FO CAR_lights_of_hopeThe house of 35-year-old Gina Pasca in Poblacion, San Isidro, Abra is not the typical house with a living room and dining room. We were welcomed directly at their bedroom which is good enough to accommodate her three children and husband. It has one queen size bamboo bed and one plastic chair which she offered when she welcomed us to her house.

She was still catching her breathe when we arrived because she just came from her part time work as a caregiver of two senior citizen neighbors whose families do not live anymore in the area. Her husband, who is also a barangay tanod, just started cooking lunch for their.

“Pasensya na po nagluto pa ako sa kapit-bahay ng tanghalian,” she said.

Aling Gina is one of the Set 1 beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in Poblacion, San Isidro who will be graduating from the Program this year.  When we sat down for the interview, we immediately asked her if her family is now prepared and ready when they will no longer be part of the Program.

Without hesitation, she quickly responded with “yes” and a smile.

“Alam naman po naming may mga anak pa kaming kailangang mag-aral at malaki po ang naitulong ng Programa lalo na sa mga baon at gamit,” she said.

“Pero kahit mawala na po kami sa Programa, pagsisikapin po namin na maipagpatuloy ang kanilang pag-aaral kasi responsibilidad din po namin na mabigyan sila ng magandang kinabukasan,” she said.

“Kaya malaki ang pasasalamat naming sa Pantawid na kahit paano ay nairaos po namin ang pag-aaral ng mga bata,” she said.

Aling Gina also shared how saving from the cash grants she received from the Pantawid Program has brightened up their house.

“Ngayon po may kuryente na kami matapos magtago ng sobrang pera na natatanggap namin sa Pantawid,” she said.

“Iba pa rin po kapag maliwanag ang bahay,” she said.

She also recalled how the Pantawid Program has taught her how to spend their money wisely.

“Ang dami kong natutunan lalo na sa Family Development Sessions. Natuto po akong mag-budget ng mga gagastusin namin sa bahay at sa mga bata,” she said.

Her family became more health conscious and more informed on how to take care of their health and nutrition.

“Dahil po sa Pantawid mas naging maayos yung kalusugan ng pamilya ko,” she said.

She recalled how difficult it was for the family during rainy seasons before they became grantees of the Program.

“Noon kasi kapag maulan at walang ani, nahihirapan kami kung saan kukuha ng makakain lalo na para sa mga bata,” she said.

“Ngayon kahit papaano may naiipon na rin kami,” she said.

“Malaking bagay nga po yung kuryente namin na mapakabit namin dahil sa ipon ngayon kasi nakabili na kami ng refrigerator para magbenta ng ice candies,” she said.

Gina is also one of the Sustainable Livelihood Program beneficiaries in the area.

She used the ten thousand pesos loan she received from SLP to buy a refrigerator and sell ice candies.

“Minsan may kita po pero minsan konti lang. Kahit papaano nakakaraos din araw-araw sa pagbebenta ng ice candies,” she said.

As a part time caregiver of her neighbors with extra income in selling ice candies, she is assured that she will be able to fulfill her responsibilities in sending her children to school even after Pantawid Pamilya.

Before leaving their house, she gave us a tour and showed to us the refrigerator she uses to make ice candies.

“Nakakahiya man po yung bahay namin pero kahit papaano may naipundar na po kami dahil sa Pantawid,” she said.

The electric wire that is very visible in their house and the source of their light every night is a proof of how far her family has achieved from utilizing their grants properly. And the light it brings symbolizes their kindling hope to improve their living condition.