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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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Gender and Development (GAD) Corner

GAD Accomplishment Reports

CY 2018 (DSWD FOI CY 2018 GAD Accomplishment Report and CY 2018 GAD AR)

CY 2017 (DSWD FO1 CY 2017 GAD Accomplishment Report)


RGAD-TWG Resolution

Regional Gender and Development Technical Working Group (RGAD-TWG)


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ESGPPA graduate gears up for work

pio“I am expecting for the best, but I am also prepared for the worst,” 20-year old Pio Angelo Ballesteros courageously claimed as he starts establishing his career path after his graduation this year from the Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University-South La Union Campus.

Second child to an unemployed father and a barangay secretary mother, Pio recognizes the Expanded Students’ Grants-in-Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation (ESGPPA) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). “Napakalaki po nitong tulong (It is really a big help), he said.

Pio believes that graduating Cum Laude with the degree of BS Biology is his gateway to realize his dream of becoming a successful medical doctor someday.

Target aimed

In his quest for his dream, he plans to work in the meantime to earn for his future medical studies. He is in the process of qualifying for a research assistant post in a reputable university.

To beef up his credentials and increase probability of landing a better-paying job, he plans to take a Master’s Degree next year. Setting aside financial constraints, he is still determined to triumph over his career challenges.

Sure hit

According to Pio, he will not waste this chance because he considers this job opportunity as his stepping stone to reach his ultimate dream to be part of the medical field. He added, “I do not have to be afraid to do things just because of financial constraints; I visualize a secured future for me and my family.”

A proud product of ESGPPA, Pio is leaving a mark on the government’s effort to provide access to quality education to poor but deserving students. With bright perspectives brought by values gained by the family, indeed, great changes can happen through Pantawid Pamilya. (by: Jaesem Ryan A. Gaces, Information Officer II/Pantawid Pamilya)

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Listahanan Conducts Orientation of Punong Barangays in Sudipen, La Union

Ms. Joan Nuesca (NHTS-PR Focal Person) conducts a brief orientation on LISTAHANAN at ABC Hall, Sudipen, La Union.

Ms. Joan Nuesca (NHTS-PR Focal Person) conducts a brief orientation on LISTAHANAN at ABC Hall, Sudipen, La Union.

Recognizing the vital role of every Punong Barangay in all the activities being undertaken in their own area of jurisdiction, particularly in the 2nd Round of Household Assessment of the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction/Listahanan of the Department of Social Welfare and Development – Field Office I, Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer Elma B. Mostoles of Sudipen, La Union invited Ms. Joan M. Nuesca (NHTS-PR Focal Person) last 27 April 2015 to conduct a brief orientation about Listahanan to all the Punong Barangays of Sudipen before the deployment of the newly hired Area Supervisors and Enumerators of NHTS-PR in the Municipality of Sudipen.

Ms. Nuesca informed the Barangay Captains about their roles in this assessment of households, specifically in signing the Refusal Form of Area Supervisors should there be a respondent who refuses to be interviewed three (3) times.

Courtesy call of Ms. Joan Nuesca to Mayor Wendy Joy Buquing of Sudipen, La Union

Courtesy call of Ms. Joan Nuesca to Mayor Wendy Joy Buquing of Sudipen, La Union

Regarding any complaints after the posting of the initial results of the household assessment in the Barangay Halls, Ms. Nuesca also informed them that a Local Verification Committee (LVC) would act on those complaints, such as incorrect spelling of names of the household members, incomplete list of household members, household not interviewed among others.

The City/Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer and the City/Municipal Planning and Development Officer are the two mandatory members of the LVC, and the three other members may be picked among the civil society organization, non-government organizations, faith-based groups and people’s organizations in the Municipality.

Further, the composition of the LVC shall be formalized through a Resolution by the City/Municipal Council, and the Area Supervisors of NHTS-PR will act as the Secretariat.

“The Listahanan is a crucial project” said Ms. Nuesca, so she asked the support of the Punong Barangays of Sudipen since this database of poor households would be the basis of government agencies, local government units and even private sectors for any social protection programs that they would implement, and also to prevent the limited funds of our government from being wasted and to ensure that the same will be directed to the real poor. (by: Jaymante Pearl B. Apilado, Administrative Assistant III, NHTS-PR/Listahanan)

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Pantawid Pamilya – a strong evidence of government reforms, says KOMPRe


L-R on left photo: The KOMPRe National Secretariat Mardi Mapa-Suplido, DSWD OSec Representative Dir. Roy Calfoforo, and DSWD FO1 Regional Director Marcelo Nicomedes J. Castillo sitting at the center conference table in front of the different sectors of the community including Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries.

“Through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), government reforms are appreciated by the beneficiaries themselves who are experiencing changes for a better way of living. Reform should be felt by the people for them to appreciate the government’s programs and services for continuation of the next administration,” said Ms. Mardi Mapa-Suplido, National Secretariat of the Koalisyon ng Mamamayan para sa Reporma (KOMPRe) during their first people’s conference attended by the DSWD Field Office 1 in Dagupan City.

DSWD Field Office 1 Regional Director Marcelo Nicomedes J. Castillo welcomed the different sectors including Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries and Dir. Roy Calfoforo shared some information concerning the Department on behalf of Sec. Dinky Soliman.

According to Ms. Suplido, these program beneficiaries are experiencing government reforms in terms of budgeting process (Bottom-Up Budgeting), anti-corruption, economic, education, and health among others with the aid of Pantawid Pamilya. Their life changing stories are evidence of what President Benigno Aquino III has done to help the poor.

Thus was highlighted during the activity graced by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas, PhilHealth Board of Director Risa Hontiveros, former Pangasinan 3rd District Representative Rachel Arenas, Pangasinan 3rd District Representative Baby Arenas, Former House Speaker Jose De Venecia, Pangasinan 4th District Representative Gina D. De Venecia, and Dagupan City Mayor Belen Fernandez.

KOMPRe believes that reform is really felt by the people through DSWD since it is one of the frontline government agencies extending services to the poor/disadvantaged like the Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries through partnership with civil society organizations (CSOs), groups, and other private entities.

At least 300 Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries from Dagupan City, Pangasinan together with various sectors of farmers, youth, Overseas Filipino Workers, and senior citizens were convened to participate this people’s conference with the theme “Walang Iwanan sa Tuwid na Daan Tungo sa Kapayapaan”. Flordeliza Datuin from Villasis, Pangasinan shared in her testimony that she became an active citizen in her barangay by being a parent leader.

KOMPRe’s first people’s conference aims to popularize, sustain, defend, and institutionalize the reforms under the present administration. This coalition was organized to deepen the understanding of people on important socio-eco-political issues and to engage in dialogues/fora to consolidate and heighten the gains. (by: Jaesem Ryan A. Gaces, Information Officer II/Pantawid Pamilya)


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Two Pantawid Pamilya valedictorians in San Gabriel, LU to pursue teaching

San gab

Alyza Joy Supanga (left photo) and Denia Sung-ag and her mother (right photo) in their best smiles with their medals and other awards. (Photo credit to the owners)

Both graduated high school with flying colors and took poverty as their inspiration in achieving their dreams through hardwork and perseverance.

Kankana-ey girls, Alyza Joy Supanga and Denia Sung-ag, wanted to be successful someday in the professional world that is why they strived hard in their studies that led them to graduate as valedictorians of their respective classes. They believe that their quest for a brighter future is ensured with their noble achievement.

Alyza, 16 from Brgy. Balbalayang, and Denia, 15 from Brgy. Lipay Este, studied at the Balbalayang High School and Lipay Integrated School, respectively.


Valedictorian’s secret revealed

“Through my strong faith in God, I was able to make it to the top of my class. I acknowledge His grace which I consider the secret of my success,” said Alyza.

She landed either as first or second honor during her first to third year in high school, so she put more effort in her studies to sustain this and eventually succeeded to be the class valedictorian.

Jose, 52, and Yolanda, 47, proud parents of Alyza, stated that the success of their daughter is the realization of their dreams of also finishing their education. They only earn a small amount from farming, but they still encourage her to take up Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education Major in English despite financial challenges. Alyza therefore decided to work this summer in Baguio City.


Pantawid, gateway to a brighter future

Denia’s family of 10 survives through farming of both her parents, Dionisio, 61, and Jane, 48, who try to budget their small income. She said, “Being a Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary means an opportunity for a better life through education, which is why I grabbed this chance and motivated myself to study hard to show that I deserve the assistance given by the government through the cash grants we receive intended for education. I also want to pay back the sacrifices of my parents.

Since Grade 3, she is consistently on top of her class and was eventually awarded with the highest academic honors. She admits that she is not aiming to be the best, but she keeps in mind to maintain her high marks.  Best in English, Filipino, Mathematics, and Science and Technology are among her special awards during their graduation. This made her decide to take up Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education Major in English.

Though living in far flung areas, with their dreams, Alyza and Denia can go as far as they can and reach the peak of their success carrying the ideals of a fighter chasing a better life. (by: Jaesem Ryan A. Gaces, Information Officer II/Pantawid Pamilya)

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Being a Valedictorian is destined for me — Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary HS graduate


Luvy awards her medals to her parents as a way of thanks to their endless support to her studies. According to her parents, this was their first time to be given medals and feels great that their daughter shares these with them.

“My actions dictate my destiny. I did all my very best that is why I made it as the Class Valedictorian, so this is really for me because I worked hard for it and I deserve it,” Luvy Ramos says.

Luvy led her batch during their commencement exercises at Don Eulogio de Guzman Memorial National High School in Brgy. Calumbaya, Bauang, La Union. She is a Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary from Brgy. Boy-utan who lives a very simple life with her parents Antonio and Luzviminda. “I do not keep in mind the present situation of our life but rather a brighter future ahead with the help of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program,” she said.

Among her awards are Best in Editorial Writing, Quizzer of the Year, Citizenship Advancement Training (CAT) Awardee, Service Awardee, Proficiency Awardee, and Academic Excellence. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of their school paper, ‘The Bridge.’

She narrates that her achievement is a great blessing for her and her family as well. With this, she proves that Pantawid Pamilya motivated her to pursue her dreams no matter what happens for the benefit of her family.

Luvy is a consistent first honor since elementary – an evidence of her passion for education. She avoids giving expectations so she just proves her abilities through her responsible actions and humility. This is what she thinks made her unique among her fellow students.

According to her, medals and awards do not necessarily mean excellence but fruits of sacrifices and diligence. She claims that she is not really intelligent, but she always puts her heart in everything she does in school and that is what excellence means to her.

Her parents, Antonio and Luzviminda, are still encouraged to send her in college to pursue her dream of becoming a successful Mechanical Engineer someday especially that she passed the scholarship examination sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

She further said that she wants to prove that her success still continues after finishing her degree and excel in her chosen field of specialization.

When asked how she sees herself after a decade, she answered “Period”. She further explained that all shapes start with a period. Being a Valedictorian is the start of shaping herself as a successful individual in the future. (by: Jaesem Ryan A. Gaces, Information Officer II/Pantawid Pamilya)

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