DSWD FO 1 augments relief supplies to Typhoon Rosita-affected families

DSWD staff distribute family food packs to evacuees in Bauang, La Union.

31 October 2018 – The DSWD Field Office (FO) 1 continuously provides food and non-food items to local government units (LGUs) that need relief supply augmentation to be distributed to individuals and families who were affected by Typhoon Rosita.

As of the latest data of Disaster Response Information Management Section (DRIMS), the Department has augmented 160 family food packs (FFPs) in Bauang, La Union that were distributed in two (2) evacuation centers in the said Municipality. Further, relief supply augmentation requests from various cities/municipalities are being accommodated by the Field Office. The Municipality of Bolinao, Pangasinan has already requested 5,000 FFPs for affected fisher folks, and once the request is validated, relief supplies will be immediately transported and distributed.

Today, as of 8:00 o’clock in the morning, the two (2) regional and 11 satellite warehouses of DSWD FO 1 throughout the Region have 10,289 FFPs, 4,100 family kits, 9,627 hygiene kits, 5,117 sleeping kits, 2,000 kitchen kits, 220 family tents, and 2,004 collapsible jugs with water purifiers ready for distribution.

Policemen help in the stockpiling of relief supplies at the temporary regional warehouse.

To maintain the stockpiles of the relief goods, volunteers and staff from other government agencies, particularly the Philippine National Police (PNP), help in hauling goods to various satellite warehouses. “Ako ay nasisiyahan sa pagtulong sa ating mga nasalantang kababayan dahil kahit sa maliit na paraan, naipapakita ko ang aking pagiging makabayan (I am very happy that I am able to help our typhoon-affected countrymen because, in my small contribution, I can show nationalism),” shared PO1 Jovito G. Zaballero, Jr. of PNP’s Regional Mobile Force Battalion 1 in Region 1. The DSWD staff continuously coordinates with PNP to help in the delivery of rice from NFA to warehouses, and volunteers from various cities/municipalities are still arriving at the temporary regional warehouse located at Brgy. Biday, City of San Fernando, La Union.

Individuals who are willing to volunteer to help in repacking, hauling, and delivery of relief supplies are encouraged to register at DSWD FO 1 for orientation prior to deployment. # (by: Darwin T. Chan, Social Marketing Unit)

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DSWD FO 1 releases PhP11.15M worth of relief goods to monsoon rain victims

Hauling of family food packs to Calasiao, Pangasinan

At the onset of the monsoon rains enhanced by Tropical Depression ‘Josie’ last weekend (21 July 2018), the DSWD Field Office 1 immediately coordinated with the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) for the immediate transport of relief goods to the heavily flooded towns of Calasiao and Urbiztondo in Pangasinan.

With direct instructions from Dir. Marcelo Nicomedes J. Castillo, the Disaster Response Management Division sustained close coordination with the Social Welfare and Development (SWAD) Team Leaders, P/C/MDRRMCs, and P/C/MSWDOs in the monitoring of situation, provision of augmentation support and collation of disaster reports in the last four days.

Consultation meeting of RDRRMC with DSWD Dir. Castillo and OCD Dir. Melchito Castro on the result of aerial disaster assessment of Tropical Storm ‘Josie’

As of today, the affected Local Government Units (LGUs) were provided family food packs (FFPs) with a total amount of PhP10.58 M. Likewise, PhP573,575.00 worth of non-food items were provided to the following areas: Calasiao – PhP119,400.00 (sleeping kits), Urbiztondo – PhP362,440.00 (kitchen utensils and family / hygiene kits), Malasiqui – PhP91,725.00 (hygiene and sleeping kits), based on their needs/requests.


Dir. Castillo’s meeting with RDRRMC Chairperson Melchito Castro was focused on the deployment of Rapid Disaster and Assessment Needs Analysis (RDANA) Team to Pangasinan. The result of Aerial Survey Assessment on the damages afflicted to the Province of Pangasinan was also tackled, e.g. damage and loss of agricultural crops including economic loss to small and big enterprises and vendors. Continuous and fast mobilization of resources was agreed upon by the Council.

As Vice-Chair of the Response Cluster, the DSWD together with member-agencies decided to deploy medical teams to the evacuation areas in Sta. Barbara and Dagupan City in Pangasinan. Also, uniformed men from AFP, PNP, and Philippine Navy with the DPWH were maximized for the conduct of rescue operations and in transporting and distribution of relief goods.

To date, 695,978 individuals from 141,101 families are affected in all the provinces. From these, 10,758 individuals from 2,646 families were served at the evacuation centers in 17 cities/municipalities of La Union and Pangasinan.

Further, two (2) houses were totally damaged and fifteen (15) houses were partially damaged due to landslide and flashfloods in the provinces of Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, and Pangasinan.

Packing of FFPs is done round the clock to meet the needs of requesting Local Government Units (LGUs) especially those that are still underwater and sources of income were temporarily suspended.  (By: Iryn D. Cubangbang, IO)

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DSWD’s AVRC produces more skilled Persons with Disabilities (PWDs)

Fifty-one (51) PWDs who have successfully completed one-year social and vocational training courses at DSWD’s Area 1 Vocational Rehabilitation Center (AVRC 1) in Dagupan City are now ready to join the mainstream of workforce in Region 1.

AVRC 1 management announced that most of the graduates this year are already employed. Such is among the most significant accomplishments of the Center for the PWD sector.

The AVRC 1 is serving PWDs from Regions I, II, III, and Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR). It offers short courses such as   Dressmaking, Tailoring, Cookery, Massage Therapy, Beauty Care and Hair Dressing, Men’s Hair Cutting, Computer Course, and Bread and Pastry Production.

Vergel F. Deciles, an orthopedically-handicapped most outstanding graduate from Mapandan, Pangasinan is a TESDA NC II holder on Cookery and Bread and Pastry Production and is currently engaged in buy and sell.

Dir. Alicia Bonoan from DSWD – Protective Services Bureau, the Guest of Honor and Speaker during the recently held 55th Graduation Exercises, was represented by Ms. Annily Burgo. In her message, Dir. Bonoan reminded the graduates to accept every opportunity and every challenge that may come along their way despite having disability and that they must learn to live well and to never give up.

The activity was also graced by officials from partner-agencies and supporters including friends, families, Local Social Welfare and Development Officers, Government and Non-Government Organizations, and Self-Help Group leaders.

AVRC 1 Training Center Superintendent II Elizabeth C. Manuel posted a challenge to the PWD graduates. “After this day that you have graduated, the self-pity and hopelessness should already stop. Now is the time for you to show your abilities rather than disabilities,” Ms. Manuel said.  She also urged them to keep up the good work and to prove that PWDs are partners in the developmental change for progress. (By: Iryn D. Cubangbang, IO II with report from Ms. Baby Janet Cruz, AVRC 1 – Manpower Development Officer)

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DSWD’s Php70.7M Cash for Work assisted Ilocos Norte Green Wall, water tributaries in span of 3 years

Since 2016, the Cash for Work on Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation (CFW-CCAM) has reforested and protected at least 4,500 hectares of forest lands in Ilocos Norte. CFW-CCAM has also preserved  rivers/riverbanks/coastline  barangays  and provided temporary jobs in partnership with Ilocos Norte  Gov. Imee R. Marcos and the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO).

Aside from continuous tree planting, ‘kaingin’ or burning of trees for charcoal making has ceased in many parts of the areas where assigned Barangay Ranger Officers have maintained  and protected seedlings planted through CFW-CCAM and guarded  the mountains from any  grass fire or man-made fires.

In Saguigui, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, Tribal Chieftain Emiliano Rabago is maintaining at least 4 hectares of forest land planted with fruit-bearing trees and coffee. During CFW activities, everyone in the community participates to include the elderly  and youth  who are very thankful of the  10-day work especially during lean months wherein they have no source of income at all. In here, 60,000 coffee seedlings are maintained ready for planting to other open and devastated lands in Ilocos Norte through its  Greening Program.

Twelve areas are part of the Greening Program through CFW-CCAM including Laoag City, Solsona, Dingras, Badoc, Bangui, Pagudpud, Pasuquin, Vintar, Nueva Era, Pinili, Burgos, and Bacarra.

Also, Mangrove Planting Program along the coastlines and other bodies of water in Ilocos Norte was intensified through the  CFW-CCAM. The Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte is hopeful that if their  projects are sustained, many families and communites will be protected from extreme weather event, such as storm winds and floods, storm surges, and tsunamis particularly in Laoag City, Badoc, Currimao, and Pasuquin.  Mangato River in Laoag City used to be filled with wastes and waterlilies especially during high tide. After the mangrove and nipa palm planting funded by CFW-CCAM, the area is now a beautiful scenery and is hoped to be developed as an eco-tourism park.

On the Green Wall of Ilocos Norte and PENRO Greening Program, the seedlings required are provided by the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte as a counterpart for the said program. As mentioned by PENRO Head Estrella Sacro, CFW-CCAM is necessary to sustain the workforce, thus, maintaining the progress of projects towards proper management and conservation of the environment through local greening initiatives.

During the project monitoring, community folks appreciated the  efforts of the government under the leadership of Gov. Marcos and DSWD Regional Director Marcelo Nicomedes J. Castillo. (By: Iryn D. Cubangbang, IO II)

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DSWD FO 1 braces for Incident Command System (ICS)

DSWD FO 1, as the lead Agency on response, early recovery, and rehabilitation of disaster victims in Region 1, trained 40 employees – the pioneer group –  on Basic Incident Command System (ICS), a standardized approach to emergency incidents.

Led by the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Region 1, other subject matter experts came from Department of Health and Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO)-La Union.

At the start of the three-day training, Director Marcelo Nicomedes J. Castillo emphasized the importance of the ICS in disaster operations ̶ for the staff to get a good grasp of the activities done at the local level so they would be equipped to provide technical assistance or expertise at any given time. “The Philippines is enlisted among the top 10 disaster-prone countries, thus the ICS is very important, especially to the frontline staff,” Dir. Castillo added.

Also, OCD RO 1 Director Melchito Castro discussed the usefulness of ICS as the international standard in responding to disasters and hazard and stressed the need to train DSWD staff being the lead agency in the clusters of response and early rehabilitation.

ICS is a standard, on-scene, all-hazard incident management concept that can be used by all DRRMC member-agencies as well as response groups on disasters, human-induced crises, accidents, or even planned events.

Incidents may happen in the form of major disasters, emergencies, terrorist attacks, terrorist threats, civil unrest, floods, hazardous materials spills, earthquakes, tropical storms, tsunamis, war-related disasters, public health and medical emergencies, and other occurrences requiring an emergency response.

During the training, a detailed example of an incident helped the trainees strategize and identify tactics to maximize resources and respond to immediate concerns in the affected areas through an Incident Action Plan. (By: Iryn D. Cubangbang, IO II)

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DSWD FO 1 hypes health and wellness activities

Health at work is also given attention at DSWD FO 1. Despite voluminous tasks and functions, Dir. Marcelo Nicomedes J. Castillo directed staff and employees to join activities that promote healthier and stronger body and mind as these are designed towards good and balanced lifestyle.

Just recently, the DSWD Basketball Season 5 was launched at Pacoy Ortega Gym, City of San Fernando, La Union. This Season has 6  teams namely Pantawid Pamilya RPMO, Western Pangasinan, Eastern Pangasinan, SLP, Field Office-based First Floor and FO-based  Second Floor.

Dir. Castillo reminded the players to sustain friendships outside court and to refrain from physically hurting or inflicting any harm during the entire game season.

Also, in coordination with the Medical Section, ‘Zumba Dance’ exercise gained appreciation from the staff.

According to Medical Officer III Mary Grace Del Castillo, this daily 15 minute-afternoon dance exercise was sustained to fight off sedentary behavior in the workplace by performing energizing dance moves. During the first quarter, the attendance sheet floated showed a very satisfactory participation despite the limited office space due to ongoing construction/ renovation activities.

The same dance exercise is being done at the Ilocos Sur,  Ilocos Norte, and La Union POOs, Pantawid Pamilya  and Kalahi- CIDSS-NCDDP RPMOs, and centers and institution.

Moreover, on-site massage is made available at the Medical Section to eliminate employees’ need to travel to a massage clinic or spa with the service amounting a fraction of the cost. This activity is intended to increase focus, energy  as well as mental clarity. It also  addresses common health concerns of stress, anxiety and depression, muscle tension and pain, headaches, among others.

To coordinate and implement these activities, the DSWD FO 1 created the Health, Safety and Wellness Committee who also review, evaluate, recommend and plan activities that would foster healthy behavior and safe work environment for employees.  (By: Iryn D. Cubangbang, IO II with report from Dr. Mary Grace D. Del Castillo, Medical Officer III)

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DSWD FO1 advocates hashtag #SaADOPTIONMayFOREVER

No to falsification of birth certificates (also known as simulation of birth) and yes to the legal process of adoption for children declared legally available for adoption was the central message of this year’s Adoption Consciousness Celebration (ACC).

As Director Marcelo Nicomedes J. Castillo emphasized, the thorough assessment done by the Social Workers ensures the best welfare and interest of these children to surface along with other reasons for adoption.

As defined, adoption is a  socio-legal process of giving a permanent family to a child whose parents have voluntarily or involuntarily given up their parental rights.

Through various activities like Photo Liking, Song Cover, and Essay Contests, this year’s ACC intensified advocacy activities to encourage individuals or couples to foster or adopt children who are abandoned, neglected, or to elevate legitimacy.

At the DSWD Field Office 1, a commitment tarp with 61 personalized messages/commitments written in small fuschia notes was generated and displayed. Also, the Adoption Help Desk installed at CSI Mall, City of San Fernando, La Union and  SM City Rosales, Rosales, Pangasinan on 17-18 February engaged the public on the featured messages advocating for legal adoption. Uploaded at DSWD’s FB page, DSWD Ilocandia, are  photo/Instagram frames photos of participating individuals. Also, personalized mugs, calling cards, pamphlets, candies/lollipops, and balloons were distributed to catch the attention of the public to inquire about DSWD’s Alternative Family Care Program (adoption and foster).

 The Essay Contest First Prize winner, Project Development Officer III Darwin T. Chan said, amidst the challenges of many orphaned children and those who are residing in centers, adoption or foster care is one act that requires unconditional compassion to care for one among these children. Chan said he dreams of a society where “no child should be left without a mother or a father, no child should be burdened raising her/his own self, and no child should be bullied  by classmates because no parent is around.”

The second and third prize winners are Regional Training Specialist Crystal Joy P. Aspiras and Social Marketing Officer  Janine Joy B. Altero. Cash prizes were awarded.

Engaging more the public who are fond of Facebook, the Photo Liking was also launched bearing the hashtag #saADOPTIONmayFOREVER, photos with strong messages of support to adoption or foster care were posted.  Among the 22 entries, the most liked photo (with 1,367) was posted by Listahanan Information Technology Officer Aristedeo Tinol. The second and third prize winners are  Novalyn Baradi (1,340 likes)   and Jan Jan Manzano (1,238 likes), respectively.  Winners received cash prizes amounting to Php3,000.00, Php2,000.00, and Php1,000.00, respectively.

Moreover, the staff and clients of Ilocos Norte Provincial Operations Office (POO) led by Cynthia Ablog were oriented on Adoption and Foster Care and other DSWD programs and services. (By: Iryn D. Cubangbang, IO II with report from Hiyasmin Joy N. Rabelas)

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Fading Colors Turn into Rainbow (story of an adopted daughter who has special needs)

Loving beyond differences and not being able to return the favor because of incapacities led to stronger bond between Estrella and her adopted child Angela.

Their story stood the tests of time and love despite the many reasons to give up, which Estrella mentioned when she narrated stories of sadness and triumphs between her and Angela.

Frail, sickly, and with special needs – these were the immediate attributes Estrella observed from Angela when she first laid eyes on her. These did not hinder her though to love unconditionally, which was tested through the years.

Angela has been suffering from cerebral palsy since birth. Through medicine, love, and patience, she was able to walk after turning five years old.

Napakahirap niyang palakihin, marami akong dinanas, puspusan ko siyang pinatherapy para makalakad. (It was tough taking care of her during her younger years especially when she has to undergo regular therapy sessions to be able to walk).”

Estrella never gave up. It did not matter to her even if almost all of her leave credits were exhausted to attend to the needs of Angela. They visited all children’s hospitals in Manila for Angela’s medication at least twice a month.  Even if she almost got fired because of her absences, she fought for her work, for Angela.

Marami akong hirap pero ‘di ako nag-give up (I had lots of struggles but I never gave up),” said Estrella.

Then at the age of five, Angela’s ‘yaya’ carried her to the Day Care Center for her early socialization skills to be developed. It was then that she began to walk.

Despite the very long time of waiting for her daughter to grow and develop, Estrella did not stop. “Pinagsikapan ko, hindi ko siya tinantanan (I worked hard for her, I did not stop),” Estrella recalled.

Exercise, therapy sessions, provision of special care. Their lives revolved on these.

Until now at the age of 27, Estrella is still hurting seeing her daughter hard up in walking.

Holding on, hoping for love to win

For others who have seen the struggle of Estrella, so much attention, compassion and resources have been given to Angela, surpassing their expectations. Because of this, many were jealous especially some relatives of Estrella, but they stuck together and Estrella even proved more of her love for Angela.

Angela described their relationship as mother and daughter by saying “Minsan matamlay, minsan makulay (Sometimes sad, at times happy).”

In 2013, Angela insisted her mother to null her adoption just so she could continue her relationship with a lesbian. Because of the misunderstanding between her and Estrella, she chose to stay away from the refuge of her mother for 2 years.

Estrella waited for her daughter to come back. As experienced by Estrella, “motherhood is the greatest thing and the hardest thing”. Even if Angela rebelled, she still hoped for the best for them.

During these hard times, she asked help from DSWD Social Workers and even sought the assistance of Director Marcelo Nicomedes Castillo and Social Welfare Officer IV Clarivel Banzuela to intervene and mend their relationship. In February 2015, she promised to end her relationship with her lover and to live again under Estrella’s custody. Unending thanks were expressed to Dir. Castillo and Ms. Banzuela for being present during the depressing  moment of their lives.

Estrella always wished the best for Angela; for her to become self-reliant and to live independently. “I am sad to see her depressed, I continue to send her to school to level her up for a better tomorrow,” Estrella said.

Angela finished her Associate in Computer Science in 2011 at Lyceum Northern Luzon in Urdaneta City. In 2016, she enrolled under Bachelor of Science in Information Technology Program of the University of Eastern Pangasinan. She hopes to finish this course despite all the challenges she has braved since she started schooling.

On 22 December 2015, they visited Estrella’s relatives in London. This was a turning point for Angela to see the brighter side of life, that there are people who accept her incapacities and see a brighter future for her.

Amazed with facilities and environment in the United Kingdom, she dreams of working in an office there in the next 5 to 10 years.

Her heart was overwhelmed with joy upon seeing this beautiful country with visible help to persons with disabilities like her.

Being with her adoptive parent, she also wants Estrella to be happy by achieving her ambition for her to finish the course and eventually obtain a successful work abroad.

According to Angela, she will always be guided by the lessons taught by her mom – to give respect to people, to love people even those who do not accept you, and to not curse.

Despite the odds, Estrella shared that being a mother to her adopted child is a blessing because she experienced motherhood – accepting her child as she is and always thinking of her bright future despite inadequacies. (By: Iryn D. Cubangbang, IO II)

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