Ronald Caorte shares his testimony during the Parangal Program for Pantawid Pamilya children-graduates last March.

Sulop, Davao Del Sur -A world-renowned American writer – Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that “What lies behind us, and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.”  That is, your true success will be defined by how you handle both the triumphant and the hard times.

Nineteen-year old Ronald Caorte of Barangay Carre, Sulop, Davao del Sur had toughened himself up and strived triply hard to gradually achieve his dreams.

He wistfully recalled how he had to walk for over two hours every day from their home in Barangay Carre to an elementary school in Barangay New Cebu. In high school, Ronald often helped in augmenting the family’s income to be able to sustain his and his two siblings’ studies.

In 2010, his father Napoleon Caorte died of a lung disease, leaving his mother, Dioscora, now 52, to raise her three children.

Tungod sa kalisod, gikinahanglan mosakripisyo sa akoang manghod nga moundang og eskwela aron ako ang makatiwas. Naminyo og sayo ang amoang kinamaguwangan, mao kami sa akoang manghod ang magpadayon sa pangandoy sa amoang ginikanan (Because of poverty, my younger sister had to give up her studies so that I can finish mine. Our eldest got married early, leaving my sister and I pursue our parents’ dream),” Ronald shared.

Dako kaayo ang amoang pasalamat nga nakapasar ko sa entrance exam sa Southern Philippines Agri-business, Marine and Aquatic School of Technology (SPAMAST) sa Malita. Nahimo kong grantee sa Students’ Grant-in-Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation (SGP-PA). Dako kaayo nga tunok ang naibot sa akoa kay mao ni ang mahimong instrument aron makatiwas ko ug makab-ot nako ang akoang mga pangandoy (I was very grateful that I passed the entrance exam at Southern Philippines Agri-business, Marine and Aquatic School of Technology (SPAMAST) in Malita. I became a grantee of the Students’ Grant-in-Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation (SGP-PA). A great burden was lifted from me as this scholarship grant will pave the way for me to finish and achieve my dreams),” Ronald happily recounted.

Ronald was the first SGP-PA graduate at SPAMAST Malita. He graduated with a bachelor degree in Agriculture last April 2015. He now works as a Community Facilitator Assistant for the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer Program for Indigenous Peoples (MCCT-IPs). He now helps his sister in attaining her college education.

Mao pa lang ni ang sinugdanan sa pagkab-ot sa akoang pangandoy. Luyo sa kalisdanan ug mga pagsulay, kung naa kay pagsalig ug determinasyon – kaya nato molambo! Kaya nato ang pagbag-o! (This is just the start of my journey towards my dream. Despite the hardships and trials, if you have faith and determination, we can move up! We can achieve the change we need!), Ronald proudly exclaimed.

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) spearheaded the SGP-PA (now known as ESGP-PA) in 2012 to benefit qualified Pantawid Pamilya grantees all over the country.

At present, there are 2,029 ESGP-PA (Expanded Students’ Grant-in-Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation) grantees in the entire Davao Region, Director Priscilla N. Razon of DSWD said.

ESGP-PA ensures that grantees are enrolled in selected SUCs duly recognized by CHED, channeled to CHED priority courses, and be extended the needed support that will guarantee completion of studies thus qualify them for high-value added jobs in the future,” Director Razon added.

The selection of potential ESGPPA scholars is identified using the parameter of one beneficiary per Pantawid household. This number is proportioned to the number of households and the area coverage per municipality.

Potential scholars must be 16-20 years old and must be willing and interested to become a student beneficiary. Moreover, an upcoming student grantee must pass the entrance examination set by the respective SUC. However, in cases that the number of potential beneficiaries exceeds the allocated slots, grade requirement shall be applied. Students belonging to the upper 20% of the graduating class will be prioritized.

A student-grantee receives a maximum of P 60,000.00 scholarship grant per school year or P 30,000.00 per semester. This is broken down to P20, 000/year Tuition Fee Cost, P 5,000/year Textbook Fees and other learning materials, and P 35,000 (that is, P 3,500/month x 10 months) stipend (for board and lodging, transportation, clothing, health/medical needs, basic school supplies and other related costs). (DSWD)