MANILA – Angelie Montibano was in her early 20s and out of college when she left Negros Oriental province with dreams of a successful life in the Big City.
She luckily found employment at once as a timekeeper in a construction company.
Later on, she got pregnant and raised her daughter, Samantha, alone. She had a job and knew they would be just fine.
Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic came out of nowhere and reality struck Montibano hard.
First, she was laid off from work.
“Kapag babae ka, ikaw ang unang aalisin kasi construction site 'yun. Tingin nila, trabahong panlalaki lang 'yun (If you are a woman, you will have to go first because it’s a construction site. They think it’s mostly for men),” she told the Philippine News Agency in an interview last week.
When Montibano, now 41, heard of the “Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa” (BP2) program, it revived her hopes and realized her 13-year-old daughter deserves better.
“Kailangan natin kumbaga to take a risk para sa mas magandang kinabukasan (We need to, like, take a risk to secure a better future),” she said.
She learned of BP2’s benefits, including housing, livelihood, and educational benefits, not to mention all-expense paid transportation going home.
“Dito kasi sa Manila, kahit mag-overtime ako ng hanggang alas onse araw-araw, hindi ako magkakaroon ng sariling bahay kasi yung kinikita ko’, tama lang sa pambayad ng renta, kuryente, tubig pati baon ng anak ko sa school at pagkain namin (Here in Manila, even if I will work until 11 p.m. daily, I won’t be able to save up for a house. My salary is just enough to pay for rent, electricity, and water bills, my daughter’s school expenses, and for our food),” she said, shortly before she left the BP2 depot in Quezon City on June 2.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order (EO) No. 114 in May 2020, institutionalizing the BP2 program that aims to address overcrowding in Metro Manila’s urban areas and assist informal settlers to return to their home provinces.
Under the program’s whole-of-nation approach, qualified family beneficiaries may be awarded a housing unit by the National Housing Authority (NHA), subject to the availability of units.
The housing unit is not free but the government assured it can be acquired for a very low cost.
To avail of the benefits, beneficiaries will have to undergo verification and evaluation by the NHA and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
The DSWD also provides beneficiaries with transportation and relocation assistance, transitory family support packages, livelihood settlement grants, and transitory shelter assistance.
Montibano is grateful that the Duterte administration pushed for a program that would mean equal living opportunities even in rural areas.
“Napakagandang programa nito. Makakatulong talaga ito sa bawat Pilipino. Isipin mo tutulungan ka na ng gobyerno magkaroon ng bagong simula sa probinsya, may pantay na na opportunidad para sa mga naninirahan sa probinsya atsaka mababawasan pa ang pagsisikip dito sa (It’s the best program. It could really help each Filipino. The government will help you to start fresh in the province, there will be an equal opportunity for those residing in the province, and will address decongestion in Metro Manila),” she said.
Montibano wants to start a poultry business in Negros Oriental.
“Pag-uwi mo ng probinsya may babuyan ka, may manukan ka, may bahay ka. Paano ka pa babalik dito eh palalaguin mo na lang ang tulong ng gobyerno? Wala ka nang poproblemahin (Once home, you have pig and chicken farm, you have a house, how can you go back here when all you have to do is to make the most out of all those assistance? You don’t have to worry anymore),” she said.
Montibano urged the next administration to consider the continuity of the program for people like them.
“Isipin mo andami pang katulad namin na hindi nakakaalam na may programa palang ganito pero ang laking tulong sana nito sa kanila, sa mga kagaya namin. Sana suportahan din ito ng susunod na administrasyon (To think, there are still many people who don’t know about the program. It could really help them, people like us. I hope the next administration will support this program),” she said. (PNA)