Like all other parents, Nida and Demas Garcia of Baguio City want a prosperous life and the best education for their two children. The road to achieve these dreams is not easy but they still believe that nothing is impossible.

Scrap no more

Looking back, Nida recalled the toughest time her family has encountered. She and her husband lost their jobs few years ago. With no assets and no relatives to help them, the couple had to wake up very early everyday to scour the neighbourhood looking for plastic scraps. They sell the scraps they gathered to buy food for the family. There were days when both had nothing to eat because they had to provide food for their children first. They would rather have empty stomachs than their children suffering from hunger.

Habang natutulog po ang aming mga anak, ako at ang aking asawa ay umiiyak at nag-aalala para sa kanila at kung paano kami mabubuhay”, she said.

Nida tried all types of jobs she could during those times. She even worked in a construction, “nagbubuhat ng bato, buhos at linis ng canal”, she recounted.

When Nida discovered that she was selected as one of the beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, also known as Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program, she was surprised that the program will provide direct assistance through monthly cash grants. This gave her a glimmer of hope for her family.

The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program is a human development program of the national government that invests in the health and education of poor households, primarily of children age zero to eighteen years old. Family beneficiaries receive cash grants provided that they send their children to school, get preventive check-ups for their children, and attend the monthly Family Development Session (FDS).

When blessing comes, it pours

According to Manang Nida, the Pantawid Pamilyang Program has been instrumental in changing her family’s poor condition.

“Kung noon mahirap na mahirap ang buhay para sa aming mag-asawa ngayon maayos na ang lahat. May nakakain na kami sa araw-araw at nabibilan na ng gamit ang mga bata sa eskwela”, she said.

Blessing came pouring after they became a beneficiary household. Her husband, Manong Demas, was offered a job as “kargador’ in a liquor company. Later on, he was offered to work in a private mining company. Aling Nida, on the other hand, through TESDA and SLP was able to enroll on skills training on body massage and was eventually hired in a   spa and massage parlor. Through the Sustainable Livelihood Program of the DSWD, Nida’s cluster in Baguio City was also given funds to start their small scale business in crochet and other souvenirs.

Pantawid lessons

Aling Nida’s status as Pantawid beneficiary has brought blessings and hope to her family. For her, the monthly grants she received has helped her children to continue their studies and improve their economic condition.

But more than the cash they receive, Nida realized the importance of the life-changing lessons she learned from the Family Development Sessions of Pantawid Program. In fact, it has equipped her and her husband knowledge and skills that they can use in their everyday life. FDS also helped them in coping with different challenges affecting their own life.

“Madami po ako natutunan sa FDS namin, yun pong kahalagahan ng pagsasama ng mag-asawa, pag-aalaga sa mga anak, ang mga karapatan ng mga bata, mga batas na nagproprotekta sa bata at sa kababaihan lalo na po ang pang-aabuso sa bata at sa isang maybahay na hindi ko po talaga alam noon”, she said.

“Na-realize ko din po na kung kaya po ng isang lalaki gawin ang isang bagay, kaya din po nating mga babae at mas higit pa, basta tayo po ay nagsisikap”, she added

Today, Aling Nida and Manong Demas are far more better than their living condition in the past. No more tears at nights and less worries but they are not stopping in working harder everyday. Both have realized that this is only the beginning and there are still challenges that will come along the way. Today, they are just both hopeful for a bright future that awaits them and their children.

“Gusto ko pong makapag-aral ng welding isang araw at gusto ko po makapag-abroad para makapag college ang aking mga anak. Hindi po kami hihinto sa mga pangarap namin para sa aming mga anak at lalabanan po naming ang kahirapan, makapag-aral lang sila at ng di matulad sa aming mag-asawa na highschool lamang ang narating”, Aling Nida shared. # DSWD-CAR, SOCIAL MARKETING UNIT, Ma. Elaine E. Labasan and Jomel Anthony V. Gutierrez

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