She does not know how to read and write but through hard work and perseverance she successfully fulfilled her dreams.
Intan Agcon, 51, was born in Jolo, Sulu. The cruelty of poverty hindered her in taking formal education. At an early age, she did not have a choice but to work so that she can support her family. Instead of pursuing her dreams, she was obliged to provide them their basic needs.
“I am only 13 years old when we moved to Tawi-tawi to work for our relatives,” Intan narrated with a sad look on her face.
At the age of 15, Intan got married to Hiyawata Agcon.
Hiyawata is from Kabugao, Apayao. He belongs to the Philippine Army but because of unjustified violence that occurred in Datu Halun Memorial Hospital in Bongao, Tawi-tawi, Hiyawata was designated as security guard in that place.
It was in 1985 when the couple first visited the native land of Hiyawata. Unfortunately, their first visit was marked by a traumatic incident. Rebels invaded their house and got everything that they want. Hiyawata was forced to bring out his gun to defend their home, yet Intan denied that his husband possessed a gun and explained that he is just a security guard. But the authorities were not convinced of her explanation. Thus, the couple went back to Tawi-tawi to forget the horrible event that happened.
Twelve years after, Agcon family decided to reside permanently in Apayao to start a new life for Hiyawata planned for retirement. The family took the risk to stay first with Hiyawata’s relatives but it was not easy for them. They were asked to leave the house several times for they hated Intan that much.
“We were very hopeless! We don’t know where to go,” Intan said.
From there on, Intan desired and dreamed of building a house of their own. Apart from this, she promised to send her children to school.
“I do not want my children to go through the same experience that I have. I want them to have a better future,” she said.
Despite of the difficulty and discouragement they hear from their neighbors and relatives, the family remained strong and determined.
They stayed and lived near the piggery for they do not know where to go until their barong-barong was built. The couple helped each other to finish their house. They find ways together to support their daily needs.
After long years of sufferings and difficulties, the hard work and perseverance of the couple has now produced fruits of blessings. At present, Intan takes care of their ten children. Her four children namely Junjune, Jenelyn, Janybhoy, and Jocelyn have already earned their degree in Criminology, Education, Industrial Technology and Information Technology respectively.
Two of her children have finished short courses. Dejei finished his course in automotive while Noel finished Associate in Computer Technology. Her 7th child, Annie is now in college taking Bachelor of Science in Education, Ay-ann is on her third year in high school while Tin-tin and Taratha are both Grade five pupils.
Aside from being able to send her children to school, Intan’s outmost dream of building their own house has now come to reality. Right now, the family has two houses in Barangay Malama in Conner, Apayao. And according to Intan, the fulfillment of her dream would never be possible without the aid of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Intan’s secret to success
Intan is very thankful that her family has been included in the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in 2008.
As a beneficiary, she actively participates in all the activities set by the program. She always attends in the Family Development Sessions (FDS) conducted in their municipality.
Intan cheerfully explained that the program opened an opportunity for her to grow. Likewise, it helped her to send her children in school. This, according to her, was the first step that she had in fulfilling her dreams.
Moreover, Intan has learned better ways to save her family out of poverty. She started to sell snacks since her residence is located near Apayao State College. She started her business from her initial capital of three thousand pesos (P3,000.00), which she borrowed from a private lending institution.
After rigorous trainings conducted under the DSWD’s Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), she has been granted and qualified to loan an amount of ten thousand pesos (P10,000.00).
Under the program, Intan was able to choose to avail between micro-enterprise development and employment facilitation. Because of her interest in selling snacks, she chose to have the micro-enterprise development assistance. Through this, she was able to undergo various capability building activities which equipped her to become better entrepreneur. This is aside from the seed funds lent to them. This fund or loan can be paid by the beneficiaries in two years without any interests.
Because of her loan, she was able to sell more food products like cooked meals for lunch. Her husband and children are her partners in operating their small carinderia. According to Intan, her small business’s peak season is during the school days. This makes Intan very happy.
Aside from the positive attitude showed by Agcon family, Intan said that another secret to their success is that she never forgets to save from her income. “Saving is very important,” she happily conveyed. “Due to my savings, I am able to expand my business.”
The bond among the family built foundation of a strong workforce which resulted to the expansion of their business. At present, the extension of Intan’s sari-sari store is in process.
Intan cheerfully confessed that her family no longer asks for help and financial assistance from any of their relatives since she already has savings to spend in case of emergency. Some of her savings were used as capital in raising pigs and poultry in which they gain additional income.
Meanwhile, the family still continues working in the farm even if their income from their carinderia, sari-sari store and livestock business is sufficient enough for their needs. This is because Intan’s family believes that hard work ensures a better future for all of them.
With the blessings that her family has received since 2008, Intan is very grateful to God who, according to her, has used the Department to help her fulfill her dreams.
Intan proved that everybody has the chance to turn their dreams into reality because she may not know how to read, she may not know how to write but her hard work and perseverance made her dreams come true. DSWD-CAR, SOCIAL MARKETING UNIT, with reports from Ivy Jane A. Velano and Marle T. Legman, Sustainable Livelihood Program