Empowering Palawan's Tagbanua tribe through 4Ps

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com

CORON, Philippines — Beyond the turquoise waters and limestone walls, Palawan province is also home to several indigenous people communities.

One of which is the Tagbanua tribe, one of the oldest ethnic groups in the Philippines, living in the northern coastal village of Malawig in Coron, Palawan.

Despite being a popular tourist destination, Palawan has the largest number of beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps in Mimaropa.

Data from the Department of Social Welfare and Development show that 68,460 households in Palawan benefit from the program, including IPs, households with persons with disability and solo parents.

The coastal village of Malawig in northern Coron, Palawan is home to the Tagbanua people, one of the oldest ethnic groups in the Philippines. Philstar.com/Patricia Lourdes Viray

Empowering IP communities

Aside from financial assistance, a unique feature of the Philippines' conditional cash transfer program is the community family development sessions for IP beneficiaries.

DSWD personnel provide the sessions for the IPs for them to learn how to improve family relationships and manage life situations. The sessions include discussions on parenting, children's rights, development needs assessment, as well as gender and development.

Social workers regularly conduct family development sessions among the Tagbanua people in Brgy. Malawig, Coron as part of the government's conditional cash transfer program. Philstar.com/Patricia Lourdes Viray
The Tagbanua youth also participate in separate youth development sessions by the Department of Social Welfare and Development to empower them. Philstar.com/Patricia Lourdes Viray

Janita Dayhop, a 4Ps beneficiary for six years now, said she was thankful for the discussions on parenting through the FDS.

"Sa pamamagitan ng 4Ps, sa pagpapa-FDS nila, marami kaming natutunan na karapatan ng bata, pagpapaaral ng bata, tapos pagpapalaki sa aming mga anak na kailangan pala kahit hindi kami teacher may karapatan din kaming magturo sa aming mga anak," Dayhop told Philstar.com.

(With the help of the 4Ps, through the FDS, we learned a lot on children's rights, educating children and raising our children even though we are not teachers, we also have the right to teach our children.)

Aside from the FDS, the DSWD also conducts youth development sessions.

One particular topic discussed on the Tagbanua youth is teenage pregnancy as the tribe has a tradition of setting up arranged marriages among their children even at a very young age.

In the session, the Tagbanua youth is taught about the harmful effects of pregnancy for teenage girls and are advised to prepare themselves first by looking for jobs before starting a family.

The Tagbanua community in Brgy. Malawig, Coron are encouraged to grow crops in their backyards for additional livelihood support. Philstar.com/Patricia Lourdes Viray

Lowering poverty incidence

Over 10 years since its implementation, the 4Ps or the conditional cash transfer program has become the country's poverty reduction strategy program.

On April 17, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 11310, institutionalizing the 4Ps to address poverty and to improve the health and education of poor children.

A report from the Philippine Statistics Authority in April showed that poverty incidence dropped to 21% in the first half of 2018 compared to 27.6% in the first half of 2015.

National Economic and Development Authority Undersecretary Adoracion Navarro cited the conditional cash transfer program among the factors that lowered poverty incidence in the country.

The DSWD is seeking to further lower the poverty incidence following the institutionalization of the 4Ps.

"The commitment of the national government is to decrease (poverty incidence) to 11% by the end of 2020," DSWD public relations officer Grace Ponce said.

Ponce added that the DSWD is confident that it will achieve its goal as it has the full support of the government in concentrating all resources for the program.

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