From dumpsite to decent subdivision: A Pantawid Pamilya family’s journey to a better life

For their neighbors, the Roble family seems like an average family, working hard at improving their lives. They see a couple deftly managing their business and responsibly sending their children to school.

Little did the neighbors know that before the Roble family moved to their decent subdivision in Brgy. Dumlog, Talisay City, they used to live in a dumpsite in Barangay Inayawan, Cebu City.

“Puro mga dato among mga silingan. Wala sila kabalo na gikan mi sa basura (My neighbors are all rich. They don’t know we came from a dumpsite),” disclosed Rutshe Roble,  40.

Way out of the dumpsite

Rutshe recounted those days when they stayed at the dumpsite. She shared that they could barely eat three meals a day. But their deplorable condition ended when they became beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in 2010 with their two children qualified for the program.

Pantawid Pamilya is a human development program that invests in the health and education of poor families, primarily those with children aged 0-18. It provides cash grants to beneficiaries who comply with the conditions of sending their children to school, bringing them to health centers for checkups, and attending the monthly Family Development Sessions (FDS).

When the program expanded the age coverage to 18, three of Rutshe’s children were covered. Today, her two children in high school receive monthly educational cash grants of P500 each and her child in elementary receives P300, in addition to the P500 for the family’s health grant.

Also, Rutshe’s attendance to the FDS made her realize that she can further improve her family’s situation by using her skills for livelihood opportunities.

“Ang Pantawid Pamilya naghatag namo sa kadasig sa pagpaningkamot tungod kay gawas sa kwarta nga giabag kanamo, aduna usab mga seminar aron mahimo kaming mga maayong ginikanan sa among mga anak lakip na niini kung unsaon pa nga makakuha kami og maayong panginabuhian (The Pantawid Pamilya has encouraged us to strive hard because aside from the cash grant, there are Family Development Sessions (FDS) and seminars that teach us to become responsible parents to our children including how to access livelihood opportunities),” Rutshe said.

Way in to economic opportunities

As a Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary, the Roble family became a priority recipient of livelihood assistance through the DSWD’s Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) of DSWD.

Under the SLP, they were given capital assistance and were provided with further skills training to help them manage a small business of their choice.

Having learned the art of bag and accessory making from her mother, Rutshe and her family invested the capital assistance given to them in this endeavor.

Knowing the importance of team work, she also involved her children in the business, making it a family enterprise.

“Mao gyud ni akong nakita na pamaagi kay akong manghod nakabalay ug nakapalit ug yuta tungod ani (I think that this is the best way I can earn money because my younger sister was able to buy a house and lot because of this business),” she added.

True enough, their income from selling bags has paved the way for them to find a residence in a subdivision and to send all their seven children to school.

She is thankful to DSWD-Field Office VII for helping her family earn extra income and promote the family products by inviting them to display their bags and accessories.

Often times, the Field Office also asks Rutshe to be a livelihood trainer.

“Dako kaayo ko’g pasalamat sa cash grant sa Pantawid ug sa Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) para sa puhunan kay nakasugod mi ug negosyo (I am really thankful to the cash grant of Pantawid Pamilya and capital from SLP that helped us start a business),” Rutshe said.

She also happily shared that with their flourishing business, she has already paid up the capital seed fund given by DSWD last February.

Rutshe and her children continue to make bags and accessories in their new home.  She said that the family needs to strive harder especially now that they acquired a better home for them to live in.  Even her eldest child, who is now employed, shares for the monthly amortization.

She added that there is almost nothing inside their house because they cannot afford yet to buy appliances at this time.  Despite this, Rutshe is happy that her family no longer calls the dumpsite as their home.

Rutshe’s husband Lucero, 35,  has stopped working as a construction worker to take charge of the household chores during daytime while she attends to their business. In the evening, Lucero still works as security guard.

The Roble family has now gained recognition in the neighborhood for their business.  In fact, they are often being requested to teach craft-making in their new home.

Hard work really pays off

The Roble family showed that with the right assistance from government, coupled with hard work, positive change can be achieved.

DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said, “The Roble family is just one of the many families who prove that government resources are used to complement the hard work of poor families to improve their lives.”

Sec. Soliman added that Pantawid Pamilya and SLP just served as catalysts for their empowerment, giving them the hope and the fresh start that they needed.

“Poor families like the Robles only need that one important opportunity to turn their lives around.  And that is the main objective of DSWD programs like Pantawid Pamilya and SLP – to help beneficiaries help themselves to have a better tomorrow, especially the children,” Sec. Soliman said.

For Rutshe, there is no need to be ashamed of the hard work. It does not matter that they came from a dumpsite; what is important is that they have risen from their dire circumstance.

“Dili nako ikaulaw na Pantawid benipisyari mi ug gikan mi ug dumping kay naa na man mi ikapakita ug kung magkugi lang ka makab-ot nimu imung mga pangandoy alang sa imung pamilya. kay gitudloan kami unsaon nga mahimong maayong ginikanan sa among mga anak (I am not ashamed that we are from the dumpsite since we have proven that if you strive hard,  you will surely achieve your dreams),” Rutshe enthused.

She further expressed her support for the program, saying she does not understand why there are people who are criticizing the program as  mentioned by President Benigno S. Aquino III in his SONA on July 27.

Nagtan-aw ko sa SONA sa Presidente. Tinuod gyud nga daghan ang natabangan sa Pantawid ug usa na niini ang akong pamilya. Busa alang kanako ang pagsaway nga wa makatabang ang programa dili gyud tinuod. Ang mga nagsaway sa programa wala nila nakita ang kontribusyon sa programa sa pagradwet sa high school sa daghang bata nga benepisyari sa Pantawid. Basin gusto nila nga makgraduate sa tanan (I watched the SONA of the president.  It is true that many have benefited from Pantawid Pamilya. My family is one of them.  Personally, there is no truth to what the critics say that the program has not helped the poor. They have not seen the important contribution of the program, especially to those who finished their high school this year. Maybe they are still waiting for all the beneficiaries to graduate for them to appreciate the program’s contribution),” Rutshe opined.

Like it? Share with your friends!


Introvert, wanderer, blogger, foodie, a hip-hop music writer, and one of the co-founders of a tech start-up company called GigsManila.