CEBU CITY – Thanks to the government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), coupled with sheer determination to be in school, five young beneficiaries of the conditional cash grant program are on their way to realizing their dreams.
Key Princes Santiago, John Nick Calambro, Leendon Gelborion, Cadet Jehserf Ervich Pacure, and Nicole Cagas are some of the 4Ps’ children beneficiaries who are bent on getting degrees despite the odds.
Santiago, 18, originally from Barangay Maglinao in Basay, Negros Oriental, is set to enter college this year.
She graduated with honors at the General Flaviano Yengko Senior High School in Cavite while working as a beauty salon assistant.
Her family is one of the partner-beneficiaries of 4Ps in Basay and she said it helped sustain their needs.
Her father, Francis, is a construction worker currently working in Cavite while her mother, Karen, is an active 4Ps parent-leader in their village.
“My parents decided that I finish my Senior High School in Imus City because my father is also a construction worker there,” Santiago said in an interview.
The eldest of four siblings, she values education and believes it is the key to unlock her dreams.
“Nothing is impossible if you work hard for your dreams. I would always be a proud 4Ps child-beneficiary. The program had greatly helped in sustaining my education. I wanted to be an inspiration to other children who have the same dreams as mine,” she said.
Fifteen-year-old Calambro of Mabinay, Negros Oriental wants to be a teacher.
At a young age, he has already experienced working at the farm to help put food on the table while doing household chores such as cooking, washing laundry, and feeding chicken in their backyard.
His parents separated when he was only five years old and he only has vague memories of his mother.
He and his younger sister, Rhian Mae, would be left in the care of their aunt or his grandfather, who live near their house.
Oftentimes, they would be left alone whenever their father would work at the sugarcane farm.
When their family became part of 4Ps, it augmented his father’s income.
It would only be for a while as his father left them in 2017 to be with his new partner in Cebu, leaving Calambro and his sister with their grandfather.
“Lisud gyud to kay wala naman si Papa ug wala na siya nagpadala namo mao nga naka-undang ko og usa ka tuig sa eskwela aron makatabang sa bukid (Life was difficult because our father has left us and he no longer send support to us. So, I must quit school for one year to work at the farm,” he recalled.
With the help and encouragement of the 4Ps Municipal Links (ML) and parent leaders, he returned to school. They also asked his father to return the 4Ps cash card.
The ML processed the change and made the boy the grantee.
Now, the siblings are back in school, their aunt regularly attends the 4Ps Family Development Session (FDS), while Calambro does odd jobs to help his grandfather and sell vegetables for additional income.
“Paninguhaon nako nga makahuman og eskwela aron makab-ot nako akong pangandoy nga mahimong teacher (I would strive to finish my studies to achieve my dream as a teacher),” he said, inspired by the dedication and patience of his mentors.
“Bisan paman sa among naagian sa akong igsuon magpadayon gihapon kami sa pag-eskwela (Despite the struggles that my sister and I must face, we will continue to study),” he said, sharing his excitement on entering the ninth grade.
Cebu natives Gelborion of Argao and Pacure from Liloan and Cagas of Batuan, Bohol all finished Senior High School with flying colors.
“Being a 4Ps beneficiary helped realize my vision towards finishing my studies through hard work and responsibility," Gelborion said.
Pacure, meanwhile, encouraged all students to “work hard, continue to inspire others, and spread positivity.”
“A student's life is full of ups and downs. Regardless of the outcome, it's still an enjoyable ride. With the help of the 4Ps program, I managed to finish Senior High School and experience a once-in-a-lifetime journey," Cagas shared.
4Ps provides conditional cash grants to the poorest of the poor and keeps children aged 0-18 healthy and in school.
The program is implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, with the Department of Health, Department of Education and, National Economic and Development Authority as partners.
Households receive cash grants if children stay in school, get regular health checkups, and have their growth monitored.
Parents or guardians are required to participate in monthly community-based FDS where they get tips on child discipline, disaster preparedness, and women’s rights. (PNA)