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NEVER A WEAKNESS A solo parent household’s partnership towards achieving dreams 

From the outside, nothing seems unusual in the Purugganan household.

The residents of Brgy. San Diego in Lian, Batangas Province, see the family as an inspiration. Neighbors talk about how well the children have been raised and how every member of the family work together to chase their dream.

The most noticeable success of this family so far, according to the residents, is that the eldest Purugganan child, Edmar, is now a certified public accountant.

However, unlike most of the families in the barangay, the Purugganan family is led by a solo mother. Despite this, no one sees this as a weakness.

“Mahirap man maging ina at ama sa limang anak na lalaki, ginagawa ko ang lahat para sa kanila,” shared Elisa Purugganan, 42, a widow.

For her, people see them not as a weak family because they never were weak in the first place. Theirs may have been a solo parent household, but it is a household full of love, happiness and dreams.

Working together

For the past nine years, the Purugganan family has lived without the father. Though all of the members admit that it is hard living without him, they all ensure that they not become an added burden to the family.

Elisa engages in all kinds of jobs from doing laundry, being a house helper and even farming. However, even with the number of jobs she keeps, Elisa still finds it hard to send all the children to school at the same time.

“Gusto talaga naming mapatapos ang aming mga anak dahil napaka-importante nito para mabago ang buhay nila sa hinaharap. Dahil dito, lahat kami ay nagsasakripisyo,” Elisa said.

Besides ensuring that they get good grades, the Purugganan children have worked together with Elisa. The three eldest children, for instance, understand that the family cannot afford sending them to college at the same time. Hence, they made big sacrifices and planned their way towards a college diploma.

Edmar finished college through having a scholarship grant and being a working student. Edilberto Jr. and John Henry, the second and third respectively, had to stop after high school graduation. Both enrolled in Alternative Learning System courses in the municipality and later work to help in the finances and save up for their college education.

“Noong 4th year na si Kuya (referring to Edmar), sabi ni Mama, kaya na namin. Nag-enroll na ako sa college,” related Edilberto Jr., who is now in third year college taking up BS Computer Engineering.

Elisa noted that next school year, they’ll be able to send John Henry to college, especially now that Edmar is already working and is able to provide some of the needs of the family.

Edison, the fourth child, also knows how to help the family in his simplest of ways. Since his classes start at 12 noon daily, he often would be seen buying eggs in the nearby poultry farm and selling it to sari-sari stores in the area. On the other hand, the youngest, Junel, supports Elisa through being

responsible in the house chores and helping her in completing her tasks such as doing laundry and fetching water.

Getting support

Elisa is grateful to all her children for the patience, love and support, which, according to her, make their life easier despite the financial difficulties. However, Elisa still takes the majority of the burden on her shoulders.

“Sobrang hirap para sa akin na hindi ko maibigay lahat sa kanila. Pero maswerte ako na sila ang naging mga anak ko dahil naiintindihan nila ako at tinutulungan nila ako,” said Elisa.

She’s also grateful that the family has been receiving support from the government through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. This program provides conditional cash grants to qualified poor families to support the health and educational needs of children age zero to 18 in exchange to their compliance to certain conditions such as 85 percent monthly school attendance and monthly preventive health checkups of children.

The Purugganan Family is one of the 16,555 solo-parent household-beneficiaries of the program in the CALABARZON Region. Since 2010, the program has been supporting the needs on health and education of the three youngest children.

“Dahil po sa tulong ng programa, nakaya ko pong pagsabay-sabayin sa elementarya at high school ang mga anak ko,” shared Elisa, who added that it has been a relief for a solo parent like her to get a helping hand in ensuring that her children are healthy and in school. Since the youngest children’s education are being provided for, Elisa only had to save and prepare for the children’s enrollment in college.

Further, in 2016, Elisa became a recipient of the swine raising skills training under the DSWD’s Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP). In this program, Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries like them are given priority to provide them capacities and opportunities to engage in income-generating activities such as micro-enterprise or employment.

After the training, Elisa was able to start her hog-raising business from the starter kit of piglets and feeds she received as part of the program.

Through maintaining livelihood activities such as this, the DSWD eyes that beneficiaries acquire a sustainable means of earning income so they can support their respective families on their own.

Being others’ strength, inspiration

Elizabeth Jimenez, a solo parent and also a Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary, shared that she has learned a lot from Elisa and her family.

“Sa kanya ako kumukuha ng lakas ng loob. Lahat po ay ginagawa n’ya, kahit paunti-unti para mapatapos ang kanyang mga anak,” Elizabeth said.

Other parents, even those who are not solo parents, see the same thing.

“Natuto ako sa kanya na maging matatag. Kung kaya n’ya nga na mag-isa, lalong mas kaya ko dahil may asawa ako na tumutulong sa akin,” shared Teodora Rebultan, another Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary.

Elisa cannot hide her tears when talking about how her family is becoming an inspiration in their barangay. For her, she is not doing anything special because everything she is doing is out of her love and responsibility to her children.

“Sa karanasan ko, mababa ang tingin ng mga tao sa mga solo mothers dahil ang tingin ng iba, wala kaming ibang alam kundi humanap agad ng kapareha. Gusto kong ipakita sa kanila na hindi porke’t solo mother ka, hindi mo na kakayaning itaguyod ang mga anak nang walang kakapitang iba,” shared Elisa, who added that the reason for her success is her children’s support and love no matter what

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