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A Broken Heart Beats an Unshattered Dream

Nagkawatak-watak ang aming pamilya at naging mas mahirap pa,” this keeps on in the mind of a 17-year old student from Sitio Kabangkalan, Pinagturilan in the municipality of Sta. Cruz, Occidental Mindoro.

Kristine Joy Bongar cannot forget how their complete family was destroyed by her father’s vices and physical abuse to her mother. According to her, “dinaig pa nito ang hirap ng kumakalam naming sikmura sa tuwing wala kaming maisaing at kulang ang baon para sa pagkain at pamasahe.”

Seeing her father mistreats her mother repeatedly will always be one of her biggest pains. But after their parents got separated, she cannot help but wonder how she and her nine siblings will survive with their mother not having a stable source of income.

From then on, Kristine swore to continue with her dream and strive harder to finish her studies so she can help her mother provide for the family.

On April 3, 2018, Kristine graduated in Grade 12 at Pinagturilan National High School with Highest Honors. She is now one step forward to reach her dreams.

Cutting the Hardship

All throughout her childhood, Kristine has experienced life’s difficulty being raised from a big family. When she reached high school, she managed her P30.00 allowance for her P20.00 fare and the remaining for her lunch, and other school expenses. There were times when she had to walk 6 kilometers back and forth from their house to school when her mother cannot provide an allowance.

Minsan hindi na lang din ako nakain kapag walang pera tapos sa library na lang ako pumupunta para magbasa na lang,” she shared.

At a young age, she knows that her parents’ income from furniture-making is not sufficient to support the needs of their family. When they do not have anything to eat, her mother will often tell her to go to their neighbor and ask for rice. From day-to-day, Kristine can feel the cynical attitude of their neighbors, even their relatives, towards their family whenever they borrow money or ask for food to them.

Life is already hard for Kristine and her family but she never thought it could get any harder when their parents separated.

Mula simula, damang-dama namin yung pagmamalupit ng tatay namin. Palagi silang nag-aaway na kahit sa simpleng bagay lamang, pilit na pinalalaki ni Papang yung gulo,” Kristine shared.

Whenever her father comes home drunk, Kristine said that their parents will start arguing. Her father often utters curse words to their mother and inflicts physical harm to her. Their mother always tells them to get out of the house each time they start fighting so that they will not be involved in their fight.

“Bilang anak, masakit makita na yung mga magulang nag-aaway at walang pinipiling lugar, may mga tao man o wala, sa harap namin o hindi. Umabot pa minsan na hinabol nya si Mamang ng gulok buti na lang nakalayo agad si Mamang. Ngayong wala na si Papang sa bahay, mas panatag na kaming mag-iina,” she added.

When their father left their home, Kristine’s mother became the breadwinner of the family. “Ginagawa ni Mamang ang lahat para matustusan yung pangangailangan namin. Makikipaglabada, magtatanim sa bukid, at minsan nagliliha ng kahoy sa furniture shop,” Kristine said.

During weekends, they help their mother make charcoal to sell or give to their neighbors in exchange for food.

New Chance, Better Life

Despite all the hardships they experienced, Kristine and her family did not lose hope.

When their family became a member of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, Kristine witnessed the changes the program has made in their life.

“Hindi na po akong kailangang utusan na mangutang ng bigas dahil natutustusan na ng cash grant na ibinibigay ang pangkain namin,” she shared.

Kristine became one of the three monitored child grantees of the program. With her compliance to the education condition of having at least 85 percent monthly attendance in school, she receives P500 per month. The family also receives another P500 for her compliance to the deworming condition of the program as well as her mother’s attendance to the monthly Family Development Sessions (FDS). The cash grant they received has helped them pay for their school projects and her school supplies.

Further, their family also learned how to strengthen their relationship and grow as a family through FDS and YDS.

“Dahil sa FDS, mas dito po namin natutunan yung mga karapatan ng kababaihan at mga bata na hindi dapat saktan ng kung sino man,” she said.

The FDS is a component of the Pantawid Pamilya program that teaches parent-grantees on various topics relating to family development including children’s rights, disaster preparedness, and budget management. Attendance to the monthly FDS is a co-responsibility of all beneficiaries with the program.

The program has reminded Kristine’s family that education is their way to get out of poverty.

Sa mga tulong na ibinibigay po sa amin ng programa, mas nagpupursigi po talaga kaming mag-aral nang mabuti dahil parang sinasabi nito na handa yung gobyerno na tulungan kami para suportahan kami para sa aming kinabukasan,” she attested.

True to this, Kristine and her siblings studied hard and found ways for them to continue until they graduate. In fact, her two older sisters were able to graduate in college as working students. Now that they are earning, they were able to help their mother send their siblings, including Kristine, to school.

Moving On, Moving Forward

“Laban lang para sa kinabukasan. Kung kaya nila, kaya ko rin,” Kristine exclaimed.

Kristine knows that life must go on even with all the difficulties that come their way.

All those things that happened to her family have made her stronger and inspired her to pursue her dreams of graduating and finding a good work after. She wanted to achieve not only her dreams but also the dreams of their family to get out of poverty.

Alam ko po mahirap ang buhay lalo na pagdating ko sa college, pero lahat po gagawin ko para makapagtapos rin ako ng pag-aaral,” she said.

Determined to continue her studies, Kristine plans to take Bachelor of Science in Education at the Oriental Mindoro State College.

Kristine might have a broken family, but she vows to make sure that her dreams will never shatter.   ###

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