MANILA – At a young age, the Diano siblings are swallowing a bitter pill as they left their father behind in Parañaque City to join their mother in returning to the province of Dinagat Islands.
Driven by the desire to escape the hardships of city life, the Diano family, sans the man of the house, hopes to get a shot at a better life, with the help of the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa Program (BP2) of the Duterte administration.
Jonalyn Diona, along with her three children -- Jafet, 20; Jheann, 16; and Jay Ann, 13, decided to return to their province but without her husband who must stay in Metro Manila so he could continue working to support his family.
She said life in Metro Manila turned difficult for her family due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The siblings admitted that they feel the pain of being separated from their father, but they added that supporting their parents' decision is the only help they could give them.
“Masakit kasi hindi kami kumpleto pero kailangan eh pinaliwanag niya sa amin kasi siya naman yung kailangan magtrabaho kasi lahat kami nag aaral (It’s painful especially that we are not complete but it is needed, he explained it to us that he needs to work since we are all studying),” Jafet said.
Jhean added, “Masakit pero kailangan tiisin. Meron naman internet kaya magvi-video call na lang kami sa kanya kaya okay na rin (It is hurting but we have to do this. Anyway, there’s internet and we will just do a video call with him, so it’s okay)”.
The youngest child, Jay Ann, takes comfort knowing that their father has promised to visit them in the province in December.
Jonalyn, meanwhile, said the difficulties in making ends meet, movement limitations, and the plight of her children not being able to experience a normal teenage life, prompted her to avail of the BP2 program.
“Ang mga bata hindi na nila nae-enjoy yung buhay kabataan nila dahil sa nangyayayri sa pandemic nadagdagan pa sa financial problem na rin. Naghalo halo na siya kaya nag decide na kaming mag asawa na kami na lang ng mga anak ko ang uuwi tapos siya dito magtatrabaho (The kids no longer enjoy their teenage life because of the pandemic, then there’s the financial burden. This situation made us decide that I return to the province with the kids, and he will stay here to work),” she said.
She said her children will now continue their studies in Dinagat Islands.
Jonalyn recounted losing her mother last year due to a stroke.
Due to the pandemic, she was unable to accompany her to the hospital to take care of her and at least give her moral support.
She added that the cost of swab tests and the fear for their own health safety made the situation much harder.
Meanwhile, Jafet said they came to a point of stretching a can of sardines for breakfast and lunch for the whole family.
He said seeing the sufferings of their parents made it easier for him and his siblings to agree to return to their province.
The family is thankful that the government has created programs such as the BP2 to help people, especially the poor, by giving them hope to continue to dream for a better tomorrow even in their respective provinces.
“Sa province, mahirap din talaga oo, pero may mga gulay na sariwa, kailangan mo lang din talaga magtiyaga, kahit papano makakagawa ka ng paraan kasi sa bakuran mo pwede, pero dito kasi talaga napakahirap kasi hindi ka basta makalabas dahil sa pandemic kaya nakapag decide kami na bumalik sa probinsya (Life is also hard in the province, but there are fresh vegetables there, you just have to work hard, at least there you have options, we can plant our own vegies , here in the city, its different, that is why we decided to go back to the province),” Jonalyn said.
The BP2 is a flagship program of the Duterte administration that aims to give Filipinos hope for a better future through equity in resources throughout the country that will boost countryside development.
The program is geared towards addressing Metro Manila’s congestion by encouraging people, especially informal settlers, to return to their home provinces and assist them in this transition with support and incentives on transportation, livelihood, housing, subsistence, and education, among others.
As of October 25, the BP2 has sent back a total of 378 individuals to different provinces that include Leyte, Davao del Norte, Isabela, Camarines Sur, Ormoc City, Apaya, and Agusan del Sur. (PNA)