By Jed Roland Wong
DAVAO CITY – Dennis Chan Tan is only one of the many Dabawenyos who were economically affected when the painful restrictions implemented after the onslaught of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic resulted in the closure of many businesses in Davao City.
But even if he was a commission-based only hairdresser, Dennis was earning enough before the pandemic.
“I had no daily wage, except for the commission from the clients that I handled. But I had no complaints because the salon business was doing well until the pandemic happened,” he said.
The 32-year-old hairdresser felt the severity of the repercussion of the pandemic to his livelihood when, during the lockdowns, he had to rely on the help of his sister to get by.
“The food ration from the government also meant a lot,” he said.
Even when the government allowed salons to reopen in June, things remained hard for all salon workers.
There were days when Dennis returned home with only P25 "take-home pay" — and those were "lucky days".
“Minsan talaga — wala (Sometimes there is none),” he said.
His worries, however, were eventually dampened when the local government of Davao implemented the "TUPAD" Project for Dabawenyos who lost their jobs in the time of the pandemic.
A project of the Department of Labor and Employment, TUPAD or “Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers is a community-based package of assistance that provides emergency employment for displaced workers, underemployed and seasonal workers, for a minimum period of 10 days, but not to exceed a maximum of 30 days, depending on the nature of work to be performed.”
During her State of the City Address recently, Mayor Inday Sara Duterte said the project has also helped jeepney drivers whose incomes have been greatly reduced because of the distancing requirements in public transportation.
“And just very recently, we used the same assistance to help out the displaced workers of the businesses affected by the liquor ban,” she said.
Commissioner Norman Baloro of Commission on the Urban Poor, who facilitated the implementation of the project in Davao, said the LGU received P71,424,740.00 as of December 11 last year.
As of now, the program has covered 5, 697 Dabawenyos and it aims to cover more displaced workers.
Complementing TUPAD program is the LGU’s own "Work For Davao Cash for Work" initiative that has provided cash assistance to at least 20,180 Dabawenyos who lost their jobs during the pandemic. The program targets to cover 42,915 beneficiaries.
Baloro, who is also the focal person of the Davao’s Work for Davao, announced that the city has recently opened for a special batch of Dabawenyos — serving 23rd and final batches of beneficiaries who were affected by the pandemic lockdowns.
The program has a budget of P169,944,000 from the Local Government Support Fund downloaded from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
Through the program, a worker-beneficiary will receive P3,960 for their 10-day community work.
Dabawenyos who are interested to become beneficiaries are invited to submit applications from November 25 to 27, 2020 to the City Social Welfare and Development Office near them.
Mark L. Gacutan, a resident of Barangay Talomo, was one of the first beneficiaries of the program. He responded to the invitation of the local government after the company he was working with shut down because of the pandemic.
“For almost 4 months I was jobless,” he said.
When he was accepted, he was tasked to assist other applicants for the program.
“Maraming kwento ng bawat ka-barangay namin ang narinig ko. Pakiusap. Hinaing sa sitwasyon natin ngayon. At lubos ang kanilang pasasalamat kqhit hindi pa nila alam mung magiging qualified ba sila (There are many stories from barangay residents – appeals and sentiments. They are thankful though still awaiting for the approval of their applications)” he said.
Gacutan said his acceptance to the program opened not only an opportunity for him but also for others.
“Magandang experience ang dumating sa akin. Dahil sa Work For Davao, nagsimula akong makapagtinda online ng mga homemade foods (I was able to pursue online selling for homemade food). Nagsimula ako sa puhunan ng (My starting capital was) P2,000,” he said.
“Sa unang linggo ko, nadoble ang puhunan ko. Sa 2nd week ganon din. Sa ngayon, madami na din ako naging reseller (My capital doubled on the first and second weeks. Now I have many resellers),” he added.
But the most important lesson he picked up from his experience with the "Work For Davao" program was “community participation and involvement.”
“I also felt the concern of the government for its people. And the local government does not discriminate — it helps everyone,” he said.
For Dennis, the salary he received from TUPAD helped him through the pandemic. But his experience also helped him realized one important lesson in life.
“Working at TUPAD during the pandemic taught me a lot of lessons — it is the importance of saving money for the rainy days,” he said.
He also realized the importance of education.
“I failed to finish my college studies. I think it would have been easier for me if I had a college education,” he said.
Baloro, meanwhile, pointed out the objectives of government interventions such as "TUPAD" and "Work For Davao" Program.
“Promoting self-reliance is an integral role of the government. The City Government of Davao fosters community involvement and participation of Dabawenyos through the Work for Davao Program,” he said.
"Aside from giving the opportunity to retrenched individuals due to Covid-19 pandemic, allowing them to work for a couple of days and earn money, Work for Davao beneficiaries experienced more than that. They were able to build linkages and establish connections in their own barangays,” he added.
He highlighted the impact of these programs not only on individual beneficiaries but also on the entire community.
“They were able to help not just their own families but improve the entire community as well. There is a realization that City Government of Davao functions as a safety net helping individuals who were out of work due to Covid-19 pandemic,” he said. (PNA)