The Lauzon family on the island of Talalora, Samar was among the households who rely on a meager income to survive each day. Melania recalled her struggles to make ends meet for the family with her husband, Romeo, was a carpenter, and their six children. Melania cleaned their neighbors’ laundry in order to supplement their family’s income. Unfortunately, they were still unable to satisfy their daily needs even after pooling their earnings together. She claimed her children would have to skip breakfast, wear outgrown clothes, and go to school without anything because the family couldn’t even afford their school supplies. She recounts weeping herself to sleep for hours on the thought of disappointing her six children. Like everyone else, they were also worried about their mounting debt. Just as she was about to give up, the fate of their family began to change.

Living a better life through perseverance and 4Ps help

In 2014, the family was accepted into the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). The program provides financial aid in the form of grants for the children’s education, health and nutrition. Because of this, every aspect of their life improved.

Despite this, Melania and Romeo did not want to rely solely on the cash grants so they also persevere and aspire to fulfill their dreams of improving their living status from survival to self-sufficiency. They valued every peso they received from the program and saved a portion so that they could start building a small business. Melania then joined the Sustainable Livelihood Program Association (SLPA) in their barangay, which started a hog-raising business. Coincidentally, she was also one of the barangay officials, which helped improve the community through these programs.

As a result of their hard work, the family now owns a two-story house. They live in a much better and more pleasant environment than they did before. Their improved well-being can be attributed to the assistance provided by the DSWD 4Ps as well as their determination and excellent family teamwork.

Currently, two of their eldest children have their own families but are still contributing for their younger siblings’ education. Francis, the third child, on the other hand, is now working and supports his parents in their financial matters. Mariepaz, their fourth child, is currently a fourth-year graduating college student, while Marvin, their fifth child, is a first-year college student. Mariel, their youngest daughter, is presently in the tenth grade.

More than just the cash grants

Melania said that the Family Development Sessions (FDS) have been really helpful to her and her family. She went into further detail about the various topics she learned, including how children’ s brains develop, what to expect in the first years of a child’s life, the fundamentals of good nutrition and health, and several approaches to family planning. In addition, she learned basic legislation for women and children as well as on disaster risk reduction and management. Moreover, she gained knowledge on disaster risk reduction management and basic laws for women and children. The lessons she gained from FDS really aided her in her efforts to train and care for her kids.

Hope springs from 4Ps

Melania expressed how much their family values the program and said that “If I had to describe this program in one word, it would be “savior” when we had nowhere else to turn.  We would not be where we are today if it were not for the 4Ps. We want to offer our heartfelt gratitude for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. My family is now prepared to graduate/exit the Program so that other qualified families might benefit from it and, as a result, improve their level of well-being.”

In 2022, the Lauzons participated in the Pugay Tagumpay (PT) ceremony when they were one of the families assessed as ready to leave/exit the program. It is a transition point and ceremonial handover of outgoing households to Local Government Units (LGUs), as well as a celebration of the milestones and overall achievements of 4Ps recipients. Governmental and non-governmental institutions, as well as civil society groups, worked together effectively to carry out the PT ceremonies. As part of the follow-up services provided to program graduates, the Lauzons were referred to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). The DTI offers business consulting services on entrepreneurship as well as numerous livelihood skills/training that are tailored to the demands of the 4Ps.

“Hindi namin inaasahan na maabot namin ang ganitong buhay pagkatapos ng mga karanasan na pinagdaanan ng aming pamilya bago maging benepisyaryo ng 4Ps. Kaya laking pasasalamat namin sa Programa sa mga kaginhawaan na tinatamasa namin sa ngayon.” (“We never expected to reach this kind of life considering the experiences our family went through before becoming beneficiaries of the 4Ps. So we are very grateful to the Program for the comforts we are enjoying now”). ###