|Hard but Blessed Life|
|News Features - Success Stories|
|Written by Mildred Julia Gonzales, Information Officer II|
|Thursday, 25 August 2011 03:18|
BINAN, LAGUNA -- “Ma, we have a surprise for you,” Angelica exclaimed as she entered their home with her younger brother Angelo. Both just arrived from school. Melinda, who was busy cooking, turned to see them. “I am top 4 in our class! While Angelo is first honor,” Angelica said. Angelica, 14 years old, is currently in 2nd year highschool in Jacobo Z. Gonzales Memorial High School, while Angelo, 10 years old, is a grade 3 student in Pagkakaisa Elementary School. Melinda showered her children with hugs and kisses. Aside from Angelo and Angela, Melinda has two other children named Jefferson and Wilson who are also performing well in school. Silently, she prayed, “thank you Lord for my diligent and bright children and for Pantawid Pamilya for supporting our children’s school needs.”
For Melinda, life was bearable. Her husband, Nolasco, earned minimum wage at a factory and have enough money to provide the basic needs of her four children. “We were poor then but we have enough money to ensure that my children never had to skip a meal,” recalled Melinda. But the financial crisis that hit the country in 2008 caused the factories to retrench and leave hundreds of workers including Nolasco without a job. To deal with their financial crisis, Nolasco tried buying and selling scrap materials, while Melinda began accepting laundry jobs. Anna, who was graduating high school at the time, was forced to stop schooling and help Melinda in her laundry work. Now, without any stable source of income, their children’s education and future were under peril.
Fortunately, they were chosen as one of the beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in 2009. “I really wouldn’t know what to do without the program. The cash grants help us provide for my children’s health and education needs,” she said.
Melinda joyfully relayed.“There was a point when we almost succumb to self pity. Our earnings were never enough no matter how hard we work. We even considered stopping Angelo and Angelica from schooling. Our hope returned when we found out about the Pantawid Pamilya. Now, we promised to keep our children in school despite our economic crisis,”
Pantawid Pamilya encourages their children to study harder. “I always tell them that it is because of Pantawid Pamilya that they get to continue their education. Thus, they should not waste this opportunity and fulfill their co-responsibility to the program, that is to never be absent in class,” shared Melinda.
Melinda receives P1,100 per month for the health and education needs of her children. The households’ counterpart to the program is their compliance to its conditions which include attendance of parents to family development sessions, availing of regular health check-ups in health centers and for children to maintain a school/daycare attendance rate of at least 85%.
Angelica’s dream is to be a teacher, while Angelo aims to be computer engineer. Melinda is grateful that Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program gave her the opportunity to continue the education to her children and hope that someday, they will be able to achieve their dreams. “I never heard of a computer engineer when I was young because children grow old to be like their fathers, a driver or a worker. But now, whenever I hear my children talk about their dreams. I feel that, maybe, through Pantawid Pamilya, those dreams can be realized.”
The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program is a conditional cash transfer program that aims to improve the quality of life of the poor by investing in their human capital. Currently, there are 4,450 household beneficiaries in Laguna and 2,212,055 registered household beneficiaries nationwide. The objectives and conditions of Pantawid Pamilya are anchored to meeting the Millennium Development Goals, namely, eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, achievement of universal primary education, promotion of gender equality, reduction of child mortality and improvement of maternal health.###(Pantawid Pamilya Social Marketing Unit)