Hermeza Furnis, a barangay health worker in Taloto, Tagbilaran City, lost her husband in January this year. She was on the verge of quitting from being a BHW but she chose to continue. That decision would prove to be crucial in keeping her from falling into depression.
“Unti-unti na-realize ko sa sarili ko na kayang-kaya ko ‘to. Love ko ang mga bata, y’ung mga malnourished kailangan ma-normalize ang kanilang timbang,” Furnis said as she recalled the first time she was invited to become a BHW.
Never mind the “small” salary, she said, because not only does she like being of service to the children in their locality, she also sees and feels the “kindness” Senators Alan Peter and Pia Cayetano extend to BHWs.
“Ang masaya, nabibigyan kami ng honorarium. Si Senator Pia binibigyan kami ng extra income. Ang dami nilang natulong sa mga BHW [pagdating sa] healthcare at mga facility,” she said.
Furnis once again received aid from the sibling senators this week, along with more than a thousand of her fellow residents in Tagbilaran City and in Baclayon, Bohol.
In a three-day visit to the province, Senator Alan’s Presyo-Trabaho-Kita/Kaayusan (PTK) team and the office of Senator Pia worked with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to distribute financial aid to Boholanos under the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS) program.
AICS is a program that provides educational, medical, transportation, and food assistance to Filipinos who are experiencing crises such as calamities, death of a family member, or financial blows.
The team first went to the Municipality of Alburquerque on July 17 to deliver help to the members of the Alburquerque Calamay Makers Association led by Cecilia Busano, an organization of calamay vendors which is also a beneficiary of Senator Alan’s PTK program.
One of the members was Emelinda Salupan Hontemara, a mother of three whose husband earns a living as a fisherman.
She said they often have a hard time with their daily needs even with their combined income because she also does not earn much from selling calamay, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and the aftermath of Typhoon Odette.
“Nagpapasalamat ako kasi may taong ginagamit ang Diyos para magbigay ng tulong sa tao at mabigyan kami ng puhunan para sa aming kabuhayan,” she said.
Present in the disbursement was Alburquerque Mayor Don Ritchie Buates and Barangay West Poblacion Chairman Emmanuel Salon.
On the second day of the visit, July 18, Senator Alan and Pia’s teams distributed aid to a total of 1,000 barangay health workers, barangay nutrition scholars, women, and parents of student-athletes in coordination with Tagbilaran City Mayor Jane Yap and Barangay Poblacion III Chairman Felix Berto Remolador.
The teams again partnered with Mayor Yap on the third day, July 19, to deliver assistance to 400 tricycle drivers and market traders from the Island City Mall-Tricycle Operators and Drivers Association (ICM-TODA), Tagbilaran Jeepney Transport Cooperative (TAJETCO), Tagbilaran City Central Public Market Association, and Market Vendors of Baclayon.
Also present in the distribution were ICMTODA President Wenceslao Asuncion, TAJETCO President Randy Lumayag, Tagbilaran City Central Public Market Association President Juvy Presas, and Market Vendors of Baclayon representative Ma. Flores Vitualla.
Lucila Bonsay, a fish vendor in Baclayon, said she will use the assistance to buy food for her family, a necessity that she said she struggles to provide everyday as a widow.
Her daily prayer echoes those of the other beneficiaries in Bohol.
“Palagi kong dasal na sana magampanan ko ang mga pangangailangan [ng aking pamilya],” Bonsay said as she thanked the two Cayetanos for the help, which she said she will also use to augment her livelihood capital.