Spark of Hope

By CHARMAINE P. TADLAS
with the Philippine Information Agency

SHE waved her husband goodbye as she saw him rowing his bangka or fishing boat off the shore in the dawn of March 23, 2009. Usually, she goes fishing with him during the break of dawn and even during the wee small hours of the morning. But this time, she had some other plans for the day, plans that she hope will change everything their family has been going through.

Annabelle Jumalon got married to her husband in Barangay Taguitic, Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte, and had borne two sons. Having married to a fisherman, she expected that they would have to work harder to feed a family of four.

Together, she and Gorio, her husband, would sail to the sea and catch fish night and day. It takes them ten hours to finally call it a day and sell their catch at the Poblacion where local vendors gather to purchase fish from them.

Annabelle remembers that the income they earn does not pay off the ten-hour efforts that they make at sea. “Ang among pinakadako nga kuha sa usa ka adlaw kay P200 lang. Gamay ra gyud kaayo, (the most that we get from our daily catch is only P200 and this isn’t even enough).”

Considering that she needs to feed her family and send them to school, she would have to help her husband earn more from fishing.
The situation went worse for her family when her sister, Lilia, visited her one day to ask her to take care of her four children, ages 12, 7, 2, and four months. Lilia said that she would have to leave to look for a job at Marawi City and that she would fetch them as soon as she lands on a good-paying job. Annabelle, who sympathized for her sister left with four children without a father, agreed.

Almost a year now, Annabelle still hasn’t heard a word from her sister. She was tempted to feel upset over her sister’s irresponsibility but shoved the emotions away knowing that her four nieces and nephews need her at these very difficult times. She set aside her frustrations even though their family budget, which was originally fit for her immediate family, is now stretched to its maximum. She feels sorry for herself that she now gives only P2.00 to P3.00 for her sons’ daily allowance to school.

When the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DWSD) announced that through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, a reduction strategy that aims to invest in human capital, was going to be implemented in Taguitic, she was curious. Not knowing what the Program can really do for her, she was drawn to learn about what the Program has to offer for her and her family.

It was mentioned by the DSWD Staffs that 4Ps, as it is commonly known, was going to help families with their children’s education and health. She was ecstatic to learn that her family will be provided with enough subsidy to help her send her sons to school, especially in the situation that she is now in.

March 23, 2009, after bidding her husband goodbye at the shore, Annabelle hurried herself to the barangay’s multi-purpose hall where she will be given the requirements that she will need to withdraw the cash subsidy of 4Ps. She lined up with the rest of her neighbors, who were also as excited as she was.

The next day, she will be off to the bank to withdraw her first subsidy from DSWD.

Finally, she felt peace within herself. She can finally send her sons to school properly without having to think about money which they will need for school. “I’m actually very happy because my son, Niko, is graduating from elementary this month and I really needed to pay his graduation fee.

Now, through 4Ps, I can pay the fee and see my son march on that stage!”

According to Annabelle, she found hope through 4Ps. “I thought I was alone in this, but I see now that the government has really seen my situation as well. I’m just really grateful,” she said.

At present, more than 200 families in Taguitic were validated to receive cash subsidy from DSWD.

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