BURAUEN, Leyte – For decades, Gredy Manidlangan, has been tilling fields, but this time, his daily grind is more worthwhile as he prepares an area for planting of vegetables meant for malnourished children in their village.
The 43-year-old beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), said the job is tiring, but knowing that he’s contributing to the effort to arrest malnutrition, motivated him to work more.
“Our work here is a proof that 4Ps beneficiaries are not lazy. We want to be known as profitable citizens and not just recipients of the government’s cash grants,” the farmer said.
Since 2010, he has been receiving P1,200 monthly from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to support his children’s education.
Manidlangan, who earns an average income of P100 daily from cultivating coconut and other crops, is just one of the 56 4Ps recipients in Barangay Anonang tapped to work in a communal garden. The upland village is about 18 kilometers from the town center passing through a hilly road.
The garden will cultivate vegetables as main ingredients of pinakbet, a Filipino vegetable stew made of different vegetables, pork and shrimp paste.
The dish usually includes bitter melon, eggplant, tomato, okra, string beans, chili peppers, squash, winged beans, and others.
Anonang Elementary School agriculture teacher Dexter Villote said 43 malnourished children out of the 158 students enrolled in their school will benefit from the school-based feeding program.
The initiative primarily aims to improve the nutritional status of the beneficiaries by at least 70 percent at the end of 120 feeding days.
Secondarily, it aims to increase classroom attendance by 85 percent to 100 percent and improve the children’s health and nutrition values and behavior.
“Through gardening, we hope to capacitate more beneficiaries into empowered community members who are able to help in the development,” Manidlangan said.
Village council member Flora Alere, 52, said her participation in the project is a way of paying debt of gratitude for the government’s grants.
“I am always happy to help because the government has supported the education of some of my six children since 2010,” Alere shared.
“Gardening is a good opportunity for us to foster camaraderie as we share seedlings from backyard farms and agree to work together to maintain this organic farm,” she added.
DSWD Regional Director Restituto Macuto said that 4Ps families have been taught to maintain gardens to address malnutrition, save budget for food, and earn additional income.
“Based on the monitoring of our municipal links, our 4Ps beneficiaries are not lazy since they were taught to be diligent during family development sessions,” Macuto said.
Eastern Visayas region has 280,000 4Ps beneficiaries in six provinces.
The conditional cash transfer program locally known as 4Ps, is a government program that provides conditional cash grants to the poorest of the poor in the country.
The program aims to break the cycle of poverty by keeping children aged 0-18 healthy and in school, so they can have a better future.
Households receive cash grants if children stay in school and get regular health check-ups, have their growth monitored, and receive vaccines. Pregnant women must get pre-natal care, with their births attended to by professional health workers.
Parents or guardians are required to participate in monthly community-based family development sessions to learn about positive child discipline, disaster preparedness, and women’s rights. (The author is the school head of the Anonang Elementary School in Barangay Anonang, Burauen, Leyte)