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DSWD Sec Bautista awed by “hotel-like” residential facilities in Region VIII

Tacloban City, November 12 – After taking a round inside the DSWD Institution Comples in Pawing, Palo, visiting DSWD Secretary Rolando Joselito Bautista expressed joy over the expansion and improvement of three residential care facilities which had its inauguration and blessing rites yesterday.

In his speech, he told the DSWD Field Office VIII staff, “you are now able to see the fruits of your labor. Ang centers at residential care facilities ay isa sa mga pinakamahalagang serbisyo ng ahensiya.”  With such milestone, Secretary Bautista emphasized that it would mean, “lalong mapapabuti ang ating pagkalinga sa mga kabataan at kababaihan” (we will be able to care for our women and children far more better).

“You should count your blessings; compare other children in the streets.  You are safe here pero mas lalong masaya kung makakalabas na kayo (more happier if you will be out) – #WalangForever.” He added that DSWD will help build them to become assets of the community.

The Secretary also congratulated the “men and women behind the milestone,” like DSWD Undersecretary Camilo Gudmalin who fought at the Senate and Congress for a Php5 B budget intended for the repair, reconstruction and rehabilitation of facilities, under the Centers and Residential Care Facilities (CRCF) Infrastructure Project.  It resulted into DSWD being able to generate Php2.3 B from the funds of Senators Loren Legarda and Nancy Binay, for the agency’s 71 centers nationwide.

The top official also cited former DSWD Regional Director, Restituto Macuto, of Region VIII who is now the National Program Manager of the agency’s Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP).  Director Macuto came over to witness the event as he has been the overseer of the project since it started in year 2017.  Of course, Secretary Bautista also lauded DSWD Regional Director Marie Angela Gopalan for her current leadership and determination to complete the four centers, including that of the Regional Rehabilitation Center (RRCY) in Barangay Sto. Nino in Tanauan, Leyte which was inaugurated last September 27 of this year.

Undersecretary Gudmalin for his part said in part, “what you see in your centers reflect the DSWD. It is a tangible proof of our ‘malasakit’ (compassion), the realization of our vision.  We should not stop striving for excellence.”  He added that what they have just seen are “ hotel-like facilities,”  stating that it is only right to provide “luxury to those who need it most.”
The three newly – inaugurated centers have now one-star apartment accommodations, complete with airconditioning units, and have bigger capacities.  For instance, the Reception and Study Center for Children (RSCC) can accommodate 45 abandoned, orphaned, abused and exploited kids (six years old and below).  Originally, it can only have 35 children under their care.
At the moment, there are 24 children.

For the Home for Girls, from a 60 – bed capacity, it has turned to 75, for this residential facility for sexually abused and exploited seven to 17-year-old girls.

The Regional Haven, meanwhile, has now a three-storey dormitory that could house 25 women and 15 dependents where before, it could only accommodate a total of 25.  Right now, there are nine young women and four children under its care.

For all of these facilities, each has a separate room for persons-with-disabilities, counselling/therapy room, better and more bath/rest rooms, an industrial kitchen, and commercial laundry. 

There are function rooms for activities and roof decks, too.

Included in the blessing were three ambulances for the centers.

Protective Services Division Chief, Ofelia Pagay, of the DSWD Field Office VIII said in her brief orientation that the residents, indeed, will have a more pleasant, comfortable, and safe place to say.  And after the destruction made by super typhoon Yolanda’s wrath, the Institution Complex has now a new face.#

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DSWD meets and greets former streetchildren of post Yolanda days

“Our hope enabled us to survive, to keep on fighting, to rebuild and to be better.  It is this hope that allows us to remember those who have fallen and to live everyday in grateful reverence to the gift of life that God gave us. It is this hope that enables us to refuse to give up. Out of the ruins of super typhoon Yolanda, we have rebuilt,  we have prospered ,  but we have not forgotten the experience and most importantly, we do not give up and we did not lost hope.”   These were the words of DSWD Assistant Regional Director Marlene Kahano during a visit today, November 8, 2019, with visiting Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles and the Tingog Sinirangan Party List thru representative Philip Jude Acidre, to the Mother of Hope Children’s Center located inside the Holy Infant College Campus at Youngfield in Tacloban City.

Cabinet Secretary Nograles gave the inspirational message during the gathering and said he is happy that the kids have returned to school and still go to the Center on weekends, for some activities that help develop their well-being.  He also reminded the children of this month’s observance of the National Children’s Month and told them to be aware one of their rights which is EDUCATION.

Meanwhile, Acidre stated that “many years after Yolanda, we have been gaining more friends. We will also remember them with gratefulness,” referring to their support.

DSWD Field Office VIII under Regional Director Marie Angela Gopalan, led the said Meet and Greet activity for the 64 former streetchildren, aged six to 15 years old, who are being supported by the Mother of Hope Children Center.

Project Director, Sister Carmela Cabactulan said that the Congregation of the Religious Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Infant College begun a partnership with Caritas Germany, shortly after super typhoon Yolanda, thru the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the school and other facilities.  It, then led to the birth of another project – the Mother of Hope Children’s Center.

In her talk, she expressed that “we are lucky to be instruments to reach out the poor.”  She also thanked the generosity of the people towards the project, which the Director claimed, is named after the Patroness of Disasters, Mother of Hope.#

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Most of the time, calamities traumatize and paralyze people, especially those who are identified as poor and marginalized. Disasters drag them into hopelessness, and push them deeper into poverty. But sometimes calamity carries opportunity for people to rise up and unleash hidden potentials. It brings out the best in people, gives them a chance to live new and better lives.

This is the story of Villahermosa Organic Farmers Association (VOFA). When Super Typhoon Yolanda hit the region, it was a dark phase for the farmers of Brgy. Villahermosa in Julita, Leyte. But no one thought that the calamity would be a blessing in disguise for a group of farmers in the community.

Six years after Yolanda, and four years after the VOFA received their grant from the DSWD-Sustainable Livelihood Program, the farm laborers have already become thriving farm entrepreneurs. From their P300, 000 capital provided by SLP, their assets are now worth over Two Million Pesos (P2,000,000.00), revealed Florence Cañada, VOFA Business Manager.

From vegetable farming and farm equipment rental, their enterprise grew year by year until they were recognized by various National Government Agencies that also help them to diversify and expand their business. Aside from the different organizations that partnered with them, the expansion of their business is the fruit of their hard work and dedication to their craft.

Today, they are focused with their hog raising business (received from the Provincial Government of Leyte) while their equipment rental and vegetable gardening are still operational. Their newest endeavor is a Rice Milling business as they received a rice mill machine from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) earlier this year. The warehouse/building where the machine is stored was built using their association’s profit. They also spent almost P300,000 (taken from their income) in constructing the pig pens for the 21 pig heads they received from the More Income in the Countryside (MIC) Program of the Provincial Agriculture.

“Nagpapasalamat gud kami kay nakilala kami tungod han SLP. Dako liwat adto nga bulig an assistance kay makuri magcontribute para hin capital, kulang ngani an kwarta han mga farmers pag-ayad han ira balay ngan panananom nga naperwisyo han Yolanda. Pawaray-waray gud (We are thankful because SLP made it possible for us to be known in our town. The livelihood assistance we received really helped us to rise from the devastation. At that time, the members had no means to even rebuild their houses. We had no idea how we  could recover the losses brought by Yolanda),”shared Cañada.

The Local Government Unit of Julita has recognized the exemplary performance of the association that whenever national government agencies and/or non-government organizations go to the LGU for list of successful associations worthy of another livelihood assistance, VOFA would always be on top of the list. The LGU also encourages other associations in the area to emulate VOFA and learn from their successful strategies.

“We consider SLP as our lucky charm,” said Cañada. After SLP, financial assistance and livelihood projects from different agencies kept pouring in. They ventured into different enterprises related to farming. When asked about their group’s secret to success, Cañada said that one factor that made them successful is their common vision for the association. They are guided by the group’s vision, which is to be an exemplary entrepreneur farmers association in Region 8.

And they may have not fully achieve it yet, but they are definitely on their way in fulfilling that vision. The Provincial Government recognizes them and even concreted a part of the pathway going to their area for their convenience and for easy transport of their agricultural products. They have also lifted the morale of their municipality and LGU as they have become popular in the province, the Muncipality of Julita gained popularity because of VOFA. The association also received a recognition from DSWD as they were awarded “Best Livelihood Rehabilitation Project” and semi-finalist in the Micro-enterprise Development category during the SLP Bangon Kabuhayan Awards 2017.

The SLPA has maintained a steady routine during operations. In their group, there is equal share of tasks. The senior citizens also do what the younger ones are doing such as tilling the land under the scorching heat of the sun. That is a practice they have agreed upon. What they do is not easy, they said. Farming is not an easy job, it requires so much from the members. And the members are willing to sow something that is valuable to them—time and resources– because they know harvest time would always come. Their hard work will be rewarded. As what they are experiencing right now, they are reaping the wonderful outcome of their sacrifices. They jokingly said that they no long have time to gossip with each other because of the work they have to do in the farm.

The SLPA also believes in “delayed gratification” by choosing to invest their income in project expansion or diversification. But they also do profit sharing once in a while to motivate the members, sometimes they receive cash. Other times, they reward themselves with other form of remuneration.

The association members belong to the 56, 726 beneficiaries in Region VIII who received Livelihood Assistance Grant (LAG) from DSWD-SLP. DSWD Field Office 8 was able to disburse P559, 012,386.92 grant for Yolanda victims. SLP also provided P406,265,955.00 worth of livelihood assistance thru the Cash for Building Livelihood Asset (CBLA).  CBLA is a short-term employment or cash-for-work scheme that provides immediate cash assistance to affected families in exchange for community-based labor to repair, rehabilitate, and/or develop physical and natural resources that will be used for productive and profitable micro-enterprise. During the Yolanda Rehabilitation and Recovery phase, each worker (one qualified worker per family) was provided with a daily allowance equivalent to the existing regional daily wage for a maximum of 15 days.

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Looking back at Yolanda, moving forward through DSWD Kalahi CIDSS

Restoring mangroves through Kalahi CIDSS in Brgy. Minaanod Llorente Eastern Samar. Captured in the year 2016.

The island barangay of Minanod in Llorente, Eastern Samar was one of the places badly hit by super typhoon Haiyan or “Yolanda,” in the year 2013. It is no doubt that the locality is susceptible to storm surge and hurricanes,  for Minaanod comes from the root word “awod” which means “to drift.”

But aside from faith, there were things that saved residents from the strong waves during the Yolanda devastation- it was the sea wall constructed through DSWD Kalahi CIDSS and the mangroves the community had planted several years before the super typhoon.

Edito Codoy , a Kalahi volunteer and at the same time president of the Kalahi CIDSS – formed civil society association, the Minaanod Fishermen Association, retold stories about the disastrous event. He recounted that strong waves were causing fear to the residents.  But the mangroves and sturdy 200 linear meter Sea Wall implemented under the Kalahi CIDSS Additional Financing (KC-AF),  shielded residents from the likely worst impact of storm surge.

 “Dako gud an bulig it mangroves ngan sea wall nga natima pala namon na construct before umabot an Yolanda. Asya an nakasalbar ha amon didi. Kun waray ito,  diri dama kami maaram kun diin kami pupuruton.[ The  mangroves and sea wall which were  constructed  nearly before Yolanda was a big bout to us during the disaster. It saved us. If there were no mangroves and sea wall, I did not know where we were at that time.]

Unfortunately, the mangroves were strongly devastated following Yolanda. But when the National Community Driven Development Project, a scale up and post-disaster recovery response of Kalahi CIDSS (KC) program came in 2014, the residents learnt from their experience and prioritized planting of mangroves as a KC sub-project worth Php 344 thousand.

Through the Minaanod Fishermen Association, the mangroves have been taken cared of until today. Once a week they inspected the area and as much as it is needed, they have picked up weeds around the mangroves.

According to Codoy, out of 100% planted rhizophora mangle, locally known as ‘bakhaw’, 30% have been successfully growing.

He added, “Hopeful ako na ini nga mangroves matubo ngan makaalalay ha amon pag mayda mga makusog na uran ngan bagyo, ngan makabulig pagmaupay han ecosystem. [I am hopeful that these mangroves will grow and help us [people] protect again from the strong rains and typhoons, and restore the damaged ecosystem.]

Codoy also shared that their association, with the support of the local government unit and the community, is doing its best to preserve the mangroves. Also, the association learned from the Kalahi CIDSS to be accountable of the project, so it is tapping other agencies to fund  their Payao construction.

Meanwhile, the Kalahi CIDSS constructed a sea wall worth Php 1 million and still serves the 95 households in the community till today.

Through government support, people are bouncing back better and stronger after Yolanda.  The community of Minaanod identified disaster response and mitigation sub-projects thru grey and green strategy, knowing their geographical situation.

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Help for Victims of Inopacan Massacre, & others in crisis

The DSWD Field Office VIII recently extended a total of Php 675,000.00 or Php5,000.00 to each of the 135 families of victims of the Inopacan massacre, during the launching of the Special Convergence Mission held recently at the Municipal Gymnasium of Baybay, Leyte. 

The said financial aid is part of the said agency’s Assistance to Individuals In Crisis Situation (AICS), one of the DSWD’s frontline services which intends to aid in the recovery of the poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged individuals and families in crisis situation or difficult circumstances.

The victims coming from Inopacan, Baybay, and Mahaplag were allegedly military informants and became targets of execution by the communist terrorist group sometime in the 1980’s.  Buried in a mass grave, their bodies were recovered in 2006.

Meanwhile, DSWD Field Office VIII continues to implement the service through its Crisis Intervention Section at the Field Office and Social Welfare Action and Development Team Satellite Offices in the provinces.  The support comes in the form of financial and material thru outright cash or guarantee letter for medical, burial, educational, food, and transportation purposes.

Social worker Leah Abarquez of the Crisis Intervention Section (CIS) bared that a Revised Guidelines on the Implementation of the AICS has been issued through Memorandum Circular No.  11 series of 2019 to strengthen implementation and ensure efficient and effective delivery of services to the clients.  

Last week, it started conducting orientations on the revised procedures for all local government units in the region.

Abarquez disclosed that added in the new guidelines is the provision of cash assistance for a child-victim of online sexual exploitation and other sexual abuse cases, families of individuals or uniformed personnel who were killed or wounded during police or military operation,  repatriated or deported overseas Filipino social workers, persons living with HIV, survivor-victims of violence against women and children, rebel-returnees,  victims of fire, armed conflict and other incidents putting those affected in crisis situation.

CIS Head Irene Permejo, meanwhile, emphasized that the social worker’s assessment is of primary consideration in extending assistance.#

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The way to a child’s learning

A visit to a Child Development Center in Barangay Quilaw in Tolosa town of Leyte can bring joy to one’s heart.  Seeing 17 kids in their well-kept uniforms while their young mothers/grandmas/guardians watch over them is altogether heartwarming. 

In rural communities, folks have learned the value of providing proper nutrition to children in the first four years of their life, with the mandatory establishment of Child Development Centers (formerly Day Care Centers) in every barangay. 

DSWD has a Supplemental Feeding Program (SFP) which comes as an addition to the regular meals of children who are currently enrolled in Child Development Centers.  

This is in support  to Republic Act No. 6972, otherwise known as the “Barangay – Level Total Development and Protection of Children Act”, and hereinafter referred to as the child development service, community or church-based early childhood education programs initiated by nongovernment organizations or people’s organizations, workplace-related child care and education programs, child-minding centers, health centers and stations; and Home-based programs, such as the neighborhood-based play groups, family child care.

Already, the SFP has catered to some 725, 561 pre-schoolers (not cumulative, according to records per year) regionwide, since it started in 2011.

The likes of Lola Josephine Perez, 61, whose third “apo” is enrolled in the program, is grateful that her grandson is being prepared for school at an early age.  Standing as surrogate mother, she has seen the positive impact, specifically of the SFP, in the emotional, social, and physical development of the children.

She says in the local dialect that fellow “caregivers” like her have realized that proper nutrition provided to children at the right time helps them GO, GROW, and GLOW into healthy individuals.

These kids, who are of pre-school age, (three to four years old) and included in the SFP, are offered meals over a period of ten months. Regular weighing is done to check on the progress of each child.

Parents or guardians themselves have been involved in the program – they volunteer to prepare the daily meals (on rotation basis).  One can see in the faces of mothers that they take pride in what they are doing, for contributing a service beyond that which benefits their own children but for the entire community!

Lola Josephine talks that she enjoys planning the menu and doing the marketing.  She proudly tells that the kids are given a variety of food in a week – one day, they have spaghetti; in another time “odong” noodle soup or malunggay with eggs, or sometimes, fried chicken.  The mothers sometimes even provide kids with “Nido” milk with bread and “palaman” (sandwich spread).

 “He is getting more active now,” speaks mother Hermelina of another CDC child, four-year-old Leonardo Parado, Jr.   “When he enrolled in the sessions just this August, my son was at 11 kilos.  Now, I know he has added weight, the mother narrates.   Indeed, the tiny boy is now bubbling with life as shown in his interaction with other young children at the center.

For folks of Barangay Quilaw, there is nothing like the dedication for work and passion for children of long-time Child Development Worker, Ligaya Sabalsa.  A Bachelor of Science in Education graduate, she settled working in her own community as a volunteer, for 17 years now!

She receives a monthly honorarium of Php1,200.00, each from her barangay and the municipal government, for this serviceSabalsa said, undernutrition is contributory to reduced school performance and is a big factor in “attracting” children to learn while they play under her supervision.

Daily activities at the center includes story telling/poetry/music/table games, and sessions on how to keep one’s body healthy,  knowing the GO, GROW, and GLOW food, among others. There are a total of 541 children attending Child Development Sessions in 16 CDCs located in 15 barangays of the municipality, SFP In-Charge and Social Worker Maria Leonora Theresa Costelo of the DSWD Field Office VIII says.#

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Developing Young Leaders through CDD

Brgy. Amahit SK Chairperson Xyra Mae Acol as one of the Proposal Preparation Team (PPT) members help her barangay in preparation of community proposal for possible funding in Don Simplicio Apostol Gymnasium

Youth are said to be the driving force of our nation and thus, they can do something boundless for their communities. We believe they are adept and equipped of solving issues and problems. They can participate in the local planning and decision making identifying the developmental needs of their communities and encourage other fellow young people to partake in the positive change.

The Barugo Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Federation in Barugo Leyte has demonstrated a compassion and collective action thru participating in the Kalahi CIDSS activities which paves the way to implement the program efficiently.

Partnership with the Cadre of Hope

The program was introduced to Sangguniang Kabataan even before the actual signing of  Specific Implementation Arrangement (SIA) with the Local Government Unit of Barugo and Department of Social Welfare and Development Kalahi CIDSS. And herein, Sangguniang Kabataan Federation , led by its president Jake Adrian Gerona, gave their pledge of commitment to assist the Local Government Unit-led implementation.

The federation sees that each sector in the society, most especially the youth, must be involved towards development.  They will not succumb into brittle sob of exhaustion in trying to show that the youth of this generation are more than attributions of teenage pregnancy, drug addict and online games.

Jake Adrian Gerona, 20 years old, says, “Importante talaga an involvement han mga youth sa mga activities na para sa development kay sa youth mangud nag-start an pagiging usa nga maupay nga example ha iba nga kabataan.[ It is very significant for us, youth, to be involved in the activities concerning development because it is from us which starts the example for emulations of other young people.]”

The federation helped in throughout the program development activities such as the translation and packaging of Barangay Development Plan.  In addition to, some of the federation members assisted the conduct of Waste Analysis and Characterization Study in their barangay as the Local Government Unit of Barugo has focused on Solid Waste Management as sub-project under Kalahi CIDSS program.

Also, the federation has been recognized as part of the Monitoring and Social Accountability (MMSA) Team who has the responsibility in overseeing the projects of the barangay (regardless of fund source) and provide Technical Assistance in the preparation of development plans and project proposals and monitor the implementation of these projects. In fact, they have conducted Sustainability Evaluation since September this year.

Youth Voice Heightened Through CDD

The principle of Community Driven Development (CDD)  has influenced the way young leaders implement barangay programs and projects. They have expanded their skills and knowledge through voluntarily helping the activities of Kalahi CIDSS,  a poverty alleviation program that empowers communities by way of CDD.

CDD Is an approach to local development that gives. control over planning decisions and investment resources to local communities.  In other words, it seeks to empower local communities and identify and implement projects they most need

Through the Community-Driven Development (CDD), the group of young leaders such as Xyra Mae Acol, the Sangguniang Kabataan Chairman and at the same time Kalahi CIDSS community volunteer of Brgy. Amahit shares that Kalahi CIDSS taught her to be transparent and accountable. She also learned how to identify priority projects in her barangay.

She added , “I believe that I was elected as SK Chairman because people saw potentials in me when I became a community volunteer in Kalahi CIDSS. It helped me become transparent and have a sense of accountability. 

Further, I applied what I have learned on how to identify projects that will solve the unrelenting problems in our barangay. I aligned my projects based on what CDD taught me.”

Kalahi CIDSS program promotes proactive actors of change from the poor, vulnerable and marginalized sectors of the community. It sees the youth as partners and cadre of hope of our nation.

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DSWD up for SocPen Payout in Three Leyte Towns this Week

Social Pensioner from Tacloban receives her 1 year pension from DSWD.

Set for this week’s payout for Social Pension are three towns of Leyte, namely Dagami, Tolosa, and Matalom,  according to Social Pension Focal Person, Mavis Baoy of the DSWD Field Office VIII.  Total number of senior citizens who will comprise the first batch to receive the 2019 pension in these areas is 4,759, with Matalom getting the most number – 2,430, followed by Dagami – 1,716, and Tolosa – 613.

Baoy said DSWD will be conducting succeeding payouts for the Php6,000.00 one – year Social Pension for senior citizens in 93 municipalities of the region, before the year ends. 

Following it will be more batches of pensioners who will receive their stipend, after validation has been completed.

Yesterday and today,  DSWD released the stipend to the 129 remaining  pensioners of Tacloban and 29 from Palo who comprised batch 1.  DSWD had its payout last July and they were not able to claim for some reasons.

     Some 5,149 social pensioners from the municipalities of Tunga, Tabon-Tabon, Pastrana, Mayorga, Julita, MacArthur, Javier, Dulag, Burauen, and Jaro have received their pension September of this year.#

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