Only a couple of houses away, Ryan sees his childhood home where he grew up with his three siblings. The home brings memories of happiness, but he has to stay with a relative for the time being just so he can reach his dreams.

“Nalulungkot po ako sa tuwing nakikita ko ‘yung bahay namin. S’yempre po gusto ko magkakasama kami nina tatay at ng mga kapatid ko,” he shared.

Ryan Christopher Bucad, 18, is the youngest of four siblings who are raised alone by their father. They are residents of Brgy. Payapa Ilaya in Lemery, Batangas Province.

Sonny, their father, is a farmer who takes home a very minimal amount to support the needs of the family. At times, he works as a construction worker, too.

“Yung mga kapatid ko po, hindi na nakatuntong ng high school dahil sa kahirapan namin. Kaya kung hindi po ako makikitira sa mga pinsan namin, baka hindi na rin po ako makapag-high school. Ganito rin po ang ginawa ng Ate ko para makaabot ng kolehiyo,” shared Ryan.

Standing in front of his classmates and batch mates, Ryan is very proud to deliver his speech. Last April 6, he graduated in Lemery Senior High School with the highest honors.

“Sulit lahat ng pagod at pagsasakriprisyo namin (referring to his father and his aunt),” shared Ryan, recalling the moment he was delivering his graduation speech.


For the sake of high school

Ryan admits that life is hard for the family, considering that it is only his father who works for the five of them. They no longer have communication with their mother, much more a financial support to at least augment their needs.

“Kapag humihingi ako noon ng panggastos sa project, hindi na lang umiimik si Tatay. Alam ko na kapag hindi na s’ya umiimik, wala talaga kaming pera,” he shared.

That’s why when he graduated in elementary, he gladly took an offer of a relative in a nearby municipality to live with them so that he can enroll in high school. After a year, he went back to their home. That’s the time they became a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

As the only monitored child in the family, Ryan’s expenses in school were at least provided for. Plus, Ryan’s eldest brother, who had finished only Grade 6, was supporting even a little for the family. Hence, he can at least stay at home while studying in high school.

However, despite the support from the program and the continuous hard work of his father, Ryan Christopher admits to still having a hard time. The situation became even worse as his eldest brother is no longer able to work due to an injury he suffered from an accident.

“Tumira po ulit ako sa isa ko pang tiyahin para makapagpatuloy ng pag-aaral,” shared Ryan, who added that even though the house is only within walking distance from their home, he still feels sad about the fact that he is physically away from his father and his siblings.

“Pero nagsakripisyo po ako, kahit kulang ang baon ko, okay lang. Pinagkakasya ko para sa lahat ng mga gastusin ko,” he shared.

Ryan’s school is far from their home, which takes him around P40-P50 for a back and forth tricycle or jeepney ride daily. His P80 daily allowance is usually just about enough to buy him a meal for lunch and pay for contributions for class projects.

“Nahihiya na rin ako minsang humingi ng dagdag kasi minsan, may utang pa nga kaming bigas, kailangan na naman naming umutang ulit para may makain. Sa almusal , nasanay na rin akong iulam ang ang kape sa kanin,” he shared.

All of these sacrifices only fueled his desire to finish his studies. He made sure that he gets good grades all the time. He is confident that his education will help his family get out of their situation.


Taking the responsibility

As Ryan sees his siblings without jobs because of their lack of education, Ryan feels that the responsibility to help his family is on his shoulders. This responsibility, he is glad to take over.

For Ryan, he is lucky to have been given various opportunities including having a hardworking father, a helpful brother, a caring guardian and a support from the government through the Pantawid Pamilya.

“Mag-aaral po akong mabuti para maging isang guro. Kapag nakatapos ako, sisiguruhin kong matutulungan ko sina tatay, ang mga kapatid ko at ang guardian ko (referring to his aunt),” he positively shared.

Today, Ryan is applying for various scholarships so that he can enroll in college. He knows, however, that college will be a bigger challenge, with or without a scholarship.

Also, since he is the sole child-beneficiary of the Panatwid Pamilya in the family, his senior high school graduation means his family’s graduation from the program. Hence, he will no longer be receiving financial assistance for his education.

Despite this, Ryan does not lose hope. Instead, he chooses to accept the challenge and win it.

“Continue to believe, continue to aspire and continue to live with the knowledge we have acquired,” just like this line from his graduation speech, Ryan knows that he will soon be a teacher and be the key towards his family’s success. For him, this is the highest honor he can ever earn.# with reports from FASalazar