With Christmas just three weeks away, former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday urged Filipinos to find more opportunities to give to those in need.
“Ngayon po, sobrang daming nahihirapan. Hindi natin matutulungan lahat, but we can all be instruments of getting that done,” Cayetano said in a video posted on his Facebook page on December 1, 2021.
“Ang reason natin for giving is the love for God. Sabi po sa Bibliya, kung mahal mo ang Diyos pero hindi mo mahal ang iyong kapwa, sinungaling ka,” he added.
(Right now, there’s just so much need out there. We won’t be able to help everyone, but we can all be instruments of getting that done. Our reason for giving is the love for God. The Bible did say that if you love God but not your neighbor, you make yourself out to be a liar.)
The former House Speaker’s two signature financial assistance programs welcomed the last month of 2021 by providing cash grants to small businesses in Baguio City and Occidental Mindoro, as well as boatmen in Lubang Island.
On November 30, Bonifacio Day, 50 small business owners — 25 beneficiaries in Baguio City and another 25 in Puluan, Occidental Mindoro — each received P3,500 through Cayetano’s Sari-saring Pag-asa cash assistance program for microenterprises that have struggled through lockdowns in the last year and a half.
Meanwhile, Sampung Libong Pag-asa, Cayetano’s financial relief program for Filipino families whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic, kicked off the month of December by giving 25 boatmen in Looc, Occidental Mindoro P10,000 each in cash aid.
Angelica Cerenio, a sari-sari store owner from San Carlos City, Pangasinan and a beneficiary of the Sari-saring Pag-asa initiative, shared her story during the November 30 episode of the program.
Cerenio’s store was starting to fail because her revenue was largely tied up in unpaid credit that her customers had accumulated throughout the pandemic.
After being selected as a Sari-saring Pag-asa beneficiary on October 23, Cerenio put a majority of the cash assistance – P3,000 of the P3,500 she received – into her store, replenishing her stocks and revitalizing her income stream.
“Ang kinikita ko po ngayon 500 to 600 po na dati po ay 200 to 300 lang po,” Cerenio said, adding that her earnings are now enough to support her family, her business, and even save a small amount every day.
(Now, I’m earning 500 to 600 per day. Before, I was only earning 200 to 300.)
Cerenio thanked Cayetano and his team for bringing Sari-saring Pag-asa to her area and giving her business a chance to turn around.
The cash aid initiative has provided assistance to at least 7,119 microentrepreneurs nationwide as of November 30.
Help goes a long way
Over in Looc, a town on the eastern side of Lubang Island off the coast of mainland Luzon, boatmen who used to earn a good living ferrying tourists around the secluded beaches and diving spots of the island have seen their incomes plummet due to an almost complete shutdown of tourism activity in the area.
One of them, Wilfredo Alvarez, a father of six from Agkawayan village, was forced to rely solely on fishing to keep food on the table. At times, even that isn’t enough.
“Kung noon ay kumakain ng tatlong beses, ngayon ay minsan dalawa na lang. Kape na lang ang almusal. Ang boatman kasi, kapag nawala ang turista, wala talagang kabuhayan,” Alvarez shared.
(Before, we could eat three meals a day, but now we’re down to two most of the time. Breakfast is just coffee most mornings. For us boatmen, when there are no tourists, there’s not much else to do.)
Having received his P10,000 cash grant through Sampung Libong Pag-asa, Alvarez said he plans to use the money to buy a better fishing net as well as to stock up on essential goods for his family, adding that he was grateful that former House Speaker Cayetano’s program reached the shores of Lubang Island.
“Maraming maraming salamat, sir Peter. Kahit na kami’y malayo, naabot ng inyong tulong. Kahit sa lugar namin na napakalayo, nasa sulok na kami ng Mindoro ay naabot po ng inyong ayuda,” Alvarez said.
(Thank you so much, sir Peter. Even if our place is very far-flung, and we’re in the most remote corner of Mindoro, you were still able to help us.)