. ###


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Blessing in Disguise

Life is like a roller coaster ride. There are ups; there are downs. One may experience a mixed of emotions but keeping a good grip is essential. A good example of this is Paulo Torino’s story.

Born from parents who are farmers in Barangay Sohoton, Badian in midwest Cebu, the young Paulo dreamt of finishing his education no matter what it takes.

Paulo in his college graduation photo.

Masakiton man ko niadtong bata paku mao nga lisud sa akoa nga motrabaho og bug-at nga mga trabahuon (I was sickly when I was growing up so it was difficult for me to do hard work),” revealed Paulo as his health was one of his reasons to aim high.

“At a young age I realized that having a good education can lead me to have good employment opportunities which will be my bread and butter for the family,” said Paulo.

Gahuna-huna ko ato unsaon naku pagkab-ot sa akong mga damgo nga daghan man kaming gipaeskwela sa akong mga ginikanan (I thought of how would I achieve my dreams since all of us were sent to school by our parents),” said the fifth child among the nine children of Mr. and Mrs. Pablo Torino.

“To dream is simple but fulfilling a dream is difficult especially if you do not have the resources,” added Paulo.

But his parents’ desire for their future has inspired him and his siblings to achieve their goals.

“My parents have done their best because they do not want us to suffer and experience the same hardship they had experienced before because of lack of education,” said Paulo.

“However, like a roller coaster, it was not a smooth sailing ride. I even stopped elementary for a year before I started my secondary education because of financial constraint,” shared Paulo.

He shared that when he was still young, he was also stubborn and most of the time he would cause trouble to his parents.

“But I realized I have to pull myself together and act rationally in order to achieve my dreams in life,” underscored Paulo.

Paulo recalled he had to sell biscuits and snacks to his classmates so that he can buy new shoes, slippers and support his other educational needs.

According to Paulo it is not the status that defines the person it is how he was able to stand and face the reality in his life. “It is the same boiling water which softens a potato that hardens the egg” and I believe it is always you and not others who will write your own destiny,” Paulo who finished his secondary education and graduated with an Honorable Mention, proudly shared the saying.

In order to save money for his college education, Paulo worked as a bartender in a restaurant in Cebu City for more than two years.

Nag-ampo gyud ko og maayo nga matagaan ko og chance nga makaeswela og college (I really prayed hard to God asking for a chance to pursue my college education),” said Paulo.

On November 3, 2013, the heaven had heard his fervent prayer when a parent leader of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) went to see his family and asked him if he is willing to be a scholar of the Expanded Students Grants-in-Aide Program for Poverty Alleviation (ESGP-PA). Two of his younger siblings, Mary Ann and Judy Ann are monitored children of 4Ps, they are incoming Grade 8 and Grade 7, respectively.

The ESGP-PA is implemented by the Commission on Higher Education together with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program (4Ps), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and State Universities and Colleges (SUCs).

“Ecstatic as I was, I told myself that this is the opportunity that I have been waiting for. So, I asked permission from my employer for an additional vacation leave so that I can attend the ESGP-PA orientation by the 4Ps Municipal Link in Badian,” happily recalled Paulo.

But it took a while before he got an update as to the status of the ESGP-PA and he had to continue with his job.

“I thought ESGP-PA was false hope but God has its own mysterious way,” he said.

Paulo received a call from one of the 4Ps Municipal Links in Badian urging him to prepare for an entrance exam and was instructed to take the exam at the Cebu Normal University (CNU).

He took the entrance exam at CNU on April 10, 2014.

That same day he informed his employer about his plan of resigning from the restaurant because he was planning to continue his studies. His employer agreed with him.

“The waiting for the entrance exam result was exhausting and at the same time trembling and by the time that I was informed that I passed the entrance exam, I told to myself that this is it and I can start all over again,” said the teary-eyed Paulo.

While studying up Bachelor in Elementary Education – Early Childhood Education at CNU as an ESGP-PA scholar, he already had his own savings and a few swine which helped him in his school expenses. He even received a separation pay from his former job and at the same time received an allowance that the ESGP-PA had provided.

During his third year in college, family problems started to affect his studies.

Na-ospital akong pag-umangkon for almost one month ug na-admit diri sa syudad. Lisod to nga time kay loaded sad ko sa akong pag-eskwela ug kinahanglan mutabang sad ko sa pagbantay didto sa hospital kuyog akong mga ginikanan (My niece was admitted in a hospital here in the city for almost one month. It was a difficult time because I was also loaded in my studies and I need to assist in her medical needs together with my parents),” recalled Paulo.

“If it was not for my determination and perseverance, I would have chosen to stop, but this is the opportunity that I prayed to God and I would not waste this opportunity. I also know that God will not give us challenges if it is beyond us,”

And on March 2018, Paulo graduated with flying colors.

“Throughout the years the obstacles had played a great role in my life and made me the person that I am today. I am always thankful to my family, friends, classmates and professors who guided and molded me to become a better individual,” underscored Paulo.

Paulo started his career after college as an Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) validator of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Listahanan.

Currently, he works as a Social Welfare Assistant (SWA) of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) in Bogo City, Cebu.

“This is my way of paying it forward for the blessing that the Department had given me and for all the people who made 4Ps possible,” said Paulo.

“The program was instrumental in achieving my college degree and in earning my license as a teacher,” he said beaming with a smile.

For Paulo, every ups and down in the roller coaster ride had been a blessing in disguise and he is excited to start another journey and another ride called life. ###


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NHTO prepares for Listahanan 3 household assessment

“We will be needing your support for the implementation of Listahanan3 and ensure that this will be a success,” said Director George JT D. Aliño of the National Household Targeting Office (NHTO) during his consultation visit to the DSWD Field Office 7 on Friday April 12, 2019.

NHTO Director JT D. Aliño gives updates on Listahanan3 to RD Geamala, OIC-PPD Chief Armecin and Listahanan staff during the consultation visit at DSWD FO 7.

Dir. Aliño together with the NHTO staff met DSWD 7 Regional Director Rebecca P. Geamala, OIC PPD Chief Graeme Ferdinand Armecin and Listahanan region 7 team to update them on the plan for the coming Listahanan 3rd round of assessment.

He also encouraged the team to share any concerns they experienced on L1 and L2 and discussed its resolutions. He also gathered recommendations on how to effectively carry out the L3 assessment.

One of the discussions focused on what will be the course of action so that more poor households will be included in the L3.

NHTO has considered revising and finalizing the Proxy Means Test (PMT) model that is the main tool in the household assessment, enhancement of the Listahanan manuals, strengthening partnership with barangays with the help of DILG, among others. ###


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4Ps Parent Leaders attend PhilHealth ‘SHInES’ campaign in Bohol

The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) parent leaders in the town of Jagna, Bohol attended the Social Health Insurance Education Series (SHInES) campaign of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation’s (PhilHealth) held last April 2, 2019.

4Ps Parent Leaders of Jagna town listen to the discussion of the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP).

Parent Leaders joined the half-day activity together with the Municipal Health Officer (MHO), the staff from the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) and the Pantawid Pamilya Municipal Links (MLs).

“We tapped you for the campaign because you will play crucial roles in the information dissemination,” said PhilHealth Regional Vice-President Lourdes Diocson during her welcome remarks.

“You will now be our advocate and we hope you will share the information to your co-4Ps beneficiaries,” said Diocson.

The participants were thoroughly oriented on the various aspects of the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP) like its history, membership registration, payment of premium contributions, benefits and among others.

Naa nako idea kabahin sa PhilHealth labi kay ang mga 4Ps beneficiaries maka-avail man sa No Balance Billing pero tungod aning activity mas napun-an pa akong kahibalo karun kay natubag ug naklaro ang akong mga pangutana (I already have an idea about PhilHealth especially that 4Ps beneficiaries can avail of the No Balance Billing but through this activity, I have gained more information which answered all my questions),” said Marissa Garay, a 4Ps parent leader from Brgy, Can-upao, Jagna.

The No Balance Billing (NBB) policy enables the vulnerable sectors like the 4Ps beneficiaries to pay no more in excess of their PhilHealth coverage when confined in government facilities. Popularly known as “Walang Dagdag Bayad”, the NBB sets as a condition that no direct medical expense shall be obtained from the patient for the duration of the confinement, which in effect makes treatment and care entirely free for the beneficiaries.

The SHInES campaign will also be conducted in other towns in Bohol targeting 4Ps parent leaders to become advocates.

Pantawid Pamilya is a human development program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) that invests in the health and education of poor households particularly of children aged 0-18-year-old.

Households are provided with cash grants in exchange of complying with the conditionality of the program. This includes school attendance of at least 85% per month for children enrolled in the elementary or high school. Children aged 5 and below would need to undergo preventive check-up as mandated by the Department of Health (DOH) and children enrolled in the elementary must receive deworming pills twice within the school year. Also, pregnant women must receive pre and post-natal care based on DOH protocol. Lastly, parent/s or guardians are required to attend the monthly Family Development Session (FDS). ###


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FDS Institutionalized in all Central Visayas LGUs

All of the 132 Local Government Units (LGUs) in Central Visayas region have institutionalized the Family Development Session (FDS).

Pantawid Pamilya partner-beneficiaries of San Fernando, Cebu learn about Fire Safety Awareness through the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in one of the monthly
Family Development Session (FDS).

“We commend all the LGUs who passed a local policy either an Executive Order or a Sangguniang Bayan resolution in strengthening FDS in their locality,” said DSWD-7 OIC Regional Director Rebecca Geamala.

“Through the local policy, we would be able to utilize and tap various subject matter experts. For example, if the FDS module is about health and nutrition, the right person to discuss is the local nutritionist-dietician, if the topic is about fire prevention, we can call the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) for this and if it is about peace and order in the community, the local police would have the chance to discuss this topic to them,” Geamala added.

The FDS team at the city or municipal level are tasked to function in planning and conducting the FDS like facilitating as resource persons based on the set schedule and crafting or enhancing modules based on the needs of the partner-beneficiaries. The FDS team may be composed of the members of the Local/Municipal Advisory Committee, City/Municipal Action Team, partner Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and other partner stakeholders.

“We further encourage all LGUs to strengthen the FDS team so that we can provide other interventions to our 4Ps partner-beneficiaries. Through the FDS, we can impart to them valuable information which they can use for their family and this will benefit the whole community,” said Geamala.

FDS is the venue for Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) partner-beneficiaries to enhance and acquire new skills and knowledge in responding to their parental roles and responsibilities particularly on health and nutrition, education and psychosocial needs of children; promotion of positive family values; and strengthening marital relationships.

Attending the FDS is one of the conditionalities of Pantawid Pamilya. The FDS employs neighborhood-based family psycho-educational activities to promote, empower and nurture families towards strengthened capacity so they could meet their familial and parental responsibilities as well as participate in community development activities.

The FDS provides a package of learning modules which include; Concepts and Design of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, Responsible Parenthood and The Family and the Community.

Other developed and enhanced modules are on Active Citizenship, Family and Community-based Disaster Preparedness, Hunger and Food Insecurity Mitigation, Child Sexual Abuse Prevention, Positive Discipline and Youth Development Sessions (YDS).

The 4P’s is a program of the national government that invests in the health and education of poor households primarily of children aged 18 and below.

It provides cash grants to compliant household beneficiaries with health grant worth Php 500 and educational grants worth Php 300 and Php 500 each to the children studying in elementary and high school, respectively. The beneficiaries


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Pantawid payouts not suspended in Region 7

The Department of Social Welfare and Development Region 7 would like to clarify that it has not suspended the payouts to Pantawid beneficiaries due to election ban.

RD Geamala also said that “how can we suspend Pantawid payouts when we have already finished the payout for P5 last March 27, 2019 and the tentative schedule for P6 payout will be this April yet.”

We will immediately inform our partner beneficiaries once the schedule of payout is confirmed.


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DSWD-7’s ARRS bags Best Operations Office award

The Adoption Resource and Referral Section (ARRS) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Central Visayas bagged the Best Operations Office Award during the recently concluded 2018 DSWD Program on Awards and Incentives for Service Excellence (PRAISE) award held at Landbank Plaza, Malate, Manila.

DSWD officials headed by Secretary Rolando Joselito Bautista (fourth from left) hand in the plaque of recognition to DSWD-7 social welfare officer IV Clavel Saycon (fifth from left), Concepcion Solera (third from right), Rosemarie Salazar (second from right) and Regional Director Rebecca Geamala (rightmost).

The DSWD PRAISE is given to honor men and women who devoted their lives to partner-beneficiaries, and who continue to use all their strength, skill, intelligence, and compassion to uphold a standard of professionalism that fully benefits the poor and marginalized sectors.

The ARRS is headed by Ms. Clavel Saycon, Social Welfare Officer IV. With her in the team are licensed social workers Concepcion Solera, Rachelle Solatorio, Ivy Marie Semblante, Karen Faith Caliso, Lairisa Ballaso, Analisa Gubalane and Joselito Tabilon.

Runners-up for the said category are the DSWD Region IV-B’s Pantawid Regional Project Management Office and the Provincial Extension Office in Tarlac of DSWD-Region III.

During the awarding ceremony, Ms. Saycon and Ms. Solera were accompanied by DSWD-7 OIC-Regional Director Rebecca P. Geamala and Protective Services Division Chief Rosemarie Salazar.

Aside from the Best Operations Office, former DSWD-7 Regional Director Ma. Evelyn B. Macapobre also bagged the Best Manager Award while the Municipal Action Team of Moalboal, Cebu got the 2nd place for the Best Convergence Action Team Award.

The PRAISE Awards is the DSWD’s culminating activity for its 68th anniversary, and is also the most important: through this ceremony, the entire DSWD affirms its commitment to social work, to community development and to aspirations of a stronger, more efficient agency that relies on the collective power of its employees and leaders to accomplish what is necessary to help those who seek the Department’s help. ###


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DSWD SLP participants: Money out of diligence

The Department of Social Welfare and Development SLP successfully ended its Likhang Hiraya: Pangarap patungong Pagsibol activity recently.

The different associations of the region gained a total sales of Php108,851.00 in just  five days at Parkmall, Mandaue City.

DSWD OIC-Regional Director Rebecca P. Geamala (left), DSWD SLP National Program Manager Director Restituto B. Macuto (2nd from left), Mr. Neal Carlson Co (center), General Manager and Co-owner of Parkmall, Marketing Manager Ramon Matthew Reyes-Basabe and DSWD Assistant Regional Director for Operations Shalaine Marie S. Lucero pose with gratefulness for future partnership.

Aside from the cash, there were also ordered made during the trade fair. One company ordered 300 pcs. Pandan bags; an individual also ordered 25 kilos of dried fish.

The trade fair in Parkmall gives impressive outcome especially to those satisfied buyers knowing that there are associations in region 7 who make local yet quality products out of sinamay, pandan, raffia, bamboo, nito, shells, recycled materials and others.

The success of Likhang Hiraya paved the way for the DSWD and Parkmall to work out its partnership in making this endeavor be further made known to the general public and possibly will result to a greater income.

According to Parkmall Marketing Manager Ramon Matthew Reyes-Basabe, they are very excited to have its partnership with the DSWD.

“I am very happy to help you (SLP participants), I’m very positive that you are mall ready and so much more you are globally competitive,” he added.

“Thank you DSWD for bringing us to Parkmall. Also, our gratitude to Parkmall for allowing us to display our products here in your establishment rent-free,” said Raymunda Nanoy, SLP participant.

The full space provided by Parkmall helped the SLPAs earn more than what they expected.

Besides the support of partner agencies, the services of TV and radio guesting to promote the creative local products and food items also contributed to the success of the activity. ###


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