“Mama, ano po ang occupation mo?’

“Sa bahay lang ‘nak, housewife lang. ‘Yun lang ang sasabihin mo ‘pag may nagtanong sa’yo.”

“Eh si Papa po, ano ang trabaho?”

“Vendor, anak.”

“Bakit po hindi kayo nag-aral para ganun din po kayo (referring to her classmates’ parents who are nurses, teachers, and architects),” asked Rein, her youngest daughter who was around seven years old at that time.

Ma. Roxan Parafina, a resident of Brgy. Tagbakin in Atimonan, Quezon, recalls this exchange she had with Rein seven years ago.  

Although Rein’s questions were filled with mere curiosity, Roxan felt a deep sense of challenge within her to improve herself and be able to provide for the needs of her children even if they are already among the beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

Despite this, Roxan has no regrets choosing to prioritize the needs of her children before her dreams. However, she wants to make her children proud of her somehow.

“Hayaan mo anak, ‘pag nakaluwag-luwag na tayo, mag-aaral ulit si Mama para ‘pag tinanong ka ulit ng kaklase mo, hindi na ako basta nasa bahay lang,” she promised.

Today, seven years from that humbling conversation, she is a licensed professional teacher and more importantly, is able to help build the whole family’s dreams.

Opportunity to grow

Raising their three children only with her husband’s income as a vendor was a big challenge for Roxan. This is without mentioning her worries about the safety of her husband, Renier, every time he goes off to sell on the road and hopping from one bus to another passing their town to or from Manila or Lucena.

“Masaya naman kami sa simpleng pamumuhay. Sobrang hirap pero kinakaya at tinitiis po namin,” she shared.

In 2013, they became a beneficiary of the national government’s 4Ps. According to Roxan, this gave way to a lot of opportunities for her family.

“Mas’werte kami at napasali kami sa 4Ps. Malaki ang naging tulong nito para sa pangangailangan ng aming mga anak,” said Roxan.

With the support from the government, Roxan’s worries about their daily needs had been lifted. As such, in 2016, she made a bold move to go back to college.

“Kahit ako ‘yung may pinaka-may-edad sa mga kaklase ko, hindi ako nahiyang ipagpatuloy ang pag-aaral ko. Pangarap ko talagang maging guro,” shared Roxan.

She admitted that going back to school was a bigger challenge for the family, especially that all her three children are in school, too. So even with the 4Ps cash assistance for her children, her husband’s income was always insufficient.

Gratefully, as a family-beneficiary of the 4Ps, Roxan qualified to be a beneficiary of the UniFAST – Tertiary Education Subsidy from the Commission on Higher Education. As such, her tuition and other needs in school were all taken care of.

On the other hand, in an effort to support the family better, Renier applied and secured a job order position at the Atimonan Land Transportation Terminal as a cleaner.

Reaping the results

In 2020, during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Roxan graduated from college.

With a college diploma in hand, she was able to secure a job at the local government in 2021. She became an LGU Link assigned to the 4Ps Municipal Operations Office. 

The LGU Link is the counterpart provided by the local government to support the implementation of the 4Ps in the locality.

Aside from being able to serve her co-beneficiaries, Roxan is proud and glad that she is finally able to help with the family’s needs, especially in supporting her children in their education.

Moreover, she encouraged her husband to go back to college, too. Now, her husband is in third year college while still working at the local government.

“Ang tagumpay ay wala sa edad kundi nasa dedikasyon. Mahalaga na pinaniniwalaan nating makakaahon tayo sa kahirapan sa pamamagitan ng pagkamit ng pangarap,” shared Roxan, who added that their whole family believes that it is only through educating themselves that they can have better chances.

Roxan has also passed the Licensure Examination for Teachers, which she took last October 2022. She now works as an office staff at the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office of Atimonan.

With the improvement in their living condition, Roxan’s family has been tagged as ‘non-poor’ in the latest Listahanan 3 database of the DSWD. This means that based on the assessment, their family has the capacity to provide for themselves and stand on their own. As a result, they graduated as beneficiaries of the 4Ps.

These days, Roxan is determined to secure a teaching job or a regular position at the local government. Though she knows that they still have a long way to go, as her eldest is just in Grade 12, she is confident that they can all work together to finally secure a good future for the family, especially her children.# [with reports from SATañedo]