Now or never

“Mahalaga ang pag-aksyon ngayon kaysa sa magsisi kung kailan huli na ang lahat. Hindi ang iba kundi ang sarili natin mismo ang tutupad sa ating mga pangarap (It is important to act now than to regret when things are over. Not anyone will realize our dreams but ourselves alone)”, Certified Public Accountant Kenneth Gudoy confidently shared.

It was midnight of 2 November 2017 when Kenneth officially joined the world of Accounting upon surprisingly seeing his name on the list of successful board takers from the Mariano Marcos State University, Batac City, Ilocos Norte.

Embarking a new journey

This was the start of his quest for a better life for his family that he prayed and longed for. “Ang pagtatapos ko sa pag-aaral ay ang unang hakbang sa aking pagbibigay pasalamat sa ating pamahalaan sa mga tulong na naibigay sa aming pamilya (Graduating is my first step to extend my gratitude to the government for the assistance given to our family),” Kenneth said.

He was once one of the grantees of the Expanded Students Grants-in-Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation (ESGP-PA) through the joint endeavor of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in providing educational grants to poor but performing college students under Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

Reaching the desired destination  

Kenneth revealed, “Determinasyon ang lagi kong sandata para ipaglaban ang mga pangarap ko dahil buhay ng aking pamilya ang nakasalalay (Determination is my weapon in fighting for my dreams because my family’s fate is at hand).” That is why he basked in the glory of being a Cum Laude. On being a grantee he said, “Nagbago ang pananaw ko sa kahalagahan ng edukasyon mula noong tinanggap ko ang responsibilidad bilang isang iskolar ng bayan (My insight to education changed when I accepted the responsibility of being a government scholar).

He believes that education is the most valuable treasure he can inherit from his parents. His father died due to chronic disease while his mother Remedios raised him and his four siblings. Education for him is a key to open many doors of opportunity. He chose to enter the door of opportunity that opened before him as a Tax Associate in a private company four months ago.

Living the dream   

Kenneth is challenged by the saying that goes, “Hindi kasalanan ang ipinananganak kang mahirap pero kasalanan mo kung mamamaytay kang mahirap (Born poor is not a sin, but to die poor is).” While in his productive years, he wants to live a fulfilled life together with his family.

Looking back at the hardships of his single mother, Kenneth made a promise to himself. He will be the best Accountant that he can be. He wants to build a new house for his family.

Since still new in the service, he foresees realizing his plans for his family. Now is the right time to move. “Alam ko na sa pagiging matiyaga, masipag, at lakipan mo pa ng tulong mula sa Panginoong Diyos, pasasaan at maisasakatuparan ko rin ito (I know that by being patient, hardworking, coupled with the aid of the Almighty, these will all come to reality).” (by: Jaesem Ryan A. Gaces, Information Officer II/Pantawid Pamilya and Arlem Kenneth R. Areola, IPDO for NGAs)

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“Paksiw” Garden grows in Ilocos Sur

Not your typical communal garden, the Paksiw Garden of the Bago Tribe in Brgy. Mabileg, Sigay, Ilocos Sur not only grows pinakbet vegetables, root crops, and fruits but also tilapia grown in a “lapat” – an iluko term for man-made fishpond, situated within the area which adds to its extraordinary features, yielding organic produce. The scenery is best enjoyed while relaxing in their nipa hut overlooking the whole garden.

The Paksiw Garden measures 48×22 square meters and is managed by 40 Pantawid Pamilya and Modified Conditional Cash Transfer (MCCT) beneficiaries. Paksiw is an Ilocano dish with fish and vegetables cooked in a blend of vinegar and some spices like garlic, onion, and ginger.

Improvised pots made of used maong pants and shoes in front of the garden welcome the visitors in style.

Parent Leader Leonila Solimen is proud of their garden’s creativity and sustainability as it is refreshing and at the same time a bountiful source of nutritious food for their families.


Distant but abundant

The Municipality of Sigay sits as one of the interior municipalities in the Province of Ilocos Sur. The residents have to travel an hour or more through rough roads and river passages to buy their daily commodities in the nearest City which is Candon. The municipality is predominantly agriculture-based and people are engaged in agro-forestry to improve their lives.

With a readily available source of nutritious food, the number of malnourished children in the locality is gradually decreasing from 26 to 22 for children aged 0-5, according to the results of the latest Social Welfare and Development Indicator (SWDI) Tool in terms of nutrition from June 2017 up to the present. The garden also supplies food to non-beneficiaries.


Gulayan as one  

The Local Government Unit commended the significant contribution of the Paksiw Garden through a Sangguniang Bayan Resolution. The LGU together with Civil Society Organizations assisted in the vermicomposting and organic farming methods while National Government Agencies provided free tilapia fingerlings and additional seedlings.

The Paksiw Garden was hailed as the Champion in the Search for Best Barangay Intensive Gardening during the Kannawidan Festival in Ilocos Sur. DSWD FO1 also named the Paksiw Garden as the Regional Winner in the first Search for Model Bio-Intensive Garden (BIG) last year.

A joint association of the MCCT and Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries was established to maintain good working relationship with the Barangay Officials in maintaining their Paksiw Garden with the assistance of Pantawid Pamilya staff. The association is bound by an agreement formulated by the beneficiaries and the Barangay Officials.

Gulayan or BIG is among the thrusts and priorities of the DSWD through National Advisory Committee Resolution No. 38, series of 2016 to address hunger and malnutrition among Pantawid Pamilya children-beneficiaries. (by: Jaesem Ryan A. Gaces, Information Officer II/Pantawid Pamilya with reports from Renniel Racquepo, FDS Focal)

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Tough to be on top

“I never thought I would come this far. At seven, my mother passed away two months after giving birth to our youngest. As a single parent, my father, Conrado works hard in the fields to provide for our needs. This chapter of my life seemed to have started our moment of despair. However, being the eldest in a brood of four, I became more determined to overcome every obstacle I encounter. With the struggles I faced, I stood stronger against the next battles. I am now a Licensed Professional Agriculturist! I was able to prove that poverty is not a hindrance to achieving one’s dreams.”

 A beautiful disaster

From their family’s downfall, Hazel chose to stand up and wave the banner of the Achuelas. And she did. “Whenever I look back to the pages of my book called life, I cannot help but weep. I could not imagine how we were able to continue this journey knowing that my family is not complete. I never lost hope, I continued my schooling together with my three sisters,” she said.

Life goes on.  Though the death of their mother pains their hearts, Hazel took the responsibility of taking good care of her three siblings and manages their humble home. “I did not show signs of weakness and weariness. Rather, I showed my sisters the importance of having the strength and courage to face life struggles,” she shared.

Journey to victory

 “When I was in elementary, I was very happy whenever my father gives me PhP2.00 for my daily allowance. I packed my lunch so I would not go home anymore to eat. Barangay Salbang is a flood prone area. I rode my bicycle everyday even during rainy days instead of riding a tricycle,” Hazel narrated.

They also went to the market early in the morning to sell vegetables for additional allowance and to catch up with late payment of school contributions. “I cannot avoid the times when I even pitied myself because my classmates lived comfortable lives with complete families who are ready to support all their needs,” Hazel admitted.

Opportunity in every difficulty

Though worried of entering college, she still pursued her education. “God is so good for He sent Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program and Expanded Students’ Grants-in-Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation (ESGP-PA) to help me in my studies,” Hazel testified. She graduated With Distinction in High School at the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) Laboratory High School – Science Curriculum.

To her surprise, she passed the University of the Philippines College Admission Test but was financially incapable to study at UP Los Bańos, so she enrolled Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Major in Animal Science at the MMSU – College of Agriculture, Food, and Sustainable Development (CAFSD) in Batac City, Ilocos Norte.

When Hazel was still studying, she told herself, “If not because of ESGP-PA, I might still be looking for coins inside my bag hoping that there might have been enough to pay for a copy of handout which comes at unexpected circumstance. Indeed, God works in miraculous ways.”

She also represented MMSU to the Asian Association of Agricultural Colleges and Universities Study Tour in Tokyo, Japan.

Couldn’t ask for more

Hazel marched at the MMSU Sunken Garden more colorful than the sunflowers all around. She owned the crowd as she was announced as Magna Cum Laude. This called for a celebration; however, another challenge awaits – Board Examinations.

Doubts, fears, stress, and sleepless nights hurdled her during her review. To support her expenses for her review, she was not ashamed of going back to the market to sell vegetables every day. During her review, she was appointed as a part-time faculty at the CAFSD. This has been her dream – to be part of the academe. Therefore, she taught and reviewed at the same time.

Came the most awaited day. The first word she uttered is “Thank you, Lord!” upon accepting a phone call in the middle of her sleep at night saying, “Hazel, Congratulations! You are Top 9!”

She considers this milestone of her life as her best birthday gift ever. She offers her success to those who lifted her when nobody else did. “No words can express how grateful I am,” she shared.

Before, she was just nobody without most nothing but now, she can confidently say she is somebody. Somebody who proves that everything happens for a reason and that reason is to live to give life to those who are weak in spirit. A crippled life turned to a joyous one. (by: Jaesem Ryan A. Gaces, Information Officer II/Pantawid Pamilya with excerpts from Hazel’s facebook post)

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New CPAs are ESGP-PA Honor Graduates

From the glory of Latin Honors, all the way to becoming Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), four grantees of the Expanded Students’ Grants-in-Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation (ESGP-PA) from the Mariano Marcos State University in Batac City, Ilocos Norte successfully passed the October 2017 CPA Board Examination. For the first time, the ESGP-PA has produced Accountancy graduates with honors.

They are as follows (L-R): Sherry Anne Calapao from Batac City, Ilocos Norte, Magna Cum Laude; Kenneth Gudoy from Batac City, Ilocos Norte, Cum Laude; Khyle Deanne Lazaro from San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte, Cum Laude, and Stephanie Guzman from Laoag City, Ilocos Norte.

Unanimously, they said that being an ESGP-PA grantee is a privilege wherein they were able to complete their attendance in school and meet their academic demands a1nd other needs. Still there are people who discriminate and tease them because of the grants they receive to which they contest that the government is investing in them and they are doing the responsibilities as grantees. So, they underscored that topping in class and passing the board examination are their ways of giving back.

To work abroad, get employed in an accounting firm, be part of the Commission on Audit, and earn a Bachelor of Laws are among their targets, apart from being the provider of their own families.

The ESGP-PA aims to address poverty alleviation by increasing the number of graduates of higher education among poor households and equip these graduates in order for them to be employed in high value adding occupations to lift their families out of poverty and at the same time contribute to national development. It prioritizes deserving Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries who excel academically.

It is a joint endeavor of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to give educational grants to poor but performing college students under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. (by: Jaesem Ryan A. Gaces, Information Officer II/Pantawid Pamilya)

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Break not the Eggs but Poverty

The Dasalla couple shows their bountiful egg harvest, ready for sale.

Fragile it is. If unintentionally broken and not rotten, that is the end of it. Though delicate, it sustains the everyday life of the Dasalla Family in Gregorio del Pilar, Ilocos Sur. Every egg being harvested is a new hope for a more fulfilled life.

“One egg a day is okay”, said Minalyn, 34 just like what she teaches to her Child Development Center pupils. This also applies to her family business – Chicken Production, Broiler, and Chicken Lay.

According to her, they harvest fresh eggs every afternoon which are being sold right away to their neighbors in Brgy. Poblacion Sur and gives them PhP300.00 earning per day.

Minalyn and her husband, Constante, 33, have been running their business since December 2015 after a training on chicken production given by the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer for Indigenous People in Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (MCCT-IP in GIDA) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 1 (DSWD FO 1). After the third cycle of their chicken production, they were able to buy the sets of chicken last May 2016 which lead them to earn for the education of their two children, Mhecko, 14, and Faithlene, 8.

“Kahit malayo at liblib ang lugar namin, nakakarating pa rin ang DSWD sa pamamagitan ng MCCT. Parang napakaimposible na kaming nasa kabundukan ay nagkaroon ng negosyong manukan. Dahil po diyan, naipapakita namin sa iba na kaya naming mamuhay nang maayos at matiwasay dito sa aming lugar (Though we live in a far flung area, DSWD is still able to reach us through MCCT. It seems so impossible for us who are in the upland area to have a poultry business. Because of this, we can show others that we can live well and in peace in our place),Minalyn testified.

The Municipality of Gregorio del Pilar, Ilocos Sur is reached by taking a 1 ½ hour jeepney ride from Candon City on a muddy, slippery, and rocky road and passing through the deep and raging river. Only one jeepney per barangay takes a trip to Candon City everyday so it is packed with daily commodities going back to the municipality.

The Bago couple strives to flourish their business in the years to come and become the sole egg supplier in their barangay. They believe that with their perseverance and determination, they can hatch out from poverty and grow while embarking on a fresh and abundant life towards self-sufficiency.

MCCT-IP in GIDA assists the IPs to have full and sustained access in the government’s social protection programs particularly the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. Beneficiaries are entitled to assistance based on the results of annual Support Services Intervention assessment. (by: Jaesem Ryan A. Gaces, Information Officer II/Pantawid Pamilya)

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NCM Celebration reaches IP Children

In celebration of the National Children’s Month (NCM), the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 1 (DSWD FO 1) brought worthwhile activities to the Kankanaey community in Brgy. Danac, Sugpon, Ilocos Sur.

The locality was reached through a two to three-hour trek from the Poblacion. Walking under the scorching heat of the sun, braving muscle pain, going against or being pulled by gravity in the hilly and rocky roads were among the challenges in getting to this Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Area (GIDA). Transportation is still a dream to the whole barangay.

With this year’s theme, “Bata: Iligtas sa Droga (Youth: Save from Drugs)” which supports the Administration’s anti-illegal drug campaign, the Pantawid Pamilya Regional Program Management Office believes that every child can be free from drugs through engaging them to community service and protecting them from any diseases.

In partnership with the Provincial Health Office of Ilocos Sur and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Department of Agriculture, a medical mission and tree and seed planting were conducted.

All the residents were given free medical services and food packs. They also enjoyed parlor games where they took home prizes and other early Christmas gifts for their family.

According to Tribal Leader Timoteo Saliw-an, this outreach activity is the answer to their prayers. This is their very first time to host visitors from government agencies, and they were grateful of the services given to them.

Republic Act No. 10661 declares the month of November of every year as NCM Celebration.  This declaration commemorates the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the United Nations General Assembly on 20 November 1989, and seeks to instill its significance in the Filipino consciousness. (by: Jaesem Ryan A. Gaces, Information Officer II/Pantawid Pamilya)

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Young Poet bested Exemplary Pantawid Pamilya Children 2017

The Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 1 through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program named this year’s Exemplary Pantawid Pamilya Child.

Frederick “Erick” A. Cachero, Grade 7 student from Libtong Elementary School in Burgos, La Union bagged the title over the other three provincial winners from Mangatarem, Pangasinan – Jonathan Cayabyab, Grade 8 student from Cabayaoasan National High School (First Runner Up), Tagudin, Ilocos Sur – Aura Marie Carbonel, Grade 9 from Tagudin National High School (Second Runner Up), and Laoag City, Ilocos Norte – Gerald Teodoro, Grade 8 from Gabu National High School.

Erick is passionate in writing poems in which he freely expresses his thoughts and insights on his everyday experiences. His family, friends, teachers, environmental issues, current events, Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, and God are among his inspirations to write his masterpieces. He scribbles his pen to record memorable and significant events in his life.

Since Elementary, he is always on top of his class. He also consistently receives numerous awards and recognitions. He always makes himself available for tutorials with his classmates and his three siblings. That makes him feel that he is a real life teacher in their school, as this is his dream profession.

His parents Roderick, 36, merchandiser and Myrna, 32, housewife feel so blessed of having a responsible and loving son. Erick wakes up as early as 4:00 AM to help his mother with the household chores before going to school. He and his sibling walk to school for 45 minutes with P15.00 in their pocket. He still manages to save from his allowance.

Erick will represent the Region in the National Level competing among other Regional Winners nationwide during the National Children’s Congress in Metro Manila.

The Search for Exemplary Pantawid Pamilya Children aims to recognize exemplary Pantawid Pamilya children who serve as excellent examples for other children. The activity is also a strategy to encourage children to nurture habits and values that would mold them to be good citizens by complying to the conditions of the Program and by being responsible at home, school, and their communities. This search will be simultaneously conducted nationwide. (by: Jaesem Ryan A. Gaces, Information Officer II/Pantawid Pamilya)

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Sison, Pangasinan Tribes are proud IPs

Various Indigenous Peoples (IPs) Tribes and Women flocked together to commemorate the National IP Month at the Sha-la Hall, Sison, Pangasinan.

Coming from Barangays Agat, Sagunto, Calunetan, Labayug, Asan Norte, Asan Sur, Bila, Cauringan, Dungon, Esperanza, Alibeng, Inmalog, and Paldit, 383 IPs and Women attended the IPs’ and Women’s Caravan conducted by the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in partnership with the Local Government Unit (LGU) under the leadership of Municipal Mayor Danilo C. Uy with the theme, “Proud IP”.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) promotes women welfare and reaches out to the IPs to keep their culture alive and cherished. IPs are DSWD’s valued partners in the Program implementation despite cultural differences. DSWD Assistant Regional Director for Operations Marlene Febes D. Peralta said, “Ang pag-ahon ay para sa lahat. Walang pinipiling edad, sekswalidad, paniniwala, at kultura. Kayo ay katuwang namin sa tunay na pagbabago (Development is for all. It is not based on age, sexuality, beliefs, and culture. You are our partners for genuine change).”

Selected participants represented their respective tribes as they proudly ramped their colorful cultural attire and showcased their cultural dances led by the LGU IP Mandatory Representative Ms. Josephine Saguirre.

Barangays Alibeng, Inmalog, and Paldit were announced as the Best in Barangay Booth with Php5,000.00 cash prize. Abundant and fresh farm products, fruits, spices, and handicrafts were displayed in their respective booths made up of indigenous materials.

The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) provided a brief orientation on the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (Republic Act 8371). While the Commission on Population talked about Family Planning and Responsible Parenthood.

The IPs and non-Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries availed free medical and dental services through the Region 1 Medical Center (R1MC), Provincial Health Office (PHO), Rural Health Unit (RHU), and Department of Health (DOH).

According to Ms. Daisy Fernandez, member of the Bago Tribe, she was grateful of the free medicines and the tooth extraction she was able to avail.

Prizes were given to the winners of raffle draws and parlor games. DOH backpacks and “Proud IP” t-shirts were also given.


Presidential Decree 1906 declares October as National IP Month based on the constitutional mandate of recognizing and protecting the rights of indigenous cultural communities geared towards national unity and development. (by: Jaesem Ryan A. Gaces, Information Officer II/Pantawid Pamilya)

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