A teacher’s commitment for the success of ‘her’ children.

Whenever a Pantawid Pamilya child is recognized for his or her achievement on stage, Ms. Marissa S. Cabela cannot hide her joy.

Just like a mother who is proud of her child’s achievements, Ms. Cabela is a teacher who will always take pride in every improvement of a child-beneficiary enrolled in their school.

Since 2011, she has been designated as the focal person of Buenavista-Cigaras Elementary School in Brgy. Buenavista in Magdalena, Laguna Province for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

In the implementation of the Pantawid Pamilya, teachers are among the main partners of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, particularly in the education component of the program. Their main function is monitoring the compliance of the child-beneficiaries when it comes to their monthly school attendance.

Admittedly, Ms. Cabela started off thinking this designation is just an additional task to the already heavy load of teachers like her. However, as she began knowing the children, their parents, their struggles and the intentions of the program, she welcomed the task wholeheartedly.

Through the years, Ms. Cabela made it her goal to ensure that she is able to help them.

“Sabi ko sa sarili ko, tutulungan ko ang mga taong ‘to,” shared Ms. Cabela, who explored various interventions inside and outside the classroom to make sure all the children learn from school and succeed in their life in the future.

For her, what makes the Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries close to her heart is how she can personally relate to their experiences.

“Siguro kung may 4Ps noong araw, kasama din kami,” she shared.

Ms. Cabela said that she is always reminded of her father, who does not know how to write, when parents would ask for her assistance in filling out documents because they cannot write themselves.

With this, she makes it a point to teach both the children and the parents. Whenever she gets the chance, she uses her experiences to instill in their minds the value of education and its impact on the life of the children when they grow up.

Partnering with the parents for the children’s future

As an educator, Ms. Cabela believes that honing the potentials of children is done not only in the four corners of the classroom. She recognizes the important role of the parents in educating the children and later on securing the future of the children.

Hence, as a Pantawid Pamilya Focal Person and the guidance counselor of the school as well, Ms. Cabela strategizes towards gaining the support of the parents for their children.

“Kapag sa monitoring namin, lumalabas na dumarami ang absent ng bata, bago pa man maging tatlo ang absent n’ya sa isang buwan, pinupuntahan na namin sa bahay,” shared Ms. Cabela.

Tagged as @HOME for 4Ps, this is a home visitation program where identified Pantawid Pamilya monitored pupils are visited at home and provided with appropriate interventions.

“Kinakausap namin ‘yung mga magulang. Pinapaalala namin na importante na ang bata ay laging pumapasok para matuto. Lagi kong ginagawang halimbawa ang sarili ko na galing din sa hirap pero nagsikap sa pag-aaral kaya andito na ako ngayon,” she shared.

According to Cynthia Dela Vega, a parent leader of the Pantawid Pamilya in Brgy. Cigaras, the school is able to answer most of the reasons given by parents and children for their absenteeism.

“Nagbibigay po sila ng school supplies, minsan po baon, may feeding program din po sa school,” shared Dela Vega.

Ms. Severa C. Bersola, the school principal, added that they have been in partnership with the barangay council to provide free transportation to their pupils, especially for those living in far-flung sitios and also during the rainy season.

Further, Ms. Cabela is developing strategies so that the parents do not feel afraid to go to school to consult the teachers regarding their children’s performance.

“Noon, talagang hirap kami na papuntahin dito ang mga magulang. Parang nahihiya sila. Pero sinisikap namin na isama sila sa lahat ng activities, at napansin din naming malaki ang naitulong sa kanila ng Family Development Sessions sa pagtuturo sa kanila,” said Ms. Cabela.

She added that the Pantawid Pamilya parents are now very eager to check on their children’s performance and they are also among their most active partners when it comes to school activities such as the Brigada Eskwela, feeding programs and maintaining their Gulayan sa Paaralan.

Meriam Pandral, a Pantawid Pamilya mother-grantee from Brgy. Buenavista, shared that the school also provides livelihood trainings to parents like them.

Trainings include the production of dishwashing liquid, fabric conditioner and rags and are conducted in partnership with the provincial government.

Ms. Cabela shared that these trainings are done to at least give the parents a potential source of extra income so they can better support their children.

Changing people’s perceptions of the program and its beneficiaries

Ms. Cabela shares that in her eight years serving as a focal person for the program, she has witnessed how it has greatly helped the beneficiaries, particularly the children.

“Unang-una, malaki ang impact sa mga bata ng programa,” shared Ms. Cabela, who emphasized the importance of the partnership among institutions including their school, the local government and their private partners in helping the beneficiaries.

She shared that she has seen improvement academically as well as in their health and hygiene.

“Nabago na rin ‘yung attitude ng mga magulang sa pag-aaral ng mga bata. Na-improve din ‘yung komunikasyon nila sa mga guro,” she said.

With these, Ms. Cabela and the rest of the teachers in the school have been protective of the program as well. Aside from supporting the conditions on 85 percent school attendance of children and even pushing to increase the 85 percent target, they also make sure that the public does not see the beneficiaries as lazy.

“Yung mga activities namin katulad ng remedial classes, reading program at recognition sa mga batang 4Ps ay mga paraan namin para matulungan sila na mag-improve,” shared Ms. Cabela, who added that when they perform well in school, they will be able to help their families better when they graduate.

The school makes it a point that the parents are educated, too. Aside from livelihood trainings, they also conduct moral recovery, spiritual and environmental awareness among others.

They also open the school facility for the conduct of the monthly Family Development Sessions because they believe how these sessions are able to help the Pantawid Pamilya parents, which greatly affects their pupils as well.

Ms. Cabela, being the go-to person in their barangay, especially for parents who would want to be a beneficiary of the program, efficiently explains the requirements of the program and refers them to the Municipal Link in case they need more information. This way, misunderstandings about the program will be lessened, at least in their barangay.

No special treatment to beneficiaries, though

“Ang isip n’ya (referring to Ms. Cabela), nakasentro lagi sa 4Ps,” shared Ms. Bersola, who added that Ms. Cabela always consults and gets her approval whenever she thinks of activities for the beneficiaries.

According to Ms. Cabela, her thoughts are always on asking herself “ano pa ang p’wede kong maitulong sa kanila?”

Despite the number of programs and the number of partners they have gained, Ms. Cabela remains fair in selecting beneficiaries of the school’s initiatives.

“Ang mga programa namin, laging pangkalahatan. Hindi namin sini-separate ang mga 4Ps sa iba kasi ayaw din namin na madiscriminate sila ng iba,” shared Ms. Cabela.

She added that most of the time, though, priority is given to Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries especially for initiatives for the indigent pupils such as gift giving. Other activities, on the other hand, such as reading sessions are based on the need of the beneficiary.

Despite this no special treatment rule, they have a 4Ps SHINES BEST program, a quarterly recognition ceremony where they recognize beneficiaries who are achievers, gained perfect attendance and a special award for the 4Ps Reader of the Quarter.

“Itong recognition na ito, motivation na rin namin sa mga bata na mas magpursige pa sa pag-aaral,” shared Ms. Cabela.

Gaining fulfilment from helping others

As a teacher, Ms. Cabela only hopes for the best of her pupils.

With her dedication, she rose from the ranks until she became a Master Teacher II. She also currently serves as the school’s guidance counselor handling more than a thousand enrollees per school year.

All her hard work has paid off through the years as she has been recognized as an Outstanding Teacher of the Department of Education.

Her principal, Ms. Bersola, sees her as an asset.

“Nakita ko talagang worker at doer s’ya. Malaking kawalan s’ya kung aalis s’ya dito sa aming school. Masinop din s’ya sa mga documents,” said Ms. Bersola, who showed a few inches thick compilation of Pantawid Pamilya-related documents since 2011 that Ms. Cabela keeps for her records.

The parents and the pupils appreciate her as well.

“Madali po s’yang lapitan, hindi nagsusuplada, matulungin at hindi ka po talaga maiilang na lapitan s’ya,” shared Amore Dela Cruz, a Pantawid Pamilya mother-grantee from Brgy. Buenavista.

Ms. Cabela admits that with all her tasks inside the school, her time at home is usually being compromised. Thankfully, her family understands her vocation. But what is important is that she improves as a professional and as a person as well.

“Hindi ko maipaliwanag ‘yung pakiramdam. Pero masaya ako, hindi ko nararamdaman ang pagod sa dami ng aking ginagawa. ‘Yun siguro talaga ang nangyayari kapag nasa puso mo ‘yung ginagawa mo,” shared a very positive Ms. Cabela, who only wishes that with the small things she is doing now for the children, they will harvest something bigger not only for themselves but for the next generation.#