Compostela, Compostela Valley Province (DSWD XI) – “Hopelessness has no room to those whose hope is in God,” said Rose Anne Valenzuela, a 19-year old Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary and Senior High School top graduate of Humanities and Social Sciences (HUMSS) at Compostela National High School.

Rose Anne succeeded despite adversities and because of sheer persistence.

It was November of 2009 when her family faced a soul-wrecking trial. Her parents, on their way home, were injured in a motorcycle accident. Her mother was declared dead-on-arrival while her father was comatose.

Rose Anne could still recall the tragedy with intense pain, how her dreams of a bright future were instantly relegated to the background. Having six siblings attending school, it was unimaginable how finishing it would still be possible when the only active source of livelihood, her mother, is gone and her father was struggling in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), with a very slim chance of survival.

Dili gyud nako malimtan ang adlaw nga nakadungog ko og balita nga akoang mama ug papa nadisgrasya. Si mama dead on arrival ug si papa 50-50 ug na comatose. Mura ko og mabuang og huna-huna kung ngano nahitabo ni sa amoa (I could never forget that fateful day when I learned that my parents met an accident and that my mother had died and my father had a 50% chance of surviving and was in a coma state. I could never fathom why it happened to us),” Rose Anne recalled.

“I thought I would crack up then, taking in all the anguish and the responsibilities left by my mother,” Rose Anne said. “We were shocked but we had to be strong and remain hopeful to be able to survive. Unceasingly, we prayed for a miracle.”

The best Christmas gift their family received on December 25, 2009 was their father, who was declared stable. His life was more important to us than any Christmas present, Rose Anne said.

New challenges, new blessings

Rose Anne performed the responsibilities left by her late mother –from minding various home chores to nursing her father back to health. These became part of her daily routine. She knew there were more trials to come.

While her two older siblings were doing part-time jobs to sustain their daily needs, she had to find ways to be able to pay for their school materials.

Meanwhile, Rose Anne’s bias towards education remained resolute as ever. She did not lose hope and aimed to finish her high school which is her sure ticket in breaking into college.

Rose Anne has been a top achiever since grade school and it was clear to her that her staunchest battle is her family’s low financial capacity.

Di baleng wala kami financially, importante gyod naay edukasyon. Kana amoang ginaisip nga katigayonan (It’s fine if we’re not financially able, it is more important to be educated and that’s what we treasure).”

In 2010, the Valenzuela family became a beneficiary of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

Dako gyod siya og tabang. Makatabang gyod kaayo sa amoa kay makabayad sa bayronon sa eskwelahan ug mga nautangan nako (It is really a big help to us. We are able to settle our school obligations and other debts as well).”

Strong in poverty

Rose Anne, being the more responsible among the remaining siblings (the older ones are already married), had to carry on and act like a family head which includes taking care of her paralyzed father.

The poverty she lived with everyday pushed her to work harder and graduate in senior high school. She believes their constant financial struggle was her driving force to finish her studies. She knew it is the only sure chance that would grant her family a ticket out of poverty and leading a better life.

“Thanks to Pantawid Pamilya,” Rose Anne declared. Now, she has a better chance.

This summer vacation, as Rose Anne is among the recipients of the Special Program for Employment of Students (SPES) in their locality, she painstakingly looks for opportunities to be able to fund her college degree.

She dreams to be a teacher. She wants her story to be told to inspire children in her town to work hard and pursue their dreams of a more productive and prosperous life.

Hardship is temporary but giving up won’t bring you anywhere. Rose Anne learned this lesson, being a hopeful, struggling poor and a work in progress.

Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program is a national government platform that invests in the health and education of poor households.

It provides cash grants to compliant household beneficiaries with a health subsidy of Php 500.00, and educational grants worth Php 300 and Php 500.00 respectively, to children in elementary and high school. As of April 2018, there are 263,127 households enrolled in Davao Region. (DSWD)