It was payday. A smile drew on Marissa Soliman’s face. Shopping – that was all she could think of. With all of the money that she earned from working in a spa, she would go to the nearest mall to buy everything that she wanted.

After her shopping spree, she would go home but not to cook for her children nor to check them but to go straight to a neighbor’s house who invited her to play tong its or bingo.

“Nauubos po ang kita naming mag-asawa noon sa luho at pagsusugal. Nandiyan na rin pong gumagamit siya ng ipinagbabawal na gamot. Iyong mga bisyo na rin po namin ang naging rason ng paghihiwalay namin noon”, Marissa shared.

Their vices caused their frequent fights and misunderstandings. In early 2010, her husband left them and went to Bicol. Marissa had to work alone to support the needs of their children. She even thought that her family would never be complete again.

Breaking the bad habit

It was in the same year when Marissa became a member of the Pantawid Pamilya. She recalled that during one of the Family Development Sessions (FDS), their City Link emphasized the importance of the family. Marissa then realized that it was not too late for her to make things right.

She worked on leaving her vices behind and started focusing on her children instead. She also started sending her husband messages sharing how her day in the FDS went and what her learnings were.

“Hindi na po sumasagot si Mario sa text ko kaya hindi ko na po inasahang uuwi pa siya. Hangga’t isang araw, bumalik siya dito sa bahay namin sa Dasmariñas. Wala na siyang bisyo. Naghanap po ulit siya ng trabaho. Nagsimula po kami ulit. Uma-attend na rin siya ng FDS kasama ang mga anak namin. Nabago po kaming lahat ng Pantawid. Naayos nito ang pagsasama naming pamilya”, Marissa recalled.

Working their way out of poverty

Apart from the changes that the program brought to Marissa’s family, the cash grant that they are receiving has been helping their children with their educational and health needs. She could not even forget how her Pantawid ID saved them from a dilemma when she gave birth to her youngest child.

“Wala po kaming ni piso na binayaran sa PhP130,000.00 na bill namin noong manganak po ako sa aking bunso. Laking pasalamat po namin sa Diyos, sa Pantawid at sa PhilHealth dahil hindi po talaga namin alam kung saan namin kukuhain ang pambayad sa hospital”, said Marissa.

The support that they are receiving from the program motivates Marissa and Mario to work even harder for their three children. In fact, the couple are planning to open a sari-sari store at home. With their faith and hardwork, they are sure that they would be able to make their way out of poverty.

“Nagpapasalamat po talaga ako sa Pantawid dahil kung hindi po kayo dumating sa buhay namin, baka hanggang ngayon ay nagsusugal pa rin kami o baka hanggang ngayon ay hindi pa rin buo ang aming pamilya”, Marissa said with her eyes full of positivity.