I have lived nineteen years in this city.
            Nineteen years, and I have not known Tacurong better than this summer vacation. I was never amused, until I was introduced by the different projects and activities happening all over the city. Call me ignorant, I deserve it.

            The day before I started as a volunteer for the Trimedia Office, which was April 16, 2012, 137 skills trainees graduated and received TESDA certificates that will qualify them for business or employment of their chosen fields. Right then, I know I have to know what this program is all about.

            The implementation of skills training started long ago, and was under the program of Department of Social Welfare and Development (currently the City Social Welfare and Development Office). Serving as the channel of TESDA, this program aims to create opportunities for employment through enhancing people’s skills. Different trainings such as barber cutting, SMAW (shielded metal and welding), massage therapy, building wiring installation, horti-culture among others are being taught by eligible and qualified instructors.
            With funds from the Sangguniang Kabataan led by Albert Gulmatico, Legislative fund of the Sangguniang Panlungsod led by Livelihood Chairman, Hon. Rodrigo Jamorabon, and the local government unit of the City, skills trainings are continually supported. True to its responsibility to serve the people, skills trainings are offered to out-of-school youth, less-privileged citizens, unemployed residents, and graduates who aim to work overseas as skilled workers – for free.
            “The LGU did not spend money in your training, but invested it in you, in your future.” With this message from Hon. Jamorabon, I saw a vision. Not only this project serves the welfare of the city’s economy and trade, it gets people involved through self-development and hardwork. Some of the matters taught during skills trainings include values inculcation, personal hygiene, work ethics, marketing, and cost analysis. A proof that the training is more than objective learning, it also gives a hint of upright demeanor to be applied in their future jobs.
            Now, maybe you get to ask how productive this project has become. In my interview with Josephine M. Ubaldo, Project Evaluation Officer I of CSWD and Community Training and Employment Coordinator (CTEC) of TESDA, many success stories have been derived from the skills training program of the city.

            A group of massage therapists organized the “Tacurong Massage Therapy Clinic” in June 2011, and is located in Brgy. Poblacion. The government provided livelihood assistance of 100,000 for the group in order to pursue the business and apply their massage skills. A welders’ association in Brgy. San Emmanuel was given a fund amounting to 30,000 from the LGU to kick-off its own livelihood as well. Other groups as hut makers and Samahan ng mga Biyuda were supported by the government to establish their own living and businesses. With the continued conduct of the program, surely, more groups and associations will rise and give hope to more lives.

Reaping the fruit of hard work
            Skills training did not only produce successful groups, but successful individuals as well. Mary Grace Sol, a graduate of skills training in massage therapy and housekeeping last 2010 – both as NC II passer, believes that what she learned in skills trainings became a great help in her professional and personal journey.
            Mary Grace took many jobs before she decided to participate in skills training. She finished a 2-year course in Hotel & Restaurant Services, but she felt she needed a new thing to do – and it brought her to learn massage therapy. “At first, it felt very tiring. But it’s fun,” she said. She even thought of quitting, but she said she could not get away with it. Her body came looking for it.
            When I asked her what developments she found within herself after the training, she answered me with no doubt, “Confidence. Before, I do not socialize with anybody. Now, I have learned to mingle with different types of people.. specially with customers. My skills training in massage therapy have taught me to engage and communicate since it is part of our duty.”
            This coming June, she is set to fly to Singapore with great hope to use what she learned in skills training. Not only to be successful, but to serve through what skills training served her.
            More than a vision, there is a chance. A chance to help more Tacurongnons by opening gates of opportunities that will enhance people’s lives. A chance to live a good future. A chance to improve subsistence and little by little, eradicate poverty.
This is what everybody would want to happen, but more importantly, there are people who are willing to make it happen.
Expanding employment opportunities

Aside from the TESDA and CTEC, the Public Employment Service Office (PESO) together with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is one in paving opportunities for these skills training graduates.

PESO aims to carry out full employment and parity of career opportunities for all, in order to reinforce and inflate the existing employment facilitation service machinery of the administration. While CTEC facilitates the provision of skills trainings, PESO offers employment programs that can be availed by skilled jobseekers.
            The implementation of Skills Registry System (SRS) is one of their means to help aspiring employees. It involves survey of skilled workers in the labor market, and then the gathered data will be uploaded on the official government site for Philippine jobs, Phil-JobNet.
            Through this website, employers can seek jobseekers that are fit for what they are looking for – with complete information and credentials. Today, PESO reaches out to barangays to have easy access on job vacancies and gain living. The office also envisions to gather more skilled workers to open more opportunities for Tacurongnons.
The skills training program isn’t perfect, maybe not for now. Ma’am Ubaldo explained that maybe someday a center would be created for these trainings – to accommodate more participants and create a conducive environment for learning. Meanwhile, Mary Grace mentioned that offering other skills trainings as baking and pastry would also help more people achieve a better living.
The City Government did not overlook these concerns. Mayor Lina Montilla, in her speech during the skills training graduation, said that an allocation fund of one million pesos will be provided for the skills training, for the constituents of Tacurong.
And I never stopped getting so amused. I did not only witness projects and activities, I witnessed unity, development, and public service.
I have lived nineteen years in this city. And I wish to live more years in my City of Goodwill – the City that remained true to its people and to its promise.
Dynamic. Progressive. Life is great in Tacurong. (Ariesha Faith Martinez Dimaano)