On her first payout, she bought a hamburger.

“Minsan lang makakain ng hamburger ang anak namin, kaya bumili ako ng isang piraso sa perang natanggap ko,” shared Jennifer Orozco, 37, as she recalled the first time she received the cash grants as a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in 2011.

According to her, the 500 pesos was spent on school supplies, milk, vitamins and medicines for her son plus the piece of hamburger meant to please her sickly son, Kayl, who was seven years old at that time.

Today, with humble pride and joy, Jennifer can guarantee being able to provide his only son his needs—a burger when he wants one but more importantly, a good education and a brighter future.

Jennifer, together with her husband, Raymundo, 45, shares their journey from being a family needing help even for their daily needs to a family who can finally stand on their own.


Starting small

Jennifer recalls that when they were starting their family, she and Raymundo would often fight about not having enough money to provide even for their small family.

Raymundo worked as an on-call carpenter while Jennifer sold fruits and vegetables harvested by her parents. They bought a bicycle, which they used to peddle vegetables in the neighborhood of Infanta, Quezon Province. But business did not go well after some time because of the competition in the area. Hence, they decided to Raymundo’s hometown, the island municipality of Burdeos in the same province, to start again.

Burdeos is one of the municipalities in the Polillo group of islands in Quezon Province that is accessible through a two to three-hour boat ride from the mainland. They moved to Sitio Butatalan in Brgy. Aluyon, a mountainous area in the said municipality.

“Si Kayl (referring to son) ay inenroll namin sa school ng mga katutubo. Isa hanggang dalawang oras ang kailangan n’yang lakarin para makapunta sa school,” shared Jennifer.

To provide for their needs, Raymundo borrowed a horse to help him with the farming. They maintain a garden to help them with their everyday consumption. Their house is made of nipa and bamboo. They do not even have their own sanitary toilet.

“Nagdesisyon kaming tumira sa bayan dahil malayo ang eskwelahan. Nagrenta kami ng bahay sa Poblacion at doon kami nagsimulang magtinda ulit ng mga gulay,” added Jennifer, who sells vegetables in the afternoon while waiting for Kayl to go out from school.

However, as they start a new life in the town proper, the family faced more expenses including the rent and Kayl’s increasing school expenses. Hence, they needed to double their efforts to go by.


The start of “Jenny’s”

In 2011, when they became a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilya, the family made sure to use the opportunity wisely.

“Dahil nasusuportahan ang pag-aaral at ang kalusugan ni Kayl, nagamit namin ang aming kita para sa pagsisimulang muli,” shared Jennifer.

Starting small, they purchased watermelons, garlic and onions from the mainland and brought these to the island. They started selling this in the town proper. Through the years, they have established trust with their supplier and the confidence of their customers. This made them decide to rent a small space in the town proper to sell their goods.

“Nakakadalo rin kaming mag-asawa ng buwanang FDS (Family Development Sessions). Dito namin natutunan ang maayos na pamamahala ng pera na malaki ang naitulong sa aming pamilya lalo na sa pagpapaunlad ng aming negosyo,” she shared.

From the usual vegetables and fruits, they have expanded to selling other grocery items including canned goods and basic commodities. They also offer wholesale goods for small commodity storeowners in the municipality.

Today, “Jenny’s” is a known grocery store in the municipality. The couple is also happy that they are able to employ five people in the store so they can also help their respective families.


The start of standing on their own

Now that the family is confident with a secure and sustainable source of income, the family is also confident that they can already provide for their needs, especially that of Kayl’s.

Beside their grocery store, the family is starting to invest on other things including constructing their own house and raising animals such as cattle, carabaos and horses. They also have two jeepneys and one tricycle.

According to Sevrens Rutaquio, the assigned Municipal Link who handles the family, the Orozco Family has already been tagged as self-sufficient. This means that the family can already stand on their own and is already able to provide for their needs without the help of the government.

As a result, the family is being recertified by the DSWD to exit from the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. This means that even if Kayl is still 13 years old and the family is eligible to become a beneficiary of the program until Kayl reaches 18 or finishes high school, whichever comes first, the family is recommended to graduate from the program.

“Nagpapasalamat kami sa programa dahil binigyan kami ng oportunidad na magsimula muli. Hindi lamang ang maayos naming pamumuhay ang naibigay nito sa amin, naging mas matiyaga kami at naging mas positibo sa pananaw namin sa buhay,” shared Jenny gratefully.

Even without the cash grants from the program, she is confident that they can support their small family, especially the good future they are dreaming for their only son.# with reports from SRutaquio & JOlaguir