Former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano kicked off the month of November by bringing the Sampung Libong Pag-asa Program to San Ildelfonso (Ilocos Sur), Calasiao (Pangasinan), and Luna (La Union) on Monday, November 1, 2021.
To mark All Saints’ Day, the program highlighted 30 cemetery workers from the aforementioned provinces as the beneficiaries. Another 20 beneficiaries were selected from the live viewers of the Facebook livestream.
“Tuwang-tuwa y’ung mga nabigyan niyo ng tulong. Lahat ng sepulturero natin, sobra ang ngiti nila sa ibinigay mong tulong,” Ilocos Sur First District Rep. Deogracias Victor “DV” Savellano said.
(Those you have helped are very happy. All of our cemetery workers smiled a lot because of the help you gave.)
The pandemic has increased the risk for cemetery workers as the number of interments has increased. However, the closure of a number of cemeteries during All Saints’ Day has caused a decrease in their income.
“Lalo na sa inyo sa larangan ng trabaho niyo mas humirap dahil sa pandemic na binigay, mas maraming risk. Blessing in disguise, fiesta ng mga patay na dapat marami kayong trabaho kaya lang sarado lahat ng sementeryo at pinagbabawal ng IATF and yet nandito tayo sa araw na ito na makakakuha ng konting tulong para sa ikabubuhay natin at para sa pamilya,” Mayor Joseph Arman C. Buazon of Calasiao said.
(Especially for those of you in your field of work, it is harder because of the pandemic. There is a greater risk. It’s a blessing in disguise because while it’s All Saints’ Day and you should have a lot of work, all cemeteries are closed and gatherings are banned by the IATF. And yet you are here today to get a little help for your livelihood and for the family.)
Reneo Casto from Barangay Magallanes, Luna of La Union shared his own experience of working in the cemetery during a pandemic.
“Wala nang nagpapalinis, wala nang nagpapaayos ng nitso. N’ung hindi pa pandemya, n’ung una, ako lang mag-isa dito gumagawa. Buhat ko lahat ng mga gamit ko, mga semento, buhangin, ako lahat ang naghahakot,” he said.
(No one asks us to clean or repair the tombs anymore. Before the pandemic, I was the only one working here. I carried all my tools, cement and sand. I hauled everything.)
While health workers are considered the frontliners of the pandemic, those working in the cemeteries have their own share of sacrifices in making sure that the send-off for loved ones can be done following safety protocols. However, they are no longer earning enough due to the limitations in their work.
“Malaking tulong ito sa kanilang kabuhayan. Pambayad ng utang at lalung-lalo na yung matitira, pangsimula ng kanilang negosyo,” Magallanes barangay captain Arcely Apilado said.
(This will be a big help for their livelihood. It can pay their debts and with the money left over, they can start a business.)
Launched on May 1, the Sampung Libong Pag-asa program provides P10,000 to select beneficiaries whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic. The financial assistance helps families put up their own small businesses and recover from their monetary losses.
As of October 29, 2021, the Sampung Libong Pag-asa has announced 12,967 beneficiaries.