“Save before you spend,” Cristine Agsawal shared as she recounts how the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) changed her family’s ways of spending their daily finances. 

Cristine hails from the remote agricultural barangay of Umalbong, Hingyon, Ifugao. Like many other 4Ps beneficiaries, Cristine only finished elementary because of financial struggles. 

Cristine was 22 when she met her husband, Sandy, a farmer-laborer. The couple is blessed with four children whom they consider as their source of strength and determination in making ends meet for their family. 

According to Cristine, their intact relationship as a family has become their foundation, despite financial scarcity. Their life condition did not hinder them from sending their children to school as they value education. 

While Sandy, till their small farm, Cristine juggles as a street vendor and an on-call labor works to supplement the meager income of her husband. 

According to Cristine, there were times, that their children would complain because they do not have enough food and they would go to school without allowance. 

It was until in 2011 when an opportunity knocked on their door. Her family was included as beneficiary of the 4Ps, which she considers a great blessing that positively changed their ways of living. 

“We were happy and grateful when we became a 4Ps beneficiary. We promised back then that we will work hard and value the blessing that we received,” shared Cristine in vernacular. 

When Cristine was oriented about the Program conditions and their responsibilities as a beneficiary, she did not hesitate to abide with it. She even talked with her husband on how they would share the responsibility as a 4Ps member.

Cristine proudly shared that the Program’s Family Development Session (FDS) has enriched their knowledge on different life values and lessons like proper management of financial needs which she applies in their daily lives. 

“Budgeting is important for our future needs. I learned this from our FDS. Whenever we receive our grants, I always set aside 300-500 pesos for the savings of my children,” Cristine said. 

Cristine has become thriftier and she always reminds her children that they should prioritize their needs over their wants.

The small amount she sets aside every payout are intended for the future education and health needs of their family.

Aside from financial literacy, Cristine attributed their good relationship as a family from the FDS topics on responsible parenthood and proper care management of children and understanding their rights in the community.

For 13 years of being with the program, her family has been consistently compliant with all the program conditions with 100% compliance rate on school attendance of their children, visit to health centers, and her attendance to monthly FDS. 

However, based on the result of recent Social Welfare and Development Indicator (SWDI), a tool being used to assess the improvement of 4Ps household’s living condition, Cristine’s family attained a Level II or equivalent to Subsistence. This means that the family is not yet ready to exit from the program because they have no regular source of income to sustain their daily needs.  

The family of Christine is continuously under monitoring and will continue to receive cash grant from the DSWD base on their compliance to the 4Ps conditions on education, health, and attendance to monthly FDS. 

Cristine has also become active in community activities as part of their gratitude to give back to their community. She is also a current member of different organizations in her community like lending cooperatives and women’s organization. They are also planning with her fellow beneficiaries to put up their Gulayan sa Barangay to serve as their additional income. 

At present, Cristine happily lives as a wife and a mother to her four children. Their first born, Blessy Pear, is now in Grade 11; Hanz Ysrael is in Grade 7, while Zuriel and Ezreal are in their elementary grade. 

Although Cristine admitted that they still have a long way to go in having a good and stable life, they are confident that they can surmount the difficulties with grit, thriftiness, and a strong foundation of family togetherness. 

“I hope that someday we can live a more comfortable and contented life. My wish is for my children to finish their studies and for them to have a stable job in the future,” Cristine shared in their local language. 

Meanwhile, Cristine happily shared that she has now an accumulated savings of more than 50,000 from their cash grants and farm-labor works. Her savings may seem little for others, but she believes that when little things are brought together, it could emerge into greater things. Cristine hopes that, someday, they could establish their own sari-sari store as additional income. She encourages her fellow beneficiaries to have the mindset of ‘save now, spend later.’ ### DSWD-CAR Social Marketing Unit – Marlo C. Abyado, Jr., 4Ps Information Officer with reports from Jonalyn Bilibli, Social Welfare Assistant-Hingyon, Ifugao

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