Jake Esmedia alias “Dodong” of Sibalom, Antique was only 27 years old when convicted of attempted homicide on October 22, 2014.  He was imprisoned for one (1) year and 18 days wherein he spent seven (7) months inside the jail and the rest living-out but still inside the detention premises of Antique Provincial Jail in San Jose de Buenavista, Antique.

His life was turned upside down by that event.  Dodong was devastated and his chance for a bright future became dim.

But everyone deserves a second chance. And Dodong was given a second chance. A chance to regain his freedom. Freedom from imprisonment and be united with his family and most especially freedom from financial difficulty to become a responsible member of society.

Because of his good performance and transformation inside the prison cell, Dodong was placed on probation for a period of three (3) years per Court Order dated November 20, 2014. He initially reported for supervision on December 5, 2014.

The Department of Labor and Employment-Region 6, in partnership with the Department of Justice (DOJ) – Parole and Probation Administration created a special convergence project known as Reformative Enhancement for Holistic Advancement of Beneficiaries (REHAB) Project in CY 2016. REHAB project aims to help ex-offenders mitigate barriers that prevent them from reintegrating into the community, and by providing them livelihood assistance, they eventually become more productive members of society.

“Dodong” was selected as one of the 13 probationers from Antique to become beneficiaries of the DOLE’s Kabuhayan Program and was awarded livelihood assistance amounting to P7,500.00 for his goat breeding project.

On March 7, 2016, Dodong received three (3) goats – two (2) female and one (1) male at P2,500.00 each, for his livelihood project. It was something to start with towards rebuilding a new life with his family considering the stigma he faced being a probationer with limited employment opportunities.

Dodong has successfully managed his goat breeding project such that, in a matter of two years, the goats handed over to him dramatically increased in number from 3 to 45. Inspired by the success of his livelihood project, Dodong expanded to native chicken and swine production as well as duck raising to generate more income in their family-owned land.

Jake Esmedia alias “Dodong” feed some of his goats which grow rapidly from just three in 2016 to 45 in 2019. This was part of the DOLE’s intervention to a group of probationers and pardoners under the REHAB’s project to help facilitate their reintegration into the community by providing them livelihood assistance.

Most of the income sustained the family’s day to day needs but part of it was used to expand his livelihood. Currently, Dodong has 50 native chickens, 5 ducks and a swine that recently delivered a number of piglets.  Some native chickens were bartered for sacks of cement for the construction of a pig pen for his swine breeding project.

He is also raising two (2) cattle he received from a relative as payment for tending his cows. These cattle, with attached “karusa”or sledge, become his every day aide in fetching water for his livestock from a river which is 50 meters away from his house.

During rainy season, Dodong also grows vegetables like eggplant, okra, squash, string beans, ampalaya and patola partly for consumption and for commercial purposes.  He would also assist his father in growing his corn and peanuts during dry season.

Marketing his livestock is not a problem for Dodong because there is a steady demand of livestock in the local market nowadays.

At the start, Dodong had to bring his stocks to the local market to be sold.  Eventually, he was able to establish connections with his regular buyers that they would just visit his place to directly buy his stocks, often in volume, because of its good quality.  He was thus able to save time and money transporting his stocks to the market.

Dodong’s reputation as a good breeder spreads among his neighbors that they also refer buyers to him.

Before the DOLE project, Dodong and his family were dependent on the latter’s meager income as a farm worker and part time construction worker.

Determined to change the course of his life, Dodong focused his time and effort tending his farm animals, which did not just bring additional income but, in a way, it also become therapeutic and and rewarding for him. Slowly, he has regained his self-esteem and self-worth.

At present, the day to day needs of the family is well provided. The income from his livestock is stable, and he has also regular source of food like vegetables and poultry products. He is slowly transforming from a farm worker to an entrepreneur.

Dodong is gradually learning the skills in managing a business.  He has become enterprising and resourceful with his livestock project that he started raising more farm animals to increase his income. He has become self-motivated and hardworking too, more focused on his livelihood.  He was able to manage his income from his farm animals properly, spending it wisely and investing it on things that are useful and profitable.

Aside from providing for the day to day needs of the family, the money he earned from the first two (2) goats he sold in 2016 was used to initially repair his house and in 2017, he was able to buy a second-hand motorcycle amounting to P8,000.00 which he uses to transport his younger siblings to and from their school, go to the town proper for errands, and to the nearby barangays to work as farm laborer. He also purchased additional materials for the repair of his house out of the income he gained from selling another 20 goats.

On December 5, 2017, Dodong has finally regained his most awaited freedom. After three (3) years, he was discharged from probation and the case against him was deemed closed and terminated.

Dodong has become an inspiration to the people who knows him and his story, especially in his barangay as well as his fellow probationers.

The DOLE Kabuhayan Program paved the way for Dodong’s financial freedom, the kind of freedom which allowed him to reclaim his dignity as a human being and, eventually, motivated him to transform into a responsible person with big dreams for himself, his family and the community where he lives.

And on May 27, 2019, Dodong has gained a feather in his cap when he won and was awarded as Regional Winner in the Search for Best DOLE’s Livelihood Project in the individual category during the Kabuhayan Awards held at Manila Prince Hotel. A proof of his restored liberty and transformation from the stigma of his past mistakes and financial freedom to become a responsible person, through his hard work and determination.

Truly, everyone deserves a second chance. And Jake Esmedia “alias” Dodong was given that second chance!