Leonor Conde, 52, and daughter Rose Anne, 16, residents of Brgy. Sisilmin in Cavinti, Laguna Province, weave together a hat, which they’ll sell for ten pesos each. All her life, Rose Anne experienced rushing home from school to help her mother and five other siblings in weaving hats and selling them so they’ll have money for dinner and when lucky, for their school needs the following day.
As a student, Rose Anne is grateful that their family became a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in 2012. According to her, it provided for their school needs, which made life easier for them. Hence, she can already allot time to read her books and study her lessons at night. This made good results in the end because last March 2015, she graduated as class salutatorian of her high school class. This, Rose Anne shared, is the start of helping her family get out of their situation and give every member a good life in the future.***
WEAVING A BETTER TOMORROW
At the end of every school day, Rose Anne Conde has to rush home to weave hats.
Sixteen-year-old Rose Anne, a resident of Brgy. Sisilmin in Cavinti, Laguna Province, learned the art of weaving hats made of pandan leaves at an early age of seven. The woven hats have been the family’s main source of income to support their daily needs.
Instead of spending time for her schoolwork, Rose Anne, together with the rest of her siblings, needs to help her parents in weaving hats so they can earn enough for their dinner and their school needs the following day. For the past two years, however, she no longer had to do this; instead, she was given time to spend on her books and assignments.
“Naging masigla ako sa aking pag-aaral at dito ko natutunang mag-ambisyon at lubos pang magsumikap para mabago ang takbo ng aming buhay,” Rose Anne shared.
For Rose Anne, this small change in her everyday routine opened big opportunities for her. Last March, she graduated as salutatorian of her high school class. And what makes her close to her dream is not just her desire to go to college but her parents’ commitment towards supporting her all the way.
Change of course
Rose Anne gratefully attributes this change in her life to the coming of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in their family last December 2012.
“Noong dumating ang Pantawid, napakalaking tulong nito sa pamilya namin. Napakalaking bagay na ‘yung pambaon sa school naming magkakapatid ay hindi na kukunin sa aming kikitain mula sa sombrero,” said Rose Anne.
Rose Anne’s mother, Leonor, 52, relates how they have to work together as a family to earn enough for their needs.
“Maaga kong tinuruang maglala ng sombrero ang mga anak ko dahil iyon lang ang aming pinagkukunan ng ikabubuhay. Kadalasan, kapag tulong-tulong kami, maswerte na kaming kikita ng Php130 sa isang araw. Iyon ang ginagamit namin pambili ng pagkain at pambaon na rin nila sa school,” Leonor shared.
Rose Anne recalls that whenever their stomach complains, her mother would encourage them to weave faster so they can immediately sell their finished products for around 10 pesos each. And since the family struggled to keep food on the table, Rose Anne remembers having a hard time complying with school requirements because they cannot afford paying for them. She even noticed how her mother became too sickly because of spending almost day and night weaving just so they can have some money to spare.
The Pantawid Pamilya program gave the whole family hope—that they can work together to get their family out of this situation. The financial assistance from the program eased their burden, and the children were given time to spend for their studies, instead of weaving hats almost all their time.
For Rose Anne, however, she is more thankful that Pantawid Pamilya not only fueled her desire to study harder but also taught her parents to dream for them and support their education.
“Kung hindi sa suporta ng Pantawid at sa pagtulong nito na magkaroon kami ng ambisyon, okay na sana sa amin basta makakain lang sa isang araw. Kahit laitin kami ng mga kapitbahay, ayos lang,” Leonor added.
Today, Leonor is happy seeing her children determined to go to school. She is sad, however, that her eldest Roland, who is only 19, has to work early after his high school graduation to help them. Still, she is proud of her son for his desire to help his siblings finish their studies and get better lives.
Rachelle, the second eldest in the family, has finished a vocational course with Roland’s help. Rose Anne, being the third, will be supported by her parents and her two elder siblings for her college education, especially after seeing her potentials when she graduated on top of her class.
“Igagapang namin s’ya sa kanyang kolehiyo. Hindi kami nawawalan ng pag-asa na sa aming pagsisikap ay makakatapos s’ya,” Leonor said with conviction.
A clearer tomorrow
Rose Anne cannot control her tears when she recalls how she was bullied as a child coming from a poor family.
“Naranasan ko kung paano kami maliitin ng mga tao. ‘Yung ibang kaklase ko sa school, dina-down ako dahil hindi kasing ganda ng porma nila ang mga damit ko,” she shared, recalling how her clothes would always be ‘hand-me-downs’ from relatives or neighbors.
For Rose Anne, these people have become her inspiration to excel in school and help her family to finally get up.
“Sinisikap ko po talagang mag-aral nang mabuti para hindi na kami maliitin. Pag-iigihan ko pa sa kolehiyo para maging teacher ako. Kahit di sakto ang allowance ko, gagawa ako ng paraan para makatapos ako,” shared Rose Anne, who plans to find a part time job to support her education.
When she becomes a teacher, Rose Anne promises to help the rest of her siblings, especially for their college education.
“Hindi ko sukat akailain na nagkaambisyon kaming lahat, ‘yan talaga ‘yung ipinagpapasalamat ko nang malaki sa Pantawid. Kami ay patuloy na magsisikap dahil wala kaming mararating kung magiging tamad kami,” Leonor shared.
After finishing college, Rose Anne imagines rushing home again seeing every member of her family happy—without anymore the burden of having to weave day and night just so they’ll have something on the table. She knows that her hard work and determination in the next few years will be the key towards making this vision a reality.***