As I sit here contemplating, I realized that this day, Mother’s Day is no different from other days, especially for us “Nay-Tays” or Nanay na, Tatay pa (mom and dad).
I wake up and rush about doing my household chores which I can no longer attend to during weekdays owing to my hectic work schedule. (READ: Domestication of women)
This is supposed to be our day, I thought to myself and I deserve some time off, but as I scroll through my text, email, and Facebook messages, I am bombarded by pleas for help from other solo parents who are in dire circumstances.
Most of them, I noticed are working as kasambahays (househelp) in Metro Manila, enduring the loneliness and anxiety of being separated from their children, whom they are forced to leave to their parents and relatives in their provinces.
What can I do to help them?
As a staunch advocate of promoting the rights and welfare of solo parents and as president of our solo parents organization in the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)-Central office, I have often been interviewed by media and invited as resource person to discuss how to cope with solo parenthood.
Through these broadcast and print interviews and speaking engagements, I met other solo parents, and though our situations vary, we share a common concern – the constant struggle to raise our children alone, to be solely responsible for their well-being, and to ensure that they will grow up to be morally upright and productive citizens.
The task of solo parenting is daunting with myriad challenges cropping up at every turn of our lives.
As we journey through life with our children, working hard to sustain their needs, we face these challenges head on trusting in Divine Providence to pull us through whatever trials we encounter along the way.
The need for support groups
In February 2004, the DSWD – Central Office Solo Parents Support Group was organized in response to the needs of solo parent-employees in the Department as part of the implementation of RA 8972 or the Solo Parents Welfare Act of 2000.
We design activities that foster unity and camaraderie among our members. These include spiritual enhancement, staff development and sharing sessions, and fellowship among others.
Serving as president from 2009 to date, I bear the formidable task of being our organization’s official spokesperson, mediator and event organizer.
To further our advocacy, I have formed linkages with other solo parents associations, notably the Solong Nanay at Tatay (SONATA) Confederation, which serves as an umbrella organization of all solo parents associations or SPAs, Nain Foundation, an non-governmental organization (NGO) implementing programs for widows and single mothers and the office of the Solicitor General (OSG) Solo Parents Organization.
Through these linkages, I found an avenue to ventilate our issues and concerns calling on the national and local governments to intensify the implementation of RA 8972, as well as lobby for the proposed amendments to this law.
14 years later, our support group currently has 50 plus solo parent employees. We have evolved into an organization with strengthened links to other SPAs with a unified goal of advocating the rights and welfare of solo parents and our children nationwide.
Comprising the core group are solo parent-employees with minor children 17 years old and below, and those in the support group of solo parents with adult children.
As a support group, we look out for each other, acting like a big sister or brother to one another.
Harnessing social media
Owing to our busy work schedules, I created a facebook page where we can correspond with one another.
Social media has played a big role in helping us keep in touch, and abreast of latest developments involving solo parents.
We also use to connect with other organizations.
Moreover, the organization of solo parents support groups in government agencies, private corporations, and barangay level is an effective strategy to counter or minimize the stress and pressures being experienced by solo parents everywhere.
During the First National Convention of Solo Parents held in Naga City, Camarines Sur last April 25-26, more than 500 leaders of various SPAs gathered to expressed our solid support to the proposed amendments.
We urge for the:
- Inclusion of penalties for non-compliance to the amended law
- Inclusion of budget appropriation for its implementation; a share of 1% from the internal revenue allotment (IRA)
- Creation of an office of solo parents in every province, city/municipalityprovision
- Full scholarship to at least one child
- Equal access to employment and educational opportunities
- Reduction of taxes for solo parents
- Provision of Philhealth card for solo parents below poverty line
- Free legal assistance
- Increase of the age of a solo parent’s beneficiary/dependent from 18 to 21 years old in view of the K-12 curriculum of the Department of Education
We firmly believe that solo parents with children enrolled in the K-12 will have a hard time financing the schooling of their children up to college, considering the additional years needed to finish basic education.
Further, students taking up a four year degree course usually graduate at age 21, hence, should still be considered as a dependent of the solo parent.
These amendments reflect our common concerns.
There is an urgent need for medical, educational, legal, and livelihood assistance particularly for those in the sector living below poverty level which must be addressed by the national and local governments, and the agencies tasked to provide the appropriate assistance.
The road ahead
After more than a decade since RA 8972 was enacted, we still face difficulties in carrying out our task as head of our families.
Only a few local government units, notably the province of Bulacan, and Naga City, Camarines Sur offer concrete programs for solo parents and their children ranging from livelihood assistance to scholarship programs.
Admittedly, there is still a lot to be done to advocate the rights and welfare of solo parents.
Foremost among these is an enhanced advocacy of RA 8972, considering that some local government units (LGUs) – especially in the remote and rural areas – are not even aware of this law. This prevents them from implementing the programs and services as specified in the law.
It’s a long and winding road.
But if the government and private sector work together in strongly advocating for the passage of the amendments in the law, and in integrating all programs and services for us and our children, we may soon find the light at the end of the tunnel. – Rappler.com
Carina Javier is a solo parent of 3 sons, two of whom are teenagers. She is the president of the Solo Parents Organization in the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Central Office. She is also an Information Officer in DSWD.
For more informatioon on the Solo parents support group, you may visit them on facebook. You can also reach them at email@example.com.
Waving Philippine flag image from Shutterstock.