A FAMILY from an Indigenous Peoples group in Antique Province is this year’s Western Visayas model family.
The Calipusan family, headed by Raymundo and Teresa, who belong to the ITCA (Igdalaguit-Tribal Council Association), topped this year’s search besting all other nominees from other provinces in the Region in the DSWD Search for Huwarang Pantawid Pamilya.
The couple, who hails from Tobias Fornier in Antique, has children namely Jaylord, 18; Gaylord, Grade 7; and Mary Lordelyn, Grade 8.
Despite poverty, however, the family has opened their door and assumed the responsibility of taking care of two less fortunate children.
One of whom is Richard C. Abuloc, 20, Raymundo’s nephew from Agusan, whose parents could not afford to send him to school.
Raymundo fetched Richard in Bohol and brought him to Antique after knowing that the latter is not in school for more than two years after graduating from high school. Richard is now taking up Bachelor of Science in Marine Transportation (BSMT) along with Raymundo’s eldest son, he is now a third year college student taking up BSMT at the University of Antique.
The other one is Arnel Gonce, 13, who was abandoned by his parents and was seen wandering around the public plaza of Tobias Fornier in Antique last year. Arnel is now a Grade 5 at the Cato-ogan Elementary School.
The couple believes that helping other people is their way to pay back all the goodness and blessings that God has given to them. They are also thankful that the two children were welcomed by their children and considered them as part of the family.
The Calipusan family believes that a family that stays together has a “forever.”
For them, the family that prays and works together, indulges in love, respect, unity, forgiveness and understanding towards each other will smoothly overcome all the challenges that come their way.
Every Sunday, the family’s form of bonding is visiting their farm. They pack their baon so they would have their lunch together under the big tree.
The family is also attending mass at their barangay chapel every second Sunday of the month apart from regular Sunday’s mass.
Teresa helps facilitate the mass since she is also an active member of the Barangay Pastoral Council and a former catechist of San Nicolas De Tolentino Parish Church.
In fact, the couple’s devotion to God is reflected in the names of their three children – Jaylord, Gaylord and Mary Lordelyn.
During weekdays, since Raymundo is also selling ice scramble outside the school where his two children are studying, both children are also helping their father during recess and lunch time so that they could easily save-up their capital.
At regular basis particularly after school, the siblings would all help maintain their backyard vegetable garden.
The family grows different kinds of organic vegetables in their backyard. The produce ensures the family’s regular viand. They plant camote, alogbate, malunggay, pechay, squash, papaya, and other root crops.
Since the family owns a piggery, they collect the pig’s manure on the sacks and plant some okra on it. They also use the manure as their fertilizer in their vegetable garden.
Also, the family has been promoting organic farming for almost a year now. They use the rice stalks and the carabao’s manure as fertilizer.
The Calipusan family regularly avails of health services; they have access to safe drinking water directly from Cato-ogan Watershed and they have their own sanitary toilet.
The family has long been practicing proper garbage disposal and waste segregation. They also sell collected bottles, cans in junkshops and utilize plastic packs and bottles as seedling bags.
Since the family has been engaged in ice scramble business for 17 years, they make sure that the ice scramble they serve to customers is cleanly prepared and they are not using any preservatives, food coloring and flavoring.
By attending training on food operators, the couple is aware on proper food preparations.
Yearly, the couple is also renewing their business permit and health certificate at the Municipal Health Office. The health certification issued by their Municipal Health Office simply proves that the couple is complying with the health requirement set by the office.
For five long years, the family has been joining the tree planting activity at the Cato-ogan Watershed in celebration of Independence Day every June 12.
The yearly activity is initiated by Cato-ogan Barangay Council to help protect their watershed as their main source of water.
ACTIVE IN COMMUNITY
Teresa is very proud to be an IP or has a Calibugan blood (mixture of Ati and Bukidnon). Although her family is now living far away from their IP community, she manages to visit the place regularly.
In fact, she is offering her expertise to teach her fellow IPs how to raise swine on top of farming and vegetables gardening as their main source of income.
Also as parent leader under DSWD’s Pantawid Pamilya, the family, particularly Teresa, is also involved in the community affairs with her active participation as KALAHI CIDDS-NCCDP volunteer on Audit and Inventory group, Public Information Officer (PIO) of Farmer’s Association of Department of Agriculture (DA), Business Manager of Parent-Teachers Association (PTA) in Cato-ogan Elementary School of Grade V, P.I.O and Business Manager of PTA (Board of Directors) in Cato-ogan Elementary School, Member of Dao Catholic High School, Member of Barangay Pastoral Council and Volunteer/member of Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV).
On his part, Raymundo is also regularly attending the KALAHI-CIDDS meeting at their barangay and volunteers himself to help the construction of a one-story school room on ‘bayanihan’ system.
Every year, the family also participates in the Barangay Assembly, clean-up drive against possible mosquitoes- breeding areas and Brigada Eskwela in Cato-ogan Elementary School apart from regular tree planting activity at the Cato-ogan Watershed.
On the other hand, the Calipusan children are also actively joining the barangay activities such as sports leagues, and Barangay Day.
Being a model family to their community, the Calipusan family was commended by the municipality of Tobias Fornier thru Mayor Jose Maria A. Fornier, as the first winning family who won the 1st Municipality Search for Huwarang Pantawid Pamilya.
The family bested 24 other participants on June 5 this year. Also, Mayor Fornier introduced the winning couple before the 1, 300 beneficiaries during the Over the Counter (OTC) pay-out at the Municipal Gym on June 18, 2015 to serve as model family and inspiration to them.
After winning the municipal search, the Calipusan Family also won the Provincial Search for Huwarang Pantawid Pamilya in the province of Antique and bested among 17 other entries only this July.
Maria De Paz Calanoy, neighbor of Calipusan family said they are very thankful that the couple took care of Arnel since the boy has been accused of theft by some villagers. She said if Arnel will continue to roam everywhere, might be a big problem to the community. Now, Calanoy said because of the couple’s generosity, Arnel found a second family who loves him unconditionally.
As parent leader, Teresa is also a good motivator. Her attendance to Family Development Session provided her the venue to convince co-beneficiaries in their barangay to diligently grow vegetables and root crops in their own backyard, practice organic farming and give tips on how to raise swine.
By attending several swine trainings conducted by different companies, it helped the couple expand their small piggery.
From one pig that was entrusted to them by a teacher friend, it multiplied to now eight (locally known as ‘nayon)’, eight more pigs for fattening and 40 piglets ready for disposal.
Since they have no cash capital to buy feeds, a feed trader from the market offered them to lend his feeds and only pay him once they have disposed their swine.
In return, the couple has also lent some piglets to more than 30 households in their barangay and even to several neighboring villages just to help them raise swine as their alternative livelihood next to farming.
Through massive swine trainings, the couple also eyes to avail of livelihood assistance through DSWD’s Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP).
Punong Barangay Angel S. Ibañez of Brgy. Cato-ogan testified how diligent the family is despite the poor family status. The family has never engaged in any misdemeanor and strictly follows the conditionalities set by the program.
Ibañez also said the family engages in selling of ice scramble especially during summer season, swine dispersal, farming and backyard gardening. “Nagatinguha kag nagabinuligay andang magpamilya para sanda makatapos andang mga bata sa high school kag college (The family helped one another so that their children may finish their studies in high school and college)” said Ibañez.
The couple is striving hard to meet their daily needs and earn more to sustain their children’s needs and schooling. They engage in ice scramble, piggery, tailoring and farming as their means of livelihood.
During rainy season, the family has engaged themselves into farming. The couple rented a 2-hectare farmland and pay the owner thru sacks of palay based on its production every harvest season. Since Teresa is also an active member of DA Farmers’ Association in their barangay.
When there is no work at the farm, members of the family are helping one another in packing 35 packs of big ice to use for their ice scramble. The family bought a second-hand refrigerator so they could stock their ice.
The couple wakes up early morning to prepare the needed ingredients (peanut and sago) for their ice scramble while their children are busy doing their daily routine like preparing their breakfast, fetching water, and washing dishes before going to school.
For his part, Raymundo is making sure that he could bring his ice scramble to the town proper particularly outside the Dao Catholic High School where their children are studying before recess time. During recess and lunch time, their two children are helping their father in selling ice scramble.
On her part, since Teresa is left alone in their house, she will start cleaning their small piggery, their house and surroundings and plant additional vegetables in their backyard.
After lunch, instead of taking her siesta, she will start repairing clothes and school uniforms of her clients mostly students and teachers. In a week, she could earn more or less P700 from her home-based tailoring which is already a big help to buy some additional basic needs of her family.
The family is very thankful to avail of the conditional cash grant through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. But more than the cash grant, their being a beneficiary of Pantawid Pamilya empowered them and helped raise their level of well-being as it gave them the opportunity to access other social services.
Three of their children are covered by Pantawid Pamilya. Gaylord and Mary Lordelyn are assured of finishing K to 12 because of the expansion of the age (15-18 year- old) coverage of Pantawid Pamilya children-beneficiaries.
Aside from helping her parents, Mary Lordelyn is also a working student. Every Saturday, she helps at the grocery store being managed by the Dao Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Inc. where she and her mother Teresa are also active members and depositors. Mary Lordelyn receives a P300 allowance per month which is a big help to buy some of her school needs.
Knowing that education and good health are the keys to rise from poverty, the Calipusan couple encourages their children to stay healthy and value the education particularly their scholarship grants by taking their studies seriously./dswd6//Montesa G. Caoyonan