If there is something more frightening than this pandemic, it is no doubt— desperation. For people trying to make ends meet, the implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine means that the rope got even shorter especially for “no work, no pay” workers like Dominador “Doming” Rindon from the coastal barangay of Tabucolan, Santa, Ilocos Sur.

“Thank you ta addakayon (Thanks that you finally arrived).” This was his way of greeting us as he sat down to receive his emergency subsidy amounting to PhP5,500.00 from the Social Amelioration Program of the government. Although half of his face is covered mostly with a face mask, a sparkle of hope is seen through his eyes.

It has been a month since he received his last daily wage of PhP400.00 as a construction worker. His eldest, 19, had to stop schooling and voluntarily work like what his father does to help provide for the family. He has four more kids. However, his wife left them just a month after giving birth to the youngest who is now a two-year-old kid.

Pagbayad ko ti nabulod ko diay dos mil, paggatangmi ti taraon diay tres mil, ken bareng adda mabati a lima gasot a pagtapalko diay atep ti balay mi (PhP2,000.00 will be utilized to pay for my debt, PhP3,000.00 for our food, and hopefully I can save PhP500.00 to fix our damaged roof),” was his response when asked where the money is allocated. It seems that he has budgeted it before our visit. Prior to the payout, he promised to pay for his debt right after he gets back to work and receives his five-day compensation.

Nasakit dagiti ibagbaga ti dadduma nga agdepdependar kami laeng a marigrigat iti gobyerno. Saan nga agpayso deta. Nagaget kami ngem no choice kami ta stay at home konada met (It hurts when other say that poor families are dependent on the government. That is not true. We work hard, but we are left with no choice but to stay home for now),” he added. To survive the quarantine days, he usually goes fishing so he can provide food on the table. At rare times when the net catches more, he sells some to his neighbors and earn a rough PhP100.00. He said that he has been praying hard for the pandemic to finally end so things would go back to normal, and he could get back to work.

Saanko a maypeksa iti yamanko ti gobyerno iti panangtultulongda kadagiti pamilya kas kadakami ita a karigat unay ti biag (We can’t thank the government enough for helping families, like ours, survive during this trying times),” he added further. Target beneficiaries of the SAP are low-income families or those on subsistence economy or workers in the informal economy, and with members belonging to the vulnerable sector, assessed to be the most affected by the declaration given their existing life situations or circumstances. The Local Government Units and the DSWD are working overtime to fast track the payout and assure that the target beneficiaries benefit from the program and receive their subsidy immediately.

Mang Doming secured the money in his thin wallet and went straight to the nearest sari-sari store. We were running out of energy as it is our fourth barangay for the day but after our conversation, it seemed like our battery is full again. (by: Janine Joy B. Altero, Social Marketing Officer, Sustainable Livelihood Program)