Dulag, Leyte – Meet Rosemarie and Jocelyn, two mothers who have once again proven that no typhoon or calamity, even with the strength of Typhoon Yolanda, can cripple them from fulfilling their responsibilities for their loved ones while contributing to the improvement of their communities.
Rosemarie Librado, 42, has nine children whose ages range from four to 21. She lives with her husband and seven of their children since the other two have already settled with their respective families. Rosemarie, together with her husband and three of their children, works as a pasuhol or someone who is hired to do any job.
As a pasuhol, Rosemarie works in the rice field. She receives P25 a day for a piece of land she sows with rice seeds to produce rice seedlings. These seedlings are then harvested and prepared for planting. Rosemarie is paid P80 a day for doing such.
Despite the hard work, Rosemarie shared that the highest income that their family has received in a day is P300.
“Hindi talaga kasya ‘yung kinikita namin. Kulang na kulang. Lalo na kapag walang kumukuha sa amin na mag pasuhol. Buti na lang at merong Pantawid [Pamilyang Pilipino Program] (What we are earning is really not enough especially if no one hires us. Good thing, there is Pantawid),” Rosemarie said.
Three of Rosemarie’s children are Pantawid Pamilya grantees.
Pantawid Pamilya gives cash grants to poor families to ensure their education, health, and nutritional needs. It is implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
In Eastern Visayas alone, there are 28,763 household-beneficiaries of the program as of March 2014.
“Pinipilit kong makapasok ang mga anak ko. Lalo na pagkatapos ng ‘Yolanda’ dahil marami silang nakalimutan. Gusto kong matutunan nila ‘yung bagong ituturo ng guro (I make sure that my children go to school especially after ‘Yolanda’ because they already forgot many of their lessons. I want them to learn new things from their teachers),” Rosemarie shared.
“Kahit noon, gustong- gusto ko silang makapag-aral kaso walang pera. Pero dahil sa Pantawid, hindi ko na iniisip ‘yung gagamitin nila sa eskwelahan ( Even before, I really wanted them to go to school but we do not have money to support them. With Pantawid, I am not anymore bothered with where to get money to buy their school needs),” she added.
Aside from being a Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary, Rosemarie is also one of the 545 participants of the Cash- for- Work (CFW) program of the DSWD and the local government.
CFW provides job opportunities and income to those who have been victims of disasters.
“Kasama po sa CFW activities namin ‘yung paglilinis doon sa Baye Creek. Kapag umuulan kasi nababaha ‘yung mga taniman namin kaya tinanggal namin ‘yung mga bara. Naglilinis din kami sa provincial road (Cleaning the Baye Creek is one of the CFW activities. When it rains, our plants are flooded so we decongested the creek. We also clean the provincial roads),” Rosemarie shared.
Aside from these, Rosemarie also helps in the maintenance of their zone’s communal garden.
“Nagga-garden din po kami. Nagtatanim ng mais, sitaw, talong, at okra. ‘Yung pinagbebentahan namin, pinaghahatian namin. ‘Yung nakuha ko dito sa CFW, ibinili ko ng yero ng bahay namin. Kahit wala pang dingding, meron nang bubong ( We also do gardening of corn, string beans, eggplants, and okra. We divide the proceeds of our sale. I used the money I got from CFW to buy galvanized iron sheets for the roof our house although there are no walls yet), ” she added.
At present, the walls of their home are still made of used tarpaulins but Rosemarie remains optimistic that soon they will be able to buy additional materials to build a better house.
Like Rosemarie, Jocelyn Tapa, 51, had to work hard for her family. But she had to double her efforts as her husband, Romulo, had to stop working for the treatment of his tuberculosis.
“Pasuhol din ang trabaho ko. Oo, mahirap magtrabaho lalo na kasi mag-isa lang ako na naghahanap-buhay. Tapos na ‘Yolanda’ pa ( I also work as a pasuhol. Yes, it is hard especially that I am the only one working. Then we were hit by ‘Yolanda’),” Jocelyn said.
Although only two of her seven children are now staying with her, Jocelyn still needs to spend more time and attention for them especially that her older child, Jazen, 16, is sickly.
“Minsan hindi ako makaalis para magtrabaho kasi kailangan ko siyang [Jazen] bantayan. Kaya lang kailangan ko ding kumita ng pera para sa kanila (Sometimes I cannot work because I have to attend to Jazen. But then I need to work also for them),” Jocelyn shared.
But despite these challenges, Jocelyn’s hope for her family never falters.
“Maganda na lang at may Pantawid Pamilya kasi nakakatulong sa pag-aaral ng isa ko pang anak na si Romulo, Jr. (Good thing there is Pantawid Pamilya, it helps me with Romulo, Jr’s schooling),” Jocelyn said.
Romulo Jr. has been a part of Pantawid Pamilya since 2010 and the grants that he receives have been a great help.
“Ginagamit naming ‘yung grant para sa kanyang damit at school supplies. Para talaga sa pag-aaral niya. Bumibili na rin ako ng gatas niya kaya pati si Jazen nakakainom ng gatas (The grant is for his school needs and clothes. I also buy milk for him and Jazen),” Jocelyn further narrated.
Due to the onslaught of ‘Yolanda’, Jocelyn’s house is among those that were damaged.
“Namumulot po ako ng yero sa eskwelahan, ‘yun muna ang ginamit namin. Kasi ‘yung pera na natatanggap ko, nakalaan talaga ‘yun para sa pangangailangan ng pamilya ko (I get scrap materials from a nearby school and used these temporarily for the house. The money from Pantawid is allotted for my children),” Jocelyn added.
Aside from being a Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary, Jocelyn is also a participant of the CFW.
“Magkakatulong po kami nila Rosemarie. Sa akin po sa garden ang tinatanim ko ay kamote. Isang lata ay 150 pesos. At kapag kumita ako, ibinibili ko ng gamot ng asawa ko at para sa mga anak ko (I work with Rosemarie in the CFW. I am assigned to plant camote which I sell for P150 a can. I use my earnings to buy medicines for my husband),” Jocelyn shared.
Aside from her responsibilities as a mother, Jocelyn never forgets her role in the community.
“Gusto kong tumulong sa mga gawain dito sa barangay, lalo na ngayong na-‘Yolanda’ kami (I want to help in our barangay especially with the aftermath of ‘Yolanda’),” Jocelyn said.
“Kailangan naming magsikap ngayon, kaya sana patuloy pa rin ‘yung suporta sa amin, lalo sa sa pag-aaral ng mga anak namin at nang sila ay makahanap ng trabaho (We need to work harder. We hope that the help will continue so that our children can continue their schooling and will someday find a job),” Jocelyn said as she emphasized the hope that education brings to her family.
And when that time comes, definitely, it would not just be a glass of milk that Jocelyn’s children would have.
Rosemarie and Jocelyn described their lives to be difficult especially after ‘Yolanda’, but what is remarkable with these two mothers is their strength and resiliency to bounce back and achieve a better future for their loved ones which they are willing to work for.#