The harvest is plenty as more than 333,673 plus youths coming from poor families all over the Philippines graduated from high school this year. As for 4 youths from the Cordilleras, graduating as valedictorian is the icing on top of a rather challenging yet fulfilling 12 years of education so far.
Around 11,000 Pantawid Pamilya high school honor graduates from all over the country gathered at the Araneta Coliseum on 23 April 2015 to celebrate their achievements with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) partner agencies, media, and top artists and performers. As representatives of the Cordillera, the top four Pantawid Pamilya high school graduates from the provinces of Benguet, Abra, Kalinga, and Mt. Province attended the event. The four youths all graduated as valedictorian with numerous academic and extra-curricular achievements.
The Pantawid Pamilya or CCT extended its age coverage from 0-14 years old to 0-18 years old to ensure that all youth beneficiaries will have the assistance they need to finish high school and thus have a higher chance of landing a job.
From the 6,017 Pantawid Pamilya high school graduates from the region, John Rullan from Tuba, Benguet graduated with a general weighted average (GWA) of 96.139 percent—the highest GWA achieved by a Pantawid Pamilya high school graduate in the region this year. He attributes his achievements to the positive challenge posed by the fact that he is a Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary. “I am a Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary and I receive cash grants for my education every month. This inspires me to do better because I know how blessed I am to still be in school and have the chance to change my family’s current situation. We may be struggling financially now but education will change that. That’s a good kind of challenge: knowing that the grant helps you now but it will not last forever. One must learn how to help himself,” said John.
This statement is reinforced as the Department continues to advocate the positive changes in the lives of its beneficiaries through the Kaya Ko Ang Pagbabago Campaign. “I am very humbled by the determination of these young boys and girls. They beat the odds to finish high school and when asked by the media if they will work to help the poor when they grow up and working adults, they said, ‘Yes! And we will tell them that kaya rin nila ang pagbabago!’ Salamat, mga bata, sa pagbibigay ninyo ng pag-asa sa amin. It is worth the tears, pain, the doggedness to continue the implementation of the Pantawid Pamilya,” said DSWD Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Juliano- Soliman.
President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III also graced the event, saying that all the insults and criticisms are all worth it upon seeing the initial harvest of the Pantawid Pamilya all geared up to fight for a better life. “Pag tinitingnan ko nga po ang lahat ng nakamit natin, at ang kongkretong patunay nito ay kayong mga benepisyaryo ng Pantawid Pamilya na narito, talagang naiisip ko na sulit ang lahat ng pagod, pang-aalipusta, at pagyurak na ating kinakaharap bilang Pangulo. Lalo po tayong ginaganahang magtrabaho at doblehin ang sigasig para lalo pang umasenso ang Pilipino. Totoo: Lalong tumitibay ang aking paninindigan na ‘The Filipino is definitely worth fighting for’,” Aquino said in his speech during the event.
Though the event is a celebration, the Department also ensured that the graduates will take with them practical knowledge. Technical Education and Skills Development (TESDA), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) discussed the career options, trainings, and employment opportunities that are open to them as high school graduates. Information booths were also set up along the halls of the coliseum where the graduates can be given more detailed orientation about the programs and services of each partner agency.
Venus Agamata, an Alfonso Yuchenco National Discipline Awardee with a GWA of 94.053 percent from Kalinga, Jaycob Cayto from Abra with a GWA of 93.45 percent, and Randy Law-agey from Mt. Province with a GWA of 93.4 percent, along with John Rullan, were the youth achievers who attended the event.
A Youth Congress will also be conducted by the Pantawid Pamilya Regional Program Management Office to gather honor students from all over the region. # DSWD-CAR, SOCIAL MARKETING UNIT, Ann Jennica R. Quirimit