The health crisis has brought out the sincerest of intentions as most intend to help one another in order to endure the adverse economic and social effects of the pandemic. The basic tenets of the “Bayanihan Spirit” lives in each and every person in their desire to alleviate the conditions of their “Kababayans” especially the working poor who are struggling to make both ends meet.

Some raise funds for their initiatives while others organized undertakings that address immediate concerns like food provision through community pantries. While these interventions are laudable, a convergent approach through government assistance is more needed as the region progresses towards the new normal.

The hard times brought the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to innovate in the provision of interventions that aims to alleviate the conditions of the affected facets of the society such as the TUPAD #Barangay Ko, Bahay Ko—a localized sanitation initiative to address the COVID-19 spread at the barangay level and the Free Bisikleta (FreeBis), an intervention for the displaced workers that likewise contributed to the reinvigoration of the labor market under the logistics sector.

As the National Capital Region (NCR) is the hardest hit economically and employment wise, the assistance provided to the affected workers are in line with NCR’s economic profile under the Services Sector.

Three beneficiaries, Bryant Vincent Agustin, John Lloyd Romero, and Laura Yapchiongco were all displaced workers. The first two are recipients of FreeBis (Free Bisikleta) while the latter opted for Sari-Sari Store.

“Ngayon magkakaroon na po uli ako ng kita. Kahit pa paano, maiitawid ko ang mga gastusin ng pamilya ko,” said De Leon, a former production assistant. On the other hand, Romero mentioned that being a beneficiary of FreeBis will enable him to help finance his siblings’ education. Romero used to work as a microblading specialist.

Yapchiongco, a former lady watcher in a retail store, emphasized that the sari-sari store is more convenient for her, considering that she used to be in the same line of engagement; hence, knows the ins and outs of the business. “Agad mo ring makikita ung kinita mo sa isang araw, ang dapat lang talaga maaga kang magbukas para kuha mo ang mga customers,” she said.

As the livelihood assistance is being provided holistically, two sectoral beneficiaries were given their desired interventions.

“Napakalaking tulong po ng binigay sa amin na bigasan,” said Marcelina Garcia, a former Overseas Filipino Worker and a Senior Citizen whose family’s income was affected because of the lockdown. “‘Yung naipon ko sa pagtatrabaho ko sa abroad halos paubos na. May pangangailangan kami sa bahay na dapat tustusan, lalo na ‘yung sa mga apo ko,” she continued.

John Cedric Almaden met an accident while at work. The occupationally disabled worker did not let the incident hinder his capacity to earn gainfully. He is now engage in the selling of meat products or cold cuts and said: “Malaking kita lalo na sa lugar namin, wala pa kasing ganyang business sa ‘min.”

The expression of appreciation by the beneficiaries are testaments of their profound dedication to their families; a driving force that fuels their aspirations and goals that needs to be achieved despite the current situation. Further, it made them more resilient in facing the challenges of time, as hope for a much better tomorrow was given to them through the livelihood assistance.

One beneficiary, Jonie Manabat, mentioned being reassured in having an undertaking that will augment her family income. She was given an e-loading package to start with after losing her partner in life.

Aside from the mentioned initiatives, other assistance includes the DOLE Nego Cart, handicraft making (bayong), eatery, and online selling of own produce such as Ready-to-Wear (RTW) items and meat products.

A total of 646 livelihood beneficiaries were provided with assistance for the first half of 2021 through the DOLE-National Capital Region – Employment Promotion and Workers Welfare Division.

END / Ryan Roberto Delos Reyes