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Pag-asa ng batang nangangarap

She is the fourth among six children, and she worried a lot about her family’s future.

Lanie Villostas, 20, a resident of Brgy. Iba, Taal, Batangas, used to wonder what’s in store for her. Her three elder siblings were able to finish high school and despite wanting to go to college, they needed to change plans. They found jobs for themselves after graduation so they can help with the family’s finances.

It was clear for Lanie that she will follow the same track. Thankfully, things turned differently for her.

Just recently, Lanie graduated in Rizal College of Taal with a Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education. Armed with her diploma, she is ready to change her family’s story.

Chasing opportunities

Lanie’s father is an on-call construction worker who solely supports their big family of eight financially. Her mother stays at home to take care of all their needs.

“Sakto lang ang kita ni tatay para sa mga gastusin sa bahay katulad ng pagkain. Kaya’t kabi-kabila ang utang namin para may pambaon kaming anim na magkakapatid na lahat ay nag-aaral,” shared Lanie.

When their eldest, Jayson, graduated from high school, he started working. Though there are already two of them earning in the family, they still suffered financially. Even when her two other elder siblings graduated from high school and took jobs as well, they still struggled.

“Talagang napapaisip ako noon. Paano ko kaya mapapaginhawa ang buhay ng pamilya ko,” she shared.

Being the next in line to finish high school and probably the next in line to help with the finances, too, she almost lost her dreams.

“Pero naging kasama kami sa 4Ps noong mga panahong iyon. Malaking tulong iyon sa aming tatlo pang magkakapatid na nag-aaral. Ginagamit namin iyon na pambili ng pagkain at ng pambaon sa school,” she shared.

The thought of having a program caring for children like her boosted Lanie’s desire to finish her studies. But when she finished high school, another problem came.

Since the Pantawid Pamilya supports children only up to high school or until they reach 18, Lanie’s financial support from the government stopped. But they were still beneficiaries of the program because she still has two younger siblings.

“Wala kaming ideya sa gastos dahil ako ang kaunahang nagkolehiyo sa pamilya. Sobrang hirap pala sa gastos. Pero tinulungan ako ng tita ko na magbayad ng matrikula ko kapalit ng pagtulong ko sa kanilang tindahan ng gulay at ilang groceries,” said Lanie, who added that they still struggled with her expenses for books, contributions and other activities in school.

Despite being a working student, she was contented at that time since she was able to pursue her dreams.

Finding hope

In her fourth year in college, Lanie was able to avail of the Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES) under the Commission on Higher Education’s Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST).

The TES provides subsidy to poor students whose family are identified poor in the DSWD’s Listahanan database of poor households.

“Sa halip na ipangungutang pa namin ‘yung para sa mga gastusin sa internship at sa thesis ko, ito na ‘yung nagamit ko,” shared Lanie.

With her savings and extra allowance, she was able to buy a laptop that she used for her internship. She was also able to allot money for her enrollment in a review center after graduation.

Lanie graduated last April. Her graduation marked a big milestone in their family since she is the first of all of them who have obtained a diploma. Last September, she took the board of exam for teachers.

“Malaki po ang pasasalamat ko dahil binibigyan po ng mga ganitong programa ang mga kabataang nangangarap ng pag-asa na mapapaginhawa ang buhay ng kani-kanilang mga pamilya,” she said.# with reports from CLHMartinez

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