Cagayan de Oro City — Rene Liboon Principe Jr. and his family almost drowned to death when Tropical Storm Sendong inundated Northern Mindanao in the evening of December 16, 2011.

Rene’s family, a beneficiary of Pantawid Pamilya, is among the thousand families here and in Iligan City who were affected by the flash flood brought about by the torrential rains during the onslaught of Sendong.

His father, Rene Sr., woke them up when the water was knee high inside their house in Zone 4, Pasil, Kauswagan here. The water reached the roof gutter level. Rene and his family witnessed the flood water rushing down the Kauswagan area, a barangay along Cagayan de Oro River.

Rene heard adults and children crying for help as they were being carried away by the ravaged waters.

The flood destroyed the house of Rene’s family. It leaved knee deep of muds.

They hurriedly went to an evacuation established by DSWD, some five kilometers away from their house.

Rene recalled that life inside an evacuation center was so hard, considering the sleepless nights and long lines for food and non-food items.


Rene Jr. was a freshman student of Regional Science High School here when Sendong devastated Northern Mindanao, taking lives of residents living along Cagayan de Oro River here and Mandulog River in Iligan City.

Typhoon Sendong submerged personal items of Rene’s family; including his books and other supplies.

But Rene Jr. did not let the calamity get in the way of achieving his dreams. He continued to excel in his classes.

The cash grants of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program and other interventions from DSWD and donations from local and international humanitarian organizations have helped Rene and his family live back to normalcy during those he described as trying times.


Focus on achieving dream

Rene Jr. , youngest among the five Principe siblings, did not stop aiming at achieving his dream in life, which is to become an Astronaut.

Impossible as it may seem, Rene said he does his best to become a spaceman.

He even said that he is willing to go to Mars and live there for the rest of his life.

Top 1 in his section and a graduate of Regional Science High School here, Rene Jr. has been a consistent honor student since his elementary formation.

Despite offered full scholarship with private universities here, Rene Jr. opted to confirm his interest to enroll at University of the Philippines-Diliman, taking up Bachelor of Science in Physics after passing the UPCAT (University of the Philippines College Admission Test).

Rene Jr. is also an academic scholar of the Department of Science and Technology.

Thank DSWD, PNoy

“I am very thankful to DSWD for helping poor families like us. I was able to comply with all the projects and bought requirements for my laboratory projects because of Pantawid Pamilya,” said Rene Jr.

“Also, I thanked President Benigno Aquino III for implementing Pantawid Pamilya through DSWD,” Rene said, adding that, “critics of the president should look at the fruits of labor of all his projects.”

“We are the living proof of the gains of the administration,” claimed Rene Jr.

Pantawid Pamilya is a government’s poverty-reduction strategy that provides cash grants to extremely poor households aimed at helping them raise educated and healthy children aged 18 years and below.

It utilizes the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) scheme where beneficiaries receive cash grant provided that they send their children to school, get preventive health check-up, and the parents attend the monthly Family Development Session (FDS).

Rene Jr. is among the 20,381 Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries who graduated this school year 2014-2015. Currently, Northern Mindanao has 271,077 active household beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilya.###smu

Written by Oliver Badel Inodeo, DSWD Northern Mindanao