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Striving Towards a More Functional Balai na Inammu

Tuguegarao City – Staff from the University of Cagayan Valley (UCV) conducted an assessment of the functionality of the Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 02 (DSWD FO2) Balai na Inammu, the field office’s learning hub located adjacent to the main building, today, September 24, 2019.

The facility, formerly called the Regional Learning and Resource Center (RLRC), houses the field office’s library materials for information and use by field office staff as well as guests looking for knowledge materials on social welfare.

The UCV evaluators, led by the school’s Community Extension Services Office Director, Ms. Gregoria J. Gocal, expressed their admiration to the uniformity of the materials in the Balai na Inammu, remarking on the usefulness of the materials to the needs of facility users.

In conformity to the use of internet for learning and knowledge transfer, the facility also houses a built-in KOHA System, an open source automation collectively designed by programmers for librarians worldwide for efficiency in cataloging books and for easy access to the inventory of materials that the facility has.

The system was jointly installed by Cagayan State University (CSU) staff, UCV staff and the field office’s Information and Communication Technology Management Section (ICTMS).

The current iteration of the Balai na Inammu had a soft launching last March 20, 2018 that was graced by DSWD Undersecretary for Special Concerns, Camilo G. Gudmalin, this after the facility was reconfigured after it sustained damages from Super Typhoons’ Lawin in 2016 and Ompong in 2018.

The Balai na Inammu was borne out of the commitment made by members of the field office’s Social Welfare and Development Learning Network (L-NET), with members coming from the academe, National Government Agencies (NGAs) and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs).

Regional Director Fernando R. De Villa, Jr. meanwhile expressed his thanks to the continued collaboration within and among L-NET members and hopes the learning materials can be used to further foster education and knowledge transfer along social welfare.

To date, the facility houses 875 learning and knowledge materials, excluding outdated materials for scanning by the field office’s Records Section before disposal. ###

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Every bean comes in various shapes, sizes and colors. From the moment it is burrowed in the soil, to the constant drizzle of water, the dash of fertilizer until finally the bud comes out to feel the warmth of the world, each has a story to tell, of the countless phases it had gone through. The process of reaching maturity requires the right play of elements. It involves the art of waiting that does not rush time nor force abrupt growth. Likewise, it is essential that all must come together in harmony until it blossoms and the pod reaps a harvest.

Just like every life resting on the social plane, all began as a tiny sprout reared and tested through time. But then again not all were nurtured equally. Most kept their pace and bloomed effortlessly. Some struggled to flourish due to unfavorable circumstances and were hindered from reaching their full potential.

As dawn breaks, the untiring hands of a mother gather tiny golden beans. Amidst the difficulty to mobilize her hands, she patiently soaks each batch of beans. When it becomes saturated, she continues on to the process of grinding. Under a low fire, the extract is continuously stirred for almost three hours. After the grueling process, the mother finally gets a taste of her sweet labor, warm, creamy and smooth milk that eases her weary soul.

Miram C. Macasaddu was born with congenital hand deformities, a Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program participant from the municipality of Benito Soliven, Isabela. Even long before, she knew that she was one of the many who will struggle to flourish. But despite physical limitations, she strived to fight life’s adversities but somehow felt that her efforts were not enough. Before finishing third year high school, she built a family and married Ernesto Macasaddu. To be able to add to the meager income of her husband as a utility worker, she peddled vegetables, snacks, and other things she could sell in the neighborhood. As she tried to withstand poverty, yet another challenge tested her faith. Her husband battled cancer and eventually passed away. It was a trying time when she had no choice but to sell whatever asset was left and resorted to debt. The circumstance not only drained her financially but also left her alone in raising her four children. She doubled her efforts and saw an opportunity to earn more and became a seller of soy milk under a private employer in Ilagan City. Through her dedication, she eventually learned the process of soy milk production. In mid-2017, a couple venturing in soy milk processing convinced her to be their processor. With a hope that this opportunity will give her a good break, she accepted the deal. Unfortunately, again the odds were not in her favor. For four months, she struggled to solely process an average of nine kilos of soybeans/eight hundred 800 bottles of soy milk a day and only brought home an average of P200.00 for her efforts.

Then in 2018, the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) brought courage for Ms. Miriam to finally earn commensurate to her efforts. Her spirit of entrepreneurship was re-kindled as she was given the chance to lead the organized association in Barangay Sta. Cruz, the Sweet SLP Association. Along with other eight members they were provided with Seed Capital Fund (SCF) amounting to P165,000.00. Through her initiative, she shared her expertise on soybean processing and the group decided to venture on the project. The SCF was used to purchase raw materials, packaging materials, tools and equipment for the production of soy milk and soy coffee. In a weekly basis they produce an average of 1,400 bottles of soy milk sold at P10.00 each and process an average of eight (8) kilos/ 20 bottles of soy coffee sold at P100.00 each. It translates to a weekly average net income of P4,800.00 for the group which helps each member to meet ends. Particularly for Ms. Miriam who exited from Pantawid since her children were no longer eligible, the project helped her finance their college education. Apart from that, the members earn P200.00 per production for their labor. They distribute their products within the municipality, selected schools in nearby municipalities of San Mariano, Naguilan, Reina Mercedes and Cauayan City. To reach a wider market, they are currently processing their certificate of product registration under the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA). The group has already been able to purchase two additional units of freezer from their profits as part of their continuous commitment to expanding their enterprise.

Ms. Miriam’s biggest take away in SLP was the opportunity to prove that her capacities are way bigger than her physical limitations. The endeavour stirred her leadership capabilities and gave her the chance to make a difference. Just like a bean slowly turning to a bud, she defied all the circumstances and gracefully blossomed in her own way and time. ### Written by: Melisen A. Taquiqui, SLP Social Marketing Officer


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Thriving Through Vegetation

The town of Sta. Praxedes, a 5th class municipality which is the smallest in province of Cagayan, boast a total of 10 barangays with a total of 1,134 families and a population of 4,436 as of 2017.

The municipality has been no exception to the ravages of past typhoons, floods and erosions that has afflicted other areas in the region. Families living below the poverty threshold are the most affected because their houses are made mostly of light materials that are easily destroyed by strong winds.

Past disasters have caused damages to numerous houses and other infrastructures, including rice fields, crops, and other agriculture and fishery facilities.

Abridging Difficulties

Elizabeth C. Salino, 51, from Purok 1, Barangay Salungsong, has experienced her fair share of calamities in her town. She says that though disasters often bring challenges that take time to resolve, she, with the help of interventions given by National Government Agencies (NGA) and the local government unit (LGU), comes through the difficulties better equipped to handle future adversities.

Elizabeth and her husband, a farmer and an occasional driver, helped raised their five children through sheer will and determination.

The major challenge that was faced by the couple which was recounted by Elizabeth was the struggle to ensure that there was food on the table for their family to partake. The seasonal nature of her husband’s trade made it all the more daunting for them to make ends meet.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 02 (DSWD FO2) through its Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation (CCAM) thru Cash for Work (CFW) was introduced in the area in 2018 as part of the agency’s program along disaster response to help affected families and individuals.

The program offers provisional employment and provides income augmentation to affected families and individuals to keep them from migrating or abandoning their communities in search of new sources of income by participating or undertaking preparedness, mitigation, relief, rehabilitation or risk reduction projects and activities in their communities or evacuation centers.

As part of the agency’s partnership with LGUs, the latter chose the CFW area/program with the help of the identified community.

Sta. Praxedes Communal Garden

With the health, well-being, food security and the spirit of volunteerism of community members being priorities, communal gardening was identified as the chosen CFW of the municipality.

Elizabeth became one of 400 identified participants of the endeavor. She was elated when informed of the opportunity because, as she recalls, looking for work opportunities was a challenge especially in rural areas like her town. Looking back to her experience, she considers being a part of the program a turning point in their constant struggle to put food in their table.

Ayaw naming masira itong oportunidad na ibinigay sa amin ng DSWD dahil para rin naman ito sa amin at kami rin ang makikinabang dito (We do not want to waste the opportunity given to us by DSWD because we know that we will benefit from this), Elizabeth says.

Masayang maging parte nitong programa, lalong-lalo na sa mga katulad kong magulang… para meron po kaming pinagkaka-abalahan (I am elated to be a part of the program especially for parents like us to have something to be busy with), Elizabeth adds.

The town boasts 3 communal gardens across Barangay Centro 1, Centro 2 Day Care Center and Capacuan Elementary School wherein beneficiaries plant a variety of vegetables, herbs, fruits and spices in the available spaces in garden patches but also in pockets, pots and vertical walls. All vegetables also come with their name tags for easy identification.

Mr. Franco G. Lopez, head of the Disaster Response Management Division (DRMD), visited the communal gardens last August 15, 2018 and observed the innovativeness of the beneficiaries, using recyclable materials such as empty bottles, cans, basins, pails, trays, sacks, tires, bags and other disposable containers coupled with the use of organic materials for gardening and to ensure protection of the environment.

The beneficiaries also use grass cuttings, rotten leaves, fruit peelings, animal manure and other degradable materials to aid in their gardening task.

Turning Point

For Elizabeth, being given the opportunity to work in the community garden has seen her be able to provide nutritious food for her family, a task that she has embraced since starting her one of her own.

Sa luwag noong aming community garden kapag namunga na mga halaman, napupunan hindi lamang mga pangangailangan namin pero para na rin sa mga kasama kong nagta-trabaho doon (With the wide area of the community garden, when the plants start bearing produce, our food needs and those of my fellow workers are met), Elizabeth mentions.

She says that she’s more confident now knowing that there’s a constant source of food for her family. Elizabeth adds that the opportunity provided to her has taught her the value of maximizing the resources given to her.

The Road Forward

The community gardens in Sta. Praxedes, Cagayan, for the short period of time that it has been implemented, has seen a reduction in food insecurity in the area as well as improved vegetable intake for the beneficiaries and their families as well as strengthened family ties.

Elizabeth for her part is thankful for the opportunity given to her and looks to a future where she is more equipped with skills to take on life’s many challenges.

Malaki pong pasasalamat sa DSWD na binigyan niyo kami ng ganitong opportunidad (I thank DSWD for this opportunity that was given to us), Elizabeth ends. ### With a report from: Mia Edsel Carbonell, Disaster Response and Management Division Information Officer

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A tailor’s masterwork starts with pieces of fabric which harmoniously interacts with needles and threads. It is a form of art that narrates how an ordinary piece of cloth transforms to various patterns and designs with each detail speaking intricacy, ingenuity and passion. More than these, it unfolds the way of life behind these creations.

Every rhythm of the sewing machine resonates the untiring steps behind the pedals. Rolls of thread, countless needles and yards of fabric are the first and the last to be touched by these meticulous hands. These hands and feet pay no attention to the twinge and numbing effect of the sewing process.

The mothers are locals from the municipality of San Pablo, Isabela. A third-class municipality situated in the boundary of the Provinces of Isabela and Cagayan. The community relies on agriculture as its primary economic activity producing rice and corn as its main commodities. Most of the mothers were plain housewives and accepted laundry service for a living. Some were long-time farm laborers of privately-owned lands earning P150.00 a day. Others rely on the income of their husbands on whatever side line jobs available in the area. The long period of waiting for harvest season were perhaps the longest days before they can serve a decent meal on their tables.

In 2016, the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) opened opportunities for the generation of alternative income. Through a partnership with the Isabela School of Arts and Trades (ISAT)-TESDA, skills training on various qualifications were made available for SLP participants. The nine mothers namely, Daisy Maltu, Damiana Asino, Brigida Dabo, Merlina Melchora, Rosemarie Fernandez, Gina Jose, Teresa Baquiran, Venus Palete and Jhovielyn Allauigan took the opportunity to gain life skills and underwent a 48-day Training on Dressmaking NC II. After the training, each received a unit of portable sewing machine and decided to establish a group enterprise under San Pablo Dressmakers SLP Association (SLPA). To further support the endeavour, SLP provided capital augmentation through Seed Capital Fund amounting to P120, 000.00.

The members were able to purchase heavy duty sewing machine, measuring tools, complete set of fabrics and other necessary materials for the project. Their sewing/ tailoring services accommodate the demands of their clients within San Pablo, nearby municipalities of Tumauini, Cabagan, Delfin Albano and adjacent municipalities of Cagayan. They gained expertise on producing quality ready-to-wear clothing, uniforms, gowns and costumes.

With their dedication to their craft, they gained regular clients particularly students and teachers from Cagayan State University, University of St. Louis Tuguegarao, Isabela State University, St. Paul Vocational Industrial High School, Simanu National High School and Delfin Albano National High School. Their market linkage expanded since the group was able to tap eight regular festival/events coordinators. They design and create costumes to be used for street dancing, drum and lyre and other festival competitions. The group earns an approximate weekly income of P5, 000.00 per contract apart from their individual average earning amounting to P300/day. On days were the demand is high, they earn as much as P25, 000.00 per contract.

Through their income the members were able to steadily provide the needs of their children; some acquired assets such as motorcycle, appliances and home improvement; while others ventured on individual projects such as animal domestication.

In the coming days, they plan to improve their production area as part of their expansion. As a way of giving back, they share their skills and transfer their learning to some mothers and younger generations in the community. The enterprise not only provided the group with a regular source of income but also shed hope for others.

Today, it is apparent that the project brought changes on their outlook in life. The mothers learned the value of maximizing their time and effort to improve their craft. They take pride on every piece of creation they sew out of passion. Their hearts are full when they see the delight on the eyes of their clients. More than the monetary gains, the compliments and appreciations became their driving force to do better. Their entire SLP journey made them realize that their pieces of dreams can be stitched in one tangible piece, as long as one is determined to embrace change. ### Written by: Melisen A. Taquiqui, SLP Social Marketing Officer

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Additional Augmentation Arrives in Batanes as DSWD Kick Starts its Early Recovery Measures

July 30, 2019 – As part of the field office’s augmentation and early recovery measures, two additional social workers are now in Itbayat, Batanes to conduct psychosocial intervention to affected individuals and families from the earthquake that struck the province of Batanes on Saturday, July 27.

Joining them is one project development officer (PDO) to assist in warehouse management and assessment of damaged houses.

To date, they join a three-staff field office team that has already extended burial assistance to three clients at P10,000.00 each and eight clients provided with food assistance in the amount of P35,000.00 for a total of P65,000.00. The team will extend additional financial assistance to others affected within the week.

The field office staff also assisted the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) of Batanes and the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) of Itbayat in the conduct of a thorough and quick validation of damaged houses.

The team has been given 9 days for the assessment of houses to be followed by a consolidated report that will be the basis for extending additional assistance through the Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA)  program of the agency, as per commitment given by DSWD Secretary Rolando Joselito Bautista during a cabinet meeting conducted in Batanes Airport last July 28.

The augmentation team also brings an additional P1,000,000.00 as replenishment to the Protective Services Fund to be used as additional financial aid in Social Welfare and Development (SWAD) office Batanes.

Meanwhile, two (2) trucks from the National Logistics and Resource Management Bureau (NLRMB) delivered 6,400 vacuum-packed rice and 60 pieces of folding beds while another truck from DSWD Region 1 brought 125 family tents and 400 boxes of sleeping kits to the field office on July 28 as additional augmentation.

1,000 family food packs (FFPs), 25 family tents, 60 folding beds and 400 sleeping kits will be ferried directly to Itbayat, Batanes from Port Irene in Sta. Ana, Cagayan through a Bureau of Fisheries (BFAR) vessel on Wednesday.

Regional Director Fernando R. De Villa, Jr. has also coordinated with the Philippine Coast Guard through Commodore Ed Fabricante for possible transportation of field office food stocks from Basco, Batanes to Itbayat.  The vessel is currently in Manila awaiting 100 tents, 400 sleeping kits and 10 rolls of laminated sacks from the NLRMB.

Affected families from San Rafael, Sta. Maria, Sta. Lucia and Sta. Rosa at still at the evacuation area in Itbayat’s town plaza for concerns over aftershocks.

As of last report, there are a total of 63 individuals injured, 9 casualties and 2 missing persons as per report coming from the Batanes Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO). ###

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Batanes Earthquake Victims Receive Assistance from the Field Office

July 28, 2019 – Five (5) individuals were given psychosocial and food assistance after being airlifted from Itbayat, Batanes yesterday by an air force plane to be taken to Batanes General Hospital (BGH) for immediate medical attention in the province’s capital, Basco.

The said interventions, given by social workers of the Social Welfare and Development (SWAD) Batanes, were meant to help the victims recover from the disaster they experienced.

The victims were also given financial assistance amounting to P5,000.00 each as part of the agency’s Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) as further aid.

DSWD Secretary Rolando Joselito D. Bautista also convened with other cabinet members earlier today in Batanes Airport for a briefing with President Rodrigo R. Duterte to address the relief operations that are being conducted to address the aftermath of the earthquake.

SWAD Batanes Team Leader Amparo Tobias travelled by motorboat to Itbayat, Batanes at 10 AM today to closely work with Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) staff and the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) of Itbayat for immediate provision of DSWD support/assistance.

As of the 3 PM progress report of the field office, a total of 9 lives were claimed, 63 individuals injured, and 2 missing persons as per report coming from the Batanes Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO).

A total of 158 Family Food Packs (FFPs) were accommodated by the C130 flight going to Batanes today to augment the existing 200 FFPs prepositioned in Basco, Batanes to be delivered in Itbayat, Batanes. ###

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Field Office Starts Relief Operation for Batanes Earthquake Victims

July 27, 2019 – The Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 02 (DSWD FO2) through its Social Welfare and Development (SWAD) office in Batanes has started its response operations for those affected by the earthquake in the said province earlier today.

In a conference call with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and members of the Cagayan Valley Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CV-RDRRMC) at 10:00 AM today, the field office ensured partners of the readiness of the field office to respond to those affected by the earthquake.

SWAD Batanes is closely monitoring the progress of the situation with the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) and Municipal Social Welfare and Development Offices (MSWDOs) of the province for immediate processing of DSWD support and assistance.

The SWAD team has also been instructed to assist bereaved families and injured individuals through the provision of financial assistance through the field office’s Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS).

The field office has a total stockpile and standby funds amounting to P12,888,820.41 including a total of 29,132 Family Food Packs (FFPs).

There are already 432 bags of standby rice, 144 cases of sardines and 300 cases of corned beef ready for utilization in the province. An additional Protective Services Fund amounting to P700,000.00 is ready for utilization by SWAD Batanes to the affected families and individuals.

As of the latest report, there have been 8 casualties and 60 injured from the earthquake subject to validation and further confirmation. ###

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The shore is a silent witness of change. It sees the days where the vast sea radiates calmness. On some days, the shore catches the raging crash of the waves and the uneasiness of the rumbling waters as if a storm is about to pass. It also sees how the sea reflects the sky and displays the varying color palette. It is the everyday bystander that both feel a fisherman’s bliss after a bountiful catch or a fisherman’s gloom after going home empty-handed.

The shore has been the comfort abode of a young lad from Buguey, Cagayan. It was her playground, a place where she untiringly built her sand castles along with her dreams.  She grew up knowing what the shore and the sea can offer.

Life along the shore might seem steady for some but not for Ms. Melva C. Sebastian. Her childhood memories would entail long days with her parents going off to shore to make ends meet. On her second year in high school, she was forced to quit her studies due to financial constraints. Her parents could no longer afford to sustain her education since the priority was to ease their empty stomachs. That very moment gave her qualms for her future.

The long stretch of the shore resembles Melva’s long journey amidst poverty. In 2005, she built her own family and married Marcos Sebastian, a fisherman from the same town. Their union was blessed with two children. To sustain the needs of the family Melva worked as a house helper while her husband earned a percentage basis income in fishing. Only about four years into their marriage however, her fate was put to the test. Her husband suffered from a toxic goiter, an autoimmune disorder that halted him from working. Melva was left the burden to provide for their family without minding her own struggle as a differently abled person. Aside from being a house helper, she doubled her efforts and engaged in “makidusdos”, a local term for gathering native grabs along the mangrove forest and did side line job as a laborer in oyster culture farms. The condition of his husband worsened as he also started suffering from heart complications. She was consumed by guilt since she couldn’t consistently suffice the medication of her husband. The circumstances left her no choice but to enter into a cycle of debt.

Just like the shore that withstood the test of time, Melva typified a strong character that withstood whatever life may bring. In 2017, the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) shed light to a mother longing for an alternative source of income. It gave her the opportunity to be part of Sunrise SLP Association and received capital augmentation amounting to P15,000.00. She ventured in oyster culture/production as her former employer lent a portion of their fishpond. The capital was used for the purchase of raw materials for oyster culture such as spot collector/oyster hangs, bamboo, rope and the like. A portion of the fund was also use to purchase crab seeds for her secondary project.

She now gathers an average of about two kilos of oyster daily and earns an average income of P6, 000.00 per month. She directly delivers her produce to a private buyer, an oyster          sauce maker on her barangay. On one hand, she earns an average gross income of P3, 500.00 every production cycle on her crab venture. As part of her expansion, she started to assemble spot collector/oyster hangs where she earns an additional weekly income of P700.00-P1, 000.00. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) served as her regular client on her spot collector/oyster hangs and earns an average of P7,000.00 per order. The steady income supports the daily needs of her children and the medication of her husband which she previously struggled to provide. With a teary eye, she even mentions that she can now somehow pamper her children. She can occasionally treat them outside and buy them new clothes and toys. More than the material things, the delight from the faces of her children makes her sacrifices worthwhile. For her, the opportunity did not only provide her means to bring food on their table but also restore her faith for a better future.

Looking back on the days where the waters seemed indifferent against the shore, the best picture on those days were of Ms. Melva struggling to fight life’s adversities. Bringing the lessons from her past, she now faces life with so much hope and positivity. She is more than thankful for the changes that SLP brought for her family. In the near future she plans to put up her own oyster sauce processing as part of her diversification plan and will consistently find ways to improve her chosen endeavour. “Dakkel nga pagyamyamanak nga naikan nak iti SLP ti puhunan tapnu maadanan nak iti sariling nga negosyo, manipud idi malaganan nak met ten nga masustener iti agas ni mister ku (I am immensely grateful that SLP provided me with the initial capital to start my own business, since then I can now sustain the medication of my husband),” Ms. Melva said. Written by: Melisen A. Taquiqui, SLP Social Marketing Officer

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