By E E JERUSALEM
AT 62, Virginia never slowed down in finding ways to improve the lot of her family.
She was engaged in basket and mat weaving and earned at least P300 a month. This measly income was augmented by her husband, Virgilio, who is a tenant of a 2ha rice and coconut land.
Life for the Malano couple was hard with nine children to feed. They do not have jobs to sustain the needs of their children especially in school and could not even bring their children to hospital or health center.
Virginia confided that when the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program reached their place, it brought a lot of hope to them.
Her family is just one of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program beneficiaries at Barangay Sevilla, Donsol, Sorsogon.
The family receives P500 for health and P300 per child for their education. Enthusiastically, she shared her story by telling how grateful she is that her family was included to be one of the recipients of the program
Virginia said the cash assistance for education her children receive inspires them to be in school regularly and do well in their studies.
They now have money to spend for their school projects and never experience going to school with empty stomach.
Virginia and Virgilio are aware that the Pantawid Pamilya implementation is only for five years.
Donsol belongs to Set II of which the program will end in 2014 and the Malano family is included in Set II.
"What will happen to us after 2015? Will there be other help from the government?" These are the questions which bother the Malano couple.
As revealed by Virginia, another good news came to the family. "The question that bothered us seemed to have found an aswer," she said.
In 2011, the DSWD brought the Sustainable Livelihood Program in Donsol,Sorsogon giving priority to the Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries.
"Prayers answered," Virginia exclaimed.
She was one who qualified for the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP).
Sustainable Livelihood Program is a community-based capacity building program that seeks to uplift the program participants' socio-economic status.
It has two models; Micro-enterprise development, and employment facilitation. Virginia is under employment facilitation.
Virginia recalls that she wanted very much to use her skills in ginger tea making (salabat) and in basket and mat-weaving but the family has only a shoestring capital to start the business.
The P6,000 capital assistance received by Virginia was invested in her handicraft and food processing project.
When she started the project, Virginia was determined to make it grow.
Aside from attending to her project, Virginia availed herself of trainings on handicraft and food processing sponsored by the Department of Trade and Industry.
With perseverance, dedication, and patience, the Malano couple was able to expand their livelihood project from handicraft and food processing to sari-sari store.
With the convergence of the Pantawid Pamilya and the Sustainable Livelihood Program, Virginia enthuses that her family can now get together more often, with decent food on the table especially during weekends.
Her children are all in school and she can sustain the medication of her husband who is sick.
Now, the Malano couple will soon have a fish pond. It would mean additional income for the family.
Virginia said that the success of business depends on one's will to succeed.
Guts and hard work always make sense. – Bicol Mail