The Lifesaving Power of Interventions

It was a picturesque morning in Brgy. Sasaba Santol, La Union. The skies were blue, and the sun was beaming bright. Bendot “Ben” Esislo, a banana farmer and a father of five (5) lovely children, woke up early with excitement and prepared for his work because after months of waiting, his banana trees finally bear fruit and are ready to be harvested and delivered. That is the usual picture of Manong Ben’s routine for years. “Apan mi apiten (saba) santu inkami ipagna iti 18 kilometro ingana ijay Poblacion. Iti rigat na ket adda met iti 500 nga kitaen mi ket nu maminsan pay ket matawaran (We harvest the bananas and walk 18 kilometers to deliver it to the Poblacion. We earn PhP500.00, but sometimes buyers still ask for a lower price),” he shared.

At his early age, Manong Ben knew their misfortune and dreamt to have a better life that is why he attended school. Because they really struggled for a living and lack money to support his studies, he decided to stop pursuing his education. He then met the love of his life and started a happy family.

Peter Cogaid (infront) and Bendot Esislo happily show the team how to make buyboy that they make for a living.

They are contented with their simple living. Until one day, his bunso (youngest child) had a severe asthma attack that challenged their daily living. Since then, his child has been back and forth in the hospital because of his illness. Constant argument with his wife arose, their four (4) children started to stop attending school because of financial constraints. They had nothing to eat and even questioned God why they need to experience such predicament. “Awan pulos iti makan min ken awan iti mausar dagijay ubbing ko, isu nga uray ammok nga dakes piman ken basol ket nagmula ak latta (iti marijuana) (We had nothing to eat and nothing to use for the needs of my children, that is why I decided to plant marijuana though I know it is not the right thing to do.) He decided to start planting marijuana as quick remedy to his problems. “Nabiit laeng iti panag-uray ken nalaklaka pay nga bagkaten pababa kumpara iti panagbagkat iti bainte kilos nga saba. Adayo pay iti kita nga umabot kano iti PhP100,000.00 iti maysa nga harvest (You will just wait for a few months and it is much easier to carry going down to Poblacion compared to carrying 20 kilos of banana. Others said that in a single harvest, one may profit an estimated amount of PhP100,000.00),” he shared.

Idi ket sobra iti buteng mi nu makakita kami iti Police, ngem itatta ket babarkada mi idan (We are so afraid before when we see police officers, but now we are friends with them).”

-Peter Cogaid, one of santol katipuneros

When his son had another asthma attack, they stayed in the hospital for a month and incurred debts because of the hospital bills and medicines they needed to buy. “Panay kamin utang ta maminmano nga maitaray ijay hospital jay anak ko iti makatawen kasla every 2 months gapu iti asthma na. Nasakit ta kalpasan met lang iti pito nga tawen nga panaglaban a jay anak ko ket innalan ni Apo (We are really in debt because we always rushed my youngest to the hospital like every after 2 months because of his asthma. It is very painful because after fighting for 7 years, he rested with God),” he said teary-eyed.

In response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s mandate on war on drugs in 2016, Santol, La Union through the leadership of Mayor Magno Wailan together with the Philippine National Police intensified project tokhang resulting in 103 drug surrenderees in the municipality. Manong Ben, together with his barangay mates who were involved in the same issue voluntarily surrendered without any hesitation.

Bendot Esislo shows some of his ripe tomatoes ready to harvest.

Manong Ben shared that even though they did not earn the supposed profit and got bankrupt from his marijuana plantation because they were caught on the oplan tokhang operation weeks before the scheduled harvest, he still feels good because he and his family can live freely without fearing they will be captured – no more fear and now trust more our Creator.

Idi ket sobra iti buteng mi nu makakita kami iti police, ngem itatta ket babarkada mi idan (We are so afraid before when we see police officers, but now we are friends with them)”, happily narrated Peter Cogaid, one of the completers or what they called Santol Katipuneros. Peter has 7 children and proudly shared that no matter how difficult life is, his life is more meaningful now compared before. “Uray bassit iti kita mi ti farming ken panagaramid iti buyboy, namaymayat iti rikna ta naggapo iti nasayaat iti maipakpakan ko kadagitoy pamilyak (Even though we have smaller income in farming and soft broom making, I still feel good knowing that what I will feed my family came from the hardship and my decent work).” He even shared that his 7th child is an honor student.

To strictly monitor the Santol Katipuneros and to make sure they will never return and involve themselves with illegal drugs, continuous and monthly visitation of the Barangay Captains in close coordination with Eunice Nabehet, Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer, is being facilitated. To continuously change their lives, the DSWD Sustainable Livelihood Program in partnership with LGU Santol provided seed capital fund to Santol Katipuneros of Brgy. Sasaba to start their coffee, soft broom, and farming businesses.

Santol Katipuneros of La Union pose after the interview.

Despite what had happened, the self-promise that they will no longer commit the same mistake with fear and trust to our Creator is their focus. These were all achieved after their 6-month activities in the reflection camp through the implementation of Yakap Bayan Framework Program of DSWD where the Department has worked closely with various agencies and local government units (LGUs) to harmonize all existing government programs, projects, resources, and activities in order to create a holistic and sustainable approach for the transformation, rehabilitation, reintegration, and provision of support systems for drug surrenderees, their families, and their communities. #By: Nicole Kasandra A. Lipawen, Information Officer I, Social Marketing Unit

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DSWD Field Office 1 Haven for Women celebrates its 20th Anniversary

The year 2019 marks the 20th anniversary since the Department of Social Welfare Field Office 1 (DSWD FO 1) Haven for Women (HFW) was established in 1999.

Since then, DSWD FO 1 HFW has a total of 1,486 beneficiaries served and continuously provides temporary shelter and protective custody to women ages 18 – 59 years old who are victims of involuntary or forced prostitution, illegal recruitment, battery or abuse, sexual abuse, detention, armed conflict, among others.

Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, D.D. led the blessing ceremony of HFW new buildings.

To commemorate the celebration, HFW offered a thanksgiving mass followed by a blessing ceremony of the new buildings led by Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, D.D.

After which, awarding of plaques of appreciation to Colegio de Dagupan, Integrated Bar of the Philippines Dagupan Chapter, Department of Education Dagupan City, Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan, and Barangay Police Officer was done to recognize their unwavering support in building trust, competence, passion, and commitment in offering services to vulnerable and disadvantaged women.

The activity also awarded five (5) most performing staff, namely: Danicar C. Maleon; Rowena R. Moreno; Venus Marie C. Untalasco; Alfa D. Gemino; and Richelle R. Sicat for their continuing and dedicated service to HFW.

Aida Rufo, Center Head (third from left) together with Mayor Lim (center), DSWD Staff, and other participants give their best smiles during the HFW 20th Anniversary opening.

According to Mayor Marc Brian C. Lim, the City Government of Dagupan will give its full and continuous support to HFW. “Kung ano man ang kakailanganin ng ating mga residente ay sabihin lamang po sa amin at gagawin namin ang aming makakaya upang kayo ay matulungan (Whatever the residents need, let us know and we will do our best to help you)”, he said.

As part of the celebration and to strengthen the bond of Center residents and its staff, HFW conducted the Search for Ginang Haven 2019 followed by a socialization activity on the second day.

HFW Anniversary celebration is an opportunity for all the staff and residents to showcase their talents and skills and a way to develop camaraderie among themselves. The two-day event also served as an extraordinary occasion for the residents to socialize, widen their networks, and boost their self-esteem. #By: Nicole Kasandra A. Lipawen, Social Marketing Unit

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Rewards for a Good Character

Ten residents of Regional Rehabilitation Center for Youth (RRCY) have visited Balay Taripato in Magsingal, Ilocos Sur – a home for the elderly managed by the Provincial Government of Ilocos Sur and Tahanang Walang Hagdanan Association, Inc. in Vigan City – an organization of person with disabilities, on 4 April 2019. The learning visit is part of their rewards for showcasing exemplary characteristics while undergoing rehabilitation in the Center aside from the cash incentive of PhP350.00 per resident every month.

The Reward System of the RRCY was implemented since October 2018. The residents are given corresponding score in doing their daily chores and in attending spiritual activities. Their scores are consolidated monthly and the Top 10 Reward Earners are given an incentive as approved in the Work and Financial Plan. Moreover, they are also recognized during the Monday Program and their names and testimonies are posted in Bulletin Board.

10 resident reward earners of RRCY with the staff strikes their best shots as they roam around the Calle Crisologo during their Learning Visit in Ilocos Sur.

There are five areas for assessment which include attendance and participation to character building program, Residents’ Orientation Program (REPO), daily chores, spiritual activities, and their participation to special assignments/tasks. Moreover, the Top 10 residents are also proposed to visit areas with existing public and private agencies providing residential based services in the region, as an additional incentive. They will be escorted by at least four staff, one representative from the four units of the Center, namely; the Social Service, Support Service, Homelife, and Administrative Units.

The activity provides an opportunity for the residents to appreciate the services provided to them, gain better perspective in life, and a venue for exchange of good practices of the Center and the agencies to be visited which can be applied by both agencies. These efforts will sustain the positive behavior of the residents, encourage others to display the same, and enhance service delivery.

“Ganun po pala ang sitwasyon ng mga matatandang wala ng nag-aalaga sa kanila. Naramdaman ko ang sitwasyon nila. Paano kung tayo na rin ang matatanda? Ang mga nasaksihan ko ay nagbigay sa akin ng aral, na pahalagahan natin ang ating mga nanay at tatay dahil kung wala sila ay wala rin tayo ngayon” (Such is the situation of the elderly who do not have someone to care for them. I really felt their situation. What if we were older too? What I have witnessed gave me a lesson, that we must value our mothers and fathers because without them we are also not here in this world) said by Ali, RRCY resident.

Based on the insights of the residents, they feel sad with the conditions of the elderly who were not visited by their relatives. The reward earners realized to be more loving and kind to their parents and grandparents, and to do better in the Center so that they can take care of their elders. The residents were also saddened by the circumstance of the clients at Tahanang Walang Hagdanan but they were inspired by their perseverance to pursue education.

The reward system aims to reinforce the residents’ positive behaviors and also help them develop values that they can apply in their daily undertaking. By: Leah Mylen L. Lucero, SWO IV/Center Head, Regional Rehabilitation Center for Youth (RRCY) 1

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RRCY holds enrollment of OHSP Students

The Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 1 – Regional Rehabilitation Center for Youth (DSWD FO 1 – RRCY) in partnership with Don Eulogio De Guzman Memorial High School (DEGMNHS) headed by Ms. Myrna U. Ligas, Principal IV and with the assistance of the Center’s Teacher, Ms. Raquel Cavinta facilitated the enrollment of 52 residents who have been evaluated and qualified to enroll in the Open High School Program (OHSP) for School Year (SY) 2019-2020.

Ms. Raquel T. Cavinta, Center Teacher assisting during the enrollment of Open High School Program (OHSP) in Conference Hall of RRCY.

As part of the residents’ rehabilitation, upgrading their education is among the indications that they are on track in achieving their goals while at the Center. It is purposive endeavor for those residents who have been evaluated and qualified to enroll in school through the OHSP so they can achieve their goals and aspirations in life.

The partnership between the DSWD FO 1 – RRCY and DEGMNHS started on 7 May 2018 when both had entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) in which the RRCY residents could avail a formal education through the PHSP. This is a move towards the development of a bigger future for the Children-in-Conflict with the Law (CICL). (by: Vincent Paul V. Ruiz, SWO II/Documentation Focal, RRCY)

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RRCY joins in Brigada Eskwela 2019

Urayong, Bauang, La Union – The Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 1 – Regional Rehabilitation Center for Youth (DSWD FO1 RRCY) participatated in the Brigada Eskwela 2019 with the theme “Matatag na Bayan Para sa Maunlad na Paaralan” to clean, restore, and provide a conducive classrooms to the 52 RRCY students under the Open High School Program (OHSP) of Don Eulogio De Guzman Memorial National High School (DEGMNHS) while in the Center. Volunteer parents, residents, and staff joined together to embelish and beautify four classrooms namely Matapat, Masipag, Magalang, at Masigasig.

“Masaya po akong tumulong kasi alam ko na ang mga pasilidad na ito ay magagamit din ng aking anak habang nag-aaral dito sa Sentro.” (I am happy to help because I know that this facility will be used by my son while studying here in the Center) said Marris Dyanne, a volunteer parent.

This effort yielded positive outcome especially in promoting stronger bond among parents and child, good working relationship among the staff, and unity to all. (by: Vincent Paul V. Ruiz, SWO II/Documentation Focal, RRCY)

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DSWD Field Office 1 – AVRC I bags awards in the 7th PHILSPADA

Approximately 1,500 persons with disabilities (PWDs) participated in the 7th Philippine Sports Association for the Differently Abled(PHILSPADA) held at the Malolos Sport Complex in Malolos Bulacan in May 2019. DSWD Field Office 1 – AVRC I clients John Michael Saure and Noel Taylan, both with orthopedic disabilities, bagged three gold medals on shot put, javelin throw and discus throw, and  two medals, a gold medal for shot put and bronze medal for powerlifting, respectively.

The activity was participated in by different centers and organizations catering PWDs nationwide led by Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) in partnership with the Department of Education and the Department of Health.

The event is aligned with Republic Act No. 7277, wherein stated that there should be an equal opportunity for PWDs in the field of sports. AVRC I strongly advocates the rights and privileges of PWDs, hence, its annual participation to PHILSPADA.

Meanwhile, AVRC I delegates expressed their deepest gratitude for allowing them to join the said activity. They said, “Nagpapasalamat po kami sa suportang ibinigay ng AVRC I sa amin na kahit limitado ang oras para sa practice ay ginabayan pa rin kami at sinuportahan.(We are very thankful for the support that AVRC 1 has given to us. Despite the limited time for practice, they still guided and supported us.)”

PHILSPADA is an opportunity for all the PWDs to showcase their talents and skills through sports and a way to develop camaraderie among others. The ten-day event also served as an extraordinary occasion for the PWDs to socialize, widen their networks, and boost their self-esteem.

AVRC I is an institution of DSWD Field Office 1 that develop and implement comprehensive social and vocational rehabilitation for the empowerment of PWDs. #By: Nicole Kasandra A. Lipawen, Social Marketing Unit with reports from AVRC I

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World Population Day 2019 marks the 25 year-milestone in reproductive health and rights

The Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) enjoins other National Government Agencies, institutions, the academe, and other developmental partners in the celebration of the World Population Day (WPD) 2019. It will be celebrated on July 11 with the global theme of “25 years of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).

WPD, which seeks to focus the attention on the urgency and importance  of population issues, was established by the then Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme in 1989, an outgrowth of the interest generated by the Day of the Five Billion, which was observed on July 11, 1987.

This year’s World Population Day calls for global attention to the unfinished business of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), a 1994 meeting in Cairo, where 179 countries recognized that reproductive health and gender equality are essential for achieving sustainable development. The countries agreed that population policies must empower couples and individuals — especially women — to decide the size of their families and enable them to decide by giving them the necessary information and services to carry out their decisions.

A revolutionary Programme of Action (POA) which called for women’s reproductive health and rights to take center stage in national and global development efforts was then adopted. It called for all people to have access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including voluntary family planning, safe pregnancy and childbirth services, and the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It also recognized that reproductive health and women’s empowerment are intertwined, and that both are necessary for the advancement of society.

“The full and equal participation of women in civil, cultural, economic, political, and social life, at the national, regional and international levels, and the eradication of all forms of discrimination on grounds of sex, are priority objectives of the international community,” the POA affirmed.

The ICPD POA firmly established that the rights and dignity of individuals, rather than achieving the desired population, were the best way for individuals to realize their own fertility goals. Furthermore, the governments also acknowledged that these rights are essential for  global development.

Today, ICPD often refers to the “global consensus that reproductive health and rights are human rights, that these are a precondition for women’s empowerment, and that women’s equality is a precondition for securing the well-being and prosperity of all people.”

Since the adoption of the ICPD POA in 1994, our country has persistently worked to promote sexual and reproductive health and rights, as well as gender equality and women empowerment. There was also a dramatic shift on the discourse on population and development from reducing population growth rates to focusing on the rights and health and well-being of individuals.

The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law incorporated the ICPD’s definition of reproductive health. It is with this notion that empowering a woman is key to achieving reproductive health.

Since its passage in 2012, the RPRH Law has improved the availability and access to health and social services, especially to the Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDA) in the country. And yet many are still not able to enjoy fully the benefits of these development programs.

Thus, it is imperative for everyone — leaders, policy makers, institutions, non-government organizations, and others — to work together hand in hand to implement the ICPD POA and make reproductive health and rights a reality for all Filipinos.

As part of the celebration, POPCOM-I will be conducting the “Kapihan sa Ilocos,” a press conference to be held on July 10, 2019 in San Fernando City, La Union. The presscon shall focus on ICPD and the progress that has been made 25 years later since its founding. (By: POPCOM)

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The Light in Sight

“I cannot see anything but light.” These are the words of Marcela Agustin, a 104- year-old grandmother from Ilocos Norte. Inang Marcela, due to her old age, has been lying on her bamboo bed for as long as she can remember. Her age stopped allowing her to walk and go around the neighborhood, her eyesight was also affected, she has been feeling weak but that did not stop her from showing her jolly side when staff from the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office visited her to tell her about the good news – Lola Marcela will receive PhP100,000.00 for reaching 100 years.

A mother of four, Lola Marcela lost her husband when she was only 60 years old. She and her husband worked as farmers to be able to provide for the family. Lola Marcela shared her secret of being healthy and being able to reach 104 years. She was very fond of cooking and serving vegetables; she also used natural and organic ingredients, also adding her daily routine of farming and washing laundry which served as her daily exercise.

Lola Marcela could not remember how many grandchildren she has, but she longs to be visited by them. She wants her family complete before she retires from this life. Her advice to the young people is to stay away from vices. Lola Marcela knows how these substances could destroy their health. She also emphasized the importance of going to school and studying hard, one thing she missed while growing up.

When asked how she will spend the cash gift received from the government, she readily responded, with tears forming around her eyes, that she plans to spend some of it her for funeral. Lola Marcela was very vocal about her life being taken from her very soon. She knows it is coming, and she has accepted it. “Igatang ko a ti noang, ta sida dan ton nu matayak (We’ll use it to buy a carabao to butcher and cook during my wake),” she said.

Lola Marcela was grateful that before the dusk of her life, she could leave some amount for her children and grandchildren. She can be at peace knowing that she did what she could to spend her life with the people she loves the most. “Ket matuukan nak metten ti rigat kon, kayat ko met makitan ni Apo, nu alaen nak ket agyamank a (My age is already taking its toll on me, I would like to see the Lord soon, if He takes me anytime, I would be thankful).” (By: Helen Veryan C. Valdez, Former Social Marketing Officer,Kalahi-CIDSS)

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