The rain was just washing off the roof and the sun was peeping through the windows as this year’s Regional Huwarang Pantawid Pamilya winner was announced at the Villa Silvina Hotel on July 31, 2017. The family of Nesar and Ligaya were not really expecting to win but were very much thankful for the opportunity and challenge that comes from being called Huwarang Pantawid Pamilya.
In 1995, since her family was not send her to college due to financial constraints, Ligaya journeyed overseas to work as a Household Service Worker in Malaysia where she met Nesar, who was then working as a baker in the same country. They became friends after they met in a bible study session hosted at their employer’s place.
“Nakita niya ako ma’am, tapos na-love at first sight na siya,” she laughs. “Ayun, tapos hindi na siya tumigil tumawag and magpapansin, and then nagpaalam na po siya umakyat ng ligaw sa employer ko.” (He saw me then and he felt love at first sight, he started calling me and kept on doing things to catch my attention. After that he decided to properly ask my employer, who was also the Christian family who took me, in if he could court me.)
Days have passed and by 1998, they were blessed with their first child. In the same year Ligaya decided to go back to the Philippines to take care of their child. Nesar stayed in Malaysia to continue providing the needs of Ligaya and their first baby.
The couple has been married for 14 years now, and it wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies. As normal couples do, they also had a few misunderstandings because of their personal differences but they made sure that these differences did not hamper the love and respect they have for each other. “Mayroong away na hindi maiiwasan ang mag-asawa, pero hindi ibig sabihin nun na mawawalan na nang respeto sa isa’t isa. Lahat naman nadadaan sa mabuting usapan at naniniwala kayo sa isa’t isa.” (There are arguments that are inevitable in the life of a married couple, but it doesn’t mean that you lose respect for each other in the process, everything can be settled when you talk about it properly and you have faith in each other.)
In their 14 years of marriage they were blessed with four children. At present their first child, Beverly Ann, is enrolled at Kings College of the Philippines as a third year student taking up Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education. Their second child, Joyce Ann, is a Grade 11 student at the University of the Cordilleras (UC) Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Program. Their third child, Philip John, is enrolled at Pines City National High School as a Grade 8 student. Their last child, Caleb John, is a Grade 5 pupil at Cypress Christian Foundation School.
Their children all excel academically and are also active church members who lead the bible study every Sunday. The family is perceived by the community as one of the role models for family values since they are able to practice and manifest good values and all the learnings and knowledge that the family gained from the Family Development Session as well as their experiences and good practices from their church and community.
“Sa disiplina, minsan magkaiba kami ng approach ni misis,” said Nesar, “but both sides, gusto naming maging maayos sila, yung sumusunod sa matatanda. Mine-maintain namin na lagi din sila nasa church, dun namin hinuhubog ang mga bata.” (When it comes to disciplining their children their way of disciplining varies, but both are aimed towards making their children better people, they should follow their elders, and we make sure that they’re always with us in church, it is where we mold them to become the person they would be.)
They know the importance of the program grants and they make sure they excel in school and in the community. They study together for tests and help each other in everything, from chores to school work and other activities. In down times, they tell their parents what they feel and pray and ask for guidance.
The Dela Cruz family was registered as beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program on December 2011 as part of Set 1. During the time of assessment, Nesar didn’t have a stable job. He only got called for simple daily plumbing and carpentry jobs and Ligaya was working part-time buying and selling what she can find in the market. Their total combined income was not enough to get them through the day with their 4 children in school.
The family claimed that it is a blessing but at the same time a social challenge for them as the program is packaged with many responsibilities. “Madaming condition but we strive to meet them para sa kinabukasan ng mga bata, at sinisiguro din po naming alam nila yun, kaya nagsusumikap sila sa school,” shares Ligaya. (The program has a lot of conditions, but we strive to meet them for the sake of our children’s future, and we make sure they know this as well, that’s why they try to do good in school.)
As a recipient of the program they are motivated to prove they are achievers in their own way and are role models not only in their community but in school. The cash grants they receive as beneficiaries have been their blessing and inspiration to encourage their children, and also the other children beneficiaries in their community, to do well in school.
The learnings from the Family Development Sessions are also one of their most prized gains from being beneficiaries since their family’s values and ties grew stronger. “Meron pa sakin ung unang FDS ma’am and na-memorize ko na po yun dahil sa tuwing may bago akong nalalaman, shine-share ko na agad sa pamilya ko, bago ko i-discuss sa iba, dahil din alam ko na makakatulong ito sa amin,” said Ligaya. (I still have the very first FDS manual they gave us and I already got it memorized since I discuss every new topic I learn to my family first before sharing it during the FDS because I know that it will truly help our family grow.)
The family is actively participating in all community activities like barangay clean and green, community assemblies, school related activities, and church events. Ligaya acknowledges that as a Child Development Worker and a Parent Leader she has to lead and continue to encourage her co-parents in the cleaning activities of their barangay and is strongly advocating responsible parenting.
The couple is hoping their dreams and aspirations for their children will be achieved through their hard work and continuous support. They dream to have them hold a college degree which would land them better opportunities that will improve their quality of life and become God fearing and responsible individuals in the community. Now they see them grow to be wonderful individuals and for them there is no greater gift.
As part of the transitioning households of Pantawid Pamilya in Baguio City, they welcome the change with an open mind. They know the program will not support them forever and they see this exit as a new opportunity for them to strive better and live life to the fullest, bringing everything they’ve learned from the program and sharing it not only to their families and friends, but also to give back to their communities in their own little ways.
By Phylein Maria Rosette U. Callangan