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FEATURE: A Mother’s Tale of Hope

Indeed, age is just a number. It is never too late for anyone to fulfill his dreams as long as the passion continues to ignite within his heart. A 34-year old mother to seven children from Mallig, Isabela proves this as Catherine Mallillin, a grantee of Students’ Grants in-aid for Poverty Alleviation or SGP-PA finished college and even graduated at the top of her class.

All eyes and ears were on Catherine during graduation day as she was the cum laude in her course Bachelor of Secondary Education Major in Filipino. She pursued this at Isabela State University in Roxas, Isabela.

Considering her age, Catherine did not anymore entertain the possibility of her being able to finish her studies. So she just dedicated herself in being a loving mother to the best she can.

“Dahil sa kahirapan sa buhay,pumunta ang aking asawa sa Maynila upang magtrabaho bilang tricycle driver. Siya ay nagba-boundery siya sa kanyang kapatid. Anim na taon siya sa dun ngunit umuuwi kada buwan. Tumutulong akong kumita ng pera, kaya iniiwan ko ang aking mga anak sa aking biyenan upang mamitas ng kamatis, mag-ani ng mais, magtanim ng tabako at magsabit ng tabako para may pambili ng bigas at iba pang kailangan. Pagdating sa bahay kakargahin ko saglit ang aking bunso at magsasaing ng bigas. Habang nagluluto, nag-iigib ako ng tubig at maglalaba,” she started.

 This was how Catherine’s life unfolds. As a mother, she is saddened by the fact that she doesn’t earn enough money to provide for her children. But though there’s the scarcity in money, she gives love and care to her children that no amount can ever compare.

“Naranasan ko ang maging ina’t ama dahil ako rin ang nagsisibak ng kahoy. Naglalabandera rin ako sa aking kapitbahay kapalit ay bigas kung minsan naman ay pera. Piso o dalawang piso ang baon ng aking mga anak sa paaran, kung minsan ay humihingi sila sa aking mga biyanan nunit kung talagang wala ay walang baon,” she continued.

Catherine remained strong though life’s blows continue to hit her. “Nahihiya akong umutang sa tindahan dahil sa haba ng listahan ng utang ko. Naisip ko na utusan na lang ang aking panganay dahil kung bata ang uutang maaawa ang nagtitinda at bibigyan siya. Umutang nga ang aking anak ng dalawang noodles. Niluto ko ang isang basong bigas na maraming tubig at inihalo ko ang noodles para magkasya sa aking mga anak. Habang kumakain ang aking mga anak pinanonood ko sila sa isang sulok dahil hindi ko mapigilang tumulo ang aking luha, sa isip at puso ko ay nagdasal at nangako na darating ang araw na hindi na mangyayari ulit iyon maging sa mga magiging pamilya ng aking mga anak balang araw.”

But one day, life took a spin and began to cast its blessing to Catherine’s family. They became a beneficiary of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. There, her family started to feel an ease of living as there’s the cash grant that augments their needs. Catherine can now buy healthy food for her children and even finance their school expenses.

Yet, the buck doesn’t end there. As Catherine also became a grantee for the Students’ Grants in aid program for Poverty Alleviation or SGP-PA.

“Taong 2012  ng Abril  ay nag-enrol sa Isabela State University, Roxas Kampus ng Batsilyer sa Edukasyong Pansekondarya Meyjor sa Filipino. Buwan ng Mayo nang sinabi nila sa akin na pupunta ako sa DSWD. Sinabi nila sa akin na iprovide ko lahat ng requirements hanggang alas tres at naibigay ko naman lahat. Pasukan na noon pero wala pa ang resulta kung nakuha ako  pero sabi ko mag-aaral pa rin ako. Last week ng June noong tinawagan ako ni Ma’am Laura Donato at sinabi niyang napili akong scholar at sinabi niya ang lahat ng gagawin ko at sasabihin ko sa Scholar Coordinator sa School,” the tearful Catherine recalled.

But it was not an easy road to trek for Catherine as she quests for the realization of her dreams. There were comments and criticisms saying that she won’t be able to finish her studies and that her education is a joke. Being the formidable woman as she is, she did not succumb to those negativities but continued to hurdle life’s challenges.

She toiled hard in her studies, constantly gaining grades of flying colors, at the same time, continuously fulfilling his role as a loving mother. And her sacrifices and hard work paid off as she finished her course as the top graduate.

“Salamat sa 4P’s at ESGP-PA, dahil sa ESGP-PA dahil napatunayan ko na ang isang ina asawa at may edad na estudyante ay kayang makipagsabayan sa mga estudyanteng nagsisipak para sa kanilang kinabukasan. ANg programa ay naging daluyan ng pagpapala sa aming pamilya dahil natupad ang pangarap ko at  ng aking mga magulang na makapagtapos sa kolehiya. Ang mga programa pong ito ang tumulong upang magampanan ko  ang aking  responsibilidad bilang magulang para sa magandang kinabukasan ng aking mga anak. . Sa Scholarship na ito ay napakalaki ang naitulong sa tulad ko dahil wala ako dito ngayon kung wala ang programang iyo. Tinatanaw ko pong malaking utang na loob ito sa inyo,” exclaimed Catherine.

Now, Catherine is preparing for the board examination to become a full-fledged Teacher. With her unparalleled dedication plus the incomparable will to achieve her dreams, no doubt that Catherine is on the right track. ### By MARICEL B. ASEJO, Information Officer II; and HAIDEE STO. TOMAS, Municipal Link-Mallig, Isabela

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