Struggling out of the poverty trap
MANILA, Philippines – The country's fight against poverty still has a long way to go, but the success stories of some of the conditional cash transfer grantees seem to indicate that the government is on the right track.
This was the key message conveyed during the awarding of the First Convergence Documentary Film Competition of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) held last March 14 at the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).
The goal of the competition was to highlight the success of the DSWD’s core social protection programs – Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), and Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan - Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS). (READ: DSWD Milestones)
According to the DSWD, these programs are part of the government’s convergence framework that aims to maximize the impact of its poverty reduction and social protection programs through an effective targeting system, an integrated case management and a holistic community development approach.
“The documentary films produced by the students showcased the Filipino families’ as well as their communities’ indomitable spirit and wage against the war on poverty,” DSWD Secretary Corazon "Dinky" Soliman said.
The Polytechnic University of the Philippines’ entry entitled “Itik” clinched the 1st place. De La Salle College of St. Benilde’s “Adda Namnama” and Lyceum of the University’s “Bente” won 2nd and 3rd places respectively.
"Itik," "Adda Namnama," and "Bente" presented 3 out of the nearly 4 million families which have benefited from the social protection programs of the government. These are their stories.
Contrary to what the title suggests, Itik is not about raising ducks. The documentary presents the story of Mang Itik, a father from Antique who had to work day and night for his 10 children.
Mang Itik was not able to finish his studies, but this did not hinder him from chasing his dreams. To make ends meet, Mang Itik worked as construction worker; a fisherman, a vegetable vendor, farmer, gardener, and many other jobs.
“He did everything to earn. Doing construction work, selling flowers, things like that. He even slept on sidewalks just to earn money,” his wife Susan recounted.
Perceived as one of the most trust-worthy persons in his area, Mang Itik previously served as a barangay councilor and currently serves as one of the leaders of DSWD’s KALAHI-CIDSS which empowers the people of his community.
But it was his participation at SLP which really changed his family’s life for the better.
SLP is a community-based capacity building program which seeks to improve the program participants’ socio-economic status. It aims to enable the participants to manage sustainable micro-enterprises or link them to locally-available jobs that will enhance their access to basic social services.
“He really uplifted his own living from difficult situations and I must say that SLP helped them a lot to have a capital for his business at Poblacion, San Remigio,” 4Ps parent-leader Josephina Gillegao said.
Ma. Evelyn Macapobre, DSWD field office director, said that the story of Mang Itik, among many others, shows that the programs of the government are “really making a dent on the fight against poverty.”
Through SLP, Mang Itik gained skills in managing an investment like his store in the public market.
“Now you will be happy because before it was just a small market stall, then it was now expanded. So his market stall became three times bigger. This only means the expansion of the earning of Mang Itik,” Macapobre added.
Itik’s story is a documentary which will prove how clear goals and hard work can be tools for people to not just survive, but live happily.
Adda Namnama: There is hope
Edna Bayubay is a parent-leader form Abra and a 4Ps beneficiary. Her friends describe her as a kind and generous person who is always ready to lend a hand even if she is also penniless most of the time.
“She never hesitates to give, even in a small amount. Even if the little rice she has was meant for their meal, Edna is a cheerful giver because she loves to help,” recalled Sandra Babila, a fellow 4Ps grantee.
The 4Ps is a human development program that invests in the health and education of poor households. The program provides cash grants to beneficiaries provided that they comply with the set of health and education conditions required by the program.
As community leader, Aling Edna is eager to learn. Despite her lack of education, she was able to learn how to lead the Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries’ meetings and administer projects that are related to family development.
“Edna is an all-around mother. She works on laundry, she works as manicurist, a masseur, and she does that every day,” a friend said.
However, poverty is not the only challenge confronting Aling Edna. She is a mother who struggles to overcome her adversities after a life-turning event – the death of her son, Mark Anthony.
Although Mark Anthony is suffering from epilepsy, Aling Edna recalled that she had high expectations for his son because he is the most hard-working among her children.
For Aling Edna, nonetheless, life must go on. As they say, "Adda Namnama" (Ilokano term which means “there is hope”).
Presently, Aling Edna is one of the many beneficiaries that have changed their lives from DSWD programs. As micro-entrepreneur, Aling Edna sells sari-sari snacks with 2,000 pesos as seed capital.
What can you do with P20? For Alfredo and Estrella Atienza, the story of their life revolved around this amount.
Like all other Filipinos, the couple dreamed of a prosperous life for their children. The road to this, however, is long and rough. Hard work and perseverance are the main ingredients for their endeavors.
Alfredo is a pedicab driver who barely earns enough for the school, health, and food expenses of his family. With no assets to fall back on, the couple did not know how to make ends meet for their family who lives in a poor community in San Francisco, Quezon.
When Estella discovered that she was selected as one of the 4Ps beneficiaries, she was surprised that the program will provide direct assistance through cash grants.
“We really try hard to maximize the money we received by investing it in our capital and we try to pay back the government in exchange for the help they gave us,” Estrella explained.
4Ps also taught Estrella about the importance of volunteerism as well as handling different kinds people.
For the Atienza family, bente is just a fraction of their journey in life. From the meager P20 weekly budget, the cash grants helped them to start a buy-and-sell business.
“Living as a poor [family] is a challenge to how you will overcome it, on how you will become free, on how you will know yourself that poverty will not be permanently a mark for us if we do our best,” Estrella shared.
For winning 1st place and best editing, the Polytechnic University of the Philippines’ “Itik” received P70, 000. De La Salle College of St. Benilde’s “Adda Namnama”, which got the 2nd place and people’s choice award, brought home P65, 000. Meanwhile, Lyceum of the University’s “Bente” was given P40, 000 for bagging the 3rd place and best storytelling.
At the end of the awarding, the DSWD also formally launched its 2014 documentary-making competition. DSWD director Joel Espejo said that the DSWD will be using the videos in order to involve the academe and the youth in understanding social protection programs of the government.
4Ps director Rodora Babaran said that the program is now getting close to the target of 4.3 million households by 2016.
“As of January 2014, the findings suggest a strong impact of 4Ps on outcomes associated with schooling, health, and changes in household consumption,” DSWD shared.
DSWD adds that the challenge to the government is to maintain these improvements in the lives of the household. It is essential that 2016 goal is achieved and that the households continue in the program by trying to comply with the conditions. – Rappler.com
To learn more about the how the government is helping the poor, visit the DSWD Pantawid Pamilya website.