Early morning of August 27, more than a thousand students and parents alike lined up the street fronting the gymnasium of the Provincial Engineers Office hoping to get financial assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Aid to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) - Students Assistance program. Each of them holds their documents to qualify them for such assistance.
They persevere in the long queue of people, patiently waiting for their turn just to get the support they dearly need so they could buy some essential stuff or other necessities required in their schools for the opening of classes
Jennifer Calma, mother of five kids from the town of Barbaza, some 62 kilometers from San Jose, was in line as early as 5:00 a.m. to ensure she will get in the front line when the distribution starts.
When asked why she carried her small baby with her, her youngest son, she said “gina breastfeed ko, magutuman kun
buhay ako maka-uli,” (I am breastfeeding him, he might be starved when I got home late).
At about 9:00 a.m. she was able to get her cash assistance in the amount of P2,000 for her two children who are both elementary pupils. She was happy with what she got, saying that this will be for the school supplies and daily "baon" for her kids.
Ma. Erica Esparagoza, 4th year Development Communication student of the University of Antique, who resides in Belison town in Antique, is another beneficiary who beams with enthusiasm and gratitude as she holds her cash subsidy in the amount of P4,000.
“I will use this for my On-the-Job Training (OJT), particularly for my uniform, medical check-up, transportation, and other needs,” she said.
Erica expressed her gratitude to the government (DSWD) for facilitating this
assistance for them noting that for students like her, whose parents have meager income, sustenance of even basic school needs, is very hard for them.
Erica’s mother worked as a housemaid in Manila while her father is a driver and she has three other siblings who are in school, too.
Meanwhile, Jeffrey Gabucay, Antique Provincial Officer of Pantawid Pamilya Program, noted that this week’s distribution of AICS to students is more organized compared to the previous one.
He lauded the support of various agencies of government and offices under the local government units from provincial, municipal, and barangay levels for collectively working hard to ensure smooth and organized distribution of cash support.
'Though there are concerns about the use of the same cellphone numbers for two or more student applicants, which can affect the target distribution of cash assistance, he stressed that those who were not catered today could still submit their documents.
Gabucay also said that for the August 27 schedule, a total of 1,003 beneficiaries are expected to receive the AICS for student assistance.
On August 20, a total of 613 beneficiaries of the same program were catered to in Antique in the amount of P2,263,000.
As the distribution of cash assistance progresses, more students and parents who are economically disadvantaged are given the chance to avail of government assistance.
Hundreds are lining in queue braving the weather just to get the much-needed educational support, each of them carries the stories of hope and resilience, that one day, they will get the dreams they wanted for themselves or for their children. (JBG/PSM/PIA-Antique)