HERNANI, Eastern Samar – Beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) in Eastern Samar expressed their appreciation on this cash grant program saying it help them during this time of financial difficulties due to supertyphoon Yolanda. “We have been struggling to survive every day. I don’t think we would be able to send my grandchildren to school without cash from 4Ps,” said Persita Yape, 61 of coastal Batang village of this typhoon-stricken town.

Their family receives P1,100 cash every month from the Department of Social Welfare and Development. The P500 is for the head of the family and P300 each for his two school-aged grandchildren – Johanne, 7 and Eloisa, 4. Persita’s husband Gerardo, 62 is still recovering his livelihood after his fishing boat was swept away by big waves. The couple reopened their small retail store through a P4,000 capital from selling pigs.

The couple reconstructed their makeshift house through donations from various non-government organizations. From their previous P5,000 monthly income, they are now surviving with a P2,000 income after they were hit by Yolanda. In Cansumangkay village of Balangiga of the same province, Jose and Victoria Menguin thanked the Aquino administration for the P800 monthly cash assistance from 4Ps.

Their son, Benjie, at 15 make him qualify to sign up for college, is still finishing the seventh grade as his parents struggles to make ends meet. Jose, 55 has been diagnosed of acute urinary tract infection, preventing him to work. Adding up the burden is Victoria’s goiter-like cyst in her neck, but she still works as a village utility aide, earning small pay. Their coconut farm from her parents located in Can-albaya village, a three-hour hike from their house is not anymore productive. The November 8, 2013 typhoon sheared and uprooted the 200 coconut trees of their two hectares land, reducing the family’s income from P3,000 to P1,000 per month, not enough to meet the family’s daily needs.

“Actually, we just eat twice a day with root crops and salted fish in our table. Having breakfast is not anymore a practice to us. I’m sure we will go hungry without cash from 4Ps,” Victoria said. Their neighbor, Teresita Cajife, 38, a mother of seven children, said she’s been looking forward to receive the cash monthly to sustain their family’s need. “I don’t know if my child would be able to go to school without the 4Ps.We are very poor and our income is just right to buy food,” a pregnant Cajife said.
Her husband, Salvador, only earns P600 monthly from operating farm tractors. Before rice planting period and after harvest months, the couple gathers and sells firewood’s, generating an additional income of P300 monthly.

In Sto. Niño village of Quinapondan town, Joan Biong, 36, challenged critics of 4Ps to visit their coastal village and see the plight of poor families. “I don’t understand why some wealthy people are criticizing the 4Ps if these are helping the poorest of the poor survive,” Biong said, whose husband, Louie, 35, only earns P2,000 monthly from fishing. The couple has to send four of their five children to a public school, cutting their budget for food and other needs. They have been receiving P2,000 monthly from 4Ps, equivalent to their income from fishing.

Biong’s family gets P1,700 through the cash transfer, which they recently used to buy school supplies and uniforms.  “I was very happy to hear that President Aquino expanded 4Ps to cover 18-year-old children. I am assured that my eldest child Charles Luis, 15, will finish secondary education,” Joan added. Aside from Charles Luis, the couple is also sending other four children to school – Adrianne, 11, John Cedric, 8, James Kierby, 5, and Jaela, 4. (SARWELL Q.MENIANO)