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One Dream Down: A Girl’s Journey to Success

Looking back to her list of 50 things she wants to achieve in life, Angela said that she had already crossed out many of them.

One of those is to graduate in college.

Despite the many hardships and challenges she experienced being from a family belonging to the marginalized sector, she had never thought that she will be able to get over through the winding road of her journey.

Her determination to take her family out from poverty became her motivation to keep on moving forward.

At an early age, Angela Mae Tacan, 19 years old from Taytay, Palawan, knows how complicated her life is. She was raised by her biological mother and stepfather, not knowing about her father. She lives with them and their 4 children and considers them as her true family.

Her stepfather was able to finance their needs through his small income from gardening.

Angela, as the eldest, felt a need to help her parents in supporting their family.

When she was in high school, Angela needs to rent a boarding house since the only school providing secondary education in their municipality is far away from their house. And to pay for her fee, she brings the vegetables harvested by her father to their land lady as an exchange for her rent. She also works with her land lady as their labandera and helps her in running their store. Having a talent in crafts and arts, Angela also helps her classmates with their projects and her teachers in designing their classrooms for which she is paid. Since she needs to budget her P50.00 allowance per week, she walks to their house from her boarding house with a 7 kilometer distance.

Ang pinaka hindi ko malilimutan nung high school ay nung sinabi ng adviser ko sa stepfather ko na magaling daw ako at napakasipag, sabi ng stepfather ko, kapag nakikita nya na ang anak nyang nagsisikap, magsisikap din sya. Doon ko naramdaman na kahit di ako tunay na anak, kaya nya akong ipagmalaki,” Angela narrated as she sheds her tears.

Angela was awarded as their class’ First Honorable Mention and her stepfather walked up to the stage with her to give her the medal during their graduation. But at that moment, Angela knew that her complicated life is not yet over. It was just the beginning of her leap to a yet most difficult part of her student life—getting into college.


Reaching the Dream

Angela is eager to study college even though she knows the struggle of their parents in sending them to school having experienced it in high school.

Mahalaga po kasi sa akin ang makapagtapos ng pag-aaral kasi alam kong ito yung tutulong sa akin para maiahon ko ang pamilya ko sa hirap,” she said.

She passed the entrance exam in West Philippines University – Puerto Princesa and took up Bachelor of Science in Education (BSED) with a major in Biological Science. She received half scholarship grant being an honor student yet, her mother needs to borrow money to pay for her tuition fee since their father’s income is still not enough to pay for it. Knowing this, she tried other scholarship exams but was not accepted.

Before their classes start, Angela needed to find a boarding house where she can stay. When she found one, she cannot pay the rent so she asked the landlady if she could stay for the night and told her that she will pay tomorrow once she received the money from her mother.

Ang higaan ko lang noon ay karton at wala man lang akong kumot at unan,” she described.

When she started studying, she budgeted her P200.00 allowance for projects, books, and food. She works as a dishwasher in a karinderia. Most of the time, she buys one pack of soy sauce and cooking oil to pair with rice as her meal for the whole week. “Minsan kapag di ko na kaya na ganun, asin at tubig naman. Medyo madami po kasi kaming binibili sa school kaya kung ano matira yun ang para sa pagkain,” she said. It is more important for her to feed her hungry mind than her hungry stomach.

“Hindi na po ako humihingi kay nanay kapag kulang kasi alam kong baka maubusan naman yung mga kapatid ko,” she added. Angela has to endure all of these because of her willingness to get her degree.


A Beautiful Surprise

While being lost in thought thinking of how she will get through another week with her remaining allowance, she was texted by the University to go to the student affairs office.

Akala ko may nagawa akong masama, yun pala ang sabi ni Ma’am, nakasama pala ako sa ESGP-PA na scholarship ng Pantawid at di ko na pala kailangan magbayad,” she narrated.

She cannot contain her happiness when she heard the news and she immediately call her mother to prepare the necessary documents needed for it.

Kaya pala hinindian ako ng mga taong iyon kasi masyado syang maliit para sa akin kaya thankful ako nung dumating sa aking ito dahil kumbaga ako yung kinatok ng program,” Angela called.

With the Expanded Students’ Grants-in-Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation (ESGP-PA) of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in partnership of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Angela is entitled to a P30,000.00 grant per semester or P60,000.00 grant per year which covers her tuition fees and other school fees, academic and other extracurricular expenses, textbooks, board and lodging, etc.

The scholarship was not only able to help her financially but it also opened other opportunities which honed her skills and let her rediscover herself.

Thankful po talaga ako sa program lalo na po’t ito ang naging way para makita ko ang biological father ko for the first time ng personal,” she said.

For 16 years, the only thing she knows about her father is that he was already dead. But when her Aunt told her that her father was looking for her, she somewhat felt incomplete.

Hinahanap ko siya sa FB pagkatapos ko pilitin si mama na ibigay ang pangalan nya. Gumawa ako agad ng FB kahit wala talaga akong account doon. Tapos ang nakita ko, nakatira sa Cavite pero ang alam ko taga Taytay siya kaya medyo hesitant pa ako noon. Minessage ko siya at tinanong kung kilala nya yung mama ko, tapos sabi niya oo daw at ibigay ko daw ang number ko sa kaniya dahil tatawagan niya ako,” she narrated.

She was then sent by their University as a representative to the ESGP-PA Regional Assembly conducted in Metro Manila on 2015. Before going back to Palawan, Angela and her biological father was able to see each other personally in the airport terminal. “Blessing in disguise talaga ang program para makita ko ang tatay ko,” she added.

Angela said that she will forever be thankful to the program for giving her glimmer of hope and for strengthening her will to keep on going despite her life’s hardship.


New Beginning, New Dreams

Reminiscing her life before being an ESGP-PA grantee, Angela cannot imagine how she was able to succeed dealing with her struggles. Looking back, she said it was those lessons that she did not learn from the books that she would always remember.

“Ang kahirapan hindi hadlang para maging successful ka sa buhay kasi kung determined ka, gagawa ka talaga ng paraan,” she said.

Still determined to help her family, Angela plans to teach while waiting for the board exam then she will apply to the Department of Education for work. The fire to learn is still alive in Angela as she plans to continue her masters degree.

“Hindi mo kasalanan maging mahirap; kasalanan mong mamatay kang mahirap hanggang sa huli,” she added.


As she receives her diploma on graduation day, Angela carries her biggest smile signaling a new beginning, new journey, and new dreams to make.###

This post was written by:

- who has written 60 posts on DSWD Field Office IV Mimaropa Official Website.

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