Friday, April 10, 2015

Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary tops high school graduating class

From the Website of DSWD

Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary tops high school graduating class

Rowena Perez is proud of daughter Shaira for being the valedictorian of her batch. 

Poverty is truly not a hindrance to success, as proven by a 16-year old Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program beneficiary who bested her high school batch and graduated valedictorian. 

Shaira Perez of Brgy. Laiya in San Juan, Batangas is proof that a poor man’s dream will not remain a dream if you work hard for it. 

Shaira topped her high school batch of 287 graduates in Laiya National High School. 

With this feat, she is positive that she is finally a step closer towards her dream of lifting her family from poverty. 

Shaira is just one of the more than 9,000 high school graduates who are beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilya in the province. 

Pantawid Pamilya is a human development program that invests in the health and education of poor households, primarily those with children aged 0-18. It provides cash grants to partner-beneficiaries who comply with the conditions of sending their children to school, bringing them to health centers for checkups, and attending the monthly Family Development Sessions (FDS). 

In 2013, the DSWD expanded the coverage of Pantawid Pamilya to include the 15-18 age bracket to ensure that the children-beneficiaries will graduate from high school and have a higher rate of employability. 

To ensure enrolment in college, Shaira is already busy completing her documents for possible scholarships, even one day after her graduation. She hopes to enroll at the University of the Philippines after passing its entrance examination. 

Her motivations 

Shaira’s motivation to go to college is fueled by her family’s current living condition. 

“Kapos po ang pamilya namin, mahirap po ang buhay. Katulad po ngayon, magka-college na ako pero kahit mag-apply ako sa mga scholarships, alam kong hindi pa rin sasapat iyon para masigurong tuloy-tuloy ang pag-aaral ko (Life for our family is difficult as we are often financially-challenged. Even with a scholarship, there is no guarantee that I will be able to finish college),” Shaira shared. 

Slightly small for her age, Shaira has experienced a lot of struggles at her young age. Her parents are both working as helpers in a beach resort in Laiya and both of them earn barely enough to support Shaira and her two other siblings. Her elder sister also has cerebral palsy which takes a lot of the family’s earnings to keep up with her medical needs. 

According to Shaira’s mother Rowena, 38, becoming a beneficiary of Pantawid Pamilya in 2010 is a big blessing. For a family who only earns a good income during summer season, and who has a mentally-challenged child to attend to, the cash grants became a big help especially in ensuring that Shaira’s needs in school are provided for. 

“Dahil po sa Pantawid Pamilya, laging puwede na akong sumali sa mga contests at may pambayad na kami sa mga pangangailangan ko sa school (Because of Pantawid Pamilya, I can now join school contests and we can pay for my other school needs),” shared Shaira who had also seen how her parents would borrow money from neighbors whenever she needed to join activities in school. 

Being able to freely join most school activities opened opportunities for her to excel in class. She balances her academic and extra-curricular performance, which produced good results in the end. 

“Magka-college po ako at magtatapos para matulungan ko ang aking mga magulang. Sila ang nagpakahirap at nagpawis para sa amin (I will finish college to help my parents. They worked hard for us),” added Shaira, who wants to pursue a course on Accounting or Engineering. 

Going forward 

At the graduation ceremony, Shaira shared her success with her fellow graduates and urged them to continue to dream and work hard for it. 

“Sana bawat isa sa atin ay magpatuloy ng ating paglalakbay, sana lahat tayo ay makatuntong ng kolehiyo at magtagumpay (Let us hope that each one of us would continue with our journey, let us hope that all of us will be able to go to college and succeed),” Shaira shared a line in her valedictory speech that she ought to fulfill for herself as well. 

“Nakikita namin ang determinasyon niya pero sa ngayon, hindi talaga namin masasabi na kaya namin siyang suportahan hanggang sa huli (We see her determination, but as of the moment, we cannot guarantee that we can support her college education all throughout),” shared Rowena in tears. 

However, it is Shaira’s skills and potentials that drive Rowena and her husband to support her all the way. 

According to Rowena, they understand how important it is for Shaira to enroll in college because they have seen her potential at an early age. However, the little they earned from their savings for her college education was used up when their house was demolished last year. The lot where their house once stood was developed into a resort; hence, they needed to relocate and construct a new house. Rowena was also not able to continue her hog raising business, which became a major blow in their finances as well. 

“’Yung naipon namin noon, ginamit namin sa pagpapatayo ng bahay. Ayaw naman naming tumira sa tabing kalye na lang, para rin naman sa kanila iyon, lalo na sa anak kong may sakit. Wala kaming inaasahan ngayon kundi ‘yung trabaho lang namin sa resort (We had consumed all our savings for the construction of our house as we do not want to live on the street. We did that for our children, especially for our sick one. Now, we can only rely on our income as resort employees),” Rowena added. 

However, this financial struggle will not ruin Shaira’s dreams. 

“Sisikapin naming mag-asawa na itaguyod siya. Habang ang bunso namin ay sinusuportahan pa ng Pantawid Pamilya, magdodoble sikap kami para mapagtapos siya (We will work hard to provide for her needs while our youngest is still being supported by Pantawid Pamilya. We will double our effort so she can finish her schooling),” Rowena promised in front of a teary Shaira. 

Shaira, on the other hand, never loses hope. 

“Napatunayan ko na ang pagiging mahirap ay hindi hadlang para umangat ka. Kaya kong pagsumikapan ang aking pag-araal, kaya kong magtapos para maging maayos na ang aming buhay (I proved that being poor is not a hindrance in improving one’s condition. I will study hard and finish my course so that our lives would improve),” Shaira shared with conviction. 

For Shaira, a college education is indeed the answer towards getting her family out of poverty. 

Learning about Shaira topping her class, DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman commended her as well as the other Pantawid Pamilya high school graduates, saying “I am pleased to know that Pantawid Pamilya children-beneficiaries have excelled in their academic endeavors. This proves that with a little help from the government, the poor can become instrumental in their own success.” ### - See more at: 

DSWD Website

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