Feature: Hundred-year-old treasure

Apo Whang-od received the Centenarian’s Cash Gift and Letter of Felicitation as she officially turned 100 on 7 March 2019.

Cordillera Administrative Region– My journey to finding a hundred-year-old treasure started with a phone call. Despite the urgency of the trip, I wasn’t able to resist the invitation. I had to take it. I had to take this once in a lifetime experience.

Upon checking my schedule, I already said yes to another commitment. This meant that I had to travel for more than 17 hours just to make the journey possible. However, life has its twists and turns, my schedule was cleared a day before the trip. But our journey will still not be easy.

No treasure map, just sticks and dust

Treasure hunters use maps. But for this journey, all we have is our passion and a little bit of luck. We were prepared to take a daylong road trip but our bodies were not prepared to take a hike. Nevertheless, we took the road that many have already taken.

The end of our journey can be overseen from where we began. But as we pushed through, the dust-covered path ahead of us seemed to be endless. Luck appeared to be on our side as the clouds tried to cover the scorching heat of the sun while traversing the steep route. At some point, trees and plants offer us shade where we could catch our breath. A tree branch also served as my trekking pole for the duration of the hike.

Treasure more than gold

After almost an hour, we were able to reach our destination. The place was crowded with people of different colors. But one woman stood out.

Despite the hustle around, she was engrossed to what she was doing. She was quiet but her presence can be felt.

Still catching my breath from the hike, I was mesmerized. In front of my eyes was a treasure far more precious than gold. Immediately, I took out my camera to capture the moment before we were asked to wait in a separate area.

Limelight and sparkles

Time finally came when we met the hundred-year-old treasure. Despite the language difference, we felt the warm welcome of Apo Whang-od as a smile glimmered from her face.

Apo Whang-od took the limelight as the oldest living mambabatok or traditional tattoo artist from the Butbut tribe in Kalinga. She has been conferred various awards and featured in different media. But humility and affection can be sensed in her presence. This positive aura may have helped her reach this milestone as she officially turned a hundred years old on 7 March 2019.

As her birth certificate reflects, Whang-od Parat Oggay was born on 7 March 1919 in Buscalan, Tinglayan, Kalinga. Her birth was registered by her brother, Rudy Oggay, in May 2015. Whang-od is currently residing with her relatives in Buscalan where she received the recognition for centenarians from the National Government through the Department of Social Welfare and Development- Cordillera Administrative Region.

Whang-od is one of the 120 centenarians of the Cordillera Region who have received the Centenarian’s Cash Gift and a Letter of Felicitation.  She is one of the nine (9) centenarians from Kalinga Province. Meanwhile, there are 30 centenarians from Abra Province, 9 in Apayao, 11 in Ifugao, 27 from Mountain Province, 21 in Benguet Province and 13 from Baguio City.

“We are honored and elated to recognize this milestone of a pride of the Cordilleras. But it is not only Whang-od who is our treasure. All our centenarians and elderlies deserve the acknowledgment and respect from all of us for they possess the wealth of experience and gift of wisdom that only through time that they were able to acquire.”, DSWD-CAR Director Janet P. Armas said.

“This is also very timely since we are observing Women’s Month this March. Apo Whang-od is an epitome of how a woman can bring pride and honor to her community, as well as challenge the misconceptions that our society have”, Director Armas added.

From 2017 to 2022, the theme for the Women’s Month celebration is “We make change work for women” which underscores the empowerment of women as active contributors to and claimholders of development. This 2019, the celebration focuses on strengthening efforts to improve and track the progress of implementation of the Magna Carta of Women (MCW), and other relevant laws and commitments pertaining to women rights.

“May we all be inspired to take part in bringing changes in our society especially those that will benefit every woman in the community. We do not need to be in offices or high-ranking positions to make this possible. By doing our best in everything we do, by loving our talents and flaws, by continuously perfecting our craft, by showing respect and compassion to others,  by simply being ourselves and improving to become the best version of our selves- by starting with ourselves, we can make change work for women”, Director Armas said. # DSWD-CAR, SOCIAL MARKETING UNIT, Nerizza Faye G. Villanueva

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BBCCC donates medical equipment and supplies to poor community in Benguet

BBCCC Board of Directors, DSWD-CAR personnel, Kibungan LGU officials, and Barangay Palina residents pose for commemorative photos to celebrate their successful collaborations.

Cordillera Administrative Region- A couple of months after signing a MOA with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD-CAR), the Baguio-Benguet Community Credit Cooperative (BBCCC) donated a set of medical equipment and supplies for a health station in Kibungan, Benguet.

The health center in Sitio Tabbac, Palina was built last year through the DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS in partnership with the community and the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Kibungan. However, the medical equipment and supplies are to be sourced out from the LGU or other agencies later.

After learning about BBCCC’s dental and medical initiatives that include donation of medical equipment, DSWD-CAR workers coordinated with community volunteers of Sitio Tabbac, Palina to submit a proposal to the cooperative.

BBCCC Director Mary Ann Bungag shared that she personally visited the municipality to validate the specific needs at the health center after her office received the proposal.

On February 21, a month after the proposal was submitted, some of the BODs and employees of BBCCC traveled to Kibungan, Benguet to turn over the medical equipment and supplies in Sitio Tabbac.

They were able to provide gynecological beds, patient beds, medicine refrigerator, weighing scales, BP apparatus, medical cabinets, and others amounting to more than PhP 325,000.00.

During the turn over, Bungag told the community that all the medical equipment and supplies are from the 17, 000 members of the cooperative. “The fund is not from our pocket but from all the members of the cooperative,” she said.

She continued that the cooperative is happy to be of help to the people of Sitio Tabbac. “We can only ask one thing from you, please take good care of the facilities so that it can be used for a long time,” she continued.

BOD Vice Chairman Arturo Asuncion is also delighted to see the children and the parents in the community who will benefit from the facility. He then encouraged them to become a part of the cooperative. “If you are interested to join BBCCC, we can organize an orientation seminar here in the municipality,” he added.

Meanwhile, Sangguniang Bayan member Susan Atayoc, who witnessed the turn over together with DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS staff, said that they are overwhelmed with joy for the donations given by BBCCC. “Among all the needy communities in the Cordillera, you chose to answer to the needs of our people. We feel so lucky,” she remarked.

She added that LGU Kibungan is thrilled that within a month, the proposal was approved and the needed equipment and supplies are already delivered.

Since the MOA signing on November 2018, BBCCC and DSWD-CAR have been closely coordinating to provide services to most needy communities in the Cordillera.

On December 10, 2018, BBCCC also donated a similar set of medical equipment and materials to the Barangay Health Center in Kinama, Rizal, Kalinga. #DSWD-CAR, SOCIAL MARKETING UNIT, Jasmin Kiaso  

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Youth encouraged to ‘join’ government service through Internship Program

Cordillera Administrative Region– The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) here is encouraging individuals who are 18 to 25 years old to join the agency through its Government Internship Program (GIP).

The Government Internship Program is open to high school graduates, TESDA certificate holders, or Alternative Learning System (ALS) Certificate holders who belong to a family with monthly income not more than the existing poverty threshold that is PhP 8,022.00.

First implemented in the region in 2012, the program continues to provide opportunities for the youth to gain work experience in the government sector and learn life skills in the workplace while earning money to augment their school needs.

“The DSWD-CAR is open to our youth who are interested to join our pursuit towards the development of the region”, DSWD-CAR OIC Regional Director Janet P. Armas said.

The youth interns will have the opportunity to work for 30 days and will be paid PhP 225 per day or 75% of the regional minimum wage.

DSWD-CAR will accommodate eighty (80) youth interns from 15 April to 29 May 2019.

The Government Internship Program (GIP) is an offshoot of Kabataan Program which encourages high school and college students and out-of-school youth (OSYs) to engage in constructive and productive activities for the entire year. Meanwhile, GIP aims to provide employment opportunities for target participants including out-of-school youth (OSY), in-school youth (ISY), college/vocational graduate, and unemployed young professionals for a period of time, usually during school breaks.

Interested individuals may submit their duly filled application form together with their resume, photocopy of birth certificate, diploma or certificates, family income tax return, and medical certificate at DSWD-CAR #40 North Drive, Baguio City or in the nearest DSWD Social Welfare and Development (SWAD) Office in the provinces.# DSWD-CAR, SOCIAL MARKETING UNIT, Nerizza Faye G. Villanueva

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DOH CAR to use Listahanan to improve health services

The Department of Health (DOH) Cordillera is set to use the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s database of poor households for the improvement of health access and services to the poor and vulnerable sectors in the region.

Listahanan is an information management system that identifies who and where the poor are in the country. It makes the database of poor households available as basis for identifying potential beneficiaries of social protection programs and services.

DOH CAR Regional Director Dr. Amelita Pangilinan expressed her gratitude to the DSWD for sharing the Listahanan data. She emphasized that with the data they can easily track and give the needed health information, programs and services to poor households like sanitary toilet facilities, safe water source and information on the importance of attending health facilities. “Before, this are just numbers but with the Listahanan data, we hope we’ll be able to zero out the unmet needs and improve the health status of our poor people in the community” she said in her statement.

DOH Designated Data Protection Officer Atty. Veronica Zandra de Jesus said they are really grateful for the Listahanan database as it will help in improving their service to the people especially since the Department of Health has a mandate to reach every last Filipino and to provide health services for them.

The DSWD has released the database of poor to the health department after a series of orientation activities strict adherence to DSWD data sharing requirements in compliance with the Data Privacy Act of 2012. The data sharing agreement was signed by DOH Regional Director Dr. Amelita Pangilinan and DSWD Regional Director Janet P. Armas.

Regional Director Janet P. Armas congratulated the DOH for being the first national government agency in the region to sign a data sharing agreement with the Department. She also encouraged local government units, national government agencies, and other organizations to maximize the use of Listahanan in assisting more poor families and individuals through data sharing.

Through the data sharing, the DOH will have access to specific information of poor households in CAR like name, address, age, sex, marital status, water source, toilet facility, and attendance to health facility. #DSWD-CAR, SOCIAL MARKETING UNIT, Mark Erik King Guanzon

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DSWD, SPUP ink MoA for child protection services

Representatives from DSWD-CAR and Saint Paul University of the Philippines ink an agreement to formalize the partnership that will benefit Pantawid Pamilya families in Apayao

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Field Office Cordillera through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the Saint Paul University of the Philippines (SPUP) Community Development Center Foundation Incorporated to collaborate in providing services to children beneficiaries and their families.

Through its Child Protection toward Enabling Childhood Development and Community Participation (Child Protect) Project that commenced last year, the SPUP Tuguegarao City is implementing various services in some barangays in Luna and Flora, Apayao, which caters to both Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program beneficiaries and non-Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries. The Child Protect Project covers 21 barangays in Apayao that covers 1, 119 children aged 0-14 years old.

“The harmonization of services between the public and the private sectors is crucial for the achievement of development goals especially with the unified provision of services and programs to children. This partnership between SPUP and DSWD is surely a big contribution in helping poverty-stricken communities and in ensuring that children are healthy and in school,” DSWD-CAR Assistant Regional Director for Operations Marygrail B. Dong-as said.

Meanwhile, SPUP Executive Director Noemi Cabaddu mentioned that they have been implementing various programs that augment the DSWD services for the past years especially in Region II. Their expansion in the Cordillera is a part of their advocacy to reach out to more communities and to the Indigenous Peoples (IP) sector.

To create pathways for healthy infants and educated children, the Child Protection Project has provided capacity building to strengthen local child protection committees, capacity building to supervised neighborhood play facilitators and child development workers, conduct of child and parent development sessions, provision of learning materials and supplies, and provision of interventions to child at risk of dropping out from school. These activities are in partnership with the local government units and national government agencies.

“The Pantawid Pamilya has been opening its doors for the private sectors to augment and support in helping children and their families through various services and programs,” Pantawid Pamilya Regional Program Coordinator Fatima Florendo shared.

In 2018, the SPUP in partnership with Child Fund also implemented projects in Apayao like the Early Childhood Development for IPs to improve the access and use of quality ECD centers and the Emergency Response Recovery Intervention to assist typhoon-afflicted areas. Initially, the SPUP used the Pantawid Pamilya Supply-Side Assessment result to identify projects that could benefit communities. The SPUP was able to construct and renovate child development centers, which benefitted Pantawid and non-Pantawid children beneficiaries.

As of December 2018, the Pantawid Pamilya or the Conditional Cash Transfer in the Philippines covers 60,694 household beneficiaries in the Cordillera. It provides monetary and non-monetary incentives to families in exchange of verifiable conditions on health, nutrition, and education. It monitors 5,495 0-5 year old children for health conditions and 115,600 3-18 year old children for education condition. Eighteen civil society organizations have MoA with the DSWD in support to the conduct of Family Development Sessions and monitoring of Pantawid Pamilya. ###

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Community-led projects receive praise from DSWD, LGU

The community and some DSWD personnel enjoy the newly turned-over access road in Buguias, Benguet.

Cordillera Administrative Region- Community-led projects implemented in Tadian, Mountain Province and Buguias, Benguet receive praises from DSWD-CAR and LGU officials following a simultaneous visit in the two towns.

DSWD and LGU officials attended the inauguration and turn over ceremonies of the improved access roads in Cadad-anan, Tadian and Calamagan, Buguias. The access roads are implemented by the said barangays during the fourth cycle of DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS in partnership with the local government units.

Barangay Cadad-anan implemented four cycles of the DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS with a total of PhP 2,327,760.49 community grants and PhP 2,200,031.42 local government unit counterpart.

Kalahi-CIDSS Deputy Regional Program Manager Imelda Tuguinay commended the communities for completing quality sub-projects within the timeline. She added that the barangays were prioritized to implement the program for four cycles because of their consistent unity and willingness to partner with the LGU and DSWD to improve their community. “Unity is the key to the success of community-led projects, thus we highly emphasize on the broad participation of the community members during the prioritization of sub-projects,” she said.

Tuguinay continued that if the LGU did not actively support the program, the community members would have not experienced implementing a project. “Without the financial counterparts and the human resources support of the local government units, the project would not have materialized,” she added.

During the first cycle, they were able to concrete a 354.6 linear meter road along Cadad-anan to Lenga Road. They also constructed the Sitio Am-am Day Care Center and Proper Cadad-anan Pre-school Building, both with water tanks, during the second and third cycle implementation of the program.

Meanwhile, Barangay Calamagan implemented a 1-unit 1-classroom School Building in Calamagan Elementary School during the first cycle; concreted an FMR along Sitio Alam-am to Sitio Camanbe-ey; and replaced the dilapidated tire path along Sition Bannaken FMR for cycle two and three, respectively.

Kalahi-CIDSS stands for Kapit-bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services is a poverty reduction program of DSWD that uses the community-driven development approach in empowering communities. The program gives communities control over identification, planning and implementation of development activities and projects. One cycle of the program is ideally implemented for one year.

Meanwhile, Tadian Mayor Anthony Wooden also expressed his gratitude to the community for their cooperation and diligence in implementing the Kalahi-CIDSS since 2014. He continued that the only remaining task now for the community is the care and maintenance of the sub-projects.

“The barangay officials and the operation and maintenance group should be the lead in sustaining the gains from the project,” he told the community members. He also challenged them to continue practicing the principles and values instilled in them during trainings sponsored by Kalahi-CIDSS.

A multi-stakeholder inspectorate, usually composed of DSWD, LGU, PO, CSO and national line agency representatives, inspects the completed projects as to physical, financial and the capacity and linkages of the operation and maintenance group before it will be turn over to a peoples organization or civil society organization.

DSWD and LGU officials also visited completed and on-going sub-projects in Barangays Dacudac and Lenga after the turn over ceremony in Cadad-anan. The said barangays are also implementing the Kalahi-CIDSS program.  #DSWD-CAR, SOCIAL MARKETING UNIT, Jasmin Kiaso  

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DSWD provides livelihood assistance to drug surenderees in Abra

Cordillera Administrative Region – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) through its Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) granted a total of  PhP 75,000.00 worth of livelihood assistance to five drug surrenderees from Brgy. Cabaruan, Danglas, Abra. These drug surrenderees have completed their Community-based rehabilitation and counseling service before being benifited of the said livelihood.

To qualify for the Seed Capital Fund (SCF) assistance, they were organized into an association named Cabaruan Hog Raising Sustainable Livelihood Program Association (SLPA). The association was later   accredited by the DSWD.

SCF is one of the four modalities of SLP. It is a one-time capability-building grant that serves as working capital for basic starter kits, raw materials, start-up expenses for permit/s to operate, as well as large and long-live tangible assets needed in starting or expanding a micro-enterprise. A maximum seed capital fund amounting to Php. 15,000.00 may be availed by each participant.

The association was provided with starter-kits which includes 8 piglets (60 days old), 8 sacks of  starter feeds, 16 sacks of grower feeds, 8 sacks of finisher feeds, 2 shovel, 2 pale, and 2 plastic drum for their Hog Raising livelihood and was turned over to the association on February 18, 2019 with the presence of the Municipal and Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council (MADAC/BADAC) of Danglas, Abra.

The SLPA engaged in hog raising since they are already knowledgeable of it and it fits the demand in their area.

Kayat me nga agpasalit iti SLP ken iti LGU ta inikan dakami iti tyansa nga agbaliw. ikari mi nga agbalbaliw kamin ket padakkelen mi daytoy a proyekto nga naited kadakami para metlaeng ti pagsayaatan mi ken iti pamilya mi (We want to thank SLP and the [Danglas] LGU for giving us an oppurtunity to change. We commit to continue this transformation and make this livelihood prosper to uplift us and our family economically),” said the Association President.

“We hope that this assistance will assist our drug surrenderers in their way to achieving a new life. We also hope that they will be able to sustain this livelihood. Our office in partnership with the local government unit will continue to assist them in this endeavor”, DSWD-CAR Director Janet P. Armas said.


Though the assistance is free from interest, the beneficiaries are required to payback the amount provided to them according to their agreement within the association. This will ensure that the SLPA will have funds that the association can use.

As the lead agency that facilitates the National Drug Rehabilitation Program (NDRP) Pillar 3, the DSWD, with other national government agencies, is tasked to provide a wide range of aftercare services to reinforce the transformation and rehabilitation of drug surrenders. These include skills training opportunities, psychosocial programs, and other community-based programs that will encourage them to actively participate in community service. #DSWD-CAR Babble Mae Gorio

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DSWD’s pension program undergoes enhancements to serve elders better

MSWDO Emma Tamang carefully looks into the documents presented by a representative claiming the Social Pension stipend. This is to ensure that he is duly authorized by the pensioner. Tamang also conducted the interview and assessment for the updating of the information of the concerned senior citizen.

Cordillera Administrative Region– With the goal to serve our senior citizens better, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) here has implemented new approaches to improve the delivery of the Social Pension Program for Indigent Senior Citizens (Social Pension).

“Since its first implementation in 2011, our Regional Program Office for Social Pension has been continuously strategizing for the enhancement of the program while making sure that we are not violating any law”, DSWD-CAR OIC-Regional Director Janet P. Armas said.

Among the innovations implemented by the program is the creation of an information system that serves as a database of its program beneficiaries. To facilitate better understanding of the documentary requirements, authorization letter released by social pensioners have also been translated to the local dialect.

“For this year, we are also doing a validation of our social pensioners to ensure that those who are most in need are the ones receiving the stipend, Director Armas added.

The Regional Program Management Office with the assistance of the Local Government Units are doing the one on one assessment. This aims to clean the list of the senior citizens who are receiving the Social Pension.

Republic Act 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 mandates the provision a monthly stipend amounting to five hundred pesos (PhP 500.00) to indigent senior citizens to augment the daily subsistence and other needs of the senior citizen. Department  Administrative Order No.15, Series of 2010 further states that only indigent senior citizens not receiving any pension, regular income or any form of assistance from their relatives are qualified to receive the stipend.

“We would like to appeal to our partners and stakeholders for the success of our validation. Let us be truthful in providing the necessary information”, Director Armas said.

Meanwhile, the DSWD commends its partners who have strategized to improve the delivery of the assistance.

“We are grateful to our partners who unceasingly support us in our delivery of social welfare and development services. Without their assistance, we will not be able to serve the Cordillera people”, Director Armas added.

With its geographical terrain, the municipality of Paracelis in Mountain Province has devised a strategy to improve the delivery of the Social Pension Program to its senior citizens. Since 2015, on-site cluster pay-out has been conducted for far-flung barangays including barangay Anonat, Palitud, Botiguey, and Bananao.

Nakita namin ang hirap ng mga senior citizen sa pagbyahe para makuha ang kanilang stipend. May kalsada naman pero hindi pwede ang sasakyan lalo na kapag umuulan. Motor lang ang pwede”, Paracelis Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer Emma Tamang shared.

Meanwhile, Social Pensioners in the area appreciate this strategy.

Maymayat ta as-asideg bassit. Nasapa kami nga makaawid ken asideg nga pagibagaan ti problema (Mas maganda dahil mas malapit na. Mas maaga rin kaming makauwi at mas mas malapit na pagsabihan ng [aming] mga problema)”, Mangari Sasat shared.

73-year old Mangari Sasat is one of the 1,420 social pensioners from Paracelis. She worked as a farmer however in 2017; she was forced to stop because of her health condition.

Agyamanak ta ada iti kastoy ta isu pay ti pagsayaatan nga pag-gatang ti agas ken mausar (Nagpapasalamat ako dahil ito ay nakatutulong sa pag-bili ng gamot at iba pang magagamit)”, Mangari shared.

As of January 2019, 63,176 social pensioners from the region have received the total assistance worth PhP 94,764,000.00. This covers the 1st quarter assistance for 2019. Remaining assistance will be released through scheduled payouts within February 2019.

Meanwhile, the DSWD would like to assure the 18,812 social pensioners who have yet received the 2018 4th quarter stipend that the Field Office is currently doing the necessary actions and coordination with the Central Office for them to receive the said assistance. #DSWD-CAR, SOCIAL MARKETING UNIT, Nerizza Faye G. Villanueva


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