The KaGabay Beneficiary
Mrs. Evelyn Ruth Soriano of Pasig City, was then the picture of a contented wife and mother, while working professionally in a private hospital. She was happily married to Mr. Melvyn Soriano and blessed with 3 kids all of minor ages. Her husband worked at a private company before but decided to get a chance at overseas work, so he resigned. Unfortunately, Mr. Soriano’s plans did not push through due to disagreements with the final terms & conditions laid down by the supposed employer, so he was left jobless.
On the other hand, Mrs. Soriano has been a staff midwife for close to 19 years at the Lourdes Hospital in Sta. Mesa, Manila before that fateful day in 8 August 2007.
Lourdes Hospital was abuzz with people on 8 August 2007, a Sunday, which is the regular general cleaning day. Mrs. Soriano was then on duty from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. She was in the Operating Room at about 10:00 a.m. carrying some materials for duty, oblivious to the wet floor at some parts of the room. She accidentally stepped on a wet and slippery part, causing her to fall heavily on her bottom at a sitting position. Complaining of severe pain in the affected area and difficulty of standing up, she nonetheless carried on slowly with her work. She reported for work the next day, taking only medicines to assuage the pain. When she finally woke up one day to numbness of her right side of the body, she underwent medical consultation and laboratory examinations. Her CT-scan revealed L3-L4 dislocation in the lumbar area, so she was advised operation not only by her doctor but few other physicians. She refused this option so she was advised to go into regular therapy and medication.
Painful Moving On
Mrs. Soriano was eventually granted disability benefits for 15 months under SSS and EC laws. She continued to work as staff midwife at the hospital, but was besieged by so many leaves of absence and debts in order to get regular therapy, medication, professional consultation, and rest. Her husband was jobless while her take-home pay reached nil level several times. For close to 2 years from the accident, this was the situation. Her employer accommodated her that long but also explained the exigency of a midwife’s regular delivery of work.
Mrs. Soriano finally decided to resign in December 2009, her body no longer robust and feeling the decline already. She was granted the usual benefits but a big part had to be applied to her outstanding debts. Whatever was left she planned to invest in a small business like a sari-sari store. But this did not help as their bills and necessities piled up in days and months. Her father and brother-in-law helped in some ways, but the long-term scenario of having to sustain a family of 5 and to educate her kids, brought her a sense of hopelessness. Christmas of 2008 and 2009 were extremely sad days with nothing to buy for her family. A relative finally lent her P20,000.00 as start-up capital under partial payments-when-able basis. She and her husband then opened a sari-sari store, utilizing the front part of their house. Few months into the business, she realized how small the income is, with the 3 children in school, the utilities bills, food and other necessities.
The Letters and Visit of Hope
In January 2010, she received a letter from the Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC). She received 3 other letters thereafter on separate months. They invited her to come to the agency to avail of free therapies, free vocational and/or livelihood seminars and trainings. She ignored all of them, harboring a distrust on government agencies after her bad experience with the SSS. But a visit on August 2011 changed all that. Ms. Nancy Bonto and Ms. Anne Misa of the ECC’s Work Contingency Prevention and Rehabilitation Division (WCPRD) visited Mrs. Soriano to further explain about the KAGABAY Program. The latter agreed to take the free start-up kits for the dishwashing liquid, fabric conditioner, and soap powder. She also agreed to take as she did take the trainings at the Ultima EntrePinoy, sponsored by the ECC. She eventually made the liquid, fabcon, and powder from the kits received, and sold the same to neighbours on a house-to-house basis. She bought more materials from Ultima and proceeded to make and sell her products.
Mrs. Soriano decided to attend a series of seminars from 3 October 2012 to 6 February 2013 entitled “Curriculum Based Training: Start Your Own Business Enterprises” (CBT-SYOBE) conducted by the Center for Small Entrepreneurs (CSE), again under the auspices of the KAGABAY. This opened her eyes further to the many possibilities of entrepreneurship.
And while taking the above seminar, she took training sessions on meat processing (i.e. longganisa, tocino, embutido, breaded pork chop, siomai, among others) from Ultima. She was also given free kits containing powders and spices.
At present, she is into the making and selling of burger patties, pork & chicken ham, siomai, chicken sandwich, peanut butter, biko, maja blanca. She is applying the principles learned from the CSE and Ultima seminars/trainings through diversifying her products. She has also joined the ODWs (Occupationally Disabled Workers) Cooperative, Inc. which was formed under the auspices of the ECC. She became friends with the other ODWs under the KAGABAY program. Her husband also helps in the business.
On 6 February 2013, Mrs. Soriano graduated from the CSE seminar, taking the award as one of the “Most Promising Enterpreneur” under the ECC’s KAGABAY Program.
This story only shows that the institution must actually and closely work with the ODW in order to bring out his/her potentials in productive activities. Their reduced abilities and/or skills notwithstanding, the ODWs can still learn new things and engage in more endeavours than the usual employment setting.
Aileene Mae D. Calonia