Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte (DSWD XI) – “They say that only a life lived for others is worthwhile,” shared Alma Grace Betua of Barangay Balagunan here.

Couple Ian and Alma Grace Betua is popular in their community, both being advocates, leaders, volunteers, followers, counsellors, teachers and friends who never thought they would be all these and more after their life was changed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Modified Conditional Cash Transfer for Indigenous Peoples (MCCT-IP).

The Betua family belongs to the Mansaka tribe.


A typical rural family, Grace and Ian rented a house for five years and supported their five children from a meager income of a laborer in a banana plantation.

Lisod gyud kaayo sa una kay daghan kaayo amoang huna-hunaon ug kinahanglan atimanon, gikan sa inadlaw nga pagkaon sa amoang panimalay hangtod sa baon ug galastuhon sa eskwelahan sa akoang mga anak. Usa pa nga pinaka-problema kay sige og ka ospital akoang mga anak tungod sa hubak (It was really hard before since we had a lot of things to consider and attend to, from our daily food consumption to the school allowance and school requirements of my children. Another big trial was the frequent hospital confinement of my children due to asthma),” Grace lamented.

The net income of her husband every 15 days was only Php 200 which could not even sustain their daily needs.

Usahay gani amoang obligasyon sa eskwelahan maabtan pa og December, kung moabot akoang bonus bag-o mabayaran (There were times that we only get to pay school obligations during the month of December when my bonus arrives),” Ian recalled.

To augment their income, Grace as vocational cosmetology graduate, made cash out of her special skills in manicure, pedicure, floral arrangement and even home service hair cutting.

Enters Pantawid

The Betua Family became beneficiaries of the MCCT-IP in 2014.

Dako kaayo nga tabang ang programa ilabi na sa pag-eskwela sa amoang mga anak. Mas na-engganyo sila moeskwela tungod sa programa (The program has been a huge help especially in my children’s schooling. They are more encouraged to attend school because of the program), Grace happily shared.

She said, they always present to her a piece of paper with a list of school requirements every after pay-out.

Kining balay ang usa sa blessing gyud, nga napundar namo kini tungod kay wala nami problema sa amoang adlaw-adlaw sa amoang mga anak ug sa ilang mga kinahanglan sa eskwelahan. Kada sweldo sa akoang bana ginabilin namo sa hardware ang kwarta hangtod sa nakompleto namo ang tanan materyales nga nakabalay gyud mi (This house is a blessing. We were able to build it because our daily needs, including that of my children’s and their school needs have been taken care of. Every salary of my husband was deposited in the hardware until we paid off all materials for this house),” Ian proudly recounted.

The couple are also blessed with responsible children. They help in household chores after doing their home studies.

Their eldest Christina Marie, 14, dreams to be a chef while Chelzie Marie, 12, wants to be a doctor; Cassandra Marie, 9, hopes to be a teacher and Christian Ivan, 7, longs to be a priest someday.

Grace and Ian never fail to inculcate positive values to their children. This is evident how their children perform academically and even non-academically in school.

The Betua family is just one of the 29,184 families in the entire Davao Region that have benefited from MCCT-IP.

Giving back

Grace admitted she is so blessed to become a member of the program. It molded her to become a better person hence she promised to give back what the government provided them.

Grace continuously pours her time and effort to her co-beneficiaries and to the community. She is an active Parent Leader with 99 members in three clusters.

Her advocacy with her members is the beautification of their barangay. They clean their area and plant vegetables in vacant lots.

Grace is also a volunteer religion teacher in Balagunan National High School and serves as Elementary School teacher every Wednesday and Friday, member of Mother Butler in a Catholic Christian community, catechist, choir member, and she also offers free flower decoration during weddings and other activities.

Grace also leads the yearly feeding program to IP children in the remotest areas in their municipality. Once she won in a municipal pageant as “Mataid na Uli” (Beautiful Woman) during the Indigenous People’s Day.

On the other hand, Ian is a “Kaabag” (lay minister) in their church, volunteer teacher, and every Sunday after mass he visits all sick people in their community and performs anointing of the sick.

Ian is also a NC 1 passer in Automotive Servicing through the Sustainable Livelihood program of DSWD.

“Buot namo nga ipa-ambit pud ang among grasya nga nadawat gikan sa Ginoo ug sa DSWD pinaagi sa pagtabang sa ubang tao. Tungod niini nga programa, sigurado mi nga makaya namo mulampos (We want to share all the blessings we received from God and from DSWD by helping others. Through this program, we are sure we will succeed),” exclaimed Grace.

“Lipay kaayo ko nga makita sad akoang mga kaubanan nga  nabag-o sad ilang kinabuhi sa programa, ug ang pinaka maayo sa tanan tungod sa MCCT-IP naging mas garbo kami sa among pagiging nitibo (I am very happy that the lives of my co-beneficiaries were also changed by the program. Most importantly, through MCCT-IP we became prouder of our tribe).”

The Betua family may not excel financially but theirs is a circle of strength, founded on faith, joined by love and kept by God. (DSWD)