A family-beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) from Los Banos, Laguna, will soon exit from the program and the Fajardo family is not at all anxious of what the future brings, but still they welcome their graduation from 4Ps with open arms.
Such is the ultimate goal of 4Ps – for family-beneficiaries to graduate from the program because they have already been equipped with the skills and knowledge to complete their life’s journey towards achieving self-sufficiency.
From uncertainty to a brighter future
This sums up the Fajardo family’s journey in life.
Back in 2006, the Fajardo family hopped on a train from Bicol to Los Baños, Laguna for a simple summer vacation.
However, “lumipas ang ilang araw at linggo, ang inaasahan naming bakasyon lamang ay nauwi sa permanenteng paninirahan sa Laguna” (… days and weeks passed, our planned short vacation led to our permanent stay in Laguna), said Lorna Fajardo, 54, mother of five.
Lorna lamented that they were unable to travel back home because they did not have enough money for their fare back to Bicol.
One struggle after another
“Naging mahirap ang buhay lalo na at wala kaming malapit na kamag-anak na malalapitan kapag walang-wala na. Ang asawa ko lamang ang kumikita noong mga panahon na iyon at pito kaming kailangang kumain araw-araw (Life was difficult since we did not have relatives to help us in times of need. At that time, my husband’s income was our only resource to support all seven of us),” Lorna narrated.
She recounted sharing four small pieces of fish for the seven of them or just having soup for a meal.
Lorna continued, “nahihiya na rin kami ng mga anak ko na humarap sa tindahan kasi uutang na naman kami kahit hindi pa nakakabayad. Ilang beses din kaming nakikiusap sa may-ari ng inuupahan naming bahay na sa susunod na mga buwan na lang kukumpletuhin ang bayad” (We were ashamed to ask the stores for more loans. We also had to appeal to our landlord as we had difficulty paying for the rent).
Despite the seemingly endless struggles, the Fajardo family persevered and used their hardships as a motivation to work together for a better life.
“Gumagawa ako ng peanut butter at negre-repack ng chlorine at tina na nilalako ng asawa ko. Namasukan din ako bilang kasambahay para may pandagdag sa panggastos” (I made peanut butter and repacked chlorine and dye which my husband sold. I also worked as a house helper for additional income), Lorna said.
Lorna’s children also helped by selling ‘yema’ candies that she made. Significantly, the children did not stop going to school despite their difficult situation.
In 2012, the Fajardo family became a beneficiary of 4Ps, a flagship program of the national government on poverty reduction and social development. It provides cash grants to extremely poor households to improve their health, nutrition and education, particularly of children aged 0-18. It invests in human capital to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty among poor households.
Under the 4Ps, households may enroll up to three school children to benefit under the program and be provided with educational grants for a maximum of 10 months a year. For elementary students, the educational grant is P300 per month, while junior high and senior high school students receive P500 and P700 a month, respectively.
“Malaking kagaanan po sa aming buhay ang programa dahil tuwing may payout, may dagdag na budget po kami para sa pambaon ng aking mga anak at pambili ng pagkain” (The program was a huge help to our lives, as every pay-out, we have adequate budget for food and my children’s school needs), Lorna said.
Lorna further said that the lessons she learned from the monthly Family Development Sessions of the 4Ps had been helpful to her as a parent in continuously guiding her children as they grow older.
Participation in the FDS is one of the conditionalities of the program, apart from attending school and undergoing regular health check-up.
FDS is a significant feature of the 4Ps program as it employs neighborhood-based family psycho-educational activities to promote, empower and nurture beneficiaries towards strengthened capacity so they could meet their familial and parental responsibilities as well as participate in community development activities. Moreover, through the FDS, the 4Ps parents are provided with life skills, including livelihood skills training.
With the help from 4Ps coupled by the whole family’s hard work and perseverance, Lorna is now a proud mother of a licensed civil engineer, a registered forester and a development worker. She still has two children who are still studying, one in college and one in Grade 11.
Today, the Fajardo family also has their own house, with Lorna managing a small store to help support their everyday needs.
Kilos Unlad as exit strategy
In 2021, the DSWD implemented its 4Ps Kilos-Unlad Social Case Management Strategy to foster partnership and ensure convergence with the national government, civil society organizations, and the private sector.
Under this strategy, exiting or ready to graduate households will be provided with programs and services which will ensure that the gains of the family achieved through the program will be sustained upon eventual exit from the 4Ps.
Some of the programs that can be provided are technology training for enterprise development, livelihood training, employment facilitation, special training for employment program (STEAP), scholarship and/or educational assistance, training on financial management, financial assistance, farm inputs and competency assessment/certification or job referral to graduates.
Since the implementation of the strategy in 2021, some 237,828 households have exited or graduated from the program through “Pugay-Tagumpay Ceremonial Exit Ceremonies.”
Based on Republic Act 11310 or the 4Ps Act passed in 2019, household grantees are provided with cash grants up to seven years, after which they will be prepared for exit to the program. Exited/graduated 4Ps households will continue to be monitored by the local government units and be assessed for the provision of after care services to ensure that their development is sustained.
Ready to graduate
With what they have accomplished so far, Lorna’s family is ready and prepared to graduate from the 4Ps. The Fajardo family is confident that they can now provide for their needs and can stand on their own feet.
“Ang munting tagumpay ng aming pamilya ay hindi lang tagumpay namin. Ito ay tagumpay ng lahat ng mga tao, organisasyon, at programa na ginawang instrumento ng Panginoon para mapagaan ang aming kalagayan” (Our family’s small triumph is not just ours. This is also a triumph for the people, organizations, and the program which the Lord used as as instrument to uplift our situation), Lorna happily said.
Lorna added that a better life is possible through faith in God, determination, and appropriate assistance from government “tulad ng 4Ps na nagbigay ng tulong pinansyal at kakayahan sa ating mahihirap na makaangat mula sa laylayan” (like the 4Ps which gives financial assistance and empower the poor to help move out of poverty).
At present, the DSWD is undertaking an assessment of the 4Ps beneficiaries’ level of well-being to determine if they are no longer poor and thus, should already be graduating from the program.
The Fajardo family, together with other beneficiaries who have exited from the program, is a proof that 4Ps is on the right track of achieving its goal of breaking intergenerational poverty.