For Ritchel Demetrio, a former resident of Taguig City, living in a squatter’s area was never easy. Without a permanent home and a source of livelihood, she and her husband had to accept any job available to be able to provide for their family.
“Kayod kalabaw kaming mag asawa. Kahit hanggang gabi nagtatrabaho kami kung kinakailangan para matugunan ang pangangailangan namin sa pang araw-araw. Kailangang doble kayod talaga para maitaguyod namin yung pamilya namin at pangangailangan ng aming mga anak. Kaya ang masasabi ko lamang, noon, ang mahalaga sa amin ay makakain lang kami ng tatlong beses sa isang araw; almusal, tanghalian, at hapunan” (My husband and I worked extra hours until the evening just to meet our family’s daily needs. Before, we already considered it a blessing if we could eat three times a day), she shared.
In 2009, Ritchel became a beneficiary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). With the cash grant from 4Ps, she was able to send her children to school and meet her family’s daily needs, however, she wanted to become self-sufficient.
4Ps is a human development program 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).
Meanwhile, it was in 2015, when another opportunity knocked on her doors. One of the 4Ps parent leaders approached her and asked if she was interested to avail of the free training offered by the DSWD’s Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP).
SLP is a capacity building program which provides opportunities to the vulnerable, marginalized, and disadvantaged individuals, families, and communities to enhance their livelihood assets and capacity to utilize their resources more productively. Participants of the program can either choose one of its two tracks: the Micro-enterprise Development Track or the Employment Facilitation Track.
For Ritchel, she chose the Employment Facilitation track because she wanted to enhance her skills and knowledge through the training programs offered by SLP.
“Nagpalista po ako kaagad, hindi ako nagdalawang isip kasi naniniwala ako na yung SLP, parang binuksan nya yung pinto sa pangarap ko na matuto pa. Tinuring ko yung pagkakataon na yun na parang stepping stone ko. Kasi naniniwala po ako na makakatulong yung training ng SLP para malabanan natin ang kahirapan ng buhay” (After finding out about SLP, I immediately signed up to join because I believe that it will open doors for me to continue to learn new skills. I considered the opportunity as a stepping stone to help me to move away from poverty), Ritchel said.
“Napakasaya ko po talaga kahit alam ko na medyo mahihirapan po ako kasi meron akong isasabay na trabaho sa pinapasukan ko noon at dagdag pa yung tungkulin ko sa bahay bilang isang ina kasi may mga anak din po ako. Nanibago talaga ako noon, para akong nagback-to-school tapos di ko alam paano ako makikipagsabayan kasi ang dami kong mga kaklase na mga bata. Pero gaya nga ng sinabi ko, naniwala talaga ako na stepping stone ko yun kaya tinuloy ko kahit mahirap” (I was happy to join the training despite having difficulty of juggling the training, work, and my responsibilities as a mother. At first, it was challenging for me because of the unfamiliar back-to-school setting. I also have younger classmates who were more enthusiastic during class, but as I said, I really believed that it was my stepping stone so I continued despite the difficulties), she added.
Through SLP, Ritchel was able to finish National Certification III (NCIII) Bookkeeping in 2015 under the International Electronics and Technical Institute, Inc (IETI) in Alabang, Muntinlupa City. Aside from the Bookkeeping course, she also finished Reflexology Training and Language Proficiency for American Accent to help her find work in a call center.
“Marami akong natutunan nung pumasok ako sa SLP. Unang-una na dun yung lumawak lalo yung pangarap ko sa buhay. Alam ko na marami akong magagawa dahil sa programang ito. Dahil sa bookkeeping na kinuha ko, alam ko na hindi ko lang ito magagamit bilang empleyado kasi nagtatrabaho na ako noon hanggang ngayon. Bagkus, alam ko na magagamit ko din sya sa pagnenegosyo ko kasi naniniwala po ako na mas aasenso ako kung may kasabay na negosyo” (When I entered SLP, my dreams expanded because of the things that I learned from the program. I knew that the skills that I learned will be able to help me find work in a company as an employee, and also in starting my own business), Ritchel shared.
In 2017, she was able to enter the sales and marketing industry as a real estate agent. She utilized the skills she learned from SLP to engage with clients and sell properties.
After years of perseverance, Ritchel was able to finally waive her 4Ps membership as she felt that she and her husband can now sustain their family’s needs because of her work and RTW business.
The Demetrio family was able to acquire their own dream house and residential lot in Naic, Cavite. Ritchel was also able to send her kids to a private school.
From a simple family living in a shanty area to acquiring their own property, Ritchel has been proud of her family’s journey towards self-sufficiency. Currently, she is actively engaged in different organizations, cooperative, charity works, hosting gigs, among others. She also managed to purchase a car and motorcycle which is currently used for their RTW business.
Lastly, when asked about her advice to her fellow beneficiaries, she said, “Naniniwala po ako na lahat ng bagay, kung may kasamang panalangin at pagsusumikap, may katumbas po ito na pag-asenso” (I believe that anything is possible, if you prayed and worked hard to achieve it). ###