Antique province in Western Visayas is one of the hardly hit areas in the country by the severe tropical storm “Paeng” which devastated millions of livelihood and infrastructure projects.
STS “Paeng” left the province with 51,788 families affected, 13 casualties, and five individuals who are still missing.
Rowena Evan, 33 years old and mother of three, shared tales of how she gave birth to her youngest child, whom she fondly called "Pingping," while the tropica storm Paeng is at its height.
“It was so difficult to evacuate and be brought to a local hospital in Sibalom town where I gave birth, “she said.
But to her, giving birth to Pingping in the midst of desolation is a sign of hope and courage.
The storm caused total damage to the house of Rowena, including the 5,000 other houses in the province.
With the huge devastation in Antique, President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. visited the province, Novermber 8, to check on the response and relief operations for the affected communities.
Rowena is one of the 1,200 recipients who received hygiene kits, food packs and P5,000 cash from the Department of Social Welfare and Development during the distribution of government assistance program.
She expressed gratefulness for the support she got during the President's visit in the province.
Likewise, the DSWD distributed a P10,000 grant to each of the 300 beneficiaries in Antique under its Sustainable Livelihood Program/Livelihood Assistance Grant.
Meanwhile, the Department of Trade and Industry had given vouchers for livelihood packages under the Pangkabuhayan sa Pagbangon at Ginhawa Program to six micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) from the municipalities of San Jose and Culasi.
Antique farmers also received assistance from the government.
Francisco Estañol of Patnongon, Antique lost 20 cavans of palay (for consumption and seedlings for his farm) during STS Paeng when the flood ravaged their house.
“Kabudkay gid eh, pero wara ako pagdurai ka paglaum. Salamat sa bulig ka gobyerno nga makatibawas kami (It was hard for us, but I am optimistic that with government support we could recover),” he said.
Another farmer, Nelson Velo of Lugutan, San Jose de Buenavista, whose farm of about one hectare, also suffered when his newly planted palay submerged to flood.
”Ang problema namun wara kami ti parangabuhian, mahal ang binhi ka paray (We lost our livelihood and the cost of palay seeds is expensive),” he said.
He is asking the President Marcos, Jr., who is also the concurrent secretary of the Department of Agriculture, for support to farmers so they could recover and start anew their livelihood.
President Marcos, Jr. during his first visit to Antique, Nov. 8, turned over to Governor Rhodora Cadiao more than P177 million in cash assistance from the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF)- Rice Farmers’ Financial Assistance Program to be given to at least 35,493 rice farmer-beneficiaries and 2,000 packs of 9-in-one vegetable seeds worth P970,000.00 from the DA’s High-Value Crops Development Program.
He also released palay seeds under the RCEF-Seed Allocation Program amounting to P13 million intended for 6,843 rice farmers.
Vice Mayor Julius Pacificador of Hamtic and Mayor Ernesto Tajanlangit of Tobias Fornier, in an interview, have expressed gratitude to President Marcos Jr. for taking the time to check on the needs of the Antiqueños.
“I am very proud that PBBM visited our province,” Tajanlangit said.
Both Pacificador and Tajanlangit expressed high hopes that with the President leading the country, Antique could get a good slice of programs and projects to spur the development of the province. (JBG/PSM/PIA-Antique)