The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), as the lead agency in social protection is mandated to serve, protect, and empower the disadvantaged and vulnerable sectors, and nowhere is this more evident than in the success stories of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) partner-beneficiaries, who have risen from poverty to self-sufficiency.

To encourage those who have graduated from 4Ps, DSWD Field Office V held Pugay Tagumpay 2021, a commendation to household-beneficiaries whose lives have improved through the program, with the assistance of partner-stakeholders.

In 2020, a total of 585,125 household-beneficiaries nationwide have exited from 4Ps with 56,095 household-beneficiaries coming from the Bicol Region.

On the other hand, as of January 2021, some 153,844 household-beneficiaries nationwide whose last monitored child reached 19 years old and/or finished high school in 2020, are slated to exit from the program.

Meanwhile, 423,325 children and youth -beneficiaries are graduating from high school this year.

Stories of change

Some graduating 4Ps beneficiaries in the Bicol region shared how their lives were transformed through the program. These stories of change embody the program’s goal to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty by investing in human capital, specifically in education and health.

Mary Ann Quingquing Ampongan is one of the Expanded Student’s Grants-in-Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation (ESGP-PA) student grantees, which enabled her to graduate from college with a BS Secondary Education degree. ESGP-PA is a scholarship grant to pursue higher education for poor families with 4Ps child/children. A student-grantee is entitled to a maximum of Sixty Thousand Pesos (P60,000.00) per academic year which covers the cost of tuition and other school fees, academic and extra-curricular expenses, purchase of textbook, board and lodging, transportation, clothing, medical needs and other related education expenses and support services to complete a degree program.

Mary Ann’s mother is a factory worker, while her father is a tenant farmer who harvests his produce every three months, depending on good weather condition. She has three other siblings, so Mary Ann decided to work as a cashier at a local store after she graduated from high school to augment the family’s meager income. She was thankful to be chosen as one of the student-grantees of the ESGP-PA when her family was enrolled in 4Ps in 2011. Mary Ann currently works as a validator for DSWD’s Listahanan saying that she wants to give back to the agency that has helped her family.

“Isang malaking oportunidad ang makatanggap ng tulong mula sa gobyerno kaya huwag po natin sayangin ang tulong na ito at tulungan din natin ang ating mga sarili na mas magpursige pa at tuluyang maka-alpas sa sikulo ng kahirapan. Magpatuloy po tayo sa pagpupursige at magpatuloy tungo sa mas marami pang tagumpay.” (It is a huge opportunity to receive help from the government, so let us not waste this, rather let us help ourselves and continue to improve so we can break out from the cycle of poverty. Let us continue to achieve more victories), Mary Ann shared during the Pugay Tagumpay program.

On the other hand, Honoria Magistrado Dimaiwat, a solo parent with four children, is another 4Ps beneficiary who feels deeply grateful to the program, saying it helped her raise her children the right way.

She narrated that through the things she learned from regular attendance to the Family Development Sessions (FDS), one of the program’s conditionalities, she was able to impart to her children sound moral values which guided them in their growing up years. FDS is the psycho-social, psycho-educational intervention of the 4Ps program to encourage positive family values, strengthen marital relationships, and promote involvement, participation, volunteerism, and leadership for strengthened individual and community empowerment.

Honoria now has a daughter working as an Overseas Filipino worker (OFW), while her second daughter is a public school teacher, and her two other children are in college. In return, her children raised funds to build a bigger house for her, which becomes an evacuation site for their community during calamities.

Honoria challenges her graduating co-beneficiaries from their town, “Kaya dapat po ma-encourage natin ang mga anak na makatapos para pagdating ng panahon, makatulong sa ating mga pamilya. Kami nga noon, ang bahay namin ang liit, ngayon pinatayuan na ng mga anak namin na nakapagtapos ng pag-aaral” (We should encourage our children to finish their studies so they could someday help our families. We used to have a small house, but our children who graduated from college built a bigger house for us).

Meanwhile, born from a poor household of the Agta-Tabangnon tribe, Maria Cristina O. San Pascual affirmed that 4Ps changed her perspective in life. As a member of the Indigenous Peoples, she lacked access to basic education making her intimidated in facing other people.

When her household became a 4Ps beneficiary, her previous beliefs that she was stuck in being un-educated and poor changed. She graduated from secondary education through the Alternative Learning System (ALS) in 2018 and is currently a second – year college student. Her two children who are senior high school graduates, will also be pursuing tertiary education in their hometown in Buhi, Camarines Sur.

Maria Cristina became a parent-leader from 2014 to 2020. Grateful to the 4Ps program, she now proudly shares that they were able to save enough money to buy a bangka which helps them harvest the tilapia in their fishery more efficiently.

Moreover, she was also able to engage and earn in an income generating project, a Bigasang Bayan, since 2015, through the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), also implemented by the DSWD.

Maria Cristina urges her fellow 4Ps beneficiaries to persevere.

“Tinutulungan na tayo ng pamahalaan, kailangan tulungan din natin ang ating mga sarili para makabangon. Kahit anong tulong ng pamahalaan, kung di tayo magsisikap at patuloy ang ating mga bisyo, wala pa ring mangyayari ” (The government is helping us, but we must also help ourselves. No matter what help the government extends to us, if we do not persevere and continue engaging in vices, nothing will happen.)

The 4Ps currently serves more than 4.3 million active households, utilizing more than P49 billion program funds in 2020. 

4Ps was enacted into law in April 2019 making it the government’s national poverty reduction strategy. The program invests in health, nutrition, and education of poor eligible households. These, alongside with the psychosocial and psycho-educational component, provided through the FDS, led the beneficiaries to an improved and sustained well-being. ###