“Lahat po nakakaranas ng kahirapan sa buhay, ang importante natututo ka sa kabila ng mga problema para bumangon ulit,” said Christian Solana, a person with work-related disability (PWRD) and a resident of Polomolok, South Cotabato, after receiving his benefit under the Employees’ Compensation Program (ECP).
Solana was a former Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) employed as a cook on a cruise ship. As part of his job, he takes inventory of the dry goods being carried into the ship. In 2019, while he was carrying loads of heavy goods, he met an accident resulting in an injury to his spine. Because of the said incident, he could no longer perform his duty as a seafarer.
Solana filed an EC claim at the Social Security System (SSS) Manila Branch. He was awarded an EC Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefit. He also received ₱10,000.00 additional cash assistance from the Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC). Aside from the monetary benefits, Solana also availed of the physical restoration services which included a total of 24 free physical therapy sessions and three physical therapy consultations at ECC’s partner hospital in General Santos City, with a travel and meal allowance (TMA) of ₱500.00 per session.
With ECC’s help, Solana was given the opportunity to enhance his existing goat-raising and goat meat retailing business. In 2020, he attended the Entrepreneurial Mind Setting and Financial Literacy Training conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Negosyo Center in General Santos City. Subsequently, ECC granted him a livelihood starter kit worth₱20,000.00 for his goat raising business. After submitting his business plan, he received an additional ₱10,000.00 complementary kit for his thriving goat rising business. During this pandemic, the ECC grants complementary kit worth ₱10,000.00 when a PWRD sustained his livelihood for a period of at least three months.
“Marami din po akong pagsubok na napagdaanan. Nagkakasakit ang mga kambing, may namatay din. Pero natututo ako sa mga failure na experience ko. Every time, natututo ako at napaghuhusayan ko naman sa susunod. Kapag dinaan sa sipag at tiyaga, walang imposible,” Solana said.
“Ako po ay lubos na nagpapasalamat sa ECC na mabigyan ako ng free physical therapy session upang maibsan ang kirot sa aking likod gawa ng pagka-aksidente ko sa barko. Ang serbisyong ito na binigay ng ECC ay may kasama pang travel and meal allowance. Tumanggap ako ng EC cash assistance na ₱10,000.00. Dinagdagan pa ng ₱20,000.00 livelihood assistance at ito ay binili ko ng apat na kambing at ito’y aking napalago sa pamamagitan ng pag buy and sell. Iyong iba kinatakay ko at ibinibenta sa pamamagitan ng online selling at nadagdagan pang muli ang benepisyo ko ng ₱10,000.00 complementary kit. Nawa’y pagpalain ng panginoon ang ECC at marami pa silang matulungan na mga manggagawang hirap na magtrabaho dulot ng pagkaaksidente. Tatanawin ko na utang na loob sa ECC ang malaking tulong na ibinigay sa akin. Sana’y pagpalain kayo ng Poong Maykapal. More power ECC,” added Solana.
Since 2020, he sold about hundreds of goats and the profit he gained from the business was used for his family’s everyday needs.
With the opportunity to expand his business, he eventually invested in sheep raising. The goat and sheep manure were also sold as fertilizer as an additional income. In order to spend less and save more, he grew his own Napier grass that serve as food for his livestock. He was also able to sell Napier grass cuttings for ₱200.00 per bundle.
In the future, he plans to put up his own restaurant where he can practice his profession of being a cook again.
The ECC-KaGabay Program helps facilitate the integration into the economic mainstream through physical restoration, training for re-employment, or self-entrepreneurship of PWRDs.
K. Daga – REU12