Source: DSWD Field Office I Official Website (

“As we endure the pain from all the sacrifices and struggles in life, the wheel of life continues to roll. Today, you may be at the bottom but do not lose hope. Instead, work hard, persevere, and have faith in God to achieve your goals in life and rise from the bottom,” said Lilian A. Castañeda, one of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) graduates from Barangay Cadaclan, City of San Fernando, La Union, during their 4Ps graduation ceremony on 30 June 2023.

With a total of 118 graduate households that day, 4Ps has already paved the way for these families to escape the vicious cycle of poverty. Lilian recalled their journey in the program for the last 11 years.


Under the Wheel of Survival

Lilian could still clearly narrate her family’s hurdles before they became 4Ps beneficiaries in 2012.

Every day, Lilian and her husband would have to go to the farm even before the sun rose, as seasonal vegetable farming was their only source of income. They would plow the fields, plant, and harvest, hoping that disasters and pests would not come to destroy their crops, as their family’s life greatly depended on it.

Out of the 3,978,736 active 4Ps households, almost half of them, specifically 40.13% (1,596,521) have at least one member engaged in farming, fishing, and/or forestry. A total of 52,759 of them are from Region I (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program Monthly Implementation Status Report, July 2023). In 2020, farmers like them would earn only 281 PHP per day (PSA Agricultural Indicators System, 2016-2020).

After their farming duties, Lilian would still have to rush to their home before 6 a.m. to prepare her three kids for school.

Women and mothers like her, would also bear the bulk of the family’s unpaid care work, which includes childcare, eldercare, and house chores like cleaning, cooking, and washing. This, according to a study from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) would constitute 20 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), which, if valued monetarily, is roughly worth trillions of pesos (Abrigo & Francisco-Abrigo, 2019).

Aside from sustaining their daily needs and their children’s education, accessing quality healthcare is also a major challenge for their family. Lilian would recall feeling deep remorse whenever they would not be able to send a sick family member to the hospital due to financial instability.


Shifting Gears to Subsistence

As Lilian’s family became a 4Ps member-household in 2012, all cash grants they received have aided them to gradually meet their basic needs, along with their children’s educational needs.

As for their health care needs, 4Ps members like the Castañeda family also automatically qualify for National Health Insurance Program (NHIP) coverage.

Lilian, aside from being a loving mother, did not waste any opportunity to contribute not only for her family’s welfare, but also to their community.

As an elected 4Ps parent leader in her barangay, she became the main link of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to the program beneficiaries. They assisted in conducting meetings, updating beneficiaries’ profiles, conducting monthly family development sessions (FDS), and other voluntary work during the program’s implementation.

Moreover, having gained trust from her federation’s fellow members, she was also elected President of the City of San Fernando, La Union Parent Leaders Federation. Together, they led the launch of the federation’s income generating projects. Funds garnered from these activities became a source of financial aid to 4Ps beneficiaries affected by disasters and crisis situations.

Lilian also served as a barangay clerk in 2010, while her husband, as a contractual utility worker at the City Hall of San Fernando, La Union, reached his 15th year of service in January 2023.


Turning 360 to Self-Sufficiency

During their 4Ps graduation, Lilian also shared how the program uplifted them to attain self-sufficiency. Aside from all the benefits and cash grants, she said that their learnings from the FDS became a tool to get them where they are now.

At present, Lilian’s eldest daughter, Hannah Lea, who was formerly a grantee of the Expanded Students-Grants-in Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation (ESGP-PA) in 2015, is a registered electrical engineer, and a manager at one of the prominent malls in Taguig City. Her second child, Haily Mae, is a graduate of Business Administration and currently employed as a human resources officer at an energy corporation in the City of San Fernando, La Union. The youngest child, Hazel Jane, is now a third-year student taking up Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering at Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University Mid La Union Campus, City of San Fernando, La Union.

After years of perseverance, the Castañeda Family is now classified as Level 3 or “self-sufficient” through the program’s Social Welfare and Development Indicator (SWDI) tool, a survey intended to be implemented annually to assess and monitor the welfare and progress of Pantawid families. They are also now enjoying the comfort of their newly renovated house and a brand-new car.

Turning their wheel of life towards self-sufficiency, Lilian’s family would continue their journey for a progressive life that would hopefully thrive for generations.

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