Baguio City – Parents, program partners, media men, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) staff, and talented Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program children beneficiaries gather at the DSWD-Training Center on September 30, 2014 to honor the efforts of Pantawid Pamilya children who excel in their studies and involve themselves in the community during the conduct of the Regional Search for Exemplary Pantawid Pamilya Children 2014. With six contenders from the different provinces of the Cordillera Administrative Region who vied to be this year’s regional exemplary Pantawid Pamilya child, the attendees witnessed that even children are capable of shunning poverty aside to make their talents and wit shine.

There are currently 119,216 Pantawid Pamilya children attending school and 14,769 children who visit the health centers in the Cordillera region. And on its third year, the Search for Exemplary Pantawid Pamilya Children imbibes the DSWD’s Kaya Ko ang Pagbabago Campaign where they focus on the first-hand efforts of the children beneficiaries to change the current status of their lives and help their families get out of poverty. Strengthening the chance of the children to break their family’s intergenerational poverty remains to be the primary goal of the program by continually investing in the beneficiaries’ health and education. “Sana ay patuloy nating suportahan ang mga batang ito. Wala tayong ibang sinusuportahan dito kundi ang mga future leaders ng ating bansa,”, DSWD-CAR OIC Regional Director Janet P. Armas said.

Department of Education- CAR Program Supervisor Jennifer P. Ande, Department of Health Medical Officer IV Dr. Mary Jane Grace L. Muñoz, and , Disk Jockey from Barangay 92.7 (formerly Campus Radio Ayos!) John Paul F. Mazon sat down as judges for the search. After careful deliberation, Syrus Benemerito from Bangued, Abra was declared the grand winner followed by Xy Clause Agbulos from Tabuk City, Kalinga as the 1st runner-up, and Jomar Lewis from Besao, Mt. Province as the 2nd runner-up. The three will represent the region at the National Children’s Congress on October 22 to 26 in Metro Manila.

With the question, “Bilang batang Pantawid Pamilya, ano ang kaya mong gawin upang makapagbigay ng pagbabago sa buhay mo at ng iyong pamilya?” the contestants affirmed that their hope for a brighter future is steadfast. “Gusto kong magkaroon ng disiplina sa aking pananalita, gawain, at sarili. Lalong gusto kong magkaroon ng disiplina sa pag-aaral dahil ito ang pamana ng aking mga magulang na hindi kayang maagaw ng iba. Naniniwala akong ito ang gustong ibahagi ng Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program—ang mabigyan ng pagkakataong makapag-aral ang bawat batang Pilipino,” said Jomar B. Lewis, 14 years old, during the question and answer portion.

Meanwhile, as the event served as a reminder that the children beneficiaries are doing something to turn their dreams into reality, they gave hope to the adults that our country is still capable of a better tomorrow. “This year, napakaraming dumaan na bagyo, napakaraming dumaan na sakuna, but the presence of children gives us hope na meron pa rin tayong future. May kasabihan nga si Rabindranath Tagore, ‘Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man,’” said Pantawid Pamilya Regional Program Coordinator Cecile Aguilan-Basawil on her welcome message during the search. She also thanked the parents for their support to their children and their participation to ensure the success of the event. “Alam namin na ang maliit na halaga galing sa gobyerno ay ‘di sapat, pero sa pagtutulungan at kasipagan ninyo, magkakatotoo din ang pangarap nating lahat—ang makamit ang pagbabago,” she added.

The other provincial nominees are as follows: Ralph Aldrin Corpuz from Ifugao, Charity Sophia Agbayani from Apayao, and Reden Marigza from Benguet.

With the talent, passion, and optimism that Sysrus, Xy Clause, Jomar, Ralph, Charity, and Reden possess, they serve as proof that there is hope despite life’s challenges and give us more inspiration to say “Kaya natin ang Pagbabago!”. #DSWD-CAR, SOCIAL MARKETING UNIT with Ann Jennica R. Quirimit

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