MANILA – Despite hesitations, a teenaged boy agreed to go back to Camarines Sur together with his mother and nine-year-old brother after realizing they will have a better future through the “Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa” (BP2) program of the national government.
Jomari Regal, 17, was born and raised in Quezon City and he is not used to life in the province.
Besides, all his friends are in the city.
His 48-year-old mother, Vilma, had difficulty convincing his eldest son about going back to the province for good.
“Nasanay na kasi ako dito. Kumbaga, panibagong buhay ang sa probinsya. Wala rin akong mga kaibigan dun. Mahiyain din kasi ako. Nalungkot lang ako kasi maraming kaibigan na maiiwan dito (I am used to the city life. It will be like a new life in the province. I also do not have friends there because I’m shy. It’s just sad because I’m leaving all my friends here),” Jomari explained.
However, seeing his mother’s sufferings made him change his mind.
“Pumayag na lang din ako kasi nakikita ko nahihirapan na si mama. Halos lahat ginagawa na niya para sa amin para ma-iraos yung araw araw namin (But then I agreed because I saw my mother suffering. She is doing everything that she can for us so we can survive each day),” he said
Jomari promised his mother all the help he can give once they arrive in the province.
Vilma was teary-eyed as she narrated how the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic changed their lives.
She lost her job as a dishwasher in a school canteen after face-to-face classes stopped.
Since the pandemic began, she has not been able to pay the PHP3,000 monthly house rental fee.
“Dumating ‘yung hindi na talaga kami makabayad ng bahay, na pinapaalis na talaga kami. Nakiki-usap na lang ako sa may-ari na maghintay hintay lang kasi wala nga kaming trabaho. ‘Yung naranasan namin talagang sobra, sa tagal ko dito sa Maynila. Kasi dalaga pa lang ako nandito na ko. First time lang talaga nangyari sa kin 'yun (It came to a point that we could no longer pay for the house rent and we were being evicted. I pleaded with my landlord to just wait as we do not have a job. It was too much. I’ve been in Metro Manila since I was single. This was the first time this happened to me),” Vilma said.
To make ends meet, she washed clothes for her neighbors and friends and tried every odd jobs she can get her hands on.
She is separated from her children’s father, who is also jobless.
Her other son, Hans Christian, readily agreed to go to the province as he wants to see his grandmother.
“Masaya ako nung sinabi ni Mama na uuwi kami ng probinsya. Makikita ko na ang lola ko na matagal ko na hindi nakita. Malungkot kasi ako pag nakikita ko si Mama na nahihirapan (I was happy when Mama told me that we are going home to the province because I will finally see my grandmother. I am also sad when I see my mom having difficulty),” Hans Christian said.
Vilma is optimistic that they can make it in the province as she is used to living there and she believes that the government will not abandon them.
With the training and assistance that she will get, Vilma plans to put up a retail store.
Vilma, her sons, and 21 others were supposed to board the bus bound for Camarines Sur on Thursday evening after they all tested negative for Covid-19.
However, one of the bus drivers tested positive, forcing the National Housing Authority-BP2 Secretariat to delay the trip.
The group is expected to depart for Camarines Sur on Friday night.
“Nagpapasalamat ako sa Balik Probinsya. Napakaswerte namin napili kami dito sa programang ito. Makakabalik na kami ng probinsya. Kakayanin namin dun. Nasanay naman ako magtrabaho. Grade 3 pa lang, marunong na akong mag-gapas ng palay (I am grateful for Balik Probinsya. We are lucky that we were chosen by the program. We can now go back to the province. We can make it there. I know how to work. I was only in Grade 3 but I was already working in rice fields),” Vilma said. (PNA)