After 16 years, missing relative located via DSWD’s Listahanan

Wenna Berondo (The Freeman) - January 9, 2014 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines -  Poverty and family misunderstanding prompted her to leave home. Sixteen years later, Jenaline Antipatia Burgos returned home with no memory of what happened years back.

Jenaline was 17 years old when she went to Manila to work as househelp of a family in Valenzuela City. After five years, when she got pregnant with her boyfriend, she moved to Quezon province to start a family. Her relatives in Barangay Rizal of Oton, Iloilo never heard from her again.

On December 22, last year, still mourning for the death of her youngest child, Jenaline came home to Iloilo. She has in tow her common-law husband, Francisco Ocfemia, and their four children.

“I am happy because I am able to come home and see my family again,” the now 34 years old Jenaline said in the dialect.

Jenaline does not remember  everything that happened before she moved to Quezon province. When she returned to Iloilo, her relatives have to introduce themselves to her and tell her stories to refresh her memory. Her kin believed this was the reason why she never gets in touch with them.

Listahanan database works

Nelma Antipatia, Jenaline’s aunt, who happens to work for DSWD Field Office VI as utility, said they have been trying to locate her niece. She said they have heard that she left her employer in Valenzuela but didn’t know where she transferred or the exact address in Quezon province.

By the middle of 2013, Nelma learned that DSWD’s Listahanan has a database of poor households in the entire country so she tried to seek help from it.

“I tried my luck and asked assuming she (Jenaline) is in the database),” said Nelma, who approached Anilo Luis Barrion, Listahanan’s regional information technology officer.

Barrion in turn sought the help of his counterpart in Region IV-A (Calabarzon of which Quezon province belongs) to search the name of Jenaline in the database. The searching did not take long and they finally found her name there, her family’s address and the composition of her household.

Jenaline’s family happened to be a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, a child rights-based program being implemented by the DSWD that ensures children of poor families are healthy and are in school.

Finally coming home

After it was finally confirmed that she was living in Quezon, Jenaline’s family in Iloilo requested her cousin, Ramil Escudo, who lives in Manila and works for a delivery truck company, to find her.

Sometime in November 2013, Escudo finally found Jenaline at Brgy. Banot in Sampaloc town of Quezon. Her relatives in Iloilo then started communicating with her through cellular phone, and later sent her money for fare so that she, her live-in partner and their children can come home for Christmas.

“When she arrived here, she could no longer recognize us. She could slightly remember when we tell her,” Nelma said.

Jenaline is also inconsistent in her answers if one asks her questions, causing Nelma to surmise she might be suffering from amnesia and had to bring her to a medical professional.

Jenaline’s live-in partner however believes she is perfectly well although he admitted she never talks about her family or her past. She might not want to keep bad memories, he said.

Life as 4Ps beneficiary

Jenaline and Francisco have five children. But on November 22, last year, their youngest child, Janzen, one year old, died of undetermined illness. Due to lack of money, they were unable to bring him to the hospital.

Francisco, 33, who was working as a security guard in Valenzuela City when he met Jenaline, tends a small coconut farm in his home province of Quezon to support his family, while Jenaline was a full time housewife but had honed her skills in weaving bags.

Their eldest child is 11 years old and is now in Grade V, and their youngest is two years old. All of them are covered by the 4Ps. Jenaline said they are receiving from the DSWD a grant of P2,800 every two months, as they belong to the Set 5 beneficiaries of the program.

“Pantawid has helped my family a lot because my husband is just making copra. Our income is sometimes augmented by my making and selling of bags,” Jenaline said.

She learned how to weave bags by just observing other women in their community. She proudly shared that if there are orders, she can make as many as three bags a day. “I did not train. I just observed others who are making bags until I learned the craft myself.”

Jenaline said she considers settling here in her hometown of Oton in Iloilo, but she is concerned about the schooling of her children, although she is also trying to convince Francisco to agree to her plan.

“I want to live here because my relatives are here. I also want to continue making and selling bags here,” she added with a sparkle of hope in her eyes.  (FREEMAN)

ANILO LUIS BARRION BARANGAY RIZAL OF OTON FAMILY FIELD OFFICE ILOILO JENALINE LISTAHANAN NELMA QUEZON VALENZUELA CITY
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