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From indigency to self-sufficiency: A family’s journey to a better future

(Photo from Cherry Almenzo)

Over 25,000 households enrolled in the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) successfully exited the program in the first quarter of 2024. These families were among those deemed to have achieved self-sufficiency status according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). 

The graduates of the 4Ps were recognized during the "Pugay Tagumpay" graduation and exit ceremonies, which were organized by various DSWD Field Offices together with local government units nationwide.

Among these success stories is the Almenzo family from Mandaluyong City, who benefited from the program and chose to exit the program after 12 years of being a beneficiary. 

Their journey holds the weight of difficulties and the triumph of determination.

Embracing hope

Cherry with her 3 children and husband (photo from Cherry Almenzo)

Cherry Almenzo, the matriarch, shared their “hardships” prior to becoming a 4Ps beneficiary. 

She narrated how their children's education was continuously in peril as the family struggled with financial difficulties.

“Noong hindi pa kami kabilang ng 4Ps, naranasan namin ‘yong utang dito utang doon tapos minsan hindi makapasok yung mga bata kasi walang baon kaya ‘yun manghihiram muna sa kapitbahay basta makapasok lang ang aking anak,” Cherry recounts.

(In the past, before we joined the 4Ps, we experienced borrowing money from so many people. We were in deep in debt. Sometimes, our children couldn't go to school because they didn't have money, so we’d borrow from our neighbors)

In the face of such challenges, the Almenzos found refuge in the 4Ps program. It was their hope amid a time of desperation, providing not just financial support but also a path to empowerment and independence.

Cherry carefully managed their finances, allocating a portion of the 4Ps payout to savings while using her husband's earnings as a driver to gradually pay off their debts. 

With dedication as a guide, their situation began to change. Their savings were utilized as seed capital to start their own business. 

Today, the family owns four eateries – three tapsilogan (tapsilog is a portmanteau of the Filipino words tapa or beef jerky, sinangag or fried rice and itlog or egg) and a carinderia (a food establishment that serves affordable and locally inspired dishes) in Mandaluyong City.

“Tuwing may 4Ps payout kami, ito po yung pinambibili ko ng mga pagkain namin at unti unti naman namin nababayaran ang aming utang mula sa sahod ng aking asawa. Tumagal ay nakakaipon na rin ako kahit papaano dahil nagtatabi ako ng 500 pesos kada payout namin,” she shared. 

(Whenever we receive our 4Ps payout, I use it to buy our food, and little by little, we're able to pay off our debts from my husband's earnings. I've also been able to save up a bit because I set aside 500 pesos from each payout)

Some of the eateries of the Almenzo Family in Mandaluyong City (photos from Cherry Almenzo)

Paying it forward

Cherry not only worked to provide a better future for her family but also extended a helping hand to her fellow 4Ps beneficiaries by employing some of them in their eateries.

“Sa ngayon binibigyan ko po ng priority, lalo na po yung mga lumalapit sa akin na 4Ps beneficiaries na nangangailangan ng trabaho kasi ramdam ko po yung walang trabaho na mga nanay at may mga anak.”

(At present, I prioritize especially those who approach me, particularly 4Ps beneficiaries in need of jobs, because I empathize with mothers who are unemployed and have children.)

Cherry expressed her heartfelt gratitude to the DSWD for helping her family achieve a better quality of life. She also conveyed her genuine wish for other beneficiaries to continue having faith in themselves and the program, urging them not to lose hope.

“Kahit may ibinibigay satin ang gobyerno kung hindi po natin pinapahalagahan at hindi po natin sila tutulungan, hindi po tayo makaka-ahon sa hirap. Kahit ilang years sila doon at hindi nila tutulungan sarili nila, eh wala po talagang mararating,” she added.

(Even if the government provides us with assistance, if we do not appreciate it and do not help ourselves, we will not be able to overcome hardship. Even if they stay there for years and do not help themselves, they will not get anywhere.)

The Almenzo family's decision to leave the program represents more than simply financial independence. It depicts overcoming adversity, never giving up, and holding onto the hope of a better future.

Households determined to be self-sufficient or volunteered to leave the program are formally referred to their local government units. This allows for continued support to maintain their well-being or to track their progress after the program. (GLDG/PIA-NCR)

About the Author

Gelaine Louise Gutierrez

Information Officer II

National Capital Region

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