Archive | December, 2015

Sheltered by the storm

Tropical Storm Pablo: A blessing too:

Antonio and Rufina inside their new home.                                                                                           

Kilagding, Laak, Compostela Valley – Sometimes the worst of disasters could hit the already distressed communities. For an elderly couple in Compostela Valley, what was initially thought as nature’s wrath turned out to be life’s greatest blessing.

Rufina A. Gan Ongan, 82, and husband Antonio T. Gan Ongan, 84, used to stay in a small hut with walls made of bamboo slats and nipa roofing. After the devastation of Typhoon Pablo on December 4, 2012, nothing was left of it.

The old couple was not blessed with children. In those trying times, no one was able to take care or look after them. They had no one but each other.

Rufina recalled how she and her husband painstakingly made a makeshift shelter using the GI sheets and lumber they collected from the debris that scattered in the neighborhood.

“It would always bring me to tears whenever I recall our situation when the typhoon hit us here. For three days, we hid under the two pieces of GI sheet propped in an A-line position. We slept on the damp soil and endured the scorching heat during the day and the numbing coldness of the night,” Rufina sadly recounted.

Through the Modified Shelter Assistance Program (MSAP) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Antonio and Rufina received a permanent shelter constructed in a much safer ground in the village.

Three years after typhoon Pablo wrecked their home, they now live comfortably in their new abode. The house is fully painted with concrete walls, two bedrooms and a rest room.

The BLGU donated a 400-square-meter lot for each shelter, enabling residents to cultivate plants, cash crops and vegetables and even raise hogs or chicken.

In Rufina’s garden, one will find several blooming plants of various shades and a few vegetable patches which are dwarfed by tall cassava stalks. Most of the MSAP units here are teeming with an assortment of plants and vegetables that would surely amaze passersby and visitors alike.

MSAP granted nearly 300 beautiful permanent homes here. The vibrant community seemed to have not been ravaged by ‘Pablo’.

I am overjoyed that we have a house now. The government never neglected us, Rufina exclaimed.

Antonio is a Social Pension beneficiary of DSWD and gets P 500 every month which is paid every quarter through the local social welfare and development office. Rufina said it is truly a great help since Antonio could no longer walk nor hear.

We are very thankful that DSWD did not neglect us. The disaster that was ‘Pablo’ also brought blessings in our lives. We got a house and a sizeable lot for free and relocated to a place safe from disasters, Rufina said. ###

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FDS and second chances

Ablan all set for the Abaca Production Training.

Boston, Davao Oriental -Through FDS (Family Development Sessions) we learned that we need to secure our important documents and ready our disaster kit during calamities, said Ablan Toroba, a 55-year old Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary from Barangay Poblacion, Boston, Davao Oriental.

TS Pablo made its landfall on December 4, 2012. Boston, Davao Oriental was one of the hardest-hit towns.

“A coconut tree fell on our house. My wife, our four children and I hid in a huge boulder near our house,” Ablan reminisced.

Ablan was able to secure all their important documents, clean clothing and rice that could last them a week. Ablan and his wife Nina, 38, made a makeshift shack to house their children.

“The relief goods, blankets, mats, pans from DSWD arrived the next day. It was a big help especially to families who did not have dry, clean clothing to wear,” shared Ablan.

DSWD was one of the first agencies to respond and still has not left us yet. Because our house was totally damaged, they gave us a new place to live on November 2014. I was also able to avail of the cash-for-work program where we repaired schools, said Ablan.

Ablan is also one of the 850 recipients for Abaca Production Training in Boston. Each recipient was given a P 12,000.oo peso-worth starter kit which contains abaca tissue culture, bolo, pesticide, fertilizer and knapsack sprayer.

DSWD has been our constant companion. Before the typhoon, DSWD workers were the ones who prepared us through FDS. When the typhoon came, DSWD was one of the agencies that assisted us. And now that we are gradually rising from the devastation, DSWD is still there to ensure that we continue to move forward, Ablan said. ###



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Blessings amidst adversity

Barangay Dapnan, Baganga, Davao Oriental – For some, Pablo brought devastation, loss and hopelessness. For others, the typhoon brought in a renewed sense of hope and trust in the blessing of new beginnings.

Mila Alvar, 49, of Barangay Dapnan, Baganga, Davao Oriental believes that Pablo brought in the latter to her family.

Mila and Rene, 52, with their eight children are beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. “Pantawid Pamilya has been a huge help to my children. We were also awarded as a municipal winner for Huwarang Pamilya 2012 here in Baganga,” shared Mila.

In the onslaught of ‘Pablo’ last December 2012, the Alvar Family lost their home and their livelihood. Yet, Mila and Rene continued to hope for a better tomorrow. On February 2013, just two months after the ‘Pablo’ devastation, Rene was hospitalized at Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) in Davao City.

“My husband underwent a gall bladder operation. Our hospital bill was around P 120,000.00. But since I am a Pantawid beneficiary, I was automatically a recipient of PhilHealth. We did not pay anything at the hospital at all. I cried and thanked God and DSWD which never left us),” Mila tearfully recalled.

Another unexpected blessing came their way when her daughter, 24-year old Lowella Jane was accepted as one of the grantees of Students’ Grant-in-Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation (SGP-PA) at Davao Oriental State College of Science and Technology (DOSCST) in Mati City. Lowella Jane will graduate on March 2016 in BS Agriculture.

SGP-PA is a college scholarship program for Pantawid Pamilya student-beneficiaries in partnership with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

In November 2014, Mila’s family was also one of the 360 recipients of the goat–raising project through the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP). Each family was given one buck (male goat) and two does (female goat) to raise. Mila also helps in augmenting their family’s income my handcrafting bags made of straw and selling it in the neighborhood.

Then on April 2015, Rene was hired as one of the enumerators for Listahanan, one of the initiatives of DSWD that identifies who and where the poor are. “This is my simple way of thanking DSWD for all the good things it has given me and my family, so that more poor families may benefit from the assistance of the government),” shared Rene.

“We are very thankful to DSWD for all the assistance it has given to the less fortunate. My family and I will take care of all the assistance from DSWD. We also encourage others to take care of all the help they are getting from the government,” Mila said with gratitude in her eyes. (DSWD)

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‘Pablo’ mothers moving on

Glenda and her two special children.

Boston Davao Oriental- The municipality of Boston has come a long way because it never surrendered to mounting challenges especially to  disasters like Typhoon Pablo.

“We lost everything we had including our home, our crops. I almost lost my child with disability too,” said 49 year-old Vicmela Paguyan.

Vicmela is a Pantawid parent leader with five children. Her husband Rolly is a farmer. They are now living in a comfortable and descent home constructed under the Modified Shelter Assistance Program (MSAP) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

“Our lives now have really changed. After that tragic experience, we have become united in the family. Now I have learned to really pour out my love and attention to my special child Jhon,” Vicmela said.

Jhon has mental disorder and almost drowned when the water soared and penetrated their house.

“It was when I almost lost him that I realized I have not been that good a mother to him. Now my family is enjoying a lot of opportunities from DSWD and we strive harder to be worthy of the blessings,” Vicmela said.


Vicmela is also a grantee of Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) as individual fish vendor earning a P 600 profit a day.

The couple is also one of the 85o beneficiaries of the abaca production project under SLP which will be implemented this year.

“We are very blessed and happy for all the opportunities we are enjoying right now. There are times when we thank ‘Pablo’ for coming into our lives because we got all of these,” Vicmela beamed.

Project Development Officer Reynaldo Magadan said that the abaca production project will really help Pantawid beneficiaries sustain their improving condition.

Like Vicmela, a Pantawid mother Glenda Ambili is grateful to DSWD for always being there.

Glenda has three children; two of them are also with special needs (mental disorder).

“It was really a devastating experience yet it tested my mettle as a mother. It was really hard to escape death that time, but my children prompted me to fight and save them),” Glenda recalled.

“As a parent, gazing at my children settling in a nice home we can truly call our own gives me a lot of happiness. I can now focus on paying back all that I received through persistence, resilience and being the best mother to my children,” Vicmela said.

For the two mothers Vicmela and Glenda, the best value to hold on to is to grow and take to heart the lessons that typhoon Pablo brought to their lives. (DSWD)

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Livelihood continues to boost ‘Pablo’ survivors

Archie trains as an automotive mechanic.

Baganga Davao Oriental -In the continuing ‘Pablo’ recovery and rehabilitation program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), more livelihood projects are being accessed to Typhoon Pablo survivors.

Some 43 students whose parents are graduating from Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program are now enrolled in community based vocational and technical training on Automotive Servicing NC II under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and funded by DSWD.

“This is a big opportunity for us especially for me since I was not able to pursue my education because of financial problem. I believe this course will help me and my family to rise from poverty,” Archie Buo of Barangay Kinablangan shared.

Archie, 26 years old, is the eldest of the six siblings. He serves as the bread winner in the family. His father is a farmer and his mother drowned during the typhoon.

“The death of my mother is still painful and vivid in my memory because I was not able to save her. She hid under the table but suddenly vanished when the water rose and soaked our house. We found her dead under the table. She was trapped when trees smashed our house to the ground,” Archie lamented.

His family is now living in their new house built through the Modified Shelter Assistance Program (MSAP) of DSWD in partnership with the Provincial Government.

“I will do my best to graduate from this course and land a job. This is all for my mother. I know she is proud of me,” Archie said.

DSWD provided P 18, 000.00 cash assistance per student for the payment of their tuition fee for the 6-months Automotive Servicing course.

Other livelihood projects for ‘Pablo’ survivors in Baganga include micro financing, skills training and cash for building livelihood assets (CBLA).

Baganga Mayor Arturo Monday confirmed that through this experience the people of Davao oriental are now united and resilient, having learned their lesson.

“I thanked DSWD for the undying support. DSWD was the first responder among all agencies and was able to sustain its help through the years especially in building the permanent shelters. Typhoon Pablo may have shattered many houses, but in the end we were provided with a much better and a much beautiful home and livelihood programs to start our new life. Indeed, DSWD is our hero.” Mayor Monday joyfully declared(DSWD)

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PaskuJuan in Tagum

PASKUJUAN IN TAGUM. Mayor Allan L. Rellon [right] of Tagum City and Director Priscilla N. Razon of DSWD lead the ribbon cutting ceremonies during the opening of DSWD PaskuJuan Festival and Bazaar at Tagum City Trade and Cultural Center on Sunday. Also in photo are [from left] DSWD Assistant Director Ma. Vilia L. Vigil, Tagum City Councilor Allan D. Zulueta, DSWD Planning Chief Estrella D. Brigole, DSWD Team Leader for Davao Del Norte Ellen Nahial, and Tagum City Social Welfare and Development Officer Nora H. Lupiba. (DSWD)

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People involvement, preparation: Best response to disasters

COMPOSTELA VALLEY PROVINCE -People participation in preparing for disasters as well as rigorous implementation of local disaster plans are the best ways to combat future disasters. This was affirmed by local officials and residents alike who experienced the intense ferocity of Typhoon Pablo in December 2012.

The community should be involved in problem and project identification. The participatory community-based approach must be employed for them to appreciate their role in governance. They should be made aware of their responsibility and involvement in the plans. Transparency here is crucial too. The community down to the family must know what their government is doing, underscored Engr. Lolito P. Campos, Municipal Planning and Development Coordinator of New Bataan.

Beverly Jane B. Dela Peňa, New Bataan Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer pointed out the importance of preparedness. “We have to be ready with our early warning and communication facilities as well as our data. We should activate our housing council, revisit our zoning plan, enhance our systems like our records and database. We also need to strengthen the MDRRMC and BDRRMC.”

Appropriate handling and coordination with disaster responders like the international NGOs and other humanitarian communities must also be learned by the affected communities like theirs, she noted, adding that they were so overwhelmed by the droves of them entering their town and the nature of assistance they brought.

Virgie G. Madino, 23, of Sitio Plateau, Barangay Andap said, “We have to prepare food or canned goods because whenever we need to vacate our place, we are always ready. It’s not good judgment to mount your preparation during the actual occurrence of disaster.”

Building up

We need to be always prepared. We now conduct Disaster Preparedness and Management training in every barangay. Almost done now, UNDP is assisting us in formulating the CLUP (Comprehensive Land Use Plan) on which our disaster plan will be anchored, shared New Bataan Mayor Lorenzo L. Balbin Jr.

More than 2400 families in New Bataan lost their homes and nearly 2000 perished while some went missing.

For Mayor Eutropio S. Jayectin of Montevista, for people to really assimilate the lessons and attain genuine change, “We need to demonstrate to them what to do and as leaders, we have to set a good example.  We should be prepared always and follow policies as well. For instance, we have been bracing our communities’ capacities in disaster response to really build resilience. If people will not participate, it’s useless. We cannot achieve anything.”

Compostela Valley Governor Arturo T. Uy pushed, “Disaster preparedness should be done as well as MGB zoning as to what areas should be ‘no build’ and should be vacated or those ‘high risk’ places. All must be trained to understand and heed public warning like that of PAGASA. Active and continuing collaboration between national and local governments is an edge too. But foremost, we need to improve and be more prepared since climate change is a reality.”

Protection of the environment should be prioritized too, he urged, adding that, they can work on improving more so they will be more prepared and more capable to confront future disaster experience.

“After Typhoon Pablo, we were exposed to many things like camp coordination and camp management. It was an eye-opener, prompting us that we should always be on our toes, prepared and doing our part also,” said Josephine M. Frasco, Provincial Social Welfare and Development Officer of Compostela Valley.

Through its myriad of programs and projects, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will continue to involve and empower people in the community to help them overcome the onslaught of future disasters. (DSWD)




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A community unites for sustainable rehab

Olaycon, Monkayo, Compostela Valley – “After typhoon Pablo badly hit our area in December 4, 2012, our community realized that the success of rehabilitation initiatives do not just depend on the funds produced by government, but how quickly and efficiently a community responds to such crisis,” shared Janet B. Diel, Barangay Chair and Kalahi-CIDSS Volunteer of Barangay Olaycon.

Awarded as the barangay with the Most Improved Local Governance during the Kalahi-CIDSS 1st Regional Bayani Ka Awards in 2014, Olaycon villagers have proven that no tragedy could break them if they commit to be united especially in times of crisis.

Kalahi-CIDSS or Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan- Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services, is a community-driven development program of the Philippine Government aiming to empower people through sustainable development, enhanced participation in local governance, and management of poverty alleviation projects.

“It was already dawn when I heard the wind rustling through the trees. I immediately went outside and checked the situation of my constituents. When I went back home, I wondered why it was suddenly so bright and windy, I realized then that I didn’t have a roof anymore,” Diel narrated.


“I perfectly remember how our community rose after Pablo. Our leader, Janet, even when her home was hit by the typhoon badly, she was one of the first responders in repairing the damage caused by Pablo. She helped us without reservations, shared Pedro Bolonos, a volunteer in Kalahi-CIDSS.

The implementation of Kalahi-CIDSS in the village unleashed the massive volunteerism spirit of the residents in Barangay Olaycon.

Community in action

Despite the delay of implementation of Kalahi-CIDSS due to typhoon Pablo, the community remained enthusiastic and cooperative when the implementation resumed in 2013.

“As testament to their commitment, barangay assemblies boasted of 100% attendance and active participation in meetings,” said Joel B. Quiňo, former Area Coordinator of Kalahi-CIDSS in Monkayo.

According to residents, the level of awareness and social preparation imparted to them prior to ‘Pablo’, strengthened their commitment and trust. In fact, their accomplishments exceeded their expectations.

One of the most important and urgent projects carried out through Kalahi – CIDSS was the establishment of a potable water system. With an estimated cost of P 645,000.00, the project was expected to cover four puroks.

After careful implementation and imbued with the spirit of bayanihan, the projected number of puroks covered was doubled. Priorities were realigned, and those who had more resources didn’t hesitate to give way to those who were not faring well.

Purok leaders mobilized volunteers to haul the pipes and other materials to save on labor cost.

In the end, the project was able to serve the entire barangay.

Through the ingenuity of community members, challenges were defeated and Olaycon became an icon for learning on post-calamity area rehabilitation.

The government needs to provide help that is sustainable. The community driven development (CDD) approach of Kalahi-CIDSS helped the victims rise after the typhoon.  With DSWD’s initiative, the people were able to rebuild their lives and celebrate their newfound resilience,” Governor Arturo T. Uy  said.

“Because of Kalahi-CIDSS, the spirit of massive volunteerism heightened in our barangay. With this, we were able to effectively overcome the aftermath of Typhoon Pablo in our community,” Diel added. (DSWD)

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