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Women’s Voices Call for Continued Empowerment

Every March, the Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 02 (DSWD FO2) joins the nation in celebrating Women’s Month as part of Proclamation No. 227 s. 1988, providing for the observance of the month of March as Women’s Role in History Month.

The theme “We Make Change Work for Women” was used in 2017 and 2018 and shall also be used this year until 2022. The theme aims to highlight the empowerment of women as active contributors to development.

As part of this year’s activities, women from the field office were asked about their take on women empowerment and what they think are the gains that were already achieved and the development that they hope to see in the future.

Protection through Laws

Janet M. Tuppil, 23, an Administrative Assistant working for the Protective Services Division of the field office, says that she is confident that she can exercise her rights as a woman through laws such as RA 9262, also known as the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act (VAWC) of 2004, while also hoping for more education towards men in the grassroots to be more aware of these laws. Like other women, she says that she already experienced being cat-called which she says was unpleasant and downright terrifying.

“Masaya ako dahil sa mga opportunity na ibinibigay sa amin at dahil na rin sa mga batas na meron para sa proteksyon ng mga babae. Sana magkaroon pa ng maraming orientation lalo na sa mga kalalakihan para malaman ang mga batas na ito kasi ako, nasubukan ko na ring ma cat-call at hindi maganda sa pakiramdam,” Janet said.

Unbridled Confidence

Nancy V. Mateo, 42, single and working as a staff for the field office’s Accounting Section, says that her confidence to build herself up does not depend on anyone and she says that she continues to pursue personal and professional growth despite being single for the bulk of her life.

“Ako ay halimbawa na posibleng maging independent at makamit ang mga pangarap kahit na mag-isa. Hindi palaging kailangang may kasama o katulong para maging successful,” she says.

Jonavie N. Canlas, 40, working for the Records Section of the office, says that she has grown accustomed to supporting her two kids for the past six years.

She says that  her experiences for the last 6 years galvanized her into becoming an independent woman.

Finding Her Voice

Joylalyn T. Leones, 30, an Administrative Officer at the Financial Management Division of the field office, says that she appreciates the fact that she has a say in the decisions made for her family and that she and her husband take shared responsibilities in everything they do. She credits these through a society that is now more aware of the rights that should be bestowed to women.

“Sa mga desisyon, masaya ako na binibigyan ako ng tsansa ng asawa kong magsabi ng aking saloobin, lahat ng mga desisyon sa pamilya ay dumadaan sa akin. Ganoon din sa trabaho, nakikita ko ang pantay na pagtrato sa mga lalaki at babae,” Joylalyn said.

Toughening Up for the Dirty Jobs

For some, pushing for equal rights also mean learning how to do the jobs that most people think should only be done by men.

Kathleen G. Manuel-Semania, 29, an Accounting staff of the field office, said that she had to learn how to drive and even change tires to help her husband in the day-to-day responsibilities in their house.

“May mga strengths and weaknesses ang mga lalaki at babae pero hindi ibig sabihin ay hindi kayang matutunan yung mga ginagawa ng mga lalaki. Natuto akong mag-drive para kapag hindi magawa ng asawa ko ay ako nalang. Pati pagpapalit ng gulong alam ko na rin,” Kathleen mentions.

Breaking Stereotypes

When Mischelle A. De Yro started working and had to be assigned to a job mostly reserved for men, she heard chatters from other people questioning her ability to handle the job. She heard how people sometimes associate women with stereotypes like tending to children and staying at home to do household chores.

“Kapag may mga activity sa ibang lugar dati, may mga nagtatanong at nagugulat kung bakit ako nandoon kasi nga panglalaki yung trabaho ko. Pero pinakita ko sa lahat na kaya ko rin lahat ng kaya ng mga lalaki,” she said.

Mischelle, now 30, considers the development of women’s rights through laws and other endeavors as a necessity to further push for equality between men and women. She also says that she sees equal rights now that she’s working for the field office.

Shattering Discrimination

Ms. Sheril S. Ubarre, 36, an Administrative Assistant working for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program here in the field office said that while she is fortunate enough to land a job in the field office, she laments about the lack of job opportunities given to her fellow solo parents due to what she thinks is unfair discrimination from hiring companies.

“May mga kagaya ko (solo parent) na nag-a-apply sa mga kompanya na hindi tinatanggap kasi ang tingin sa amin ay palaging nag-a-absent kasi nga mag-isa sa pag-aalaga sa anak,” Sheril laments.

Sheryl, whose husband passed away when their child was only 8 months old recalls the challenges that being a solo parent presents while hoping for greater opportunities for those like her.

“Kami, kaya namin ang mas malaking responsibilidad sa trabaho, kailangan lang ng opportunidad. Sana rin mas lalong mapalakas ang asosasyon ng mga solo parents para mas lalong marinig ang aming mga hinaing,” Ms. Sheril added. ###

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Appreciation Day for Partners Conducted by DSWD FO2, Aims to Strengthen Partnership with Stakeholders

Tuguegarao City – With the aim of recognizing the contributions of partners in the implementation of the agency’s programs and services, the Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 02 (DSWD FO2) conducted the Appreciation Day for Partners at Maynard’s Resort in this city last February 20, 2019.

Various National Government Agencies (NGAs), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Local Government Units (LGUs), academes, uniformed personnel and private individuals were vested with certificates of appreciation and tokens for their work toward helping the field office in the conduct of its endeavors across multiple programs.

The program is part of the regional celebration of the field office of the agency’s 68th anniversary that is scheduled from February 19 to 22, 2019.

Part of the new set of priorities of the field office for this year is to fortify its collaboration with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), one of the awardees during the appreciation program, with the end goal of partnering with the latter in the delivery of services during calamities such as typhoons through the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). The field office envisions a strengthened partnership where it can use the warehouses of armies stationed throughout the region for the storage of family food packs ready for distribution during disaster response situations.

The new endeavor also wants to use the AFP’s workforce so they can be mobilized to help field office staff during response situations in the field.

To this end, the field office hopes for a more efficient delivery of its services in the future.

The anniversary celebration concludes with the 4th Pammigbig Ken Pammadayaw Celebration on February 22, 2019 to recognize the outstanding contributions and achievements of field office staff for 2018. ###

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DSWD FO2 Spreads Unconditional Love Through the Promotion of Legal Adoption

Tuguegarao City – The Adoption Resource and Referral Section (ARRS) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 02 (DSWD FO2) recently conducted a series of activities in line with the celebration of Adoption Consciousness this February.

The celebration, which was conducted from February 9 to 17 this year, aims to spread understanding of legal adoption for people to fully accept the process and to eliminate cases of simulated birth, illegal adoption, and the like.

With this year’s theme “Pagmamahal Palaganapin, Legal na Pag-aampon Ating Gawin” (Spread Unconditional Love through Legal Adoption), daily quote cards were shared by the field office through social media on the success stories of individuals/parents who went through legal adoption to drumbeat this year’s theme from February 8 to 17, 2019.

The field office is also currently airing its radio plug on legal adoption on one radio station per province of Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino that will last throughout the month of February.

Radio guesting were also done by ARRS staff in the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya and Cagayan to spread awareness on legal adoption on top of help desks that were set-up last February 16-17, 2019 at the SM Center Tuguegarao Downtown to share information on legal adoption to prospective adoptive parents and individuals. The same help desk was also set-up in SM City Cauayan in Isabela province.

As a culmination to this year’s round of activities, Ms. Lucia Alan, DSWD FO2’s Assistant Regional Director for Operation (ARDO), Mr. Marciano Dameg of the Protective Services Division (PSD), Ms. Rosario Corpuz of ARRS and members of the Child Welfare Specialist Group (CWSG) appeared on Tipon-Tipan sa PIA on February 19, 2019 to answer questions from the media on legal adoption and foster care.

During their appearance, the team also commended the efforts of Dr. Enrico Babaran, DSWD FO2’s retainer doctor, for his efforts on regularly giving free medicines to center residents to ensure their health and wellness. ###

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St. Paul University of the Philippines (SPUP) Community Development Center Foundation, Inc. Bags Award from DSWD

February 15, 2019 – The Pagkilala sa Natatanging Kontribusyon sa Bayan (Panata Ko sa Bayan) Awards of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), awarded the Best Non-Government Organization (NGO) representing Luzon to the SPUP Community Development Center Foundation, Inc. today at the Landbank of the Philippines Auditorium in Malate, Manila.

The Panata Ko sa Bayan Award aims to acknowledge and recognize the invaluable support of individuals, groups, and organizations who have generously shared their time and resources, in helping the Department carry out its mandate of improving the lives, as well as provide a better opportunity for the poor, vulnerable, disadvantaged, and marginalized sectors.

The award was received by Ms. Noemi T. Cabaddu, Chairman of the Regional Area-Based Network (RAB) and Executive Director of the SPUP Community Development Center Foundation, Inc. and Sister Merceditas Ang, University President of the SPUP with assistance from DSWD Field Office 02 Regional Director, Leonardo C. Reynoso.

The NGO first received Level 1 accreditation from DSWD Field Office 02’s Standards Section in 2016, which is mandatory for licensed Social Welfare and Development Agencies (SWDAs) to ensure quality in the delivery of their programs and services targeting vulnerable sectors of their community.

The Level 1 accreditation is valid for three (3) years and failure to get accredited can be ground for the revocation of the license of SWDAs.

The SPUP Community Development Center Foundation, Inc. received their Level 2 accreditation last October 22, 2018, passing the mandatory requirements as set in level 1 along with more stringent requirements along the five (5) work areas of standards in the accreditation namely: Administration and Organization, Program Management, Case Management, Helping Strategies/Interventions and Physical Structures and Safety.

To date, the SPUP Community Development Center Foundation, Inc. is the only NGO in the region with a Level 2 accreditation from the Standards Section of the field office. ###

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Love Knows No Limits

* To maintain the privacy of the individuals mentioned in this article, their names were changed.

It is easy to love people when things are going well, and the outlook seems rosy all the time. When things and circumstances turn for the worse however, so is the attitude and the lack of love that is apparent. This makes Jhun and Marie’s story impressive.

The couple has been living for four years together but were not blessed with a child. Despite this, they made efforts to try to build their own house hoping that it will be ready in time for a child that could complete their lives. They purchased a land and though their house was eventually made with light materials, the couple aspired to one day build a house worthy of the family that they aspire to have.

But Christmas came early one day six years ago, when Jhun was given a newborn child from a mother who, fearing she wouldn’t be able to provide for the needs of her baby, decided to give the child to a couple that would be able to.

“Masaya ako nung una ko siyang makita. Naramdaman ko agad na siya na yung hinihintay namin para mabuo pamilya namin,” Marie recalled.

The child who became the embodiment of all the couple hopes and dreams for, eventually filled the gaps missing from the couple’s marriage. They became the child’s foster parent with the assistance of DSWD.

“Anak na ang turing ko sa kanya noong una ko pa lamang siyang makita. Minahal na namin siyang agad,” Jhun added.

But the positivity and the radiance that the child brought somehow turned to challenges later, however. The child experienced illnesses such as Acute Respiratory Infection at just 7 months old, Atopic Dermatitis at 3 years of age, Impetigo at 4 and again at age 6 and Pneumonia at 5 years in addition to all the normal sicknesses that a child experience. The couple nonetheless took these as opportunities to develop as parents and not a blockade in line with DSWD’s mission of protecting the vulnerable and the disadvantaged.

As if these experiences weren’t already enough, the child was diagnosed with Gross Developmental Delay at just 11 months. For ordinary individuals, the news would’ve been devastating specially in a culture that prefers perfection in almost everything, even the children that we care for. But not for Jhun and Marie. They considered the diagnosis as a temporary setback in their road to happiness and contentment.

The couple started bringing the child to twice a week physical therapy at the Cagayan Valley Medical Center (CVMC). Years of therapy bear fruit as the parent’s determination led to incremental development in the child’s motor function. At 16 months, the child could already hold her bottle with her hands unassisted. At 32 months, she developed even further by being able to raise her hands, achieve head control and sit with some support.

“Hindi natin mapipili ang mga nangyayari sa atin. Yung sitwasyon namin kay Angel, tinatanggap namin ng buo dahil ito ang binigay ng Diyos sa amin. Biyaya siya sa amin. Mamahalin namin siya at aalagaan sa abot ng aming makakaya,” Jhun said.

At 4 years of age, she was brought to a Stimulation and Therapeutic Activity Center (STAC) after referral by a social worker to continue her therapy. At five years of age, the child was able to minimize the use of her wheelchair and shifted to using a stationary chair instead. Now at six years old, the child still relies on her parents when being fed. She also still cannot indicate her bladder and bowel needs and still unable to dress and undress herself.

Despite all these challenges, the parents are hopeful because their love for their foster child is greater than the problems they face. They make sure to work together to give all the needs of their child. Making them stronger is the fact that the child can now utter words such as mama, papa and dede. She also shows cognitive development by being able to identify colors, shapes, numbers and animals by pointing.

They are also preparing for the future of the child as they started a small broiler buy-and-sell business in 2016. The couple jointly manages their business and hopes to one day expand their business to include home-for-rent opportunities.

“Gusto ko po na gamitin yung lupa na nabili namin para magpatayo ng bahay na pwede naming ipaupa sa iba. Sa ganoong paraan, mas makakaipon kami para sa kinabukasan ng aming anak,” Marie said.

The Road Ahead

With the help of the Adoption Resource and Referral Section (ARRS) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 02 (DSWD FO2), the couple are now finalizing all the documentary requirements to process the legal adoption of the child. Ms. Rosario Corpuz, Social Welfare Officer II and Head of the ARRS, said that the diligence of the couple in meeting the requirements needed would lead to the swift processing of the adoption.

“Nakikita natin yung pagpupursige nila para maibigay ang mga kailangan para sa adoption. Kapag nakumpleto lahat ito, maaari na nating maipasa para maproseso na ang kanilang adoption,” Ms. Corpuz said.

Aside from the legal requirements for adoption, the couple capacitates themselves to improve their rearing skills, with Marie recently attending the National Training on Capability Building for Foster Parents in Davao City last July 24-27, 2018.

“Natutunan ko sa training kung papaano alagaan ang mga batang kagaya ni Angel. Mas naiintindihan ko na ngayon yung mga kailangan niya kaya ako ay masaya na napasali ako sa training. Magagamit ko ito para sa preparasyon ko para sa adoption kay Angel,” Marie said.

With the couples’ continued development as parents, their plans for adopting the child moves one step closer to becoming a reality as the days pass. Indeed, love knows no limits.

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Second Chances

People make mistakes. Failure of whatever kind is a basic reality of living. We do fail regardless of position or stature in life. But failure is an opportunity for improvement, of learning to get back up armed with the teachings brought about by failure to be able to finally reach a measure of finite success.

The Foundation

John (not his real name) started out just like every other kid, with playing and school the recipe of his daily living. Like most kids, he preferred playing instead of studying. He was wide-eyed and had grand plans for when he grows up.

John also had the support of his parents and relatives who believed that he can be successful in the future. Like a good soldier, he marched on through the challenges of life and school.

The Swerve

Unbeknownst to him or to his social circle, life’s challenges would veer for the worst. John’s friends whom he considered people he could trust started to introduce him to illicit things. Youthful indiscretion led John to think that doing so would be okay and that he would earn the favor of his friends by following suit, never knowing then the consequences of what he was getting himself into.

John got deep into criminal affairs and though he wanted to stop, the pull of the group and of the illegal drugs he was beginning to take on a regular basis was too much to pass up on. This went on for years and he thought nothing bad would really happen because he was just having the time of his life.


As faith would have it, life had other plans for John. He got caught in 2012 and in doing so got charged with violating Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. Being a minor at that time, he became a Child in Conflict with the Law (CICL) and was transferred to the Cagayan Valley Regional Rehabilitation Center for Youth (CV-RRCY).

“Hindi ko noon iniisip mga ginawa ko hanggang sa mahuli ako. Mas inuna ko ang barkada at masamang gawain ng hindi iniisip ang magiging dulot ng mga ginagawa ko. Bata kasi ako noon at hindi ko pa alam masyado ang tama sa mali,” John recalled.

The social workers assigned to John took the opportunity to teach him the right ways and correct his path. John initially resisted at the idea of being made to change in such a facility and wanted to get out as soon as possible but he eventually recognized his mistakes and put all his efforts into making his ways better.

“Yung bata, kahit alam mong nagkamali, alam mong kayang magbago kasi nagpursige siya noong nandito siya sa CV-RRCY. Binago niya ang kanyang ugali at pananaw sa buhay. Bata pa kasi siya noon at hindi pa niya alam ang maling ginawa niya,” said one social worker who attended to John when he was at the facility.

The process was long and arduous and there were times when John would resist correction. But as iron sharpens iron, his steely belief in sticking to his bad ways was met with a focused approach by center staff to make him change. Days and weeks went by and changes did happen to John’s ways and beliefs.

John finally straightened his ways after months of stay in the center and eventually got released from the CV-RRCY in 2013. He was then referred to a Treatment and Rehabilitation Center (TRC) in Manila for further rehabilitation. His case eventually got settled and after some time, John was able to finally be reunited with his family.

“Masaya ako noong nakalabas ako at kinuha ko yung pagkakataon para mabago buhay ko,” John said.

Looking back, John was happy that the experience helped him mature and realize what’s wrong from what is right. He said the experience taught him to value life and the changes that such a life-altering experience can give, a priceless opportunity he learned from the missteps of his younger self.

“Natutunan ko simula ng nandoon ako sa CV-RRCY na mahalin ang Panginoon, yung sarili ko at yung mga taong naniniwalang kaya ko pang magbago pati na yung mga pangaral na dapat may pangarap at hindi pa huli ang lahat, na dapat maniwala lang ako sa sarili ko na magbabago ako,” John said.

Looking Ahead

John, now 24, strives to one day protect and abide by the law that he once broke and serve as a policeman. He is now finishing up his degree in Criminology and is expected to graduate this year. His steely determination now shifts into bettering his career and refocusing a life that was once in so much negative pressure.

He now accepts responsibility into the wrongs of his past and aims to use his learnings to shine a light into other people that may be experiencing the same thing and to always hope and pray for the best.

“Natutunan kong dapat sa tamang mga tao sumama dahil kung sila ay mabuti, magandang mga bagay din ang maidudulot nila sayo,” he said.

John also now has his own family, tending to the needs of his 2-year-old toddler along with his wife, who currently works as a social worker. He understands the heightened responsibility being a parent gives and he realizes the need to protect the future of his family by working hard to better himself each day. He also wants to provide as much as he can to make sure his child reaches his potential and to never fall into the trap that once plagued him.

“Gusto kong maibigay lahat ng pangangailangan ng aking pamilya. Hindi na lamang yung para sa akin ang iniisip ko ngayon. Mayroon na akong pamilya at nais kong maibigay lahat ng kailangan nila. Masaya ako na baguhin ang aking sarili araw-araw at talaga ngang hindi pa huli sa taong marunong magsisi,” John concluded.

Indeed, second chance is sweet if there’s a heart willing to change.

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Ayuda mula sa DSWD para sa mga Nasalanta ng Bagyong Ompong, Ipinamimigay na

Tuguegarao City – Nagsimula na ang distribusyon ng ayuda para sa mga nasalanta ng Bagyong Ompong na may totally-damaged houses sa mga probinsya ng Cagayan at Isabela noong Disyembre 19, 2018.

Ayon sa pinakahuling datos ng Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 02 (DSWD FO2) ng Enero 4, 2019, 6,496 na mga benepisyaryo na mula sa 14 na munisipalidad ng probinsya ng Cagayan at 8 na munisipalidad mula sa probinsya ng Isabela ang nabigyan na ng ayuda na may kabuuang halaga na PHP 194, 880,000.00.

Ang mga benepisyaryong kabilang sa mga totally-damaged houses ay makakatanggap ng halagang tatlumpung-libong piso o Php 30,000.00 bilang Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA).

Ang ESA ay ayudang ipinapamahagi ng DSWD alinsunod sa mandato ng Pamahalaang Nasyonal upang matulungan ang mga nasiraan ng tirahan sa pagsalanta ng mga kalamidad tulad ng bagyo.

Ang makakatanggap ng naturang ayuda ay ang mga benepisyaryo sa buong rehiyon na sumailalim sa household assessment nitong huling bahagi ng taon na nakapasok sa batayan ng ahensya para sa ESA.

Magbibigay din ang ahensya ng Cash-For-Work (CFW) na nagkakahalagang Php 62,762,300.00 na naglalayong hikayatin ang mga naapektuhan ng bagyo na ayusin ang mga pasilidad at mga common structures sa kani-kanilang mga lugar upang ito ay maisaayos muli at magamit kapalit ang ayudang CFW.

Sa naging pahayag ni DSWD FO2 Assistant Regional Director for Operations (ARDO) Lucia S. Alan, kanyang ipinaalala sa mga tumanggap ng ESA na gamitin ang halagang ito upang maipatayo o maiayos muli ng mas matibay ang kanilang mga tahanan para sa kanilang pamilya at maging ligtas ang mga mahal sa buhay sa pagdating ng sakuna.

Ipinapaalala rin ng ahensiya na mananatili itong apolitical sa pagdadala ng Maagap at Mapagkalingang Serbisyo sa mga napapabilang sa mababang sector ng lipunan.

Tinatayang nasa Php 637,973,400.00 ang kabuuang ayuda na ibibigay ng ahensya para sa mga nasalanta ng bagyong Ompong sa rehiyon. ### Social Marketing Unit, DSWD Field Office 02

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Advocacy In The Midst of Adversity

“We value education above all, it is the only inheritance we can give our children.”

Eliza V. Respicio and husband Panfilo Respicio, hail from barangay Batu, Enrile, Cagayan. She is a homemaker while also tending a small sari-sari store while he is a tenant of rice fields owned by relatives. They live in a 2-room semi-permanent structure upon tolerance and permission of the lot owner.

The couple is gifted with 7 children among which the eldest is the only daughter. Maria Elaine is a graduate of De La Salle – College of St. Benilde with a bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management. She is currently employed in the local government of Enrile as an Administrative Assistant for the Sagguniang Bayan. Paul Emmanuel attended TESDA after graduating high school, but soon after decided to pursue higher education, he is currently taking up Computer Engineering in Manila through his own efforts. Not to be ousted by his elder siblings, Al Anthony pursued a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering in a nearby state university and is currently in his fourth year.

The next four siblings are all in highschool, John Michael who dreams to be a chef while competing with his mother in the kitchen is in Grade 12, John Christian who is the family’s future DOTA champion and computer engineer is in Grade 10, Joshua Jandrey who has an inclination for information technology is in Grade 8. Lloyd Kristoffer, Eliza fondly recounts, would often insist on just being a farmer like his dad, at Grade 7, he is determined to be an Agriculturist.


Early Life

At a young age, Eliza learned the value of industry, she was working as a secretary for a law firm while also sending herself to tertiary school. As fate would have it, she met Panfilo who worked in a nearby mall. The two soon became inseparable, their love borne them Maria Elaine before eventually tying the knot.

Claiming independence, the young couple moved to Marikina upon suggestion of Panfilo’s sibling. While he continued working at Ali Mall, she helped out at home by making shoes and shoe accessories while taking care of the children. She recounted the difficulty of the odd jobs she had to engage in just to earn two pesos per pair of shoe, made possible by the owner of the small room the family rented who also happens to manufacture footwear.

Being a native of Manila, Eliza was curious as to the roots of Panfilo and decided to visit his relatives on her own. Armed with the sketch map from Panfilo, some samples of shoes and her resolve, she reached Enrile Cagayan with the purpose of gaining a buyer for her shoes. She did not fail.

Successful, she urged her husband to move to Enrile and engage in the buy-and-sell business of shoes and shoe accessories. Panfilo on the other hand, also realizing the swelling family finances and the difficulty in commuting to his work place, agreed.

The couple first resided in the town center, among Panfilo’s family. The couple was fortunate enough to have an agreement with the Marikina supplier to have the shoes on trust, until later on, the couple financed their own business and decided to manufacture their own shoes purchasing the materials from their previous supplier.

They experienced a major setback when their client, Mariana Aresta, took off with their shoes and refused to pay. The couple filed a case against her, but being unfamiliar with the legal process, the defendant maliciously connived with the couple’s counsel to have the charges dropped. Devastated, Panfilo decided to altogether cease manufacturing shoes and resort to farming.

By then, Panfilo was already helping out in the farming of his father’s field but it was at this point that he engaged himself fully in farming to repair shoes only during the periods when the crops are growing. His industry was soon noticed by an aunt who also let him farm her field. At an agreement, the Respicio couple would cover for all the expenses in farming and as soon as harvest is over, would give 25% of the gross income to the land owner. Relatives permitted the family to set up a small hut adjacent to the field in Barangay Batu. This was when the family grew to its size today.

Life Before The Pantawid Program

 Being a mother of 7 growing children proved to be more than a challenge to Eliza. Panfilo was the sole breadwinner, the close interval between children made it difficult of her to even engage in odd jobs or repair shoes. She was left with the task of taking care of the household and nothing more.

Eliza recounts how, each rainy season, they would struggle to keep their home as dry and comfortable. The kids would constantly complain of the leaks on their cogon roof, felt like it was also raining inside. The house needing immediate repair but it was too costly for the family.

School could not be their priority since it was difficult enough for them to put food on the table. The children had to contend themselves with hand-me-downs, giveaways from relatives and even neighbors, and school supplies that have to be conserved for the whole year.

Despite that, the children excelled. At a young age, Elaine manifested intellectual prowess, being consistently an honor student throughout her education, she was always picked to represent the school in various competitions. As much as Eliza was proud of her eldest child’s achievements, this also borne the family some difficulty. In regular classes, the children only wore rubber slippers that get to be replaced only when it has become unusable, but during competitions, the children would have to wear shoes.

Even if he repairs shoes as a sideline, Panfilo could not afford to get the children shoes, so what Eliza would do was to go to the town and ask to borrow from friends or relatives shoes that fit the children. Sometimes kind-hearted people, including Elaine’s teachers would give her the things she needed.

One incident that the family would not forget was when Joshua was 3 years old and had an asthma episode. The young toddler was gasping for breath late in the evening forcing the couple to decide to bring him to the hospital. Eliza woke the young Elaine to entrust the care of her younger siblings and braved the perilous road to get to the town proper. She vividly remembers feeling helpless, there was no means of transportation from the barangay to the town proper, the couple had to go on foot, crossing rice fields and an old bamboo bridge to get there.

The nearest hospital was in Tuguegarao city, another 30-minute ride after their hour trek. She recounts not having Philhealth and bringing the child directly to Holy Infant clinic since Joshua stopped breathing. Doctors acted with efficiency in reviving Joshua but later on advised the couple to move to a government hospital. They were shocked at the hospital bill amounting to seven thousand pesos for just the few hours of their stay. Eliza and Panfilo took turns going to friends and family to borrow money for Joshua’s hospitalization. All the time, Panfilo would repair shoes and bring home what he earned for their eldest to buy food while Eliza stayed with Joshua pumping the bag valve mask resuscitator.

It was with the help of loved ones that the family was able to come out of the trial with just a dent on their finances. After experiencing the difficulty of begging for her son’s recovery, she had resolved to herself to always be willing to provide assistance to those who need it.

It was year 2009 when an enumerator from the National Housing Targeting System for Poverty Reduction came along to conduct an assessment. Eliza remembers it well because that day, it was exactly lunch break and she was breastfeeding the youngest with Joshua in tow and Christian playing on the soil. The older children arrived home looking for food but only had rice cooking on the stove since Panfilo had not yet arrived home with the day’s earnings.

She recounted feeling embarrassed as the children asked her “Ma, niyan makan?” (Do we have food?) but she could not tell them that they had none. In the end, the enumerator saw how the kids helped themselves with rice and soy sauce, eating hurriedly and hungrily before heading back to school.


The Advent of the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program

It was 2011 when the family became part of the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program. According to Eliza, this was the time opportunities started to flow in.

Prioritizing the children’s education, Eliza used the first cash grant she received to buy each child a pair of shoe. The grants, she used solely for the children’s educational needs. Their finances not only provided for enough school supplies, it was also enough to let the kids join in on school activities and contribute for school projects.

It was also that year when Panfilo’s aunt gave them Ten thousand pesos to be able to set up a more sturdy structure for their house. They scrimped on the construction materials, borrowing hollow blocks from kind-hearted neighbors to be paid on demand and used the “Bayanihan” system in constructing the structure. The bayanihan system being a strategy of helping each in the form of community labor by the community members, to which Panfilo always takes part in. The rest of the proceeds, Eliza used as capital for a small store starting with a few cans of sardines, packs of coffee, sugar and rice.

Despite the discrimination brought by their being a 4Ps beneficiary from non-beneficiary neighbors, Eliza only saw all the advantages and opportunities that the program brought. She claims thus: “Noong wala pa ang 4Ps program, hirap dumating ang grasya. Pero noong naging parte kami nito, sunud-sunod naman ang pasok ng biyaya” (Before the 4Ps program, blessings came in slowly but after we have become part of the program, opportunities started flowing in). Government institutions began recognizing the need for interventions and would thus prioritize 4Ps beneficiaries in their development programs.

A micro-finance cooperative, CARD Inc., encouraged Eliza to expand her store into a sari-sari store with an initial loan of five thousand pesos. The Unit head of the company likewise provided her with technical assistance in managing the store finances and proper bookkeeping. From the income of the store, Eliza was able to augment her husband’s earnings.

The Department of Agriculture prioritized 4Ps beneficiaries in giving out farm implements to the farmers. Panfilo no longer depended solely on loans from mill owners with exaggerated interest rates. DA also implemented a hog-dispersal program wherein the 4Ps beneficiaries were individually awarded with piglets to raise and breed. The proceeds from which the family was able to complete the structure of the house. The materials

The Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) also offered a variety of services for the farmers who were members of the 4Ps program. The family felt secure in case their crops will be destroyed by drought or flooding.

The Department of Health prioritized 4Ps beneficiaries in its health programs including the provision of Philhealth membership. Compared to when Joshua had an attack and the family did not have any Philhealth claim, the family had to shoulder all the medical expenses as well as to transfer him to a government hospital. Just recently, the youngest, Lloyd, fell off a Kaimito tree and the couple had to rush him to the hospital. They did not think twice in bringing him to a private hospital to run the necessary tests because they were confident that the hospital will honor their Philhealth membership.

The now defunct Self Employment Assistant-Kaunlaran (SEA-K) program soon followed providing the family with an additional ten thousand peso loan for capital. The program was replaced with the Sustainable Livelihood Program of DSWD. Through the proceeds the couple was able to purchase a second-hand side car at two thousand five hundred pesos and a loan for a second-hand motorcycle paying 650 pesos weekly for 1 year.


Family Advocacy

For a family who has been through a lot of hardship, the Respicio family has made it to a point to always lend assistance to those who are less fortunate. “Pinagdaanan ko lahat ng hirap. Hindi ko makakalimutan yung pakiramdam na parang wala akong magawa para kay Joshua noong naospital siya, kaya kapag may mga kapitbahay kaming nangangailangan ng tulong, tutulungan namin hangga’t makakaya. Konsensiya ko na rin ang kalaban ko kapag di ako tumulong” explains Eliza. (We have been through a lot of difficult times. I cannot forget the feeling of helplessness when Joshua was brought to the hospital, which is why we never have second thoughts when other people ask us for help. It will be my conscience I will be fighting against)

From the time the family acquired the secondhand tricycle, it has been the main source of transportation for day-to-day since there was no public transport available in the barangay. Travel to the town center takes 30-45 minutes while the travel to Tuguegarao city takes an hour and a half. In cases of emergencies, neighbors would run to the couple and ask to help them bring the sick to the hospital to which Panfilo would always oblige, asking for nothing but the reimbursement of gas. It has been that way since 2012, their tricycle tagged as the barangay tricy ambulance.

Being a parent leader for more than 5 years before relinquishing the role, Eliza has acquired the reputation of a good counsellor. Fellow beneficiaries would use the time after their family development sessions to air out grievances and Eliza would always make it to a point to assist in conciliation. She had become so effective at the advice she gave that eventually, even non-beneficiaries would seek her counsel.

The barangay Chieftain herself attests to Eliza’s role. “Madalas, kapag may away mag-asawa, nagpupunta sila kay Eliza. Marahil doon na rin sa ehemplo na pinapakita ng mag-asawa sa kanilang mga kapitbahay” (When couples argue, they would seek Eliza’s counsel. This may be because the couple is a good example to their neighbors.) Even the chieftain would find herself at the couple’s doorstep when faced with the task of identifying a practical structural/health project for the barangay. The Provincial Local government awarded their barangay with a fund for a health-related project, at Eliza’s advice, the barangay council set up a water facility in the area.

Another advocacy of the family is their desire to encourage the establishment of water-sealed toilets for each household. Before the installation of water-sealed toilets, people, especially the children, would just relieve themselves anywhere. Aside from its being unhygienic, it had been a nuance to the children going to school on foot with not so much but worn out rubber slippers, complaining on stepping on human waste hidden under grassy patches. Through the bayanihan, the men in the community worked together to install household toilet to a majority of the homes.

With farming as the primary source of livelihood, education is not a priority amongst the members of the community. However, the high number of out-of-school youth has increased alarmingly with employment opportunities becoming slim. The couple resolved themselves to be the adviser of the 4-H club, an organization for out-of-school youth in providing livelihood opportunities and personality development funded by the Department of Agriculture.

Completed projects include reselling goods such as baked breads, cake and leche flan; setting up of booth during the Town Fiesta and selling food products and agriculture. One such project by the 4-H club is the establishment of a fishpond. In digging and making the dike, the 4-H club sought the assistance of DSWD through the Cash-For-Work program instead of hiring a buck hoe. Irrigation of water and the supply of fingerlings were made possible through DA. The assistance also included inputs such as fish feeds. After harvesting, the proceeds were used as capital for other income projects.

With the increased interest of the young people to earn good living, majority of them have enrolled in various learning programs with TESDA and the Alternative Learning System of the Department of Education.

Elaine, being the firstborn, has also manifested the character of her parents, being an advocate herself for education. Having attained her degree under full scholarship, she encourages her brothers as well as other children in aiming for a higher education with the conviction that poverty should not be a deterrent for them to finish their education.

Recently, Elaine was invited as a guest speaker for the commencement exercises of her primary school. She took this as an opportunity to inspire the children through the story of her industry and her parents’ unwavering support.


As FO2’s Regional Candidate for Huwarang Pantawid Pamilya 2017


It comes as a pleasant surprise for the family to be picked as the Province of Cagayan’s nominee for the regional search for Huwarang Pantawid Pamilya, moreso after they were declared the regional winners and FO2’s own contender for the national title.

The Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer of Enrile, Mrs. Erlinda Apostol, testifies to the positive impact of the family not only to their fellow beneficiaries but also to those who are not part of the program. She declares that the local government also recognized the commitment of the family in public service which is why, Elaine, was immediately offered a position under the office of the Sangguniang Bayan.

For Panfilo, he exemplifies the strength and industry as the head of the family. The one with the cool head and the calm composure in dealing with family difficulties. Together with Eliza, there is consensus in decision-making and child-rearing.

Eliza is the beacon of hope and display of perseverance. She radiates an empowered woman fostering cooperation and partnership with her other half. She instils the values and traditions of their ancestors while fostering faith in the Almighty.

The children are the joy and treasure of the family. The promise of a better future. Education is of utmost priority, all the while nurturing industry and resourcefulness. Faith in the Almighty is encouraged but religion is upon the choice of each member as they reach the age of discernment.

Truly, the Respicio family embodies the character of a Huwarang Pantawid Pamilya. They are an inspiration to others and personification of advocacy amidst adversary.

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