One year into the coronavirus pandemic, Filipinos have learned to deal with the crippling global economic effects.

Thanks to government interventions, like the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) individual starter kit package of livelihood assistance, Jovelyn Maquez of Sitio Puso, Barangay Buhisan, Cebu City manages to get by.

Photo. PANDEMIC-PROOF. Cebu City’s Jovelyn Maquez is one of the successful beneficiaries of Department of Labor and Employment-7’s livelihood program. The assistance she received before the pandemic helped her family survive the economic challenges caused by the health crisis. (Photo courtesy of DOLE-7)

In November 2019, before the pandemic was declared, the 30-year-old homemaker became a recipient of the PHP18,000 worth of sari-sari (retail) store package from DOLE-7 (Central Visayas).

The assistance enabled her to expand her business and help her husband, who works at a glass center, put food on the table for their three children.

“I was so happy getting the capital from DOLE for my little store,” Marquez told DOLE-7.

The DOLE aid proved timely as her husband eventually lost his job.

“During the lockdown, I saw an opportunity to earn more. I was not afraid of the virus. Instead, I tried my best by selling food items like tempura, potato fries, hotdog and fish balls,” she said in Cebuano. “I make sure we spend wisely, especially for the needs of the children.”

Before receiving the livelihood assistance, Marquez was earning at least PHP5,000 per month. With the DOLE aid, her earnings increased to PHP11,000 to PHP13,000 monthly.

“My business is a small one but it did help the family big time. The assistance we got from DOLE helped us a lot, especially during the pandemic,” she said.

DOLE-7 regional director Salome Siaton said they monitor the progress of beneficiaries and remind them to value their undertakings, big or small.

“What is important is that they are able to nurture what the DOLE has given them and the assistance positively changed their lives. We are happy knowing Jovelyn and how she is nurturing her little business despite the many challenges she has to face these days,” Siaton said.

DOLE’s Kabuhayan Program is the agency’s contribution to the governments’ agenda of inclusive growth through massive job generation and substantial poverty reduction.

It seeks to reduce the vulnerability to risks of the poor, vulnerable, and marginalized workers by providing them access to a grant assistance for capacity-building on livelihood ventures, either for individual or group undertakings. (PNA)