“Panahon nga nag-lockdown tungod sa pandemya, naguol gyud kaayo ko sip usa ka single parent kay unsaon na lang ang panginahanglan sa akong upat kaanak kung wala ko’y trabaho (When the country was placed in lockdown due to the pandemic, I was really worried because as a single parent, how would I provide the basic needs of my children after losing my job),” said Mr. Michael C. Domingo, a visually impaired masseur in Talomo, Davao City. When the COVID-19 pandemic started sometime in March last year, Mr. Domingo and his fellow blind masseurs lost their job after massage clinics were shut down.

“Wala ko’y laing panginabuhian. Dili pud ko pwede mag-home service kay delikado. Maayo na lang naa’y programa atong mga gobyerno sama aning TUPAD sa DOLE. Nakatabang kini sa among sa pang-adlaw-adlaw nga panginahanglan sa panimalay hilabi na sa pagkaon (I didn’t have any other sources of income. I could not offer home-service massage because it was too risky. Fortunately, our government extended assistance through programs like DOLE’s TUPAD. It really helped provide our family’s daily needs especially food),” he shared.

Mr. Domingo and some other 77 Persons With Disabilities (PWD) in Davao City benefitted from the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Displaced/Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD) program of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). The beneficiaries are members of three (3) PWD associations in the city namely the United Blind Masseurs Association, Rejuvenating Blind Masseurs Association, and Association of Differently-Abled Persons.

For 15 days, the beneficiaries worked on social community projects like cleaning and beautification of their respective barangays from July 21 to August 3, 2021, with daily compensation of P396.00. Wages were coursed through money remittance centers and house-to-house pay-out following the minimum health and safety protocols.

“Daghang salamat sa kay Secretary Bello ug sa DOLE Region XI sa tabang pinaagi sa TUPAD. Wala gyud mi ninyo pasagdahi sa panahon sa kalisod. Apan ang among kondisyon isip PWD, dili kini mahimong babag para kami magpadayon sa kinabuhi. Ang TUPAD usa ka nagpamatuod na bisan aduna’y limitasyon, makaya namong mga PWD mubarog panahon sa krisis (Thank you very much, Secretary Bello and DOLE Region XI, for the assistance through TUPAD. You never left us behind especially during this tough time. Without a doubt, our disability is never a hindrance to carry on with life. TUPAD is just one of the validations that despite these limitations as PWD, we can still overcome a crisis),” Mr. Domingo said with optimism.

DOLE XI-Davao City Field Office Chief Erlinda G. Mamitag said, “Their situation serves as an encouragement and an inspiration to all of us. We are glad to be able to help them provide for their family especially in this trying time.”

“This shows DOLE’s dedication to promote equal opportunities and outcomes in employment for PWDs. Through TUPAD, we are not simply assisting our PWD beneficiaries, but we are also empowering them by giving them hope and providing them the encouragement to develop resilience,” added OIC-Regional Director Randolf C. Pensoy.

TUPAD is a community-based package of assistance that provides emergency employment for displaced workers, underemployed and seasonal workers for a minimum period of 10 days, but not to exceed a maximum of 30 days, depending on the nature of work to be performed.