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FEATURE: Pot of Gold

Life is full of twists and turns. It gives both sunshine and rainstorms as one treads the road to a happy and successful life. And along the way, one has a choice to either succumb to death or continue the journey to grasp victory.

Patience, endurance, indomitable will and humility- these are some of the attitudes that shape a person’s spirit towards a positive perspective, towards setting goals and reaching them without inhibitions. These values have molded Aling Rosalie Gadiaza to become who she is now. She bows in humility with what she has achieved but she stands with pride as one of the most successful beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in Cauayan City, Isabela.

The Gadiaza family is headed by Mang Albert who at the age of 42 feels contented and fulfilled with having an understanding wife and three loving children. Mang Albert and Aling Rosalie have began weaving simple dreams together. Before, they just wished to have a family with a simple life- a small house, a backyard garden, some chickens to raise, have enough food for the family and just a little earning to send their children to school and finish high school. Bringing the children to college seemed impossible.

“Kung alam niyo lamang po, mula ng binuo naming mag-asawa ang pamilyang ito, ni sa panaginip ay hindi namin naisip magkaroon ng maalwang pamumuhay. Ang natatandaan ko lang po ay lagi naming ipinagdarasal na sana ay hindi maranasan ng aming mga anak ang hindi kumain dahil sa kahirapan,” Aling Rosalie shared, as a tear rolled from her eyes.

Mang Albert grew from a family of farmers in Turayong, Cauayan City while Aling Rosalie hailed from Calasiao, Pangasinan. She set footsteps in Cagayan Valley to become a caretaker of her sister’s house in Cauayan City.

Financial constraint has been naughtily handcuffing the couple’s hands towards reaching their simple aspirations. They began to worry about what lies ahead. They thought that they will never have a glimpse of the world’s brighter side. With a sullen feeling, Aling Rosalie asked help from her sister who happened to be a successful fish dealer while Mang Albert exhausted his efforts as a tricycle driver.

“Napakahirap ng buhay para sa amin. Naranasan po naming pagtawanan at kutsahin ng mga kapit-bahay habang tinutulak namin ang pupugak-pugak naming tricycle. Maliit at tagpi-tagpi lamang ang aming tinitirhan noon. Wala rin kaming pahinga sa paghahanap-buhay. Minsan habang naglalakad ako palabas sa maliit na eskinita patungo sa malaking bahay ng aking kapatid, nakadumog ako at kusang tumutulo ang mga luha sa mga mata ko. Iniisip ko na magkakaiba nga ang kapalaran naming magkakapatid, ngunit hanggang kailan ako magtitiis?”, she reminisced in between tears.

She even remembered that in order to provide for their children’s needs, she has to work as a babysitter from Monday to Friday bearing the thought that no one is left at home to care for her two young children. During Saturdays and Sundays, she and her eldest child will help in the market.

“Kapalit ng pagtatrabaho ko ay kumita ako ng P100 sa isang araw. Binibigyan din ako ni ate ng kunting bigas at ulam na pagkakasyahin naming kainin sa ilang araw at tig-70 na baon ng dalawa kong anak sa loob ng isang lingo,” Aling Rosalie said.

“Ang hirap po pala ng walang sapat na kinikita. Parang pinipiga ang puso naming mag-asawa sa tuwing umaalis ang aming mga anak na tanging kanin at noodles ang lagging almusal at ni wala man lang bitbit ni biskwit para panlaman sa kanilang sikmura kapag recess,” she added.

It was in 2009 when their household was enumerated by the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) and they were validated as one of the poorest of the poor families in the city. It was also in the same year that they decided to let their second child and only daughter to temporarily stay in her sister’s house to help in the household chores while studying. Aling Rosalie was giving birth to their third child and could not anymore provide for their children’s basic needs.

“Naiinggit ako noon sa mga kapatid ko dahil nagging matagumpay sila kung kaya’t naisipan kong umutang sa Bombay nang magka-puhunan sa pagtitinda ng tuyo ngunit minalas po kami,” she shared.

Aling Rosalie’s depression on their bankruptcy has worsened when her husband also changed. Vices have forayed Mang Albert’s membrane. “Alak, babae at sugal”- as Rosalie has termed it. “Halos mabaliw ako sa problemang pinagdadaanan namin. Lagi akong tulala at hindi nakakatulog dahil sa pagkakalubog sa utang.”

While it’s true that after the rain, the rainbow appears next. Aling Rosalie’s topsy turvy situation was quite relieved with the coming of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in 2012. A pot of gold has somehow drizzled at their doorstep.

“Sa pagdating po ng Pantawid Pamilya, nakasilip ako ng kunting pag-asa para sa buhay namin ng mga anak ko. Naaalala ko pa na yung unang tanggap ko ay inunti-unti kong ipinabaon sa mga anak ko at nagtatabi ng maliit na halaga para pandagdag sa pambili ng pagkain.”

 “Alam ko pong hindi kami papabayaan ng Diyos at pag may pagsisikap, may mararating. Ang pangarap ko ay mapagtapos ang aking mga anak kahit sekondarya. Ngunit ang taong nagdadasal at nagsisikap ay makatatanggap pala ng mas maraming biyaya. Nagsimula akong mag-ipon ng kaunti mula sa natatanggap kong cash grant.”

 “Sinubukan naming hiramin ang isang katamtamang laking kaldero nung barkada ng asawa ko na dati ay may lugawan. Nagsimula kami sa isang libong piso, isang kalderong lugaw at sampung regular na customer. Pinagtulungan naming dalawa ng asawa ko ang magtinda sa tabi ng kalye tuwing gabi. Minsan ay kasama pa an gaming panganay at bunsong anak samantala yung pangalawa ay patuloy pa rin sa pagtira at pagtulong sa bahay ng ate ko,” she continued.

Discipline among the Gadiaza family was enriched. They struggled so hard that Aling Rosalie has to still work daytime in her sister’s house. Until such time that Aling Rosalie has heartily understood every topic during FDS and and what interests her the most was the topic on “Pangangasiwa ng Tahanan” which includes subtopics on “Epektibong Pangangasiwa ng Oras”, “Wastong Pangangasiwa ng Pera” and “Kahalagahan ng Pag-iimpok”. These topics helped them to both increase their capacities. It motivated them to dream bigger and that the realization of their dreams lie in the handgrip of the pot of gold they received.

Fifty regular customers, seven tables, two helpers and with an operation from 7:00 PM to 4:00 AM, the “Gadiaza’s Lugawan” is quickly growing in just seven months. Aling Rosalie has to give up working at daytime and her husband has to stop from being a tricycle driver. Aling Rosalie also decided to get their daughte since the couple could now provide for all their children. Rosalie even borrowed money from a micro-finance company for additional capital.

“Nagpapasalamat po ang buong pamilya ko sa pag-asa at pagkakataong ibinigay ng programa sa amin. Higit sa lahat ay ipinapagpapasalamat ko rin yung mga hindi material na bagay na hindi ko man natutunan sa paaralan dahil mababang antas lang ang natapos ko, ay matiyagang itinuro sa amin. Yun pa lang ay isa ng kayamanan na hindi matutumbasan ng salapi,” Aling Rosalie expressed.

Everything has changed. The Gadiaza’s lives turned from roller coaster of problems to a remarkable achievement. Now their home has a flat LED television, a desktop computer and a window-type air condition. Adorning their living room are photos of their children and certificates showcasing their accomplishments.

Ivan Brent is a junior Accountancy student at the Our Lady of the Pillar College. Rica Mae, the unica hija, is now a Grade 9 student at Cauayan National High School, while the youngest, Nico, is at 5th Grade at the Cauayan South Central School.

Indeed, the Gadiaza family is now living a comfortable life but nothing has changed as regards to Aling Rosalie’s perspective towards life. She could only figure now that everything that they are enjoying is the sweet fruits of their labor. She even feels ashamed if there are people appreciating their family’s efforts.

“Mahiyain at mapagkumbaba pa rin po ako hanggang ngayon. Kulang na lang po ay taguan namin yung mga taga-media nung minsang may nag-interbyu sa amin,” she said meekly.

When asked how she could inspire her fellow beneficiaries, Aling Rosalie bowed her head in silence and said, “Matuto po tayong mangarap at kumilos upang matupad ang mga pangarap natin dahil naniniwala po akong hindi tayo kailanman magiging mahirap kung alam nating pahalagahan ang bawat bagay na mayroon tayo. Habang umaagapay sa atin ang Pantawid Pamilya, magsikap tayo at magpasalamat sa tulong na ating natatanggap. Sana ay gamitin natin ito ng wasto.”

Now, Aling Rosalie is very open to share what they have. They give food to strangers knocking at their doors. They employed six staff in their lugawan, one driver and one laundrywoman. They were also able to build a small concrete house for her father in-law. She lends money to her neighbors during emergencies.

They were embarrassed sometimes when people judge them to be an inclusion error in the program. However, Aling Rosalie and some fellow beneficiaries countered that it is the program which helped them transform from rags to riches. Although Aling Rosalie has expressed her willingness to waive her rights from the program, her gratefulness towards it is unfathomable.

The Gadiaza family is just one of the living witnesses that the chain of poverty has an end. A lifetime may be too long to know what you can do. It is too long enough to acknowledge that a tiny lift can actually help anyone to have a better view of the sky. It is too long for a tiny step to become giant leaps, and giant leaps towards highest peaks. ### By AILEEN GUZMAN, City Link- Cauayan City, Isabela

This post was written by:

- who has written 118 posts on DSWD Field Office 2 Official Website.

Writer. Mother. Rebel. Dreamer. Wanderer. And a bit of everything in between.

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