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FEATURE: Afraid No More

Fear will always be a part of a person’s life. It could turn into a weakness that could hinder anyone in everything that he wants to do. Thus, the choice lies in the person’s hands whether he would be afraid in his whole life or he can choose to face his fears and turn his weakness into strength. And along with this idea, the story of Gina Viloria comes to life.

Manang Gina is a beneficiary of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program from Buguey, Cagayan. Because she was not able to finish her studies, she has many apprehensions in life. “I never had the courage to speak for myself,” said.

“I don’t have the ability to stand up for myself. How could I? I’m poor and I didn’t finish college. All these things make me weak, especially that I, too, have succumbed to the cruelty of domestic violence,” she continued.

Gina and her husband have been together for almost a decade. But those ten years were not all hugs and kisses for the couple. Unfortunately, Gina experienced all types of abuses from the own hands of her husband- physical abuse, emotional abuse and sexual abuse.

But she kept her lips sealed and continued living with her husband despite the pains and the tears. Gina endured the situation for the sake of her children, and their future. She was blinded with the belief that it was only her husband who can provide for the family’s needs, that as a woman, and as a housewife, she can’t do anything to bring food to the table.

“My husband is loving and responsible, but that changes when he is already under the influence of liquor. Drunk, he begins to make my life gloomy and miserable,” Gina shared.  “I wanted to run away from him, to fight back, but I can’t. I just can’t. I’m scared,” she added.

Yet, a big change entered Gina’s life that made her strong and stand in her feet. That’s when she became a beneficiary of Pantawid Pamilya.

“Through the Family Development Sessions, I learned about the rights bestowed to men and women. I understood what gender equality and equity means. I learned my rights and that there are laws which protect me as a woman. Through the FDS, I began recognizing my potentials and realized that I can do something for my family, for myself, for my children,” she stated.

Now, her belief has changed. Gina now knows that a woman can also stand up for herself. She developed the courage to defend herself. She became strong enough to report her case to the Municipal Social Welfare Development Office, and there she found out that there are people who are ready to help her.

Gina now believes that a woman can do anything that a man does, that a woman or a wife, a mother, can also roll up her sleeves and provide for her family. She believes that she can perform even the role of her husband, and she can do it better.

Presently, Gina works as a farm laborer. Aside from this, she also juggles her schedule as a laundrywoman and as a junk collector, she goes house to house to collect and buy bottles for selling to junkshops.  Tiring as it may seem, but she manages to perform these jobs to make both ends meet for her family, and not solely depend on her husband.

Gina still lives with her husband, but now, it’s a totally different situation. No more pains. No more tears. She does not allow herself to fall prey under her husband’s rage because she already knows where to go. And she possesses the courage to fight for herself.

It took painful years, countless sacrifices and oceans of tears before Gina finally stepped out from the dark and danger zone. She took thousands different steps for her to become fearless and fight for what is right and appropriate.

“I was able to understand that great change will always start at me; I chose not be silent anymore and not be afraid anymore because of my weaknesses. My children are my source of strength and will forever be my motivation to continue to my fight against violations or abuses. I do not want my children witness and experience this agonizing situation. I do not want to waste or compromise their talents, their intelligence just because I choose to be fearful and quiet,” Gina uttered.

Now, her life is very much different from what has been. She’s happier. What inspires her more to always be a better version of herself is that her children are performing well in their school.  Her two daughters, who are in Grade III and Grade V, are reaping grades of flying colors and are constant  honor students in their classes.

“I owe these changes in my life to Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. I am now able to perform my task as a caring mother to my children. I was able to provide sufficient time for them. I was able to provide their needs especially in their school.  I learned not to depend too much to my husband and to what he can provide to us and most of all, I was able to understand my rights as a human and as a woman,” Gina concluded.

There are things in life that we choose not to fight because we are so much afraid of its effects, to us and to other people, even if our freedom, our peace and rights as human are being compromised. However, we can never lock ourselves from our fears, from all our weaknesses. We have to fight and learn how to fight for our rights not because we want to win but because we have to win, for our love ones and for their safer and peaceful tomorrow. ### MAC PAUL V. ALARIAO, PDO II- Gender and Development

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FEATURE: Half-way There

Aling Delia is a loving housewife and a budding entrepreneur rolled into one. She attends to her husband and children’s daily needs. Also, she has a small business of buying and selling tobacco.She buys dried tobacco leaves from Benito Soliven and rolls it ready for selling. She buys the tobacco for P100 pesos per bundle and sells it for P130 pesos per bundle too.

Her family is in Set 1 of Pantawid. The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, Aling Delia said, taught them to be more responsible parents and citizens. They also use the money to buy for medicines and school materials. Aling Delia even bragged that the contributions of her children to school were already taken care of.

But greater than the transformation of their behavior, the Pantawid Pamilya has also equipped them with knowledge and an empowered spirit which serve as their armor against life’s tribulations.

INVOLVEMENT IN THE COMMUNITY

Aling Delia is very active in their community, Barangay San Pablo, San Mariano, Isabela. Just like any other parent leader, Aling Delia has many responsibilities like spearheading the conduct of meetings, monitoring of the use of cash grant and those who might use if for gambling and advising parents on how to treat their children.

Aling Delia is very popular in their place; she is called as “Ate Delia” and proves to be a very effective parent leader adored by her members.

She is also the President of the SALBABIDA SKA (Self Employment Assistance Kaunlaran Association).

On June 2011, Aling Delia’s Salbabida SKA received an amount on P75, 000 pesos from DSWD Field Office II to put up a small business in their barangay. The Salbabida has income generating ventures like a mini-grocery, selling of “balot” and “penoy”, and the making of “baki” which is made up of bamboo where chickens can lay their eggs.

When asked why Salbabida is the name of their SKA? Aling Delia said, “Diba kasi ma’am pag nalulunod ka, salbabida ang sasagip sayo? Kaya yun ang pinili kong pangalan namin. Kasi ito ang sasagip sa amin sa kahirapan.”

Aling Delia’s betterhalf,  Mang Ricky , 47 works as a Tricycle Driver and at the same time, a Palay Farmer. He also spends most of her free time as a Barangay Tanod. He makes sure that barangay San Pablo is peaceful. Together with his colleagues, they often stay at waiting sheds to watch out for those who might cause trouble.

Just like his wife, Man Ricky is also active in community organizations. He is the president of the Parents and Teachers Community Association (PTCA) of San Pablo Elementary School. He spearheads the formulation of plans that can contribute in the improvement of the school and its students. They also conduct monthly general cleaning of the school.

GIFTED AND PROUD PARENTS

Aling Delia and Mang Ricky are blessed with three smart children. They are Carol, 15, in 3rd year highschool and wants to be a Flight Attendant; Derick, 12, 1st year highschool, Seaman; and Jenny, 8, Grade 3, Teacher. The three are honor students and are active in extra-curricular activities. They are members of their school’s drum and lyre corps.

The Abella children are very ambitious, but are very much motivated. They know that they have to toil hard if they want to be successful. And sure they can, with the love  and support of their parents; nothing can hinder them from grasping success.

Aling Delia and Mang Ricky are saving up for their children’s future. They really wanted that Carol will become a Flight Attendant, Derick as a Seaman and Jenny as a Teacher.

They also make extra income through their vegetable garden which has a vast array of trees, vegetables and plants. Name it, they have it: gabi, munggo, sitaw, bitwelas, santol, saging, kamoteng kahoy, suha, malunggay, papaya and mangga.

Little by little, the Abella family is reaping what they have sown. With Aling Delia and Mang Ricky’s hard work and their children’s impressive intellectual perspicacity, the Abellas are halfway there. ###By MARICEL B. ASEJO, Information Officer- Pantawid Pamilya

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DSWD stages celeb event for Pantawid Pamilya high school graduates

“Pagtatapos niyo, tagumpay ng Pilipino!”

This was the highlight statement during the series of provincial celebration event for the high school graduates of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in the region.

The festivity kicked-off in Cabarroguis, Quirino on April 27, 2015 which was followed by three provinces of Nueva Vizcaya, Cagayan and Isabela from April 28-30, 2015 respectively.

Children beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program from the four provinces who graduated from high school together with their parents, and partners from the local government units, civil society organizations, academe and media graced the celebration.

Exemplary graduates from the provinces also shared their transformation stories on how the Pantawid Pamilya program brought positive impacts on their lives, especially on their education.

“When we were not yet a beneficiary of Pantawid Pamilya, my parents always come to school asking for promissory during exams because we don’t have enough money to finance my needs,” Rhealyn Zonio, a valedictorian from Diffun, Quirino, shared.

She also added that her parents still borrow money from relatives whenever there are seminars and contests, but everything changed when the program came to their lives.

Rhealyn continued, “It was in 2012 when we became a beneficiary of Pantawid Pamilya. Since then, I was able to pay my school obligations on time and I can always attend seminars and co-curricular activities without thinking where to borrow for the expenses. Indeed, being in the program motivated me to study harder and I finished high school at the top of my class.”

In her message, DSWD Regional Director Remia T. Tapispisan encouraged the graduates to continue the positive change within them and continue reaching for their dreams.

“Kami sa DSWD ay tunay na nagagalak na masaksihan ang bunga n gaming programa. Kayo ang mga patunay na ang Pantawid Pamilya, at maging ang mga programa ng gobyeno ay nasa tamang daan upang masugpo ang kahirapan. Ipagpatuloy niyo ang pag-aaral ng mabuti at lagi niyong patunayan na ‘Kayang-kaya niyo ang magandang pagbabago!”, Tapispisan said.

For this year, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program has produced the first batch of graduating high school students with a total of more than 300, 000 students nationwide. For the region, there are a total of            5, 560 children beneficiaries who graduated from high school.

The “Pagdiriwang para sa mga Pantawid Pamilya High School Graduates” was conducted nationmwide to recognize the achievements the high school children beneficiaries.

The event was also a manifestation of how the program positively affects the lives of its beneficiaries and its contribution in keeping the children at school, which is vital in harnessing increased support from the stakeholders. It also served as a venue for the graduating students to be linked to opportunities such as scholarship, internship and part-time jobs that will help them realize their dreams of finishing their studies.

The Pantawid Pamilya is a human-development program of the national government that invests in the health and education of poor Filipino children aged 0-18 years old. Cash grants are provided to families in exchange of compliance to health and education conditionalities. Parents must also attend the Family Development Sessions. ### By MARICEL B. ASEJO, Information Officer II- Pantawid Pamilya

 

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Pantawid benefs share life-changing stories, inspire audience

Beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program from the provinces of Quirino and Isabela drew admiration from the spectators as they shared how DSWD’s programs and services changed their lives during the conduct of the remaining legs of the CSO-Led Fora recently.

“Since we became a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilya, lots of positive changes happened into our lives,” Ronelyn Resureccion, a beneficiary and a Parent Leader from Nagtipunan, Quirino, shared.

Resureccion said that through the cash grants they receive, her children are now enjoying a healthy breakfast before they go to school which make them perform better in class. Also, they can already afford to pay her children’s school obligations.

“But more than the financial help, the program has improved my knowledge through the Family Development Sessions (FDS) and capacitated me to fully develop my potentials through the trainings I attended,” she added.

Also, scholars under the Student’s Grants in-aid Program for Poverty Alleviation (SGP-PA) shared how the government is helping them to be closer to their dreams.

Aiza Wakit, was an ESGP-PA scholar when she was pursuing Bachelor of Secondary Education in Nueva Vizcaya State University- Bayombong Campus. She now works at the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) of Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya.

The SGP-PA is a tie-up college scholarship program of DSWD and the Commission on Higher Education for the beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamila wherein a student grantee is entitled to a maximum of P30, 000 pesos per semester.

The series of CSO-Led Fora conducted aimed at showcasing and strengthening the department’s partnership with the Civil Society Organizations. The activities in Quirino and Nueva Vizcaya were spearheaded by the Quirino Ministers Fellowship and by the I-HELP.

Meanwhile, the Pantawid Pamilya is a human-development program of the national government that invests in the health and education of poor Filipino children aged 0-18 years old. Cash grants are provided to families in exchange of compliance to health and education conditionalities. Parents must also attend the Family Development Sessions. ### By MARICEL B.ASEJO, Information Officer II- Pantawid Pamilya

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VALEDICTORY ADDRESS: Turning Dreams into Reality, One Step at a Time

(Delivered by Rachel Joyce R. Tattao, a children beneficiary of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in Jones, Isabela, during the ‘Pagdiriwang sa mga Pantawid Pamilya High School Graduates’ of the province on April 30, 2015.)

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Rachel continues to brave the challenges that come her way. “Kahirapan ang pinakamatamis nakapaitan sa ating buhay. Akala ng iba napakalaking pasakit ang ating kinakaharap dahil sa lugar na ating kinasasadlakan ngunit lingid sa kanilang kaalaman, ito ang lubos na nagpapatatag sa ating mga puso at nagpapatibay ng ating pagkatao,” she said.

I was once a normal student, simple and aim to be successful to help my parents. Everyone dreams about success, to fulfill every ambition.

Kahirapan ang pinakamatamis nakapaitan sa ating buhay. Akala ng iba napakalaking pasakit an gating kinakaharap dahil sa lugar na ating kinasasadlakan ngunit lingid sa kanilang kaalaman, an gating kalagayan ang lubos na nagpapatatag sa ating mga puso at nagpapatibay ng ating pagkatao. Ito ang pumanday sa aking determinasyon upang magpursigi na makamit ang lahat ng aking mga pangarap para sa pamilya ko. Ang kahirapan ay hindi dapat maging hadlang sa pagkamit n gating mga adhikain.

Sa isang napakalayong lugar ng Jones, Isabela nakatira ang aming pamilya. Sa isang maliit at gawa sa kahoy na bahay ako bumabangon araw-araw. Sa paggising ko sa umaga, hindi ko alam kung ilang pagsubok pang aming kakaharapin. Apat kaming magkakapatid, pangalawaako at nag-iisang babae. Ang bunso naming ay isang specialchild kaya a toto lang, mas lalo akong magsusumikap para sakanya at sa aking pamilya. Ang mama ko ay isang huwarang ina dahil nandiyan siya para alalayan kami, nag-aalaga at nagmamahal sa amin.

Ang aking ama naman ay isang magsasaka. Araw-araw siyang nasa bukid kahit tirik ang araw at minsan malakas ang ulan. Sila ang nagsisilbing sandalan ko sa mga oras na nahihirapan ako. Ang kanilang sakripisyo ang nagpapatatag sa akin araw-araw kahit sobrang hirap. Yung tipong pag papasok ako, kailangan kong pagkasyahin ang baon ko, pag may project, nahihiya akong magsabi dahil baka wala silang maibigay o yung tipong may contest akong sasalihan, at mangungutang pa upang makapunta ako.

Bilang isang estudyante, ang aking motto ay “Endure the hardship of learning than to taste the bitterness of ignorance.” Noon, punung-puno ako ng pangamba dahil baka hindi ako makatapos ng pag-aaral but everything was changed.

I was delighted when the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program came into our lives. The government helps us, the reason why I studied harder. I challenged myself and my perseverance pushed me to excel in academics and extra-curricular. I am very happy and fortunate that my family was chosen to be a beneficiary. I know I’m not yet done with my journey, but as I look back, I can finally say, I have fulfilled one of my dreams, and that is to finish highschool, and to graduate as the top student, as a valedictorian from Sgt. Prospero G. Bello High School!

I know this will open more opportunities for me. I want to prove that I was worth to be chosen to make a difference as a student and as a Filipino citizen.

Let me just share to you some of my experiences when my family became a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilya program.

Napakadaming nagbago, naging sapat na yung baon ko araw-araw. Nakakabayad na ako kaagad kapag may project at kapag nakikicontest ako, hindi na kailangang mangutang. Sa mga pagbabagong natamo ko, marami akong naranasan.

Noong nakarang taon, hindi ko inaasahan na ako ang napili ng probinsiya ng Isabela na ipanlaban sa Search for Exemplary Pantawid Pamilya Child sa buong rehiyon, and fortunately, I brought home the bacon. Ako po ang itinanghal na most exemplary Pantawid Pamilya child beneficiary sa buong Lambak ng Cagayan at naging kinatawan sa National Children’s Congress sa Manila.

Memorable po sa akin ang pagkakataong iyon dahil sa ako po ay nakasakay sa eroplano, na dati ay isang pangarap lang para sa akin. But because of the program, that dream turned into a reality.

For the five days that I was with my fellow Pantawid beneficiaries who are at the same time exemplary children representing the different regions, I had the chance to meet DSWD Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Juliano-Soliman and Senator Bam Aquino, and even some artists from GMA and ABS-CBN. I thought that’s the only experience I can have because of Pantawid Pamilya but just last week, I was sent once again to Manila to join the national celebration event for Pantawid Pamilya high school graduates in Araneta Coliseum.

I got the chance to talk to Senator Mar Roxas and hear the words of encouragement of no other than our dearest President Benigno Simeon Aquino III. We shook hands and took pictures at the same time. I also learned different stories of the top beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilya in NCR, and heard the golden voices of Darlene and Lyka of The Voice Kids. I can say that I’m very lucky. That experience is truly a one in a million. Noon, pinangarap ko lang makatunton sa Maynila at dahil sa Pantawid Pamilya, lahat yung ay nabigyan ng katuparan. My dreams came true when Pantawid Pamilya stepped into the picture. Pantawid Pamilya changed my life, our lives, for the better.

Gawin nating hamon ang kahirapan and let us challenge ourselves to surpass all the tribulations that may come our way. Lahat ng bagay ay mahirap ngunit hindi ito imposible sa sikap, determinasyon, tiwala sa sarili at pananalig sa Diyos lahat ay magiging magaan lamang.

Tandaan natin na ang buhay ay parang rosas. Makikita molamang ang tunay na ganda at halimuyak nito kung handa kang masugatan sa mga tinik nito. Kakayanin ko ang lahat at papatunayan ko na kaya ko ang pagbabago.

Maraming salamat!

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VALEDICTORY ADDRESS: 4Ps- Pagtupad sa Pangarap ng Pamilyang Pilipino

(Delivered by Jayson Reperuga, a children beneficiary of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan, during the ‘Pagdiriwang sa mga Pantawid Pamilya High School Graduates’ of the province on April 29, 2015.)

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“Finally, I graduated as the class valedictorian of Aparri East National High School. I know that the achievement I have right now is the result of my parents love, care and sacrifices. Along with this humble success are different individuals who helped me and my family. I am thankful for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Propgram of the Department of Social Welfare and Development,” Jayson gratefully expressed in his speech.

Before anything else, let me express our wholehearted gratitude to the Lord Almighty who enlivened us to praise and glorify Him forever.

Respected guests, our parents, fellow graduates, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

Graduation from the second ladder of basic education is an accomplishment one can be proud of. This is the fruit of our continuing toil and determination coupled with the unending sacrifices of our loving parents and the untiring efforts, guidance and encouragement of our beloved mentors. And now, the long-awaited moment, the culmination of long and struggling days of survival and hardship has finally come at last.

Gentle and sweet breeze as those early summer evenings may have the loveliest time of a day in my life. Long, restless nights before I came to this. Hours and days passed by slowly, I kept my mind occupied. I played a game with myself in which I tried to recall the happenings of each year in life.

In the early years of my childhood, I didn’t quite understand what my role was all about. I always wondered of my existence and why is it that I have to go to school everyday. When I was growing up, I found out the answer by myself. I saw the reality. I knew the kind of life my family has. We are just poor people struggling in this society. Thus, I understood that it is my purpose to help uplift my family from the course of poverty.

That is why, when I entered high school, I set forth my mind the plan which I will be putting into reality with the goal of reaching the success that will become the key for the realization of my purpose in life.

One morning, I woke up early. I was struck with the light of our lamp. I saw my parents busy preparing kakanin,tinudu and kalasukus. My father was the one cooking and does the preparation while my mother is the one who sells. She sells at the market and streets of Aparri. My mother is very popular in our community because of the delicious kakanin she is known to be a hardworking parent. These are the daily activities of my parents and I love watching them because I am assured that they love us so much.

That was also the time that I figured out the hardships and sacrifices that my parents experience everyday just to support us. Sometimes I hear them talking about their aching hands, feet and body. I know making kakanin is not easy. I dreamt that one day, my parents will not do this again.

That was also the time I realized that I must also help them through my own simple ways, so I accepted some friendly jobs and worked as a gardener and an errand boy, so that I can have an allowance for the coming weeks. I also sell kakanin at schools during recess and vacant time.

These became my weekly activities until I became used to it. These experiences became my weapon against struggles in life.   I also devised some strategies to maximize my free time without neglecting my studies. I became more inspired when I became a consistent honor student.

Finally, I graduated as the class valedictorian of Aparri East National High School. This motivated me to do better in college. And nothing can make me happier than giving my college diploma to my parents. This is my ultimate ambition. I know that the achievement I have right now is the result of my parents love, care and sacrifices.

Along with this humble success are different individuals who helped me and my family. I am thankful for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Propgram of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

My family started with the Pantawid Pamilya program in 2012. For four years, the program has been very helpful to me especially in supporting my educational needs.

Yes, the Pantawid Pamilya program helps us financially. Because of this, I became more encouraged and concentrated in my school activities knowing that the government has chosen my family to be one of the fortunate recipients of the program. I’ve never get so much problems on my school fees, not only to me but also to my siblings as well. I can also say that the small business of my parents is already sustainable because their capital is in-tact and they don’t need to spend it for our daily allowance. In this way, I can say that my family is blessed.

The Pantawid Pamilya program also helped my parents in embracing their responsibilities. Part of this program is the conduct of Family Development Sessions which my parents attend regularly. They have learned a lot and our family benefits from their learnings. My parents developed productive socialization skills, enhanced spiritual life and became more responsible to our family.

One of the topics that has an impact to my parents is “Time Management.” Through this topic, my parents learned how to budget and manage their time wisely on things we do in a day, in a week or in a month. Time is one of the most important things in life; it can never be replaced nor stopped. Through FDS, my parents also learned about faith and spiritual education, health and others.

Though I haven’t attended any FDS, my mother makes sure that she shares her learnings to us, so we became more educated and aware on the things that the program wants us to learn and to have.

Truly, it was helpful to us in many ways. For me, the 4Ps does not just stand for “Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program” but it also means “Pagtupad sa Pangarap ng Pamilyang Pilipino.” Thank you to all the people behind this program.

To end, I will leave you a passage from Walt E. Disney that I believe summarizes our journey in life, “All dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” Let us be confident and continue to show the valor for which we will always be remembered.

Thank you and congratulations!

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VALEDICTORY ADDRESS: For As Long As We Believe

(Delivered by Mary Ann S. Tacloy, a children beneficiary of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, during the ‘Pagdiriwang sa mga Pantawid Pamilya High School Graduates’ of the province on April 28, 2015.)

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“To my fellow Pantawid Pamilya graduates, we should study harder and let poverty be our inspiration to prove to the world that we, even though we are poor, can do so much better,” Mary Ann said.

To our Congressman Carlos Padilla, Governor Ruth Padilla, DSWD Regional Director Remia Tapispisan, our Municipal Mayor Ruben Basconsillo, different mayors of Nueva Vizcaya,  Provincial Social Welfare and Development Officer Lita Tabudlo, Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program implementers, Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officers, parents, friends, fellow graduates, ladies and gentlemen, a pleasant afternoon to one and all.

I am Mary Ann S. Tacloy, a proud Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary of Brgy. Carolotan, Dupax del Sur, Nueva Vizcaya.

It’s quite surreal to think that after four years, dozens of projects, hundreds of tests and thousands of quizzes, we find ourselves today, about to formally close this chapter of our lives. For four years, we were like asymptotes getting closer and closer to the axis but never really reaching it and today, we finally crossed that axis. It’s a testament to who we are as people that we are here today, about to walk up on the stage. It’s not about the diploma, but it’s about what the diploma symbolizes- that we completed our high school life and we did it together.

It’s hard that after this day, we will no longer be high school students. We know that letting go is never easy, and once we exit these halls and classrooms that have become such a big part of our lives soon be reduced to memories.

In behalf of our entire batch, I would like to express my gratitude to all of you. First, I would like to thank God for leading us in this road. I know everything happened in the past was part of your plan and we will continue to be amazed by your wanders.

To my mother, thank you for being a great mother in this world. Thank you for your sacrifices and sufferings. Thank you for the love and comfort and for being there when I’m longing for a father. You are my inspiration to do better so I dedicate this honor to you. I will never give upon my dreams because I know I can make it with you by my side. I can turn dreams into reality.

To my father, I know you are happy right now. Although it is not enough for me to have just in just a short period of time, I’m still very proud to say that you are my father and you will always be a part of my success.

To my brothers and sisters, thank you for always being there for me.  Thank you for comforting me since I was a kid until now. I know that you really love and care for me. Always remember that I love you more than you do.

To the men and women behind the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program headed by Director Remia T. Tapispisan, thank you for making us realize that poverty is not a hindrance to a brighter tomorrow. It means that we need to succeed in order to open the doors to the future generations of our family, so as of right now, it is held very high in ly life. Education is our armor to combat poverty. Through it, opportunities will knock into our doors. With our strong determination to succeed, better days surely await for us.

To my fellow Pantawid Pamilya graduates, as we take a new chapter of our lives, we should be more determined to finish what we started, that we should always do our best and spread our wings and fly higher. That we should study harder and let poverty be our inspiration to prove to the world that we, even though we are poor, can do so much better.

Congratulations to us and once again, good afternoon!

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VALEDICTORY ADDRESS: Poverty Is Not A Hindrance To Success

(Delivered by Rhealyn M. Zonio, a children beneficiary of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in Diffun, Quirino, during the ‘Pagdiriwang sa mga Pantawid Pamilya High School Graduates’ of the province on April 27, 2015.)

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Rhealyn, shares how the Pantawid Pamilya program helpedin augmenting her educational needs.

To our respective Regional Director, Ms. Remia T. Tapispisan; our beloved Governor, Hon. Junie Cua; to our respective municipal mayors present in this valuable occasion, our supportive staff of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, co-student graduate beneficiaries, parents, guests and participants, good afternoon!

“Poverty is not a hindrance to success,” this is my realization when I was chosen to give this speech in front of everyone at the moment. Before anything else, Iwouldlike to personally introduce myself, I am Rhealyn Zonio, a proud beneficiary who was assisted by the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in finishing my second level of education. Recently, during our graduation rites, I was awarded as the batch valedictorian. To give you a background, I came from a family who was not blessed with luxury, since my father is a simple farmer and my mother is a plain housewife. Having this kind of situation, my parents still managed to bring us living with good principles and guided with proper values. Amidst the type of economic instability we are facing at the moment, my parents always remind us the great importance and power of education. With this kind of optimism from them, I was encouraged to pursue my studies and was able to understand that education is the backbone of progress.

As an honor student and a leader, there are so many obligations and responsibilities bestowed upon me. There are lots of challenges that come my way. As one of the officers of the Supreme Student Government council and the batch president, it is my responsibility to promote peace and discipline to my fellow students inside and out of the school vicinity and to be a model to my fellow youth. The lack of transportation and financial assistance served as the greatest challenge in attaining my dreams. If I may share, it is our daily routine to walk almost 7 kilometers with my fellow students from Aklan Village to Magsaysay National High School just to reach class. This unfavorable situation did not hold me back to be an achiever instead it served as an inspiration to bring out the best in me.

As I was reminiscing the past, when my family was not yet a member of Pantawid Pamilya, during exams, I can see my parents coming to school asking for promissory. If there are seminars and contested activities, my parents ask help from others so that I will be able to attend the events. In these depressing situations, I never quit and I never say “NO!” even deep inside I know my parents can’t for my expenses, but then as the saying goes, “Lahat ng problema, may solusyon.” I always utter to myself to just go on and consider those challenges in life as an inspiration because eventually, these will make us stronger in life, and I also believe that it’s better to endure the hardships of education than to taste the bitterness of ignorance.

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PROUD MOM. Rhealyn’s mother, Amalia, is very happy for the achievements of her daughter.

Luckily, way back in 2012, we were chosen as one of the beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilya in the municipality of Diffun. I am very thankful for this program because it ensures our access to health and education through the cash grants. Since then, I never saw my parents coming to school with their heads bowed because they can already sustain my educational needs. I was able to pay my school obligations on time and I can always attend seminars and co-curricular activities without thinking where to borrow for the expenses.

Through these school activities, coupled with my efforts, support ofmy parents and the help of Pantawid Pamilya, I was able to achieve the highest award, and I graduated from high school as the valedictorian. With this achievement, all my doubts and fears in entering tertiary education has vanished because of the scholarship offered to me by different colleges and universities inside and out of the region.

To my co-beneficiary students, don’t lose hope in achieving our dreams because our government through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program helps us in attaining our dreams. “Kung kaya ng iba, kaya rin natin!”

Let us study hard and never be afraid to take another step in life. I am looking forward that one day, we will all go back to our places carrying a degree or profession, happily serving our countrymen. Some of us could be an educator or a health professional, others may become a head of a government agency or even a politician, but let us never forget and we should always be proud that we are products of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. “Ipakita natin sa buong mundo na kayang-kaya natin makamit ang tamang pagbabago!”

To all the people behind the Pantawid Pamilya program, and in behalf of the student beneficiaries here in the province of Quirino, I would like to thank you for the support and guidance, most of all, in helping us chasing our once impossible dream. Thank you and may God bless us all.

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