Categorized | Pantawid Pamilya

It takes three to make a family

With only three members, the Castillo Family proves that happiness is never about the number.

Their humble home resounds of their laughter and is filled by love, respect and shared responsibility. And though they do not have all the comforts the world has to offer, their simple life is enough to make them all contented and still become an inspiration to others.

For Tatay Romel, Nanay Maura and son Joseph Hans, the secret towards a happy family is equality among them.

Through giving voice to every member of the family, their love and respect for one another becomes stronger. So no matter how small their family is, they never feel lonely, incomplete, or even little.

“Isang maliit na pamilya lamang kami na binubuo ng ama, ina at anak. Ngunit maliit man kami sa bilang, malaki naman ang nakapaloob dito—pagmamahalan, pagsusunuran at pagrerespetuhan sa isa’t isa,” shared Nanay Maura, 53.

The Castillo Family, a resident of Brgy. Talaga in Lemery, Batangas Province, is a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) since September 2010.

Interactional family relations

In the Castillo household, every responsibility is shared. For the three of them, coordination among them is important to ensure that no one is heavily burdened.

Tatay Romel, 45, can be seen doing chores such as washing the clothes and Nanay Maura can be seen climbing trees to collect leaves to feed their goats. Joseph Hans, on the other hand, cleans their house, sweeps the yard and cooks for the family.

Dito sa amin, tulungan talaga kaming tatlo. Dito sa bahay, pag may trabaho ang isa, may trabaho ang lahat para kapag natapos kami, sabay-sabay kaming nagpapahinga,” shared Tatay Romel, who added that once they finish their tasks for the day, they spend their time bonding with everyone.

Tatay Romel fondly shares that their favorite moments at home are sitting side by side each other, tickling one another and treating Nanay Maura, the only female in the household, as the princess.

Joseph Hans, 13, also speaks fondly of how he is treated as equal in the household as he is always informed and consulted in every decision.

“Pantay-pantay kami dito. Pinag-uusapan namin ang lahat ng bagay para hindi kami nagkakagulo. Ang gusto ng isa, gusto naming lahat,” shared Nanay Maura.

A small sacrifice today

For the three of them, being together is important for a happy and strong family. However, they have to make a sacrifice for the meantime.

Tatay Romel now works as a construction worker in Las Piñas City and comes home at least twice a month to better provide for the family. He used to rely on farming to support their family but have decided to venture into a different job.

“Mahirap ang umasa sa pagsasaka dahil buwan ang binibilang namin para kumita ng pera. Minsan, mahirap pagkasyahin ang isang daang pisong kita kada araw para sa aming pagkain at sa pag-aaral ni Hans,” shared Tatay Romel.

He admits to have reached only grade two and he does not want Hans to be like him—having a hard time supporting even their small family.

For Tatay Romel, this is a small sacrifice so that they would not experience the hardships they went through when they were starting their family.

Almost in tears, he shared that they experienced selling almost everything they have, especially when his son, who was sickly when he was little, was in the hospital.

Even Joseph Hans’ recollection of his childhood years is tagging along with his parents to earn a living.

“Naalala ko po noon na sumasama ako sa kanila sa pamamayabas (picking of guava fruits) para aming maibenta,” said Joseph Hans.

Joseph Hans understands what kind of sacrifice his father is doing for the family today.

“Alam ko pong malaki ang sakripisyo ng mga magulang ko sa ganitong sistema kaya po nag-aaral akong mabuti at tumutulong ako dito sa bahay,” said Joseph Hans, now in Grade 8 and is a consistent honor student.

Nanay Maura, on the other hand, admits how hard it is to have her husband spending most days away from them. However, she learned to become stronger and became thankful of how her son supports her in every situation.

“Naging tatay at nanay ako ng anak ko. ‘Yung mga gawaing panglalaki, sinimulan ko nang gawin. Maswerte rin ako dahil napakamaunawain ng aming anak at sumusuporta s’ya sa amin,” said Nanay Maura.

For the three of them, their current setup is a challenge, but they welcome it as this becomes a testament of how really strong their family is.

Chasing opportunities

Nanay Maura shares that being a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in 2010 opened a lot of opportunities for the family.

“Noong naging benepisyaryo kami ng Pantawid Pamilya, ang laking tulong sa aming pamilya lalo na sa pag-aaral ni Hans. Mas madali naming naibibigay ang kanyang mga pangangailangan sa school,” said Nanay Maura.

Joseph Hans also shares that since becoming a beneficiary of the program, it is easier for him to join in school activities.

More than the cash grants, Nanay Maura shares that the program’s Family Development Sessions (FDS) taught her to build more self-confidence and made her family stronger through lessons such as strengthening marital relations and proper discipline.

She also learned to chase opportunities to improve their lives.

Last August 2015, Nanay Maura became a beneficiary of the Sustainable Livelihood Program using the Bottom-Up Budgeting scheme in their municipality. She was awarded with a loan of PhP10,000, which she used to start her goat-raising business.

“Nagsimula ako sa apat na kambing, at ngayon, wala pang isang taon ay mayroon na akong 11. Paparamihin pa namin ito at ibebenta para makatulong sa aming pamumuhay,” shared Nanay Maura, who is very glad that she is already able to help her husband in earning income for their family.

Joseph Hans, at his young age, also thinks of earning for the family. With the use of savings from his daily allowance, he bought one goat, which he plans to raise and sell.

“Natuto po akong mag-ipon dahil iyon ang tinuturo nila sa akin, ‘yung maglaan para sa kinabukasan. Gusto ko pong kambing ang bilhin para kumita at maparami pa,” shared Joseph Hans.

Nanay Maura is also proud of her organic garden, which she started doing since learning it from the FDS. They now practice waste segregation, maintaining a compost pit and preparation of organic fertilizers.

In the family’s backyard, there is an assortment of vegetables such as eggplants and string beans, which they grow organically and use for their daily consumption.

Finding comfort outside the family

The Castillo Family’s culture of shared responsibility is also carried outside their home.

“Aktibo kaming nakikilahok sa mga gawain dito sa aming barangay sa abot ng aming makakaya,” said Nanay Maura.

The barangay officials and neighbors look up to the family for their dedication to help, even in the smallest of ways.

“Kapag may palinis dito sa barangay o tree planting, and’yan lagi sila. ‘Yung bakuran nila, ginagawa naming lugar para magprepare ng pagkain para sa mga tao. Napakadali nilang lapitan, minsan sagot pa nila ang pagluluto at ang pagkain,” said Brgy. Captain Regina Corona, 52.

Lucila Malapitan, 41, the parent leader handling the family, shares that even if she is the parent leader, Nanay Maura is often in the lead during community activities of Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries in the area.

Even Tatay Romel, who is often out of the barangay, takes his time helping the community in activities like this. He shares that other than the physical tasks, he also makes sure that the activity is as enjoyable as possible. Tatay Romel is known as the clown in the neighborhood because of his jokes and easy laughter.

Joseph Hans, on the other hand, is an active youth in the community. He is a member of the Young Farmers Club and serves in their parish as an altar knight.

The gift of giving and inspiring others

Teacher Nicanora Padilla, Joseph Han’s current adviser in Payapa National High School, speaks not only of her student’s good academic performance and leadership capacity. She is also delighted to share how generous the Castillo Family is.

“Noong nakaraang Brigada Eskwela, nagulat ako nang makatanggap ako ng sobreng may lamang isang libong piso galing sa kanila (referring to Nanay Maura),” said Teacher Nicanora, who fondly talks about how she became inspired that a family like them is still able to think of the school when she knows that they may be struggling financially, too.

According to Nanay Maura, the PhP1,000 is part of the cash prize they received from the local government unit as winner of the Municipal Search for Huwarang Pantawid Pamilya 2016.

“Talagang gusto po naming magbigay dahil nakita po namin ang pangangailangan sa school. Alam din po namin ang pakiramdam ng talagang walang wala ka sa buhay, mahirap po iyon, kaya hanggang makakaya namin, gusto naming tumulong sa paraang kaya namin,” Nanay Maura, who is also a PTA officer, added.

Joseph Hans is also an inspiration to his classmates, teachers and members of the community.

“Mabait, masipag at responsable po s’ya. Magaling din po s’yang lider dahil s’ya ay marunong magpaliwanag at mag-initiate ng mga activities. Tumutulong din po s’ya sa amin kapag may hindi kami alam sa klase,” shared Angeline Luistro, 14, a classmate of Joseph Hans.

Teacher Marcela Villanueva, Joseph Hans’ grade 6 adviser in Talaga Elementary School, shares that the way Joseph Hans was raised should serve as example to other parents.

“Iisang anak lang si Hans pero hindi siya ‘yung tulad ng sinasabing mga spoiled na bata. Iyon ang kinatutuwa ko sa kanya. At napakagalang niyang bata. Doon namin nakikita na maayos ang pagpapalaki sa kanya ng mga magulang n’ya,” said Teacher Marcela.

She also witnessed how Tatay Romel would go home even in short notice just so he can witness important activities such as quiz bees.

“Nagiging inspirasyon namin ang pamilya nila dahil ang sasaya nila, akala mo magkakapatid lang. Lagi silang nagsisimba at madiskarte sila para masuportahan ang kanilang pangangailangan,” said Florentina Catapang, 45, a neighbor and a co-beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilya program.

Their way of inspiring the community became evident when they decided to construct the house where they are currently residing.

“Uso po dito sa amin ang bayanihan. Kapag may ipapagawa ka, tutulong sa’yo ang ibang tao at tutulong ka rin sa kanila kapag sila naman ang may ipapagawa. Noong nagpagawa kami ng bahay noon, walo hanggang sampung tao ang laging tumutulong sa amin sa paggawa ng bahay nang walang sahod,” shared Tatay Romel, who shares his gratitude to his neighbors for helping them construct their home.

In the concept of ‘bayanihan’ in their community, a household will never have a hard time seeking help if the family members are known in the community to be generous, friendly and reliable.

Being big despite being small

For Tatay Romel and Nanay Maura, they do not do what they are doing as a family to please other people. They are always reminded that they are living as to what God wants them to do as parents and as members of the community.

Their only son, Joseph Hans, is their inspiration all the time.

“Kahit maliit lang kami, s’ya ang naggawang ‘higante’ sa amin sa mata ng ibang tao,” a teary-eyed Nanay Maura shared.

At the end of these all, they know that Joseph Hans will be the reflection of how they fared as parents.

“Hindi kami magsasawang bigyan s’ya, dahil napakagaling n’yang magsukli,” said Tatay Romel, who is very proud of his son’s achievements in school and how he deals with other people.

Joseph Hans, on the other hand, is proud of his parents.

“Sobra sobra po ang pagmamalaki ko sa kanila dahil nagsasakripisyo sila pareho para matugunan ang aming pangangailangan. Kahit maliit kaming pamilya, mayroon kaming pagkakaunawaan dito at ang importante, lagi kaming masaya,” shared Joseph Hans.

For the three of them, a small family is a blessing. As long as they are together and they continue being ‘friends’ of each other, their small family can make a difference in their community.#

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