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DSWD - CAR Feature: Another Jonah Story Remember that story told by your catechist or parents about a prophet who was swallowed by a huge fish for three days and three nights before being thrown on a dry land? His name was Jonah. But here’s a modern Jonah story who wasn’t literally swallowed by a huge fish instead she was nearly enslaved by poverty. She’s a young woman, a wife, and a mother to five children and she broke away from the shackles of poverty. Juna Sanggoy belong to the Kankanaey tribe of Kapangan, Benguet. Now at the age of 35, she tried to look back on her rocky beginnings as a member of this everchallenging society. In the beginning She did not dream of improving her life as she didn’t even know that she is living a life below poverty line until just a couple of years ago. “I’m regretful that I didn’t care to learn about a lot of things,” she shared in vernacular. Admittedly, she wasn’t able to learn skills which could be her passport in raising a family. For years “I was a plain house wife who barely helps my husband Benjamin in our sayote farm,” she continued. A high school undergraduate and a wife at the age of 15, she now admits to lack knowledge and skills on family rearing and much more on skills to help provide for her family. As her family grows, “financial challenges began to build up one by one as my children start going to school,” she said. I can’t help notice the frustration in her voice as she talks about getting angry when her children ask for allowance before they go to school. “Most of the time, I just get angry to cover up my embarrassment that I can’t provide them proper allowance,” she exclaimed. As farmers, Juna’s family wait for three months before they could sell their crop and have some cash. Usually, they plant string beans which have a maturity period of three months. Within those months “we have to live day by day without giving our children regular “baon” (allowance)” Juna said. Because of this financial struggle, Juna decided to avail of TESDA’s skills training. However, she doesn’t have a high school diploma to qualify her for the training. This didn’t dampen her spirit to acquire some skills at least so she enrolled in the Alternative Learning System of the Department of Education (DEPED). “I graduated in 2005 even if I had three kids,” she said with pride. She finally earned that precious document certifying that she is a high school graduate. She persevered and succeeded in juggling her roles between her family and her studies and eventually her Beauty Care Training with TESDA (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority). Juna years after As we continued to share stories, my admiration for her resiliency started to build within me and made me wonder where mothers get all those kind of strength. The first time I saw her was when she 10 The Social Focus

shared a bit of her story during a visit of former DSWD Secretary Corazon Soliman. That time she stood with pride at the small stage at Kapangan municipal gym. She seemed nervous but confident as she delivered her speech. I was guessing that most of us who were listening to her didn’t know that three years ago she had a low self-esteem and she who would never step on a stage to speak in front of many people. But that day, she was a community volunteer, a DSWD partner beneficiary who was able to hold the audience including the Secretary and municipal officials with her speech. She made an impression on the audience, including me, so I pursued an interview with her. After earning a national certificate, she said she was happy having learned skills in beauty care thus she began building her dreams of profiting from it. But then the happiness and those dreams she had started to crumble as she was again faced with the lack of financial capital to start a business. “I don’t have a capital to start with and I lack marketing skills,” she said. In 2012, she became a DSWD beneficiary where she learned family rearing through the family development sessions. “My family’s relationship slowly improved and we can better manage our family now. She was also granted a PhP 10, 000 capital from Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) of the Department to start her beauty care services. “Although it wasn’t enough, I was able to start a home service beauty care business in my municipality and later to nearby municipalities. Slowly, she started to feel that she is part of her community so she got herself involved in some activities of her barangay. She then joined as a community volunteer for the Kapit- Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi- CIDSS) Project in 2013 and until now remains as one. “Before, I have very low self-esteem but now I came to find my self-worth and became an active member of my community,” she said. At present, she is also being invited as resource speakers during Family Development Sessions with other families in her municipality. “She is very active in community activities as member or leader of committees created,” Kalahi-CIDSS Area Coordinator Fidela Gawidan confirmed. The Social Focus During Juna’s home services to her clients, she takes time to tell and invite them to participate on the activities for community projects. “While being a volunteer, I heard about a cooking training from other villagers during a barangay assembly and I readily joined, she continued. Because of that, she can now prepare and package candies, mallows, pulvoron and other processed food which she sells around her municipality even while on her way to her beauty care clients. “Now, I can provide at least for our kitchen and a little allowance to my children,” DSWD - CAR she said with a shy smile. Juna is just one of many Filipinos who lacked opportunities but after being provided with one, it has created a ripple effect to her family and to her community. From being a timid and typical housewife, Juna proved that with pure effort anyone can turn into a versatile and resilient person ready to change her life and to her community. Her story may not be the typical rags to riches but she represents those people who are just waiting for the right support before they can unfold their potential. #DSWD- CAR, SOCIAL MARKETING UNIT, Jasmin P. Kiaso 11

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