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The faces of Santa Rosa: Affirming 14 years of progress

The City of Santa Rosa has always been very unwavering in its aim to be a model in local governance, effectively responding to the welfare of its people.  

And through the years, its programs and projects are founded on sentiments of its people and are responsive to their needs.

Aptly called the Four Pillars of Development, this program of governance was initiated in 2007 by then City Mayor now Laguna First District Congresswoman Arlene B. Arcillas and is being continued by Mayor Dan S. Fernandez. With the continuity of governance and programs, the foundations of development are being strengthened, thus ensuring that the advancement and progress of city will be beneficial to the people.

The City of Santa Rosa is truly a city for the people.  Serving as testament to this are people and their stories of success.

Quality Education 

Polytechnic University of the Philippines – Santa Rosa Campus is a state university fully-funded by the City Government of Santa Rosa.  It was established in February 2003 through a Memorandum of Agreement between the late Mayor Leon Arcillas and PUP then President Ofelia Carage.  During the establishment of the state university, there were just 379 enrollees under the three initial program offerings.

Jesselie Pastolero, an alumna of PUP Santa Rosa Campus, who graduated to be one of its faculty.
Among the first enrollees was Jesselie Pastolero, then a simple youth who values education and dreamed of becoming successful.  Jesselie, 32, took the opportunity to study at PUP, taking up Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education Major in English.

In 2007, she was among the first batch of PUP graduates. Today, Jesselie is a College Professor in her alma mater.

To provide quality education for the youth is among the aims of the City Government of Santa Rosa. The City believes that with knowledgeable, skillful, and educated youths, progress will be sustained and success will be attained. To address this goal, the City has implemented the Libreng Paaral sa Pribadong Paaralan Program, which gives full scholarship grants to deserving incoming high school students living in Santa Rosa. Students under the program have a chance to enroll and study in their chosen private school inside the City. Students can avail of this program as long as they are qualified under the set of conditions and as long as they keep up with the maintaining grade.

Former City Scholar Beverly Dadis is now returning the favor to the City as a Professional Public Teacher at Balibago National High School.
Beverly Dadis was one of those who qualified.  Coming from a less fortunate family, she was very thankful to be a City scholar as she experienced studying in a private school for free.  In college, she went to PUP Santa Rosa, where she fulfilled her dream of becoming a teacher.

Now, Beverly is giving back to the City by working and educating the youth as a Professional Public Teacher at Balibago National High School.

Over the years, the Santa Rosa Manpower Training Center has helped a lot of Rosenians develop their skills, and has produced competitive and ready-for-action graduates with qualifications sought after by the industries both local and international.  Many SRMTC graduates are now successful in their chosen careers.

Nelson Agaw (left), together with his co-workers at Toyota Motor Philippines.
Nelson Agaw, 34, was a high school graduate and found it difficult to find a job.  To be competitive in the labor market, he decided to study and train in SRMTC, finishing Automotive Servicing in 2007.

After graduating, he was hired by Toyota Motor Philippines, and has been a regular employee of the automotive manufacturing company for 10 years now.

Senior Citizens

The City of Santa Rosa values its senior citizens with many programs being implemented through the Office of the Senior Citizens Affairs.  Under the social pension program, qualified senior citizens receive P1,500 every quarter to supplement their basic needs, medicines, and other needs that help improve their condition.  Senior citizens also receive cash gifts on their birthdays, and free movies in SM Santa Rosa Cinemas.

Nanay Pina, a 102-year-old centenarian and social pensioner of the City of Santa Rosa.
Crispina Carandang is a 102-year-old senior citizen of Santa Rosa, who has been a recipient of the program.  Born on December 23, 1916, Nanay Pina is surprisingly strong at her age.  Though already blind, she still can hear and converse well.

Nanay Pina is among the nine centenarian of the City.  While reaching centenary is very rare, Nanay Pina is the living proof that with a simple lifestyle, one can reach a century, which is more than a lifetime for many.

Persons with Disability

The program for Persons with Disability or PWD includes issuance of PWD IDs and Disability Purchase Booklets for medicines and prime commodities.  It also includes assistance for physical restoration such as wheel chairs, crutches, walkers, hearing aid, eye glasses, nebulizers, quad canes, and prosthetic legs.

Reginald Tiongco (left) is shown conducting a livelihood training on candle making.
Reginald Tiongco, 53, is among of the success stories of the City. He was afflicted with polio at five months old, but it did not stop him from living a normal life. He was treated like everyone else by his parents, and that is what made it easy for him to accept what he is. Despite the condition, he persevered and graduated in college with a degree of Bachelor of Science in Electronics and Communications Engineering until he ventured into business.  Reginald is happily married to Marites Tiongco, a full-time professor, and is blessed with two children who are now successful in their own fields.

With his success in life and career, Reginald did not forget to help his fellow PWDs.  As President of the Association of PWD in Brgy. Market Area, he shares his blessings among other PWDs through implementation of programs that are supported by the Barangay and the City Government of Santa Rosa.  For Reginald, any condition or disability is never a hindrance to succeed. Instead, it can be a driving force to help and inspire others.

Small business ventures

The Self-Employment Assistance Program is under the City Social Welfare and Development Office.  With this program, qualified Rosenians are provided with financial assistance to start a small business.

Irene Vecino shows her rolling store, a product of the City’s Self-Employment Assistance Program.
Irene Vecino, 44, from Barangay Caingin, has been a beneficiary of the program. Eight years ago, her family was struggling, relying only on her husband’s meager earnings as a driver, and making ends meet by borrowing money.  Through the SEA program, Irene was able to avail of a P3,000 assistance to put up a retail store.

That sari-sari store has now grown with the addition of a rolling store and three videoke machines for rent. And Irene has now been able to avail of P25,000 assistance from City Government due to her ability to repay.

Sustainable Development Goals - Family-based Actions for Children and their Environs in the Slums or SDG-FACES is a national program adopted by the City to address issues such as poverty.  The program provides beneficiaries/mothers the opportunity to take the lead in achieving several goals, combating economic, social and environmental challenges within the community.  This is through trainings, seminars and livelihood projects that can help improve the quality of their life and secure their children’s future.

Valeriana Almonte and her 5-year-old grandchild Miles pose for a photo as one of the SDG-FACES Beneficiary.
Valeriana Almonte, 53, is grateful to be among beneficiaries of the program.  Life was a daily struggle for Valeriana and her children and her grandchildren. But SDG-FACES gave her hope and inspiration.  As one of the beneficiaries, Valeriana received a livelihood assistance which she plans to start up a business.

Valeriana is very thankful that she will no longer have to worry in looking for money to support the education of her grandchildren, especially Miles who is just 5 years old.  She vowed not to waste the opportunity given her, saying she will do her very best to attain the aims of the program.

A healthy citizenry

TB-DOTS gives free and easy access to patients diagnosed with tuberculosis. Unlike before that there is no cure for TB, now the disease can easily be treated through early diagnosis and proper medication.

After six months of TB treatment under TB-DOTS program, Edward Joel Vista is now cured of the illness.
This has been the case for Edward Joel Vista, 57, a TB-DOTS patient of the City Health Center from Brgy. Sinalhan.  In 2017, Edward was diagnosed with tuberculosis, and was advised to have a 6-month treatment.  Fortunately, he found the City Government of Santa Rosa program regarding it, and was accommodated and treated for six months in the City Health Center along with free medications.

Edward has now successfully finished his treatment for tuberculosis. He expressed his admiration to the health workers who have been truly and passionately doing their jobs.  According to him, he is blessed to be in this City for not every City has this kind of program for someone like him. 

Indigent citizens of the City of Santa Rosa need not to worry about the bills when admitted in public hospitals as long as they are members of PhilHealth ng Masa. Members of this program are given assistance on the hospitalization; and Melody Hitosis has proven this for years.

Melody Hitosis has been an active PhilHealth ng Masa member for three years now.
Melody Hitosis has been a member of PhilHealth since 2015, and from then she has been benefitting from the privileges of being a member such the free check-ups from public and private hospitals.  There was this time when her child was admitted at the Philippine Heart Center for a bypass operation.  According to her, her bill reached between P500,000 to P700,000.  When the PHC found out that she is an indigent member of PhilHealth ng Masa, she did not pay even a single cent and that makes her very thankful.

To her, it is a testament that PhilHealth ng Masa program of the City of Santa Rosa is truly a lot of help to every Rosenians in need.

Multi-Purpose Cooperative

CAST Multi-Purpose Cooperative is among the active cooperatives in the City benefitting from trainings and seminars by the City Cooperative Development Office. Composed of Enchanted Kingdom employees who have been working together for 20 years now, CAST was initially unaware of the city government program for cooperatives, until 2010 when they were invited to an event related to cooperatives.  Since then, CAST has been actively participating in CCDO’s programs.

Chairman Ruel Bercasio (third from left) and members of CAST Multi-Purpose Cooperative, pose for a photo to promote their Frutti Delite business inside Enchanted Kingdom.
Chairman Ruel Bercasio said that he is very thankful for all the trainings and seminars that they received from the City, as these were really helpful both to the cooperative and their members.  He emphasized that through the trainings and seminars, they were able to build networks making it easy for them to do partnerships on business.

To date, CAST Multi-Purpose Cooperative already achieved their vision and mission of becoming the number one cooperative in Santa Rosa as they are the very first Dangal ng Kooperatiba Awardee.

During the term of then City Mayor now Congresswoman Arlene B. Arcillas, she built partnership with Gawad Kalinga and Toyota Motor Philippines Foundation Inc. in establishing a housing program called Toyota-City of Santa Rosa-Gawad Kalinga Village in Barangay Pulong Santa Cruz.

Housing Beneficiary Eric Hernandez together with his family at their house inside the Toyota-City of Santa Rosa-Gawad Kalinga Village.
Eric Hernandez is a 49-year old security guard and family man whose family endured living on the roadside before becoming a beneficiary of the Toyota-City of Santa Rosa-Gawad Kalinga Village.  Eric and his family were among the 158 beneficiary families in Brgy. Pulong Sta. Cruz.  According to him, when he was told about the relocation, he did not think twice because he knew that it will be for the betterment of his family.

Since relocating in 2013 up until now, Eric no longer worries for his family’s safety.  He is living a peaceful life inside their community, where he is an officer of their Village.

Fisher folks

The City’s support to the agricultural sector has been appreciated by simple fishermen. Through the City Agricultural Office’s Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council or FARMC, fishermen of the City are given a chance to attend seminars that can help improve their knowledge regarding fishing.  Every now and then, the City also gives assistance in the form of fishing equipment, aside from having a venue to raise their concerns to which the City finds solutions.

Anselmo Amarante (third from left), chairman of the City’s Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (FARMC), is thankful to the City in behalf of the members of FARMC.
Anselmo Amarante, 49, of Barangay Sinalhan has been a fisherman since he was 12 years old.  The struggle of having your own fishing net or ‘palakaya’ was truly evident during that time.  It was in 2014 when fishermen like him started to receive assistance from the City Government through the City Agricultural Office’s FARMC.

Anselmo, on behalf of his group of fishermen, was very grateful for all the help and support of the City since they became a part of the FARMC.  Currently, he is the chairman of FARMC in the whole City of Santa Rosa and he hopes that programs like this of the City Agriculture Office will continue to help a lot more fishermen.

Agricultural gains

While the City of Santa Rosa has been known for its industry and commerce, agriculture still plays a vital role in its communities.  And the City Government has continued to support local farmers by providing them with machineries, farming equipment, and strengthening their capabilities through livelihood trainings.

67-year old Eduardo Umali harvests crops in his farm.
Eduardo Umali, 67, is among the farmers supported by the programs of the City.  He has been farming for more than 50 years. Looking back, farming for him was difficult due the lack of equipment and machineries.

 It is just now that farming has become somehow easy because of the assistance that was given to him as beneficiary of the City Agricultural Office.

For six years since he became a beneficiary, Eduardo said the program has made a huge impact on him, making farming easier and more efficient.  From using carabaos to plow, now he uses threshing machines and other machineries. Apart from this, water pumps, grass cutters, seeds, and fertilizers were also given to him. Planting and harvesting has become easier because of those and that’s what he is grateful for.

Rehabilitation Center

In response to President Duterte’s campaign against criminality and illegal drugs, the City of Santa Rosa through the leadership of Mayor Dan Fernandez, quickly responded by establishing the Dangal ng Pagbabago Rehabilitation Center – the very first rehabilitation center operated by a local government unit.  During Oplan Tokhang, many drug dependents willingly surrendered, and each one of them has their own story.

Darwin Costales, a 22-year old Dangal ng Pagbabago Rehabilitation Completionist, who has turned his life around, was granted a full scholar’s grant by Toyota Motor Philippines.
The journey of Dangal ng Pagbabago Completionist Darwin Costales, 22, is among the inspiring and amazing stories inside the rehabilitation center.  It was in high school when he got hooked on vices.  It slowly became his life until he can no longer resist it to the point the he also learned to use illegal drugs when he was 19 years old.  During those times, Darwin found his own kind of happiness with friends and with illegal drugs that he no longer knew himself anymore.  There were instances that he felt like he wanted to change, but he does not how or when to start until his family decided to send him to Dangal ng Pagbabago Rehabilitation.

In the rehabilitation center, Darwin contemplated and realized a lot of things.  He realized that he should not be putting his life to waste because there are many opportunities in store for him.  He realized that God is working in his life for a purpose.  Slowly, he redeemed himself.

Now, Darwin is finally out of the center, and he is trying to start anew with his family supporting him.  He was also given an opportunity to be a Toyota Scholar, and he promised to be responsible enough and not to waste this chance given to him.

Those are just some of the people that serve as testimony to what the City of Santa Rosa is really doing for its people. A lot received help,  but there are still many more to be helped. This is what the City Government vows to do as the city celebrates its 14th year – progress will be sustained and accomplishments will continue to grow in numbers, through the support and participation of the people and stakeholders.

Topics: Santa Rosa , Four Pillars of Development , Arlene Arcillas
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