‘Balik Probinsya’ beneficiary happy to be back in Bicol

By Lade Jean Kabagani

One can feel the excitement of Michael Angelo Tel hours before he left Metro Manila for good and restart his life in Catanduanes where he was born.


He and his partner, Angeline Calibat, were in the batch sent home to Catanduanes and Sorsogon recently through the national government’s Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-Asa (BP2) program.


He was still in disbelief that they did not spend a single centavo for their transportation and travel requirements going home, thanks to the BP2 program.


The 30-year-old Tel was born and raised in Barangay Guinobatan in Bato, Catanduanes until a strong typhoon in 2018 made him decide to go to Metro Manila in search of a better fortune.


He became a construction worker and later on met Calibat in San Juan City.


They were living in a rented house with their child, expecting a second one, and making do with his earnings until the Covid-19 pandemic struck.


As in most cases, he was laid off his job.


“Ayos naman noong una kasi may kita naman. Kasya pa. Pero ito ngang nagkapandemya, sobrang nahirapan po kami,” Tel narrated.


With a growing family and more needs to fulfill, he applied for the BP2 program.


He said that they are looking forward to raising their children in the province where fresh vegetables and fruits are aplenty and there is less pollution, an ideal setup for his pregnant partner.


“Dito po kasi sa Maynila, ang mahal ng pampa-ospital eh. Doon mas makakatipid kami kasi may libre naman doon tapos presko pa po yung hangin hindi katulad dito po polluted na talaga,” Tel said.


Once settled in the province, he said they will start a sari-sari (retail) store business while he will also venture into fishing to save more money for their dream house and the education of their children.


“Sagot na po nila lahat ng pamasahe at pagkain, pati matutuluyan. Wala na pong problema habang naghihintay ka lang ng pag-uwi mo sa probinsya. Maayos po talaga ang pakikitungo nila sa mga benepisyaryo,” he added.


Tel wished the program will continue for more years.


“Napakaganda po talaga ng programa nitong Balik Probinsya. Malaking tulong po ito. Sana po magtagal ang programang ito para sa mga kagaya namin na nawalan ng trabaho dito sa Maynila,” he said.


President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order No. 114 on May 6, 2020 to institutionalize the BP2 program, with the primary goal to decongest Metro Manila’s urban areas by encouraging people, especially informal settlers, to return to their home provinces.


The program offers immediate assistance for the beneficiaries including transportation allowance, hassle-free transactions for travel requirements, and emergency cash aid.


Qualified beneficiaries may also get livelihood and employment opportunities, a transitory support package, and transitory shelter assistance. (PNA)