DSWD's National Media Tour at General Santos City, Mindanao - Ning4u: Anything And Everything's Free
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DSWD's National Media Tour at General Santos City, Mindanao

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is our government's lead agency primarily responsible for the protection of social welfare rights and for the promotion of social development of Filipinos. It aims to empower the poor, vulnerable, and disadvantaged in our society.

DSWD's mission is to develop, implement, and coordinate social protection and poverty reduction programs like the hugely successful Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (Pantawid Pamilya,in short) or Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program to fulfill its mission.

Pantawid Pamilya is one of the agency's main programs which advances good health and education of underprivileged children and at the same time provides immediate financial support to poor families throughout the whole country. 

Since DSWD is one of the major departments of our government which is tasked to alleviate the incidence of poverty, their annual budget is increasing every year. Such budget increases demand greater transparency and accountability.

There are several ways on how DSWD advocates transparency and accountability in their programs and services. One of these is by conducting CSO engagement, wherein a third party  monitors and at the same time, joins their programs. Groups like Kaagapay and Kaakbay are prime examples of third party groups, as well as media partners who are constantly invited to not only cover but also participate in their activities.

For my part, as a blogger or an online publisher, I would consider myself as an active and concerned DSWD media partner. They first invited me to witness the launch of "Bawal ang Epal Dito" campaign (story HERE) and most recently, to participate in the National Media Tour (NMT) at GenSan last May 28-30, 2014.

As a member of the press and advocacy partners of DSWD, it is my obligation to witness, understand, and know more about the programs of the agency; and to impart these programs for the consumption of the general public.
So far, I have written a lot of articles about DSWD programs and activities. As part of my commitment to shed more light on their programs,let me share with you the department's latest activity - the National Media Tour which allowed us to gain a deeper knowledge about Pantawid Pamilya.

Most of the activity was conducted at Microtel Gensan, which also served as our temporary home in Gensan. Here's a day by day log of the tour:

DSWD Asst. Sec. Javier R. Jimenez

Day 1 (May 28)

From the airport, the National Media Tour participants were shuttled to Microtel and after a few minutes given them to freshen-up from the Manila-Gensan trip, the program commenced with no less than DSWD's Asst. Secretary Javier R. Jimenez giving the Welcome message. This was followed by the discussion of Highlights of Accomplishments by DSWD's Chief for Social Marketing Unit, Mr. Edward D. Gonzales.

We had a Workshop-1 (Identifying Pressing Issues and Misconceptions) in the later part of the day. Topics tackled during the workshop included the computation of the entitlement for beneficiaries, amount for monthly grant, pawning of cash cards, how and why grants are perceived as dole outs, how grants are distributed, and more. Those issues will be made clearer and discussed further on Day 2, when we visit the community and interact with the actual beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilya at T'Boli, South Cotabato.

Pantawid Pamilya Beneficiaries

Day 2 (May 29)

Early in the morning we all headed to T'Boli, South Cotabato, almost a two-hour drive from General Santos. We made a courtesy call to the T'Boli Municipal Mayor Dibu S. Tuan before we headed our way to the Brgy Poblacion's Barangay Hall where the Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries were having a Family Development Session. Attending such session is a must for beneficiaries.

We also had a chance to interview Mr. Johnny Tolentino, a successful Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary, who transitioned from "barely surviving on a daily basis" to becoming self-sufficient (story HERE). We also met some of the beneficiaries under the sustainable livelihood project (story HERE).

Benny E. Queman, Kaagapay Teleradyo

We traveled back to the hotel and had an Open Forum about our findings on the field visit. The talent and ideas of the media partners were extracted on Workshop 2 (Drawing and Sharing Insights). Through this workshop, we also shared what we all learned from this National Media Tour and pledged what we can offer to bring awareness and information to the general public about Pantawid Pamilya. 

 DSWD SMU Chief   Edward D. Gonzales,, DSWD Region 12 Dir. Bai Zorahayda Taja and DSWD SMS Dir. Joel Espejo

Nationa Media Tour participants had a lively interchange of ideas with DSWD SMU Chief Edward D. Gonzales, DSWD Region 12 Dir. Bai Zorahayda Taja, and DSWD Social Marketing Service (SMS) Dir. Joel Espejo.

DSWD SMS Director Joel C. Espejo emphasized that Pantawid Pamilya is not a dole out at all. It is a conditional cash grant wherein certain conditions and completions must be met to maintain one's status as a beneficiary of the program. Further, the beneficiaries undergo stages of assessment and validation in order to assure their qualifications.

As the Tour was winding down, a new campaign of DSWD was presented by Edward D. Gonzales, Chief of DSWD Social Marketing Unit. Dubbed as KAYA KO!. Kaya Ko!,it is envisioned to be an empowering campaign for the expansion of support to human capital. It will be launched sometime in August and the official jingle and music video will be a collaboration by Yeng Constantino and Quest.

I am so excited to share more about this campaign, soon! But as of now, only those few details were revealed to us.

By the way, for issues and grievances about Pantawid Pamilya, there is also a hotline that you can text, it's 0918-912281. All your queries will be attended by the grievance officer of a certain municipality. Please report any problem that you encounter or observe within your municipality, so the government can help you and attend to your complaint or concern ASAP.

All in all, I found the National Media Tour very helpful and enlightening, especially for a blogger like me who is always on the lookout for reliable issues and stories for online publication. It also gave media practitioners the chance to clarify issues directly from the officials of DSWD and also to meet and mingle with colleagues and learn from them as well. 

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