The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) appropriately opened its celebration of March as Gender and Development (GAD) Month by giving tribute to Melania Bitlon-Dirain, the lady forester who’s killing was recorded by a close-circuit camera in her office in Sanchez Mira last February 7.

At the same time, the DENR also offered assistance to her surviving children, who are now totally orphaned having lost their father, Fabianito, in 2006.

DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje awarded a full college scholarship to Albert, 16, and an employment contract to Miguel, 18, with the DENR’s Forest Management Bureau (FMB).

“No words of sympathy or token of appreciation can ever make up for the pain you and your brother are going through at this time, but allow us to help you in rebuilding (your lives) in her absence,” said Paje, adding that Dirain’s death “is a very sobering reminder” of the perils that conscientious DENR workers face in the pursuit of the organization’s mandate.

Included in the scholarship grant for Albert is a monthly stipend of P3,000; P1,500 per semester as book allowance; and P10,000 for thesis allowance.

A fourth year student and consistent honor student, Albert is a candidate for school valedictorian at the Academy of St. Joseph in Claveria, Cagayan while Miguel is a second year college student at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, taking up Human Resource Management.

In a letter, Davis formally informed the elder Dirain of the Department’s willingness to hire him as part-time contractual employee “in a DENR office of your preference.”

Julie Bitlon-Magdasoc, Dirain’s eldest sister and the boys’ guardian, said the gesture of support to Dirain’s two of her three sons will help the boys “take their grief and anger in perspective and focus all their energies into something positive at the proper time.”

“Halos nakuha lahat na yata ni Melania ang lahat nang nagpaulan ng talino sa pamilya,” Magdasoc said, referring to her sister’s thirst for higher learning and excel in whatever task she was given.

“Her achievements were the crowning glory of my parents’ cherished dreams to get their family of six children (all girls) out of poverty through education and hard work,” Magdasoc explained, saying their father was as an ordinary fisherman in Claveria.

Dirain was working on her doctorate degree in public administration at St. Paul University at the time of her death.

A bachelor’s degree holder in forestry science, which she took up in 1982 at the University of the Philippine at Los Baños in Laguna, Dirain had a master’s degree in social development from the Ateneo De Manila University in 2000.