A family from Barangay Salbang, Paoay, Ilocos Norte, led by solo parent-father Conrado Achuela is this year’s grand winner of the Search for Huwarang Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino. This is the second time that a solo parent won the grand prize.
“Hindi po ito gamot sa kahirapan, tulong po ito para makatawid sa hirap,” he said in reference to the conditional cash transfer (CCT). Speaking one-liners in English tentatively, 59-year old Mang Conrado believes the CCT program of the Social Welfare Department is no magic pill. He has raised his four daughters for 10 years now with some help from the program. His wife died from post partum depression two months after she gave birth to their youngest. He remains single to this day and has no plan of getting married again. His prority now is to make sure his four children religiously go to school.
He has an impressive organic pinakbet garden and raises livestock such as chickens, goats and pigs. He encourages other families in the community to do the same. “Yung sa baboy po. Yung mga biik ay ipagkakaloob ko sa ibang mga tatay para mapalaki nila ito at padamihin din.” Mang Conrado said selling pigs will help them eke out a living.
His kids sells vegetables in the market three to four times a month. “Yung kita po, we divide among us para sa aming personal na pangangailangan,” said the eldest Hazel who is in 3rd year college taking up BS Angriculture Major in Animal Science as a scholar at Mariano Marcos State University. She wants to be an agriculturist someday like her father. She admits that the cash his father gets from DSWD’s 4Ps as a beneficiary is not enough but the latter makes sure it is spent for their educational needs.
The family bested four others - two pastors and two other ‘organic’ farmers from Antique, Bohol, Benguet, and Laguna. The five finalists were chosen from a roster of regional winners. “Balang araw aahon din kami sa hirap. Uunti unti nang naiibsan ang hirap namin dahil nakakapagaral na ang mga anak ko.” Mang Conrado received a trophy and P30,000 cash prize on top of his P20,00 reward as regional winner. He intends to use some amount to start his piggery to help other fathers start theirs.
The annual search is now on its 4th year. “Like what Mang Conrado has shown, the search is looking for that family that embodies resiliency, faith and hope for a better future. Hindi lang umaasa kundi nagsisipag. He has this quiet strength and is very hardworking,” said Christina Gates, a clinical psychologist who served as one of the national judges.
The presentation of the regional finalists and proclamation of the grand winner was the highlight of the National Family Day celebration on Sunday, October 4 at the Philippine Sports Arena formerly Ultra which was attended by thousands of CCT beneficiaries. DSWD is working on the passage of the bill that will make the CCT a law. Addressing the crowd, Secretary Dinky Soliman called for public support.
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