Sammy: A Picture of Hopeful Solo Parent

For a single father who goes out to sea to harvest crabs from traps, Sammy Talingting starts his day as early as 3 am.  He has to prepare breakfast for his three children before he sends them to school so he can go out to sea. 

His daily routine started since 2011 when his common-law wife, Nena (not her real name) had to leave him and his children. Nena needed to get out of Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu for security reasons and believed it was the only option left to keep her alive.

Until two years later he discovered of Nena’s pregnancy by another man. Sammy accepted that Nena has already a life of her own but both agreed to maintain communication for the sake of their children.

Despite the huge responsibility of being a single parent, Sammy decided to move forward for his children. He regained confidence when his family was identified as Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) partner-beneficiary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

The Talingtings are among the 6,000 4Ps beneficiaries in Lapu-Lapu City.  He is a leader of 31 among the 270 household-beneficiaries and became chairperson of the federation of 4Ps parent leaders in Barangay Punta Engaño.

Pantawid Pamilya, or most commonly known as 4Ps is national governments poverty reduction strategy that invests in the health and education of eligible poor households primarily of pregnant women and children aged 18 and below.

Program beneficiaries need to fulfill their co-responsibilities to receive their grants. These includes allowing their school-aged children attend class; deworming for children aged 14 and below; mandatory and preventive health check-up for children aged 5 and below and pregnant women; and attendance of parent/s or guardian to the monthly Family Development Session (FDS).

As a father, Sammy aspires for his children to have college diploma – an achievement he never had the chance to acquire because his parents did not have the capacity to support his education.

He recalls being assigned to take care of his younger siblings rather than being sent to school. His father is often out at sea to catch fish in order to make a living while his mother helps by selling it.

Sammy helped his father earn a living at an early age of 9 so he can have a little money for his school needs. His parents did not allow him at first but after seeing Sammy’s determination, his father allowed him to help in fishing after school classes.

Sammy also remembers coming home from school with only about a square-inch of burnt rice sticking to the bottom of the pot at times when rough seas made fishing impossible. With teary eyes he recalls he would ask himself “Ngano man kinahanglan nga mahitabo kini sa amo?” (Why does this have to happen to us?). 

This is the kind of situation he did not want to happen to his children. He was bent on seeing to it that there are three square meals on the table every day.

GROWING NEEDS

Because harvest of fish is a seasonal, Sammy has to find other sources of income. His artistic and creative mind led him to working in shells craft work, whenever fishing is not possible.

Aside from his three children, Sam Justin (Grade 11); Sev Adrian (Grade 9) and Schwarts Crist (Grade 7), Sammy still goes to take care of his aging parents who lives nearby his house and has become dependent on the support he and his siblings can give.

GLIMMER OF HOPE

The cash grant from DSWD’s 4Ps he has been receiving since 2011 was used mainly for his children’s need in school. He found an ally in the program in achieving his aspirations for his children’s future.

Not only did it boost his dreams for his children’s education but it also fuelled his passion for community involvement. He is a confidante of his fellow 4Ps beneficiaries and all of them look up to him as their parent leader.

 “Ang 4Ps dili lang kini nakatabang sa pagpa-eskwela sa among mga anak, nakatabang pud kini nga madugangan ang among kaalam pinaagi sa Family Development Session (FDS) (The 4Ps did not only helped in children’s education but also in adding knowledge through the FDS),” underscored Sammy. As of December 31, 2019, there are more than 250,000 solo parents in the 4Ps nationwide.  Of this number, more than 16,000 are in Visayas region.