Fueled up by challenges to dream big for the family
Several times did Christian almost gave up on his dreams of a college education. However, a few months from now, he’ll be on stage to finally receive the symbol of the attainment of his dream—a college diploma.
Early on his life, 23-year-old Christian Luansing, a resident of Brgy. Bukal in Taysan, Batangas Province, had known the financial challenges of his family. Being the second in a brood of 14, he describes their life as “isang kahig, isang tuka.”
He relates that his mother gives birth to a child almost every year, so he understood that he needed to be the elder brother that he is. His father provides for their big family just through making barbecue sticks.
To not become a burden and still be in school, he decided to work as a helper in a store in the town proper when he was in Grade 6.
“Ginawa ko ito hanggang sa makatapos ako ng high school. Kahit marami akong hindi magandang karanasan sa pagtatrabaho, tiniis ko para makatapos ako,” shared Christian, whose dream became blurry once again when their eldest sibling decided to marry at a young age, instead of helping the family.
So when he graduated in high school, he definitely knew that college was impossible.
Getting the determination
“Sumubok akong mag-apply sa mga pabrika at sa mga fast food chains pero hindi ako pinalad na matanggap. Nahirapan akong makipagsabayan sa mga kalaban kong kahit papaano ay nakatuntong man lang sa kolehiyo,” he shared.
This gave Christian a challenge. He told himself that no matter what it takes, he’ll get himself to college. He went to Manila to be a helper in a store of a relative so that he can earn enough for his college education.
One thing unexpected happened, however, that changed the course of his life.
“Kung gusto mo daw pumasok ng college sabi ng taga munisipyo,” he recalled getting a call from his mother while he was busy in the store.
In his excitement, he went home to the province and submitted all the requirements.
Since their family is a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, Christian qualified to be a grantee of the Expanded Student Grants-in-Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation (ESGPPA). This is a program of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) that aims to help at least one member of a Pantawid Pamilya household to finish college and get better-paying jobs in the future.
“Huwag ka nang pumasok, mahihirapan ka lang. Wag ka nang umasa sa scholarship na ‘yan at wala naman kaming pangtustos sa’yo. Mag-apply ka na lang sa pabrika para ma-regular ka,” he recalled his father telling him that time.
“Hindi ko alam kung magagalit ako sa kanya o hindi dahil imbes na palakasin ang loob ko ay kabaliktaran pa ang ginawa nila. Pero nag-enroll pa rin ako sa kursong BS Business Administration,” shared Christian.
The ESGPPA has supported his tuition, book allowance and even his daily allowance in Batangas State University. However, he admits that he still experienced problems financially.
“Minsan, kapag nasa school ako, wala ako sa sarili ko dahil naiisip ko ang sitwasyon namin sa bahay. Nagkasakit ang pangalawa sa nakababata kong kapatid kasabay ng pagsilang ng ika-13 kong kapatid. Nahihiya akong humingi ng pamasahe dahil alam kong pambili na nila ng bigas ‘yon,” he recalled.
At that instance, he again thought of forgetting about his dreams and take the advice of his father. But another experience fueled his desire to go on.
“Namatay ‘yung may sakit kong kapatid dahil hindi namin kayang dalhin sa ospital kaya umasa kami sa albularyo. Habang papunta kami sa ospital noong kinukumbulsyon na s’ya, pinangako ko sa kanya na magtatapos ako para hindi na kami maging isang pamilya na kahit ‘yung pagpapagamot lang kapag may sakit ay hindi namin magawa,” shared Christian, who still cannot control his tears when remembering this incident.
From then, he knew that he needed to finish his studies not only for his own sake but for his other siblings.
While his education is being supported by the ESGPPA, he still applied as a crew trainer in one of the fast food chains in their municipality to help his family.
Though he is a working student, he never forgets his priorities. He makes sure that he gets good grades. He is even the vice president of their Department in the university and a leader among other ESGPPA grantees in the school.
He is also glad that his parents have become supportive not only of his college education but also of educating the rest of his siblings. In fact, eight of them are in school now.
Christian cannot hide how great he is to the government for supporting his family, especially his college education and changing the views of his parents through the monthly Family Development Sessions.
“Hindi lang po pera ang naitulong ninyo sa amin, kundi ang aming magandang kinabukasan,” he shared gratefully.
He animatedly shares how he and his mother are excited about his graduation this June.
“Kapag napagkukwentuhan namin ni Mama, kami ay kinikilig dahil worth it ang lahat ng aming paghihirap. Hindi namin lubos maisip na sa dami naming magkakapatid ay makapagpapatapos ng isa sa kolehiyo,” he said.
With his graduation, Christian is more confident now.
“Ngayon ay mas may pag-asa na po akong makatulong sa pamilya ko. Napakahalaga po nito para sa amin,” shared Christian, who hopes that his story will inspire other beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilya to strive despite their financial situation.#