The act of caring speaks in a universal language. It knows no bounds and transcends the barriers of time, culture and economic conditions. A simple act can definitely make a huge difference, touching every inch of a weary soul, lifting a dampened spirit and re-assures that even in the most difficult time, there is hope. For most, this unselfish deed restores faith in humanity.

For a very long time, mothers have innately epitomized unconditional caring. They put so much value on building a home fostered out of care. Their being radiates an atmosphere that defines selflessness. It is undoubtedly manifested from the moment they carry and deliver another life. Above all, they consistently put the welfare of their family, children and people that are dearest to their hearts first even it means sacrificing their own.

Humble Beginnings

 Caring has been the definition of the life of Ms. Zenaida B. Dumayag, a mother and a Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program beneficiary from Baggao, Cagayan. She was raised in one of the inaccessible Sitios of Barangay Asinga-Via, situated approximately 20 kilometers from the municipality’s town proper. At an early age, she became mindful of the limitations that her community had to offer. She has known poverty since then, a hand-to-mouth living that became the norm in their locality. Growing up with so little did not dampen her heart with has so much to give.

Not too long ago, she built her own family and married Bobby R. Dumayag.  Life as a married couple became more challenging especially when their family started to grow in number. Having four children to raise and with the limited opportunity to earn, they struggled to make ends meet. Even if they had a piece of land to toil, they lacked the resources to maximize its potential, instead becoming laborers for privately-owned farms. They took pride on their calloused hands and sun-kissed skin and wore it as badges of hard work.

To augment their daily necessities, her husband would trek in the nearby mountain just to gather “yantok”. He’s beyond grateful when he is able to bring home a bundle and sell it for an average of P150.00. As Ms. Zenaida recalled, there were instances when she couldn’t serve three meals in a day for her children. There even came a point where debt became their constant resort; a cyclical habit that became the reason why they eventually lost their farmland due to unpaid interest.

The Road to Sustainability

In 2016, Ms. Zenaida was encouraged to be part of the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP). She received Seed Capital Fund (SCF) amounting to P10, 000.00 and was given the opportunity to lead the Asinga-Via SLP Association in their barangay. With the capital at hand, she decided to venture in backyard swine production and started with two piglets. With her innate ability to care, her project prospered. She was always on top of it and made sure that the piglets were well kept. After earning P14, 000.00 on the first cycle, she decided to purchase one sow and engaged in piglet production. With her perseverance, her sow was able to produce six piglets and eight piglets on the ensuing cycle.

A private buyer from Amulung, Cagayan now serves as her regular client and purchases her produce at an average of P8, 000.00 per pig. With the good standing of their association, the members including Ms. Zenaida were able to receive second cycle release of their SCF which covered her expanding project.

Since the inception of her project, the additional income augments the daily needs of her family. It also helps her provide the school fees, weekly allowances, board and lodging needs of her children in college. She was able to set aside a portion of her gains to gradually improve their house. Somehow her qualms during typhoons had lessened because they now have a more concrete and decent shelter. Likewise, they now have access to electricity which they previously just dreamt of having. She recalls the nights where they take refuge on the faint light of a kerosene lamp.

Her project may have reaped just enough for the family but it did not hinder her from giving more to others. In 2017, she opened the doors of her home to strangers, a family of six. For two years she gave the family of Mr. and Mrs. Ibanez a roof and cared for them like her own kin. She unselfishly shared whatever resources they had and even enrolled one of their children in kindergarten.

A Better Future

Every life that she touches reminds her of the days when she had nothing. She knows how it felt like to have nothing and this became the very reason why she is so passionate on what she does. She expects nothing in return and only thinks of ways to extend care to others.

For years, the adage that says, “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving” has been the path of Ms. Zenaida. Every selfless deed humbles her and provides her a sense of fulfillment. Today, she continuously finds means to sustain and improve her project. She knows that her venture has a long way to go but with sheer grit she is positive that a better future lies ahead. ###Written by: Melisen Taquiqui/SLP Social Marketing Officer