Achiever at 60

“Ang medalyang ito ay ang aking kayamanan na nagpapakitang nakamit ko na ang pangarap ko sa buong buhay ko – ang makapagtapos ng high school (This medal is my treasure which shows that I already realized my dream in my entire life – to finish high school),”Pantawid Pamilya Grantee Veronica “Vicky” Guillermo proudly uttered while she shows her graduation medal.

Oldest but the mightiest in spirit, 60 year-old Vicky delightfully marched together with her 25 young batchmates during their graduation in August 2019 in Piddig, Ilocos Norte after successfully finishing high school through the Alternative Learning System (ALS).

For Vicky, senior years are still productive. “Walang pinipiling edad ang pag-aaral basta’t kaya mo. Parang ako, pakiramdam ko ay bata pa ako, gusto ko pa ring mag-aral. Malakas ang loob ko na makapagtatapos ako (Learning knows no age as long as you can. Just like me, I feel so young, I still want to study. I am optimistic that I can graduate),” Vicky shared.

She also testified that her sole reason of enrolling in the ALS is to encourage her grandson to go back to school. Kenneth, 17, has been in her custody since his parents separated. This led to Kenneth’s loss of interest in going to school, thus, identified as one of the Pantawid Pamilya children not attending school.

According to Vicky’s husband, Ruperto, 62, “Sabi ko sa asawa ko na mag-enroll siya sa ALS dahil Grade 6 lang din ang natapos niya at baka ito ang makahikayat kay Kenneth na tapusin ang high school, may DSWD naman na tumutulong sa amin (I told my wife to enroll because she only finished Grade 6 and this might encourage Kenneth to finish high school since DSWD is helping us).”

“Mahal na mahal namin ang aming apo. Mas higit pa sa anak ang turing namin sa kanya. Paano na lang ang magiging buhay niya kapag wala na kami? Kaya hinikayat namin siyang bumalik sa pag-aaral. Pumayag naman siya at ngayon ay sabay kaming nagtapos (We really love our grandson. We treat him more than our own son. How will his life be if we are gone? So we encouraged him to go back to school. He listened to us and we graduated together),” Vicky shared while tears are rolling on her cheeks. Vicky believes that education assures a better future for Kenneth.  

Ruperto was thrilled upon knowing from Ms. Maria Elena Esteban, ALS Mobile Teacher, that his wife and Kenneth are the only graduates in their barangay out of the 25 finishers in the whole municipality.

Ms. Esteban described Vicky as a bright student. Despite her age, she was able to cope up with her lessons and showed exemplary performance. She also challenged Vicky to continue inspiring her fellow senior citizens especially her co-beneficiaries. (by: Jaesem Ryan A. Gaces, Information Officer II/Pantawid Pamilya)


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Disabled physically but not in spirit

“Gusto ko talagang makapagtapos dahil ito ang aking pangarap (I really want to finish my education because this is my dream),” said Cassey, not her real name.

She sees herself to becoming a business owner someday after owning a degree in business administration.

Though having the urge to pursue her education, Cassey was disheartened because of the rude words and unbearable treatment by her classmates due to her misaligned lower extremities. This made her decide not to attend school anymore and just stay in their house to help her mother in the household chores.

Cassey is one of the 29,300 Pantawid Pamilya children who are not attending school in Region 1. Bullying, as experienced by Cassey in her school, is one of the major reasons that surfaced in the Beneficiary Tracking Report.

Based on the Program’s guidelines, consecutive non-compliance of even one of the three monitored children in any of the conditions will lead to the delisting of the whole household. This is why Bata Balik Eskwela is being enforced to help Cassey and other Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries identified as not attending school to comply with the Program conditions particularly on education.

Cassey committed to enroll for the next school year. Her mother supports her plan to transfer to another school in the nearby municipality. Also, to ensure that Cassey will never be bullied because of her disability, they will seek medical attention and treatment.

Cassey is determined to pursue her education because she acknowledges the fact that soon she will be the breadwinner of her family, especially now that their eldest is married and their youngest is working and no longer interested to go back to school.

“Nasaktan man ako noon, mas lalaban na ako ngayon (Although I was hurt before, now, I will strive more),” Cassey uttered. (by: Jaesem Ryan A. Gaces, Information Officer II/Pantawid Pamilya)

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NAS children go back to school through Bata Balik Eskwela

In Region 1, a total of 29,300 Pantawid Pamilya children are not attending school (NAS): 18,432 from Pangasinan; 4,518 from La Union; 3,420 from Ilocos Sur; and 2,930 from Ilocos Norte.

Based on the Beneficiary Tracking Report, parents’ decision and loss of interest topped the major reasons of children not attending school. Other reasons are working, early marriage, early pregnancy/fatherhood, financial problems, sickly, disability, sibling care, bullied, and emotionally unprepared.

Despite exhaustive efforts of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program through case management, there are still NAS cases that remain to be non-compliant to education conditions due to difficult circumstances.

With the conduct of the Bata Balik Eskwela (BBE), these Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries identified as NAS will be given assistance to comply with the program conditions on education.

The BBE Task Force of the Regional Program Management Office randomly visited the municipalities in the region with the highest number of NAS cases to have an intensive talk with the children and their parents to dig out the root causes that led them to be non-compliant and convince the children to go back to school.

Simultaneous activities with the parents and children were also conducted in schools where NAS children recently enrolled. Partner agencies such as Commission on Higher Education, National Nutrition Council, PhilHealth, and Department of Labor and Employment attended to extend their programs and services catering to the needs of the NAS children for them to be compliant with the program conditions.

According to Pantawid Pamilya Regional Program Coordinator Rosalyn L. Descallar, monitoring the school attendance of the children is a shared responsibility of the Program and the parents. This is to ensure that they will finish their education and have better opportunities in the future.

Many children committed to go back to formal school or enroll to Alternative Learning System Program of the Department of Education. Some parents were also relieved upon hearing the commitment of their children to continue their education. (by: Jaesem Ryan A. Gaces, Information Officer II/Pantawid Pamilya)

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Centenarian 101

A youthful glow behind the old age is manifested in the face and personality of a centenarian in Brgy. Puroc a Dacquel, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur.

Her secret? Those sweet smiles, laughter, and charm have been part of her daily life leaving her body invigorated. 

This is Lola Michaela “Maxima” Adriatico, the only centenarian in Vigan City. At her very old age, she can still remember her birthday, 21 April 1917 and her experiences during the Japanese regime. 

According to her, “Ragragsakek lang ti bagik tapno nalag-an a kanayon ti riknak. Inaklon kon a saan nakon a nakaasawa ta saan a simrek ditoy pusok ti inpakita da a panagayat  (I always make myself happy to make me feel better every day. I already accepted that I do not have the chance to get married because I did not feel the love my suitors showed me).”

Despite her metal plated low extremities, she can still manage to take few steps and sit on her wheel chair and roam around her house.

Amazingly, Lola Maxima can still insert thread into a needle with her naked eye since she was then a dressmaker during her younger years. Aside from that, she also raised pigs and cows and planted corn and peanuts for a living.

Lola Maxima received her centenarian gift last year and was deposited in the bank for future purposes. Annually, the City Government of Vigan is also giving PhP10,000.00 and PhP15,000.00 from the Provincial Government of Ilocos Sur to all centenarians.

Behind her optimistic outlook in life is the tender loving care of Cely Adriatico, 63, wife of Lola Maxima’s nephew who lives few meters away from her house.

Cely has been attending to the needs of Lola Maxima for four years. “An-anusak isuna ta siak to met ket kaslan to kanyana. Ken siak lang ti nabati ditoyen a mabalin a mangkita kanyana (I patiently take care of her because I will be like her also. And I am the only one left here to look after her),” Cely said.

Lola Maxima’s ultimate prayer is for the Lord’s daily guidance and mercy and make her live more according to His will. (by: Jaesem Ryan A. Gaces, Information Officer II/Pantawid Pamilya)

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Retired but not Tired

Sitting on a rocking chair while sipping a hot coffee and rubbing her cane in a gloomy afternoon, playing around with her grand daughters and sons, or challenging her reflexes with crochet.  

This is how other old women spend their senior years but not to a 62-year-old Super Lola in Brgy. Salindeg, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur.

“Mas lalong sumasakit at nanghihina ang katawan ko kapag wala akong ginagawa. Nakasanayan ko nang araw-araw na may pinagkakaabalahan (My body feels more pain when I am not doing anything. I am used to be busy everyday”, said Lola Florenda Areola.

She wakes up as early as 3 o’clock in the morning to prepare her bicycle loaded with vegetables, fish, meat, among others.  As the sun rises, she pedals her bicycle and roams around in their barangay and even reaches nearby barangays Pong-ol and Baraca.

According to her, “Hindi ako nakakaramdam ng pagod. Kung mapapagod ako, paano na lang mabubuhay ang pamilya namin (I never feel tired. If I get tired, how will our family survive?)”

For 15 years, her source of income is being an ambulant vendor to support her family’s needs. She allots P500.00 a day for their expenses and saves for electric and water bills. She even took the responsibility of taking care and sending to school her youngest granddaughter because of no occupation of her parents due to low educational attainment. Meanwhile, her husband, Florentino, 61 manages their small variety store.  

When she turned 60, she never thought of staying at home but to continue her daily routine to sustain her family. That was also the time she became one of the beneficiaries of Social Pension Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

“Nagagalak ako dahil may katulungan na ako sa araw-araw. Dinagdag ko sa puhunan ko sa pagtitinda ang natatanggap kong pension. At laking pasalamat ko din dahil napabilang ako sa Pantawid Pamilya at may pandagdag na ako sa mga gastusin ng apo ko sa pag-aaral niya (I am delighted because I now have something to hold on to every day. I added my pension to my capital for my mobile store. I am also grateful after being identified as a Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary and so I can now provide more to the school needs of my granddaughter.

As she pedals, she also catches her breath due to her asthma. “Magpapahinga lang ako tapos tutuloy na naman ako. Hindi ako titigil dahil ito ang kailangan kong gawin (I will just take a rest and I keep going again. I will not stop because I must have to do this),” said Lola Florenda.

Lola Florenda said that Social Pension is like a pedal and wheels of her bicycle because in order to have a better way of living, one must exert extra effort and roads may be difficult but life must go on and never lose hope. (by: Jaesem Ryan A. Gaces, Information Officer II/Pantawid Pamilya)

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Pantawid Pamilya Senior High School leads batch 2018-2019

Christopher receives his awards and joining him are Ms. Irene Domingo, Municipal Agriculture Officer (in blue dress), Ms. Isanie Collo, Principal (in pink dress) and DSWD Staff.
Photo courtesy: Christopher Ragunton

“When I entered high school, I had low self-esteem but as years went by, I earned my confidence and learned to defend myself,” shared Christopher Ragunton, a Grade 12 student as he recalled how he started his secondary days at the Nagbukel National High School, Nagbukel, Ilocos Sur.

Many times, Christopher and his co-beneficiaries were teased by other students because of being poor. According to him, “Ipinakita ko sa kanila na mas magaling ako sa kanila sa pagpapakita ng aking angking-talino sa aming mga aralin (I showed them that I am better than them when it comes to academics).”

Christopher also stated that “Sa likod ng mga panlalait, ipinapakita ko sa lahat na kayang-kaya kong iangat ang aking sarili (Despite the mockery, I show everyone that I can bring myself to the top). He never ceased to prove that Pantawid Pamilya students are excellent and because of that, he was a consistent honor student since Grade 7. “Wala sa plano ko na makamit ang Rank 1 dahil wala akong intensyon na makipagkompetensya sa aking mga kaklase pero ginagawa ko ito para sa kinabukasan  (I never planned to become Rank 1 because I do not want to compete with my classmates but I am doing this for the future),” he emotionally expressed. 

“Nagsilbing armas ko ang Pantawid Pamilya para maging matibay sa pagkamit sa minimithi kong pangarap kapag ako ay nakapagtapos na ng pag-aaral (Pantawid Pamilya served as my weapon to be strong in achieving my dream after finishing my studies),” Christopher testified.

He plans to take up Bachelor of Science in Accountancy at the University of Northern Phlippines in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur. According to him, he will exert all efforts to look for scholarship grants for him to successfully pursue his college education.

He confidently said, “Sampung taon mula ngayon, isa na akong matagumpay na indibidwal at tatatak pa rin sa puso at isipan ko ang Pantawid Pamilya (10 years from now, I will be a successful person and Pantawid Pamilya will still be engraved in my heart and mind).” (by: Jaesem Ryan A. Gaces, Pantawid Pamilya Information Officer)

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DSWD FO 1 recognizes Pantawid Pamilya Focal Persons

First four picture from the left: Education Focal Persons
Last two picture from the left: Health Focal Persons

To recognize the invaluable efforts and services of partner stakeholders or Pantawid Pamilya Focals from the schools and health facilities who have been crucial to the successful implementation of the Program, the Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 1 (DSWD FO 1), through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, conducted the first ever Search for Pantawid Pamilya Focal.

Partner agencies particularly the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Health (DOH), through the assigned Pantawid Pamilya Focals contribute in the compliance verification monitoring process and policy development. This highlights their critical role in the Program implementation

The Pantawid Pamilya Focals are in-charge of monitoring the compliance of Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries in the health and education conditions of the Program.

The pioneer contenders for this search are: Ms. Rhyndel Fuertes, Teacher I from Dingras National High School, Dingras, Ilocos Norte; Ms. Marivic Cabrera, Master Teacher III from Nagbukel National High School, Nagbukel, Ilocos Sur; Mr. Zhandy Picardo, Teacher III from Aringay National High School, Aringay, La Union; Ms. Rudencia Edrosolan, Teacher III from Sto. Domingo Elementary School, Sual, Pangasinan; Ms. Olivia Lagula, Midwife III from Sarrat, Ilocos Norte; and Ms. Wilma Yukee, Midwife II from Bangar, La Union.

Since the implementation of Pantawid Pamilya, these teachers and midwives designated as Pantawid Pamilya Focal Persons have consistently delivered their functions with passion and considered it as a mission not an additional obligation.

Two Focal Persons (one each for education and health) will represent the Region to the National Partnership Summit on 31 May 2019. (by: Jaesem Ryan A. Gaces, Pantawid Pamilya Information Officer)

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Asingan Sheltered Workshop promotes empowerment among OPs and PWDs

Orthopedically handicapped trainees at the sheltered workshop namely (L-R): George Aguilar, 65; Francisco Sanchez, 65; and Aurora Pastor together with Ms. Alicia Uson, a mother of a Child with Disability

“Mula nang sumali ako rito (sheltered workshop), napagtanto kong may silbi at nakakaambag pa rin kami sa komunidad kahit na matanda na kami at may kapansanan (Since I joined the sheltered workshop, I realized that we can still contribute to the community despite being old and with disability),” Aurora Pastor, 60, testified.

Aurora is orthopedically handicapped and enjoys making dishwashing liquid.  She is proud of her product because it is good for cleaning tiles.

Aurora is one of the 17 trainees at the Sheltered Workshop for Older Persons (OPs) and Persons with Disability (PWDs) who availed skills training on commercial cooking, candle production, dry goods printing, sewing, mug printing, massage therapy, among others.

The Sheltered Workshop is one of the best practices of the Municipality of Asingan that caters to all interested and qualified OPs and PWDs as a stepping stone to become trainees at the Area 1 Vocational Rehabilitation Center (AVRC 1) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 1 (DSWD FO 1). This is a pilot project of the DSWD Central Office through the Social Technology Bureau in coordination with the Local Government of Asingan. It is a community-based facility designed to provide work training and productive employment for OPs and PWDs by producing and selling goods or services.

According to Asingan Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer Teresa O. Mamalio, since the shelter was established in 2006, 75 clients were already served, and some of them are now employed and running their own businesses.

Atty. Joshua V. Viray, Acting Mayor, emphasized that the OP and PWD sectors should be given priority, and they should directly benefit from all programs and services designed for them. He is also honored that other municipalities in Region 1 are replicating the Sheltered Workshop. (by: Jaesem Ryan A. Gaces, Information Officer II/Pantawid Pamilya)

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