APPRECIATION. Aquino Daguio, 55, thanks the national government and the “Balik Probinsya Bagong Pag-asa” program that helped him and his family go back to their province in Flora, Apayao. Daguio's family has received livelihood assistance as he was also employed as a driver in their LGU. (Screenshot from Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Facebook page)

MANILA – A father who decided to bring his whole family back to the province for a fresh start has nothing but praises and gratitude to the “Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2)” program of the Duterte administration.

Aquino Daguio, 55, said he could no longer bear seeing his family suffer after he was forced to stop driving the UV express because of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic that hit the country in 2020.

Daguio has been working as a UV driver in Manila for the past 17 years.

He said he was not expecting the pandemic will affect the country for long.

“Akala ko yung Covid-19 na pandemic madalain lang eh. Hindi pa ako makalabas talaga, wala pang lumalabas na pang pasada (I thought the pandemic will just be short. I cannot drive as the transportation sector was very much affected),” Daguio said.

He said after some months without work, their electricity was cut as they do not have the means to pay for it.

He also sold his cellphone that he was using to be able to buy food for his family.

“Masakit po kasi nga kung maalala ko yung mga nakaraan ko, yung time na pandemic na yon talagang hindi ko po maiwasan na maiyak talaga dahil nga po umiyak yung anak ko wala akong makuhanan ng pang gatas (It was very painful remembering what happened during the pandemic and I cannot help but cry especially whenever I remember hearing my son crying as I do not have money to buy him milk),” the teary-eyed Daguio narrated.

To make ends meet, he told his wife to accept laundry and wash clothes from neighbors.

He said he was very helpless as it was also very risky for him to go out because of his comorbidity.

“Kasi kung pipilitin kong lumabas, eh comorbidity ako, sigurado, 100 percent matitigok ako (Because if I go out, with my comorbidity, I’m 100 percent sure that I would die),” he said.

Aside from old age, Daguio has an eye cataract and asthma.

Months passed by and it became even more difficult for him and his family to even sustain their daily needs.

Until he decided to apply for the BP2 program.

In October 2021, Daguio with his common-law wife Liberty Cañares, 42, his children Alvin Jay Daguio, 19; Liezbeth Daguio, 17; Aldrin Clay Daguio, 3; and his mother-in-law Nilda Cañares, 70, were fetched by the National Housing Authority personnel from their house in Novaliches and brought them to the BP2 depot in Quezon City.

Upon arrival to their province in Flora, Apayao, the Daguio family was given a warm welcome by the local government unit, as they were also provided with financial assistance and food packs.

Fatima Lorencha, BP2 focal person of Flora, also thanked the government for helping their residents return to the province.

She said with the help of other government agencies, the local government unit will build a house for the Daguio family.

Meanwhile, while they are staying at their temporary shelter, they are provided with livelihood assistance to help them get by in their everyday needs.

“Karagdagang livelihood na binigay sa pamilyang Daguio ay ang pag provide po ng mga chicken para po ito ay kanilang maparami at magsilbing source of income at food na rin nila (They were provided with poultry chicken for their livelihood and source of food as well),” Lorencha said.

Currently, Daguio is also working as a driver at the Flora LGU.

“Siya ay inemploy ng local government unit ng Flora as driver para ma exercise niya rin yung kaniyang dating trabaho for 17 years, if I’m not mistaken, as UV driver sa Manila. It means he possesses the skills in driving so logical naman siguro na i-employ siya ng LGU sa kung saan siya magaling (He was employed by the LGU of Flora as a driver as he was a UV driver for 17 years in Manila, which means he has the skills and it is logical to employ him to a job where he is good at),” Lorencha said.

The Daguio family is just one of the many families that availed of the government's BP Program.

“Medyo napaluha ako sa tuwa, hindi galit, dahil sa natatamasa ko, kaya maraming maraming salamat po. Hindi ko ma-explain sa tuwa eh, kasi hindi pala ako nagsising mag apply dito sa ‘Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag asa’ (I am crying for joy because of what we have now, so thank you very much. I could not explain the joy I am feeling, there’s no regret that I applied for the ‘Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa’),” Daguio said. (PNA)