STARWEEK SPECIAL REPORT: A FAMILY FINDS HOPE FOR THEIR FUTURE
 

MANILA, AUGUST 30, 2011 (STARweek) By Azenath L. Formoso (The Philippine Star) PHOTO - A mother’s inherent strength is magnified through the inspiration derived from her children. Such is the unwavering strength of Melanie Encabo, 37, from Barangay Addition Hills, Mandaluyong City. Melanie is the mother of four children, ages 13, 11, 8 and 3.)

Like many rural poor, Melanie went to Manila in search of greener pastures. “Nagtrabaho ako sa factory para makatulong sa mga magulang ko. Pangarap kong makapagtrabaho sa ibang bansa noon. Pero ilang buwan pa lang ako dito, nagka-nobyo na ako. Nagsisisi ako nung una pero masaya ako dahil sa mga anak ko (I worked in a factory to help my parents. I hoped to work abroad. But after a few months in the city, I had a boyfriend. I regretted it then but now I’m hapy because of my children),” Melanie narrated.

Camilo Encabo, her spouse, was only 17 when they got married. They were uncertain about their family’s future but they have committed to be good parents no matter what.

“Ang mahalaga sa amin ay nakakapag-aral sila at nakakakain ng maayos (What’s important is that they have food and they go to school),” she said.

With the growth of her family, their expenses also grew. Melanie took on different jobs – doing laundry and selling barbecue and snacks. However, it was impossible to sustain a job or a small business because taking care of her young children required undivided attention.

“Ang mga anak ko ang inuuna ko. Mga bata pa sila at kailangan tutok ako sa kanila (I put my children first. They’re young and need my full attention),” she said.

Camilo is a construction worker and earns P280 a day. Melanie budgets their income to cover the school needs of the children and food for the family. The children would normally have biscuits as their baon to school. The children lacked notebooks and had only one set of uniform each.

“Sa gabi nilalabhan ko na yung mga uniporme nila para may magamit sila kinabukasan (At night I wash their uniforms so they can use them again the next day),” Melanie narrated.

“Nakakaraos naman kami pero minsan na-ospital yung anak ko. Dahil daw iyon sa potassium-deficiency, sabi ng doktor – kakulangan sa gulay at pagkaing may protina. Dalawang buwan noon ang anak ko sa hospital. Kinailangan naming humingi ng tulong sa mga kapatid ko at biyenan ko (We made do but then my child was hospitalized due to potassium deficiency, lack of vegetables and protein-rich food. He was two months in hospital, so I had to ask help from my siblings and in-laws),” she narrated.

When Melanie was informed last October that she was included in a government program, she was not expecting that it would be a direct help in the form of a cash grant. Her household has become one of the 971 beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program in their barangay.

“Akala ko grocery pack kasi malapit na noon ang Pasko. O di kaya’y feeding program kasi laging may ganon dito sa amin. Sobrang nagulat ako na cash ang ibibigay (I thought it was a grocery pack since it was Christmas, or maybe a feeding program which they usually have here. I was surprised when they gave cash),” she gleefully said.

“Iyon ang pinakamasayang Pasko namin. Naiyak ang mga bata sa tuwa kasi binilhan namin sila ng kumpleto at bagong gamit sa school. First time iyon. Kumpleto na ngayon ang kanilang uniporme (That was our happiest Christmas. The children cried with joy when we got them complete things for school – a first. Now they have complete uniforms),” she added.

Melanie’s household gets P1,400 per month which they receive on a bi-monthly basis. She now feels secure about her children’s health and education. “Yung pangatlo ko hindi na madalas magkasakit kasi may bitamina na siya at regular ko silang pinapa-check-up. Marami akong natutunan sa pagiging isang responsableng magulang sa Pantawid Pamilya (My third child is no longer sickly because he has vitamins and I bring them for regular check-up. I learned a lot about responsible parenting),” she said.

She applies her learnings in the Family Development Sessions by preparing healthy meals for her children, and takes pride that her children are never absent except when calamity strikes.

Melanie’s household is aware of the limited time span of getting grants from the government but she feels confident that what she has learned will not be diminished once they graduate from the program.

“Tinutulungan kami ng gobyerno pero tinutulungan din namin ang sarili namin. Pagkatapos ng limang taon, kung meron naman livelihood, gagamitin namin para mapagtapos yung mga anak namin. Kaya din namin tumayo sa aming mga paa. Nagsisikap pa rin kami ng asawa ko kahit pa may tulong mula sa gobyerno (The government helps us but we also help ourselves. After five years, if there is livelihood, we will use that so our children will finish school. We can stand on our own. My husband and I work hard even though we have help from the government),” Melanie said with conviction.

Reprinted with permission from the World Bank-Philippines www.worldbank.org.ph

PANTAWID PAMILYANG PILIPINO PROGRAM

Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program is a poverty reduction and social development strategy of the national government that provides conditional cash grants to extremely poor households to improve their health, nutrition and education particularly of children aged 0-14.

Pantawid Pamilya has dual objectives:

* Social Assistance - to provide cash assistance to the poor to alleviate their immediate need (short term poverty alleviation); and * Social Development - to break the intergenerational poverty cycle through investments in human capital.

Pantawid Pamilya helps to fulfill the country’s commitment to meet the Millennium Development Goals, namely:

1. Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger 2. Achieve Universal Primary Education 3. Promote Gender Equality 4. Reduce Child Mortality 5. Improve Maternal Health

Targeting System

The poorest households in the municipalities are selected through the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) implemented by the DSWD using the Proxy Means Test. This test determines the socio-economic category of the families by looking at certain proxy variables such as ownership of assets, type of housing, education of the household head, livelihood of the family and access to water and sanitation facilities. Eligible Households

1. Residents of the poorest municipalities based on 2003 Small Area Estimates (SAE) of NSCB; 2. Households whose economic condition is equal to or below the provincial poverty threshold. 3. Households that have children 0-14 years old and/or have a pregnant woman at the time of assessment; 4. Households that agree to meet conditions specified in the program.

Set of Co-Responsibilities

To avail  of the cash grants beneficiaries should comply with the following conditions:

1. Pregnant women must avail pre- and post-natal care and be attended during childbirth by a trained health professional; 2. Parents must attend Family Development Sessions (FDS); 3. 0-5 year old children must receive regular preventive health check-ups and vaccines; 4. 3-5 year old children must attend day care or pre-school classes at least 85% of the time. 5. 6-14 year old children must enroll in elementary or high school and must attend at least 85% of the time. 6. 6-14 years old children must receive deworming pills twice a year.

Program Coverage

Pantawid Pamilya operates in 80 provinces covering 734 municipalities and 62 key cities. The Pantawid Pamilya targets to cover 2.3 million households by end of 2011.

Targeting System

The poorest households in the municipalities are selected through the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) implemented by the DSWD using the Proxy Means Test. This test determines the socio-economic category of the families by looking at certain proxy variables such as ownership of assets, type of housing, education of the household head, livelihood of the family and access to water and sanitation facilities. Eligible Households

1. Residents of the poorest municipalities based on 2003 Small Area Estimates (SAE) of NSCB; 2. Households whose economic condition is equal to or below the provincial poverty threshold. 3. Households that have children 0-14 years old and/or have a pregnant woman at the time of assessment; 4. Households that agree to meet conditions specified in the program.

Set of Co-Responsibilities

To avail of the cash grants beneficiaries should comply with the following conditions:

1. Pregnant women must avail pre- and post-natal care and be attended during childbirth by a trained health professional; 2. Parents must attend Family Development Sessions (FDS); 3. 0-5 year old children must receive regular preventive health check-ups and vaccines; 4. 3-5 year old children must attend day care or pre-school classes at least 85% of the time. 5. 6-14 year old children must enroll in elementary or high school and must attend at least 85% of the time. 6. 6-14 years old children must receive deworming pills twice a year.

Program Coverage

Pantawid Pamilya operates in 80 provinces covering 734 municipalities and 62 key cities.

The Pantawid Pamilya targets to cover 2.3 million households by end of 2011.

From: Department of Social Welfare and Development Constitution Hills, Batasan Complex Quezon City, Philippines 1126 (632) 931 8101 to 931 8107


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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