Almost five years have passed but Esmeralda Mallari could still recall the seemingly ordinary day that changed their lives- the day when their family was assessed by the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR), now known as Listahanan, of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
San Antonio Village, Baguio City was assessed during the 2009 enumeration. Esmeralda’s household was one of those which were assessed and she admitted that it was her first time to be surveyed and hence, she was puzzled on the assessment conducted by the two enumerators on their family and their house.
“Pumasok po talaga sila sa bahay, eh noon po wala kaming kuryente kasi naputulan tapos po yung lutuan namin kahoy pa po ang panggatong. Sa kwarto po namin siksikan, parang sardinas po kami noon,” with a smile, Esmeralda recounted how the enumerators checked almost every part of their house.
“Tinignan po nila yung CR, tinanong po nila kung ilan kami sa pamilya, pati po kung ilang pamilya ang gumagamit po sa kaldero at lutuan,” she added.
Only after the assessment that the enumerators identified themselves as personnel from the DSWD and that the results of the assessment would identify potential beneficiaries of government programs.
The data gathered during the assessment is a result of the Proxy Means Test (PMT) administered through the Listahanan.
PMT is a statistical model that approximates family income based on observable and verifiable non-income indicators such as household assets, livelihood, housing conditions and access to basic services. With large informal sectors in the country where actual incomes are difficult to verify, PMT has been found to be a good way of targeting the poor through unified set of criteria and scientific means.
The results on the assessment of Listahanan in San Antonio Village showed that out of the 161 assessed households, 49 households were identified poor including the family of Esmeralda.
At that time, she had no job as well as her husband Rafael who only relied on on-call house painting. She had nine children wherein six were still with them while three were already married.
“Noon walang trabaho ang asawa ko. ‘Yung mga anak ko nagbabasura sila. Papasok sila sa eskwelahan, di man lang sila makakain ng almusal, wala pa silang baon. Naiiyak ako noon kasi wala rin akong maipambili kahit papel lang na magagamit nila, Awang-awa ako. Nawawalan na ako ng pag-asa.” Esmeralda reminisced.
With Pantawid Pamilya and SLP
With their condition, their family became part of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, one of the poverty alleviation programs of the DSWD that invests in the health and education of poor households, particularly of children aged 0-14 years old. The program provides cash grants to beneficiaries provided that they comply with the set conditions required by the program.
“Malaking tulong saming mahihirap ang Pantawid Pamilya… Kung walang Pantawid, di kami makakapagbayad (sa eskwelahan). Nagpursige ang mga anak kong mag-aral para kapag may nagmonitor, makita nilang maganda ang mga grades ng mga bata,” Esmeralda added proudly.
In 2013, Esmeralda also became a program participant of the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), another program of the DSWD. Here, they created a group of 17 members as grantee of the loan assistance for the establishment of a sari-sari store. Aside from their group project, Esmeralda received loan assistance from the SLP which she used as capital in buy-and-sell of fish in the market.
“Alam naman po namin na hindi kami habang-buhay na benepisyaryo ng Pantawid Pamilya, kaya malaking tulong po ang pagbibigay sa amin ng SLP ng pagkakataon na makapagnegosyo,” Esmeralda said.
The family of Esmeralda is only one of the many identified poor families of the Listahanan that were given a chance to improve their lives through the help of the social protection programs of the DSWD.
Given all the circumstances prior to the day that their family had been assessed by the Listahanan enumerators, Esmeralda almost lost hope that there would be a chance that their lives would improve, that she and her husband could send all their children to school with healthy breakfast and baon at hand.
But that day of the assessment, even without any expectation of what would come, Esmeralda opened her doors to Listahanan which undoubtedly opened immense opportunities for her. # DSWD-CAR Social Marketing Unit, Kaye Ann O. Mapalo