Now that she can think about the future, she knows that her family has really come a long way.

Geraldine, 48, a resident of Brgy. Estrella in San Pedro City, Laguna, used to only think about their life on a day-to-day basis.

“Sa totoo lang, noon, hindi namin iniisip ang bukas. Ang importante sa amin ay mabili namin ang pangangailangan namin sa araw na iyon,” she shared.

Geraldine and her husband, Armando, supported their six children through scavenging for scrap materials in a nearby dumpsite. They would earn around PhP 200 to PhP 300 a day, which according to her, was barely enough to support all of their needs.

As such, they would resort to bringing home anything they can salvage from the dumpsite to lessen their expenses as a family.

“Nag-uuwi kami ng mga napupulot na pagkain na p’wede pang lutuin at ginagawa naming pantawid gutom. Pati mga bag at sapatos na napupulot ay inuuwi rin namin para sa aming mga anak,” she recalled.

These days, however, Geraldine takes pride that her whole family learned to dream and work seriously towards achieving these dreams.

The start of a dream

Their change in perception about their family’s future started when their eyes were opened about the possibility of a better future despite living in their small house made of scrap materials.

In 2009, Geraldine was interviewed by the DSWD under its Listahanan targeting system. This targeting system assesses the situation of families through house-to-house assessments. 

As a result, Geraldine’s family was classified as ‘poor,’ which gave way for their family to be included in the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) in 2012.

“Laking tuwa namin sa programang ito ng gobyerno. ‘Nung naka-payout na ako, sa wakas ay nakabili na rin kami ng bigas at masarap at totoong ulam para sa amin. Nakabili na rin kami ng mga gamit sa school ng mga bata, hindi na tulad ng dati na lahat ay galing sa mga kalakal,” she recalled.

Other than the cash grants, Geraldine also learned to become a more responsible mother through her attendance to the monthly Family Development Sessions (FDS) of the 4Ps.

“Namulat ako na hindi dapat maging mangmang at ‘di dapat ipagwalang-bahala ang mga karapatan ng mga bata, mga babae, at mga mamamayan,” said Geraldine, who added that no one taught her these things before as she only finished Grade 6 and she started having a family at the age of 15.

Her husband also managed to stop his vices, and they no longer fight over small things.

As a result, she and her husband were able to guide their children better. Their children, on the other hand, strived harder on their studies. 

Other than the 4Ps, the Norwegian Mission Alliance, a non-government organization, has been supporting the education of two of her children.

Slowly reaching their dreams

Despite the support they receive, Geraldine and her husband continued working hard and finding ways to earn and save for their other needs.

“Nakabili kami ng inahing baboy, at nakapagsimula ako ng maliit na tindahan,” shared Geraldine.

A few years later, when their eldest finished college and started working, they focused on raising pigs, chicken and ducks and managing the sari-sari store as their source of livelihood.

These days, Geraldine is proud that three of her children are already college graduates. They have families of their own now, and Geraldine is happy to see them being able to provide for their own families’ needs–far from the situation they grew up in.

The younger children are all in school. One is in college while the two are in high school.

“Hindi na rin tagpi-tagpi ang aming bahay. Nakabili kami ng sariling lupa at paunti-unti ay nakapagpatayo ng mas maayos at matibay na tahanan,” she shared. 

Nowadays, Geraldine is content with what they have accomplished as a family. 

“Tayo ang gumagawa ng ating kapalaran. Kailangan lang talagang magsikap at magtulungan ang pamilya para makamit ang pangarap na tagumpay,” shared Geraldine, who commits to continue working hard and guiding her children until all of them reach their dreams.# [with reports from JREMiranda]