When field workers from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) reached the house of Florentina A. Alagao, 72, at Barangay Malpeg-Patalan, Cuyapo in Nueva Ecija to deliver the emergency cash subsidy under the government’s Social Amelioration Program (SAP), they did not know that they would receive the best inspiration to go on working during these trying times.

The bright smiles and thankful gestures of Lola Florentina as she expressed how joyful she was for receiving the aid motivated DSWD workers to continue being in the frontline despite the dangers.

Florentina’s family was among the identified beneficiaries of the SAP, a program under Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act which provides P5,000-8,000 cash subsidy, based on regional minimum wage rate, to 18 million low income families nationwide to help cushion the effect of the enhanced community quarantine due to COVID-19.

Upon receiving her P6,500 subsidy, Florentina rejoiced, continuously flashing a smile that elicited strong emotional reactions to the DSWD workers who delivered the assistance, touching their hearts and wiping away the tiredness and fatigue they had been feeling at that very moment after working under the scorching heat of the sun for hours.

She said it would help provide the needs of her family during the community quarantine, especially that her son, a construction worker who works in Manila, could not work for now due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite her age, Florentina continues to earn a living through gleaning or collecting leftover crops after harvesting. She particularly picks left over corn or maize and stack them neatly in sacks to offer to interested buyers. She also collects the ears of palay that were missed after harvesting, which she tediously winnows and sells. Her meager income from selling leftover corn and palay are spent on food and other basic needs of her family.

DSWD is continuously implementing the SAP to support poor families like that of Florentina so they can cope with the effects of the community quarantine which is being implemented by the government to limit the movement of people and prevent the spread of the deadly virus.

Providing the subsidy to its intended beneficiaries who are in dire need of aid in the midst of this pandemic is an important task. Witnessing a bright, genuine smile like that of Florentina brings them hope and gives them strength to continue the challenging, yet fulfilling work. Her smile will forever be etched in the hearts and minds of all the staff of DSWD, reminding them of the reason they are working—to serve the poor, vulnerable, and disadvantaged Filipinos.

Top photo: Florentina A. Alagao, a 72-year-old resident of Barangay Malpeg-Patalan, Cuyapo in Nueva Ecija, beams after receiving her emergency cash subsidy under the Social Amelioration Program. (DSWD photo)