“Gusto ko pong matapos ang kursong Information Technology (IT)”, 21-year old Rose Ann shared as her dainty fingers skilfully ran over the colourful threads of her unfinished masterpiece.
Rose Ann is the eldest among the six children of Macario and Rosemarie Callumag of Brgy. Mabilong in Lubuagan, Kalinga. The family’s income through farming and weaving certainly did not suffice to address their needs as the family became a part of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in 2009.
“Hand to mouth ang trabaho namin. Yung kinikita namin sapat lang sa pangkain kaya yung mga pangangailangan ng mga bata sa school hindi namin naibibigay lahat.”, Manang Rosemarie reminisced. “Idi kinannayon da nga ag-absent, haan nga kumpleto ti gamit da. (Noon, parating umaabsent ang mga bata, hindi rin kumpleto ang mga gamit nila.)”, she added.
But despite this, Macario and Rosemarie made sure that Rose Ann is able to attend college with the hope that their eldest daughter will be able to help their family to get out of poverty. “Kayat ko nga ituloy na tapno ada met ti maibaga nga experience na nga nalpas na, tapno ada pagtuluyan na, tapno matulungan na met iti kakabsat na. (Gusto kong maipagpatuloy nya [ang kanyang pag-aaral], para masabing meron syang experience at natapos, para makapasok [sa trabaho] at matulungan nya ang mga kapatid nya.)”, Manang Rosemarie shared.
Weaving the dream
The family’s income from farming and weaving has been supplemented by the grant that they receive from the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.
“Pirmi nga ragsak mi ta dakkel ti maitulong na maited ko iti kasapulan ti ubbing, maka-eskwela da, haan da nga ag-absent, magatang ko iti maited nga kanen da. (Tuwang-tuwa kami dahil sa malaking tulong [ng Pantawid Pamilya], naibibigay ko ang mga pangangailangan ng mga bata, nakakapag-aral sila at hindi umaabsent, naibibili ko sila ng pagkain)”, Manang Rosemarie narrated.
Aside from the grant that the family receives, Rose Ann was able to avail of the Cash for Training Program of DSWD under the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP). While waiting for the semester where she can get the required subjects for her course, Rose Ann underwent a dressmaking course under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) which enhanced her skills in hand work. Now, she is not only a weaver, but also a seamstress as she was also granted a mini sewing machine.
“Adu ti agpaparepair iti bado, ada pay iti agpaaramid iti bag. Isu nga daytoy ket makatulong nga pag-aalan ti income. (Maraming nagpaparepair ng damit. Mayroon ding nagpapagawa ng bag. Kaya nakakatulong ito para madagdagan yung income namin.)”, Rose Ann shared.
Because of this, Rose Ann was able to provide electric connection for their home while saving some money for her upcoming enrolment.
“Kaya kong mag-weave at mag repair para may additional income kami. Gagawin ko yun para makatulong ako sa mga magulang ko at para maabot ko yung pangarap ko na makatapos ng IT.”, Rose Ann added.
The Callumag family is also able to avail of a Php 10,000 worth of loan from SLP which they have used to purchase additional materials for their craft such as threads and bamboo sticks which Macario uses to make musical instruments.
Aside from the assistance that they have received from DSWD, the local government unit (LGU) of Lubuagan has provided threads and additional cash assistance to the family. The LGU is also planning to put up a display center where the local products, including those made by Callumag family, be sold in a standard price.
“Iniiwasan na natin na i-peddle nila yung kanilang mga produkto o kaya naman ay yung dumaan pa sa middle man kasi nababawasan yung kikitain sana ng mga producers natin”, Lubuagan Mayor Johny Dickpus shared.
The LGU of Lubuagan and DSWD are working closely together to ensure that underprivileged families in Abra, including the Callumag family, are receiving the appropriate interventions for improving their situation. As for Rose Ann, she sees to it that every thread that her hand touches would make another strong connection towards the attainment of her dream. # DSWD-CAR, SOCIAL MARKETING UNIT, NFGV