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‘Mangarap muli’—a mother’s second chance at dreaming

Seeing her children in school now, Maricel Ceballo cannot believe that once in her life, she has lost all her hope.

Maricel, 40, a resident of Brgy. Bukal in Jomalig, Quezon Province, admitted that she and her husband Teody, 41, did not dream of sending their children to school. Despite knowing how important education is for the future of their four children, they did not know how to support them.

“Dati, nangangarap kaming mapag-aral sila kaso kapag dumarating ‘yung panahon na wala na kaming maitustos, nawawalan na kami ng pag-asa,” shared Maricel, who knows that their PhP3,000 combined monthly income doing laundry and farming was not enough to support the family.

Today, however, Maricel is glad that they did not stop there.

A second chance

Maricel’s family became a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in 2010.

 

The Pantawid Pamilya is a social protection program of the national government that provides conditional cash grants to poor families in support for the needs on health and education of children zero to 18 years old. The cash grants are provided to families in exchange for their compliance to program conditions such as school attendance and monthly health checkups.

Maricel shared that the cash grants provided by the program have been a big help to support the education of their children. However, more than the money, the condition provided by the program became a motivation for them.

“Sa Pantawid Pamilya, isa sa mga kundisyon ay ang pagpapaaral ng mga bata. Noong napag-aral namin sila nang sabay-sabay at nakarating na sila sa high school, naging hamon ito para sa amin. Sabi ko, kakayanin na namin. Doon kami nagsimula ulit,” shared Maricel.

Maricel and Teody began working double to ensure that they can support the needs of their children.

“Nagkaroon kami ng lakas ng loob na magpursige para mangarap muli para sa kinabukasan ng aming mga anak,” said Maricel proudly.

In 2014, Maricel became eager to participate in the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), another program of the DSWD that prioritizes qualified beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilya to capacitate them towards micro-enterprise development or gainful employment.

Maricel attended various orientations and skills training that taught her about starting a small enterprise, managing finances and saving from the daily income.

She loaned PhP9,000 from the SLP, which she used as capital in maintaining a rice field.

“Nakisaka kami sa pinsan ko at ginamit naming mag-asawa yung capital para sa pagpapalinis, pagbili ng binhi at abono,” said Maricel.

According to Maricel, this venture allowed her and her husband to earn more and support their children. In a year, they were able to pay back the loan and save a small amount out of their earnings.

In 2015, she qualified for another loan amounting to PhP15,000. She used this to buy a carabao, which they now use in the farm.

Through the years, they earn around PhP30,000 per harvest season (which happens twice a year). Earning this amount, they are able to ensure the sustainability of their farm and as a result, they become more confident to support their daily needs.

Dreams within reach

Their children Teosel, 20, and Karen Joy, 18, are both in third year college. Teosel is taking up BS Agriculture and is a grantee of Expanded Student Grants-in-Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation (ESGPPA), a program of the Commission on Higher Education for Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries. Karen Joy, on the other hand, is taking up BS Business Administration through a different scholarship.

“Nagpursige po kaming i-apply ng scholarship ‘yang mga anak namin dahil gustong gusto namin silang makapagtapos ng pag-aaral. Hindi namin sinasayang ang mga oportunidad na binibigay sa amin,” shared Maricel.

Their youngest, King Christian, 12, is now in Grade 6 and is the sole child-beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilya in the family. Their eldest, 22, on the other hand, is currently working but is determined to be back in school next school year.

Dreams alive in the community

Maricel is glad that their refueled dream for their children has led them to work harder and become determined to change the course of their lives, at least that of their children’s. But besides this, she is happier to see that it is not just their family who is experiencing this.

“Nakikita ko na ang mga tao dito sa amin ay nangangarap na rin katulad namin. Kung dati, makikita mo na maghapon silang nagsusugal, ngayon, nag-aasikaso na sila ng mga bata, nagpapaaral na at pinipilit maghanapbuhay para sa kanilang pamilya,” shared Maricel, specifically referring to co-beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilya program.

For Maricel, she is grateful that in their far-flung island municipality, which is around six hours away from mainland Quezon Province, dreams are being refueled and more importantly, are being chased now.#

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