A blessing of hope

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‘Dakkel nga iyaman me ken ni Apo Diyos ta inted na nga instrumento ti 4Ps tapnu matulungan dakami (We are very grateful to God because he used the 4Ps as an instrument to help us),” John Ballogan happily shared as he recounts how blessed they were when his family became a recipient of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

Married for 21 years now, John, 42, and Paula, 43, continue to overcome the struggles brought by poverty as they live up with hope from every blessing that comes along their way.

Looking back

John and Paula belong to the Tuwali  indigenous group of Ifugao. As members of an indigenous community, they raised their family with cultural values while integrating the influence of the society outside their community.

John was only able to reach 1st year in  college as financial scarcity and barkada beset him. Her wife Paula was able to finish college but luck seems elusive to her when it comes to employment.

In 1999, John and Paula got married and they were blessed with five children. Their first child Jomike, who is now 19, was born with a disability and needs medical maintenance. With this, Paula became a fulltime housewife to take care of Jomike and the other children.

With the vision of having a happy and responsible family, John and Paula inculcated spiritual values in their family. They believe that the strong foundation of a family is building a relationship with God.

John also built a small house for his family made out of available woods and recycled galvanized iron sheets. John admitted that having a family without a regular source of income and a conducive shelter are big challenges that they had to face not to mention the ever increasing high cost of living.

Despite John’s strong determination, life continued to test his resiliency. His wife was diagnosed as having goiter and needs medical attention. There were times that he would frown with fear and become weary of the uncertainties he and his family are facing.

John, then, juggled everything to provide the needs of his family and the medication of his wife and child. He took all sorts of jobs from construction work, farming, and on-call daily labor work. Despite his doubled efforts, he was still drowned with increasing expenses and debts.

With John’s dire situation, his only armor is his strong faith in God. It is with this sincere connection to Him that their situation began to get into the right places, John believes.

Answered prayers

It was in 2009 that God responded to their prayers when John and Paula’s family was included in the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. Their children Paulyn Joy, John Paul, and John Jr.  who were then 7, 4, and 2 years old respectively, were included as the monitored children of the program. Paulyn Joy has just graduated from Grade 12 this year, while John Paul and John Jr. are now in Grade 10, and Grade 8.

Since then, the family’s seemingly elusive fate gradually changed. Though his wife has not yet fully recovered, John is driven that God will heal her in time.

Realizations and family’s vision

John recalled that, at first, he was only interested to comply with the conditions of the program just for the cash subsidy. But he later realized the holistic purpose of the program through the monthly family development sessions (FDS). The FDS is a monthly psycho-social and education intervention activity for 4Ps beneficiaries that aims to improve their parenting capabilities and to encourage them to become more active members of the society.

According to John, the FDS is a big help in strengthening his role as a husband, a father, a parent, and a responsible member of the community.

“Ang FDS ay isa sa naging daan upang matuto ako ng mabuting paraan ng pag-papamilya. Alam ko sa sarili ko na isa akong responsableng ama at asawa ngunit mayroon pa pala akong mga tungkulin na dapat gampanan. Lahat ng mga salita at payo na naririnig ko o ng asawa ko tuwing FDS ay nai-a-apply namin sa loob at labas ng aming pamilya (The FDS taught me how to properly manage my family. I believe that I am a responsible father and a husband but the activity taught me to do better in my roles. We also apply all the learnings we gained from the FDS inside and outside our family),” John shared.

John also pointed out that apart from the subsidy they receive, the love within their family has glimmered even more. “Mas napaigting pa ng aking pamilya ang maayos na samahan balot ng pagmamahalan (The program has strengthened the bond of love within our family),” John continued.

While John and Paula are actively involved in various community organizations, they also invested time in enhancing their skills by participating in different training and seminars. Paula’s active involvement in community activities has also brought her a role as public servant in their community being a member of the Sangguniang Barangay.

John’s family now manages a small store they started from the savings they set aside from their cash grant. They were also able to build a concrete house that is now good enough for their family. With their small business, John was able to buy a tricycle as an additional source of income for the family. The family is also committed to maintaining their backyard garden.

With these at hand, John is beyond grateful from the blessings they received through the 4Ps. His long-term goal is for his children to have a good future through finishing their education while remaining faithful to God.

While John’s family has still a long journey to overcome poverty, his family is forever grateful for the Pantawid Pamilya as they considered this not just a blessing but hope in improving their lives.  By Marlo C. Abyado Jr.

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