It was in 1989 when Aquino Daguio decided to travel to Manila to work in hopes of finding a stable job that could help his family rise from poverty. Several years later, he built his own family and had several jobs until he found permanency as a utility van express driver. This job sustained him until the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 which caused several lockdowns in NCR that greatly affected his livelihood. With the public transportation halted and limited, he didn’t have a choice but to stay home and wait for the protocols to change.
While staying in quarantine with his wife, mother in law, and three children, their local government provided some food relief as assistance and they were also able to receive Social Amelioration from the DSWD. However, this was only enough to last them a few months. Their savings started to decrease to zero and they also sold some of their belongings to have cash to buy for their basic needs until they started to accumulate debts from their utility bills. His eldest son, John, who already has his own family and has moved out from his father’s home, started providing for their basic needs and his siblings educational needs while he worked as a delivery rider.
“Ang hirap po noong nag lockdown na tapos hindi na nagtatrabaho si Papa. Isang beses sa isang araw na lang po kami kumain.” (It was difficult for us when my father lost his job, we only ate once a day.) shared his 16 year old daughter, Lizbeth.
While staying at home with his family, Aquino saw the Balik Probinsya Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) aired on their television. He didn’t pay much attention to it until a few days after contemplating how he can provide for his family, especially for his two-year old child. After a few weeks from seeing the news, he asked his son to search for more information regarding the program. Seeing the process and how it can help his family, he decided to permanently move back to his hometown in the province of Apayao through the BP2 Program.
“Sinabi ko sa mga anak ko na makinig tayo sa tatay ninyo at sundin natin yung desisyon niya. Alam ko naman kasi pinag-isipan niya iyon ng mabuti kaya sinuportahan ko siya kahit hindi ako taga-roon (I told my kids to respect their father’s decision because I know that he gave it enough thought, and so I supported him even if I am not from Apayao)” shared his wife, Liberty.
With the help of his son, he applied online through the Balik Probinysa website and got a call from the DSWD Central Office regarding his assessment. Initial assessment and interview was conducted and soon, his family was scheduled to be brought home by the National Housing Authority (NHA). Under the said Program, transportation of the family and their belongings back to their province is to be arranged under the NHA.
Aquino’s family arrived in Flora Apayao on the 13th of October 2021 and was sent directly to the quarantine facility in compliance with the health protocols. They chose to reside in the Municipality of Flora, at his brother’s house, due to their house in Conner being prone to landslides. The local government of Flora, Apayao accepted them warmly and provided food relief assistance while they were in quarantine. After completing their quarantine period and with negative COVID-19 swab results, they finally reunited with his brother’s family on the 26th of October. In the same week, Mr. Christopher Dao-ayen, focal for the BP2 Program of the DSWD Field Office Cordillera, awarded Php 65,000.00 transitory package assistance witnessed by focal of partner agencies and staff of the Municipality of Flora. The assistance will cover their basic needs, such as food, rental, and medication in the first three months of their transition from NCR to their hometown. Other assistance, such as housing and livelihood, are being prepared by the partner agencies as a result of the conducted needs assessment of the family.
“Hindi ko po talaga alam kung paano magsisimula ulit na ang laki-laki na po ng utang ko. Kaya sobrang laki po ng aking pasasalamat sa programang ito kasi kung wala ito hindi ko na po talaga alam ang gagawin ko. Lalo na pag nakikita ko po ung anak kong two years old, naaawa po ako sakanya kasi wala akong maipambili ng gatas. (I didn’t know how I could start again with all the debt I had. That is why I am very much grateful to the program because without it, I really don’t know what else to do. Especially every time I see my two year old son and I couldn’t provide for his milk)”, tearfully shared Aquino.
Continuous monitoring and case management will be conducted by the Field Office, Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan- Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS) Program, to ensure that they are able to properly settle back in their hometown.
The Balik Probinsya Bagong Pag-asa Program is headed by the National Housing Authority, as the lead agency, in partnership with the Department Social Welfare and Development and other National Agencies. It aims to provide hope for a better future to Filipinos through equity in resources throughout the country that will boost countryside development. It is geared towards addressing Metro Manila’s congested urban areas by encouraging people, especially informal settlers to return to their home provinces and assist them in this transition with support and incentives on transportation, family, livelihood, housing, subsistence and education, among others.To know more about the Balik Probinsya Bagong Pag-asa Program, visit www.balikprobinsya.ph. #DSWD-CAR, Social Marketing Unit, Eden Faith S. Fataner