Once there was a quiet boy who dreamt to make a change by making people see through his eyes. At first, his dream seemed far off especially with his current situation and young age, but with his patience, perseverance, and commitment, slowly he’s starting to make his dreams come true.
When asked what his biggest accomplishment, Erickson Garcia Bersamira answered, “Kung ano po ako ngayon.” It is a vague and deep answer coming from a boy of only 13 years of age. At this point in his life, as an adolescent, he considers himself a life-long learner. Being a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilya program has been a huge part of this turn out, and for this he is very proud.
He and his siblings were raised aware of their status in life. This awareness and being part of the program gave him an opportunity to do well in his education, aside from it being part of the conditionality of the program. He wanted to be a role model to his fellow Pantawid children beneficiaries by excelling in their class and other activities not only in school but in the community.
“Ang mga kabataan ang susunod na henerasyon at pag-asa ng bayan, ngunit sila (kami) din ngayon ang parte ng problema. Gusto ko pong i-advocate ang mga dapat gawin para mag tapos sa pag-aaral, na hindi hadlang ang kahirapan para maabot ang mga pangarap natin sa buhay. Lalo na kung tayo ay may mabuting pag-uugali at marunong makipagkapwa-tao,” he shares.
At an early age, Erickson witnessed his parents’ hardships in life in terms of financial stability since his father worked as a laborer in construction sites while his mother was unemployed. He felt that part of his struggle in life is his family’s situation wherein they had difficulty meeting their everyday needs, as well as the education for the four of them.
The Bersamira family lives in Barangay Sto. Rosario in Baguio City. His parents, Ricarte Ugay Bersamira, is a native of Baguio City while Laura Garcia Bersamira hails from Naguilian, La Union. His parents are happily married for 19 years now and was blessed with four children. Among their children, three were selected as children beneficiaries. Their eldest Lailani already graduated from the program and is presently studying BS Accountancy at Saint Louis University. Melanie is Grade 11 in the University of Cordilleras Senior High School, and Erickson is Grade 8 at Baguio City High School. Emerson, their youngest, is currently a Grade 1 pupil at Roxas Elementary School.
Erickson is often invited to speak words of inspiration to his fellow children beneficiaries, and although he is shy and usually a person of few words, when he does speak, his words transcends. “Ang kahirapan ay hindi harang para makapagtapos, isa lang itong pagsubok para gawin kang matatag. Ang edukasyon ay hindi makukumpleto kung wala ka namang tamang pag uugali, dapat tatandaan natin lagi na sa kabila ng iba’t-ibang estado natin sa buhay, mahirap o mayaman, sa mata ng Diyos, tayo ay pantay-pantay.”
Erickson is consistently in the top 10 of their class with an average of 91%. He is also consistently a winner of school-led activities such as poster making contests including on the spot competitions. He is an artist by choice and by his works he wanted to share how he views life.
During the regional search for Exemplary Children he did an on-the-spot artwork using spray paint. His artwork represented his life journey. He painted a tree with withered leaves in an almost barren land. The fallen leaves represented the mistakes and challenges mainly brought about by poverty that he overcame. In the artwork one fruit left was hanging, the symbol of a new beginning, and a fresh start that was an opportunity given to him by the arrival of the program to their lives.
Besides being an academic achiever, he also does outreach programs in their barangay and other community and church-led activities.
Erickson is described by his mother as someone who likes sports such as basketball and soccer. He also has interest in playing musical instruments, though he prefers playing the guitar. He loves singing and rapping. At home, he helps with household chores, such as washing the dishes and fetching water. Most of the time, he informs his family members his whereabouts and goes home on time.
As a young boy he is already determined and mature in making decisions. Her mother shared Erickson wanted to buy a tablet. He pursued to save from his allowance and didn’t ask for any money from his parents since he understood their economic situation. However, when his tablet stopped functioning, he no longer wanted to buy another since he is not really fond of using it and he thought that it was not a necessity for him, even if he is young. He is a typical child who experienced challenges when he entered high school where peer pressure is rampant. With the guidance of his parents and siblings he was able to overcome the situation.
In his young age, Erickson has already accomplished so much and is determined to continue living this way until his ultimate dream comes true – to have his family lifted from poverty. He gave his acceptance speech during the awarding and said confidently and proudly, “Pangarap ko pong makita ang mga kababayan kong makaangat sa buhay kasama ko, at hindi lang ako.”
Together with the provincial winners of CAR he attended the 6th National Children’s Congress in San Juan, Metro Manila. He was hailed as this year’s National Pantawid Pamilya Exemplary Child 1st Runner Up and was awarded on November 18, 2017 during the Araw ng Kabataan in SM North Edsa Skydome.
Indeed, a small boy’s dream can come a long way with the right motivation, drive, and support. Erickson hopes to see a day wherein everybody is living in peace and he is determined to see this through, one step at a time.
By Phylein Maria Rosette U. Callangan