Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR)- She is used to making sure that the meals of the children in Child Development Centers (CDCs) are healthy and nutritious even if she needs to traverse the mountains and rivers of the Cordilleras. What she is not familiar with is being exalted for the service that she gives.

Ms. Eleonor Bugalin-Ayan is one of the three civil servants from the Region who has been conferred with the Dangal ng Bayan Award under the Civil Service Commission (CSC) on 14 February 2024 at the Malacañang Palace.

Ms. Ayan or simply Elen to the many is a Nutritionist-Dietician serving as the Head of the Supplementary Feeding Program (SFP) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) since November 2015. In eight years’ time, she was able to bring exemplary impact to the communities she is working with not just in the realm of her responsibilities under the DSWD but as an individual whose heart is focused on serving the people.

Committed SFP Focal

As a SFP Focal, Elen’s main function is to ensure the smooth implementation of the  feeding program to more than 47,000 children in the region for 120 days ,with her tasks focused mainly on menu planning,  transferring and liquidation of funds to Local Government Units, procurement of food ingredients, assessment of meals and  monitoring of feeding. Under the program, she is mandated to make certain that the children will have an improved nutritional status at the end of the cycle. However, this has not always been achieved. To help the Department in achieving its commitment, Elen initiated an outreach program termed as Project SFP: Selfless  and Faithful Passion. Since 2017, her team has helped the neediest CDCs and children by providing items needed by the center.  The outreach became a yearly  activity by the team until the onset of pandemic. The Project has already benefitted seven geographically- isolated CDCs including those that are located in Tineg in Abra, Flora and Calanasan in Apayao, Banaue in Ifugao, and Lubuagan in Kalinga.

The gripping fear of the pandemic did not stop her from reaching out to those in need. By organizing a simple donation drive from acquaintances and friends, she was able to raise P6,000-P8,000 both in cash and in kind. As public  transportation is almost impossible during the time, she partnered with her reservist  friends to bring help to the communities usually on the weekends. Together with three other individuals, she also created a group chat  named Project: Adopt A Baby during the pandemic until  about the end of 2020 which was used to connect to donors for sponsorship and through the project, at least 17 children were  linked to generous individuals. Though not a part of her Term of Reference as SFP  head, Elen always takes the lead in the celebration of the nutrition month every year. In  June 2020, through help from a friend and an  acquaintance, she distributed around PhP 60,000.00 worth of milk and vegetables to individuals in the DSWD FO CAR who are in need of added nutrition support and immunity protection. In 2021, a community pantry in which received donations were turned over to severely undernourished children.

A person with a big heart

Although she is battling a heart disease herself, this did not stop her from sharing the love to other people who are in need of it.

In 2022, she again initiated an outreach program and dubbed it as the Adopt an  Undernourished Childproject with the goal of privately  funding the extension of feeding until rehabilitation of the  child. After four months of monitoring, the child was rehabilitated. Aside from that, the family was provided with additional resource for their livelihood.

Elen also took on the challenge of becoming the Solo Parent Focal of DSWD FO CAR for 2018, 2020, and 2021. Even though she  is not a solo parent nor a social worker, she organized the first ever  Regional Solo Parents Association or the Cordillera Administrative Region-Solo Parents  Association (CAR-SPA) on 9 July 2018. Aside from helping the DSWD solo parents, she was also able to raise P11,774.00 for the Project Abello of Bunga, Tadian Mt. Province which aimed to help a single father who is diagnosed with  cancer.

She is the current President of the Nutritionist-Dietitians Association of the Philippines- Baguio-Benguet Chapter where she has been a member since 2013.

Blessed with resource generation and networking skill, Elen has indeed become an instrument to bridge the needy to those who are able to help and that did not stop there because Elen does not mind shelling out to be able to extend support to others.

“I was not thinking of any award. I just did what I had to do. I just did what made me happy and that is to be able to help in my own way. I believe, this recognition is from God who sees all the things that we do. I am blessed and overwhelmed by this. But I am accepting this as a challenge to continue on what I started and do even more”, Elen shared.

Prior the Dangal ng Bayan, Elen has also been awarded as the Best Technical Staff for 2018 and 2022 Regional PRAISE Awards of the DSWD FO CAR. She also heads  the SFP Unit which bagged the Best Operations Office from 2019-2021. #DSWD FIELD OFFICE CAR, SOCIAL MARKETING UNIT, NERIZZA FAYE G. VILLANUEVA-TRINIDAD

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