DAVAO CITY (DSWD XI) Melba Mandain, a 68-year old widow, is one of the 398 Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries of Barangay 23-C, Davao City.  She takes care of her three grandchildren -12-year old JB who is in Grade 4; Vivian, 11, in Grade 3 and Jayson, 12, Grade  4.

To earn a living, she borrows from a local moneylender and buys dried fish to resell along the sidewalks of Agdao, 7 days a week from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Her 200-peso earning is used to buy a few kilos of rice and viand for the day.

In 2011, they became beneficiaries of the program. “Nakakita ko og katabang sa pagpa-eskwela sa akoang mga apo kay dili gyud sakto ang akoang ginakita sa pagpasulod sa ilaha sa eskwelahan (I finally found a helpmate to assist me in the school needs of my grandchildren. My daily earning will never be enough to send all my grandchildren to school),” Melba recounts.

Life has been endurable with Pantawid. However on January 2015, her grandson Jayson contracted a kidney disease and was hospitalized for three months at Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC).

Wala ko kabalo unsa akoang himuon. Nakahibalo ko nga apil mi sa PhilHealth apan naguol ko sa sobra nga bayrunon (I had no idea what to do. I know that we are automatically recipients of PhilHealth but I still got worried on the extra expenses that we may incur),” Melba shares.

Melba worked from dawn until night to earn extra income to be able to cover any additional hospital expense. Their bill reached up to P 90,000.00 but she did not pay a single cent at SPMC.

Pagkabalo sa SPMC nga Pantawid mi ug pagpakita namo sa amoang ID, giatiman gyud mi nila og tarong. Dako kaayo nga tabang gyud ang PhilHealth sa amoa (When SPMC learned that we are beneficiaries of Pantawid, they took care of everything. They were very helpful. PhilHealth has been a great help to us!),” she exclaims.

PhilHealth’s No Balance Billing (NBB) started in 2011. Melba is one of the  234,000 Pantawid households in Region XI that have been identified as “poorest of the poor” through the Listahanan assessment and are automatically enrolled in PhilHealth.

The premiums of the beneficiaries are paid for by the national government. The beneficiaries only have to present their Pantawid Pamilya ID at the hospital where the patient is admitted to avail of NBB. (DSWD)