MANILA – Mieflor Soria patiently waited for two years to return home under the government’s Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) Program.
Soria, 43, is returning home to General Santos City with her three minor children, Stephanie, 16; Joan, 13; and Yuan, 4 years old.
She said they were booked for Gensan back in 2020 after her daughter Joan’s successful heart operations, but the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic shelved their trip.
“Pumunta kami rito nung wala pang pandemic kasi ooperahan nga yung anak ko sa puso, tapos nung naoperahan na balak namin na uuwi na sana kasi yun lang ang purpose naming pumunta dito (We went here when there was still no pandemic because my daughter needs to be operated on, after the operation we planned to go back because that is our only purpose in coming here),” Soria said.
“Ito na nga, ito na talaga, tuwang tuwa kami nung last week yata me schedule na sa ano, ang tao talaga pag matiyaga ka lang maghintay ka lang (This is it. We are so happy because last weed there seems to be a schedule already, if a person has patience, just wait)” she added.
Soria said Joan has a congenital heart disease but since there is no specialist to do the operation in their province, they decided to bring the whole family to Manila.
Joan underwent the operation with the help of the government at the Philippine Heart Center.
Stuck in the city due to Covid-19, Soria and her family had to transfer from one relative’s house to another from time to time, making it even more difficult for her children.
In 2020, Soria learned about the BP2 Program and applied, fueled by her desire to go home.
Early 2021, Soria said she got a call from a BP2 staff member, informing her that she qualified for the program.
“Kahit madaming sinasabi na wala na yang Balik Probinsya buo ang loob ko. Dalawang beses nila akong tinawagan na qualified nga ako kaya buo ang loob ko dun kasi ang nakausap ko mga ano rin, sa gobyerno, kaya di ako nawalan ng pag asa (Even if many people telling me that the Balik Probinsya has stopped, I fully believed in the program. They called me twice telling me that I have qualified, also I was able to talk to them, from the government, that is why I did not lose hope),” Soria recalled.
Meanwhile, Stephanie admitted that at first, she hesitated to go back to the province.
“Nung una naano rin ako kasi mahirap mag adjust nag aaral ako tapos me mga kaibigan ako dito pero tinitingnan ko na lang si mama umoo na rin ako kasi nakikita ko nahihirapan na po siya eh (At first I was hesitant because it is not easy to adjust, I am studying and I also have friends here, but I looked at my mother and just said yes because I saw how she suffers),” she said.
Without the BP2 program, Soria said they will be stuck in Metro Manila.
In the province, she believes that their life would be better for her children.
“Sila na lang talaga pag asa naming makauwi kaya hinintay ko sila mag dalawang taon para ano, di ako nawalan talaga ng pag asa na makauwi dahil lagi din naman talaga nila akong tinatawagan kaya malakas ang loob ko na makakauwi talaga ako sa tulong nila kaya laking pasasalamat ko talaga na me programang ganito dahil wala talagang ibang makakatulong sa amin pauwi kaya eto na nga salamat ako na binuo ito ng ating gobyerno, sa lahat ng Balik Probinsya salamat talaga (They are our only hope in going home and so I waited almost two years, I did not lose hope because they always call me and so I believed that we will be able to go home with their help. I am truly grateful that there is a government program like this because nobody can help us go home, to all the Balik Probinsya staff, thank you),” Soria said.
The BP2 program institutionalized by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte through Executive Order No. 114 in May 2020 aims to address Metro Manila’s congested urban areas by encouraging people, especially informal settlers to return to their home provinces. (PNA)