MANILA – One can feel the excitement of Michael Angelo Tel hours before he left Metro Manila for good and restart his life in Catanduanes where he was born.
He and his partner, Angeline Calibat, were in the batch sent home to Catanduanes and Sorsogon on Thursday through the national government’s Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-Asa (BP2) program.
He was still in disbelief that they did not spend a single centavo for their transportation and travel requirements going home, thanks to the BP2 program.
The 30-year-old Tel was born and raised in Barangay Guinobatan in Bato town until a strong typhoon in 2018 made him decide to go to Metro Manila in search of a better fortune.
He became a construction worker and later on met Calibat of San Juan City.
They were living in a rented house with their child, expecting a second one, and making do with his earnings until the Covid-19 pandemic struck.
As in most cases, he was laid off his job.
"Ayos naman nung una kasi may kita naman. Kasya pa. Pero ito ngang nagkapandemya, sobrang nahirapan po kami (At first it was okay because I earned enough income but when the pandemic happened, we really struggled)," Tel narrated.
With a growing family and more needs to fulfill, he applied for the BP2 program.
He told the Philippine News Agency in an interview that they are looking forward to raising their children in the province where fresh vegetables and fruits are aplenty and there is less pollution, an ideal setup for his pregnant partner.
“Dito po kasi sa Maynila, ang mahal ng pampa-ospital eh. Doon mas makakatipid kami kasi may libre naman doon tapos presko pa po ‘yung hangin hindi katulad dito po polluted na talaga (Here in Manila, we have to spend much for hospital bills. When we get home, we can save because there are free services there and the air is fresh),” Tel said.
Once settled in the province, he said they will start a sari-sari (retail) store business while he will also venture into fishing to save more money for their dream house and the education of their children.
“Sagot na po nila lahat ng pamasahe at pagkain, pati matutuluyan. Wala na pong problema habang naghihintay ka lang ng pag-uwi mo sa probinsya. Maayos po talaga ang pakikitungo nila sa mga benepisyaryo (They shouldered everything like transportation fare, food, and even lodging. There’s no problem anymore while you wait to go home in the province. They really treat beneficiaries very well),” he added.
Tel wished the program will continue for more years.
“Napakaganda po talaga ng programa nitong Balik Probinsya. Malaking tulong po ito. Sana po magtagal ang programang ito para sa mga kagaya namin na nawalan ng trabaho dito sa Maynila (This Balik Probinsya is a very nice program. It’s a huge help. I hope this program will be pushed further for the people like us who lost their jobs here in Manila),” he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order No. 114 on May 6, 2020 to institutionalize the BP2 program, with the primary goal to decongest Metro Manila's urban areas by encouraging people, especially informal settlers, to return to their home provinces.
The program offers immediate assistance for the beneficiaries including transportation allowance, hassle-free transactions for travel requirements, and emergency cash aid.
Qualified beneficiaries may also get livelihood and employment opportunities, a transitory support package, and transitory shelter assistance. (PNA)