Amelia Quinto, 47, a resident of Barangay 10-B in Cavite City struggles to support her five children by herself since separating from her husband four years ago.
“Nakaka-apekto na rin sa pag-aaral ng mga bata ang hindi pagkakasundo naming mag-asawa, kaya nag-desisyon na ako at pinili kong suportahan silang mag-isa (My children’s studies are already affected by constant disagreement between me and my husband so I decided to support them by myself),”she shared.
Hence, when her eldest told her she wanted to enroll in college, Amelia had scary thoughts.
“Alam kong hindi madali ang magpa-aral sa college dahil nakakakwentuhan ko naman dati ‘yung mga nanay na nagpapa-aral (I know it is not easy to finance my child’s college education because I have also talked to other mothers who have children in college),” she recalled.
Despite her limited income as a vendor, Amelia was able to send her daughter Maria Elena to college. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Accountancy in April this year.
For Amelia, the journey towards this achievement is not easy, but she is glad she took the chance. Despite being a solo parent, she never felt alone in any way.
Finding a ‘partner’
Amelia shared how lucky she is that her children are hard working.
“Sabi ng mga anak ko, magtutulungan kami para makamit nila ang pangarap nila na makapag-aral. Hanggang sa school nila, nagtitinda ang mga anak ko para lang masuportahan ang aming mga pangangailangan (My children said we will help each other so they may achieve their dreams to finish their studies. My children sell things in school to provide for our needs),” Amelia continued.
When their family became a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in 2012, Amelia felt she has found a partner in raising her children.
Pantawid Pamilya is a human development program implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) that invests in the health and education of poor families, primarily those with children aged 0-18. It provides monthly cash grants to beneficiaries who comply with the conditions of sending their children to school, bringing them to health centers, and attending the Family Development Sessions (FDS).
She narrated, “Naging malaking tulong ang programa para sa pag-aaral ng dalawa kong anak. Nagkaroon ako ng pagkakataon para mas mapagtuunan ang pagpapaunlad ng aming kabuhayan (The program is a big help in the schooling of my two children. I had the opportunity to expand our business).”
“Yung dating isang tinda ko lang, nagiging dalawa na. May gulay na, may kakanin pa. Yung kinikita ko dito ay malaking tulong na para suportahan ang aming pamilya, lalo na at dalawa ang nagkokolehiyo ko (I doubled the items that I sell, aside from vegetables, I also sell snacks. The earnings I derived here is a big help in supporting my family, especially since I have two children studying in college),” Amelia related.
As an added source of income, she also rents 20 units of ‘pero-pero’ (a battery-operated lamp) to her neighbors who have no electricity in their houses, earning additional P200 daily.
“Ang mga customer ko dito sa amin, mga walang kuryente sa bahay nila dahil mahirap lang din sila. Minsan, kahit yung pang-renta na P20 sa pero-pero kada gabi, hindi nila mabayaran, pero ayos lang ‘yun sakin (My customers here have no electricity in their houses because they are also poor. Sometimes, they cannot even afford to pay the P20 rent for ‘pero-pero’ every evening, but this is fine with me),” she said.
“Naranasan ng mga anak ko na mag-aral sa tapat ng street lights, o kaya nagbabantay ako hanggang matapos silang mag-aral gamit ang kandila para makasigurong hindi kami masusunugan. Alam namin ang hirap kaya gusto ko namang tulungan ‘yung mga kapitbahay namin sa munting paraan (My children experienced how it is to study beside street lights, or I watched over them until they finish their assignments using candles to ensure that our house will not catch fire. We know how difficult it is so I want to help our neighbors even in a small way),” Amelia pointed out.
Building a strong family
Other than the cash grants being provided by the Pantawid Pamilya, Amelia is thankful because this program taught her to be a better parent through her regular attendance to the Family Development Session (FDS).
FDS is a gathering of parent-beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilya. It is conducted monthly by DSWD and partners-NGOs in coordination with the private sector and civil society organizations. It serves as a venue where topics on effective parenting, husband and wife relationships, child development, laws affecting the Filipino family, gender and development, home management, active citizenship, and electoral education are discussed.
“Sa aking pag-attend sa mga buwanang FDS, marami akong natutunan, na ang pinakamahalaga ay ang tamang pag-intindi sa mga bata at tamang komunikasyon sa pamilya (In my monthly attendance to the FDS, I learned a lot of things, the most important of which are understanding and properly communicating with our children),” she pointed out.
According to Amelia, she used to not care about her children’s feelings or opinions.
“Dati, ako lang lagi ang nasusunod. Kailangang intindihin nila ang sinasabi ko. Pero ngayon, alam ko na ang importansya ng maayos na komunikasyon. Bukas ang pag-uusap sa pagitan naming lahat kaya mas naging maayos at malakas ang aming pamilya kahit wala ang tatay nila dito (Before, my children should always follow and understand what I am saying, but I know now the importance of smooth communication. We maintain an open line of communication, that is why our family became stronger even if their father is not around),” she said.
For Amelia, the happiness they share today because of their good relationship at home and the accomplishments of her children in school reflects her success as a solo parent. This is what keeps her going every day and continuously inspires her to work harder until all her children achieve their dreams.
Amelia is one of the 281,800 solo-parent beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilya nationwide, as of April 27. ###