A mother has a heart of a soldier. It beats to protect her children. In its veins flow endless compassion and care. Its walls are strengthened by hope and grace. It sees the ugly and transforms it into a multitude of admirable beauty. Its muscles are collections of wisdom that reflects in the heart of her children.

Lilian Garcia, 46, a mother of four has survived countless defeat and has won numerous battles. She married at an early age and since then, she has been fighting to keep her family’s head above water. Her husband, a farmer, barely compensates to the lack of financial capacity to send all their children to school. But her sheer desire to fulfill her dream of seeing all the children finish their education fuels her motivation to fight harder.

A couple’s story

Farming was the major source of income the Garcia couple has in the early stage of their marriage. The meager amount they earn a day cannot cover daily expenses for a family of six. Aurello, her husband, had to wake up at four in the morning to fish so Lilian could vend the catch in hope of stretching their financial stick. Even with two sources of income, the couple barely met the needs of their family.

“Minsan talaga, noon, kapag walang wala na kami makuhanan ng pera, humihingi na din ako ng tulong sa mga magulang ko kapag meron silang extra,” recalled Lilian. Her determination was not weakened by her financial circumstance. Lilian is naturally resourceful. She shared, “ako talaga ang iniisip ko ay mapagkakakitaan parati. Ginawa ko talaga yung kinikita naming sa pagtatanim at pangingisda at yung tulong mula sa magulang ko, inipon ko para makapagtayo ng maliit na sari-sari store.”

The absence of electricity in their area in Abra de Ilog, Occidental Mindoro made it difficult for Lilian to manage the store at night. She remembered having to light up a small candle, hoping it would last until ten in the evening so she can save the money to buy another one.

Her family suffered a massive blow when one of her husband’s leg got paralyzed due to a dysfunction in the veins. Aurello had to stop farming for at least 3 months, which meant losing half of their earnings at that time. “Doon ako talaga sobrang nahirapan, kasi gastos sa gamot sa pang araw-araw pa, kaya talagang hirap na hirap ako,” shared Lilian.

A shed of light

The Sustainable Livelihood Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development aims to alleviate poverty by providing financial assistance for livelihood purposes. Lilian is fortunate to be granted a total amount of Php 10,000.00 as a start-up capital for a business. She used the capital to add items to sell in her sari-sari store. Sitio Balagnan is situated far off the town of Abra de Ilog where most markets are.

Residents in their community have to ride a boat for an hour and a half to get to town to stock up groceries consumable in a week or a month.  This gave Lilian an idea to begin retailing rice and other goods in their sitio to help people save time from visiting town for groceries. The sari-sari store and rice retail began to flourish and her monthly income increased. Now, her family has enough money to spend for their daily expenses.

Money became a bit tighter when two of her children stepped in college. A huge chunk of the budget had to be allocated for their studies. Instead of having one of them to stop schooling, she welcomed the opportunity of venturing into another business, the selling of ready-to-wear clothes. Lilian then had extra money saved which she used to buy clothes to sell.

With a clear goal to increase her profit, she was able to earn the capital back and kept all her business afloat. As today, three of her children have already graduated and two of them are now employed. Her store earns steadily and she continuously saves for future use. She assures to deposit a fixed amount of money on a monthly basis.

Sharing the success

Lilian’s dream of seeing all her children complete their college degrees is nearing its realization. She has her youngest at junior highschool and part of her savings will be allocated to his college studies. Lilian proudly said, “Umalwan na ang buhay naming at patuloy pa din sa pagsasaka ang mister ko para malaki pa din ang kita namin sa buwanan.” 

SLP has provided a platform for success to the Garcia family and Lilian is now ready and determined to inspire the community with her story. She is a leader of 25 other grantees and serves as a guide as to how they can spend the cash grants wisely. Lilian has fought adversities and stood resilient against challenges brought by financial incapacities. Like a real soldier, she fought and now marches on the road to the glorious finish to her greatest battle yet – influencing the whole community into becoming a success in their own business venture. ###


Dwight Macabuhay

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