In a small barong-barong in Sitio Yakal, Brgy. New Guinlo, Taytay, Palawan, lives Angelino Gamacho, 53. For those people who may not know him, he can easily be recognized as a physically challenged man who often times use his motorcycle to provide service and earn a living. But no one considers him frail as underneath him is a tough man striving hard to provide the needs of her children single-handedly, as a solo parent.
“Sa umpisa lang naman po mahirap. Habang tumatagal, natututunan ko na rin at natanggap na mag-isa kong binubuhay at inaalagaan ang aking pamilya dahil tinutulungan din ako ng aking mga anak,” Angelino said.
Indeed, Angelino defies the norm as he serves as the “haligi ng tahanan” and “ilaw ng tahanan” at the same time for his six children. Not his disability nor his becoming as a solo parent can stop him in bringing better future for his children.
With his hard work together with the help of his children, his biggest accomplishment yet is having his second child graduate in college.
“Hindi ko tinitignan na hadlang ang mga naranasan ko, kundi isa lamang pagsubok na kailangan kong harapin kasama ng aking mga anak,” Angelino said.
According to him, he won’t be able to get through all of this without having support from the government. Angelino is a Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program grantee of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) since 2009.
“Noong buo pa po ang aming pamilya, masaya naman po kami,” Angelino shared. Like the usual family, her wife takes care of the children while he works as an agent of plant medicines for farming in North Luzon.
Angelino has a small sugar production. In 2002, while he was grinding sugar, his left arm got stuck in the machine, which caused him to lose his arms.
“Pagkatapos noong aksidenteng iyon, dumami ang pagbabago sa aming pamilya,” he recalled. Angelino said that he was depressed at first but according to him, “naisip ko na wala namang trabaho na kaya ng normal na tao na hindi ko kaya.” However, Angelino needed to stay for months in their home until his arm healed.
One day, in 2004, he was taken aback when he discovered that his wife is having an affair with his helper in the sugar production. On that same year, his wife has left them so she can live together with the other man.
“Grabe ang lungkot ko noon. Hindi ko alam kung ano ang dapat kong isipin. Iniisip ko na dahil ba sa kapansanan ko, kaya nya nagawa sa akin yon,” Angelino said.
Despite his sadness, he still advises his children not to conceive hatred with their mother. “Sinasabi ko sa kanila na kahit ano naman ang mangyari, mama pa rin nila sya,” he said.
Yet, as a good father, he tried to compose himself to think of how he can be able to provide for his family alone.
“Madami ang nag-aampon sa mga anak ko, pero ayaw ko,” Angelino narrated. He said that his family has already lost one of its members and he would not allow another to be taken away from him.
Angelino applied for a job at the rural health unit (RHU) in another municipality and got accepted. While he works, he requested his mother to look after his children.
Only months after the incident with his wife, another situation has tested Angelino as his eldest child, who has hepatitis, died. “Mahirap tanggapin at minsan tinatanong ko sa sarili ko kung bakit parang sunud-sunod na ang mga pangyayaring ganito,” Angelino said. Still, he said that he must continue working hard to support his children.
After two years, Angelino went back to farming so that he can take care of his growing children. For his daily routine, he tends his farm in the morning and wash clothes, prepare dinner, and clean their house at night. “Hindi naman po ako nahirapan dahil masisipag at responsible ang aking mga anak,” he said.
Indeed, his children are very supportive and understanding of their situation. Since there are five of them who goes to school at the same time, they also thought of helping their father in financing the needs of the family. Before graduating in college, the second child worked as a helper in order for the third child to finish high school. “Nag-usap kami sa pamilya at yung pangalawa ko ang nagsabi na bago siya magcollege ay mag-iipon muna sya at tutulong muna sa pagtatapos ng high school ng pangatlo,” Angelino shared. He makes sure that his children will finish their studies no matter how long it will take them because he believes that it will help them become successful in life.
His hard work paid off after his second child graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management at the Palawan State University – Taytay Campus in 2017. She is currently working in a business process outsourcing (BPO) company in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. Meanwhile, his third child studies Criminology in Poolbridge College and on his 1st year. The fourth child is taking up Nursing in Manila while working as a helper in a store owned by their relative. The fifth child finished Grade 12, but has stopped to work in a laundry shop. His youngest child is studying Grade 10 at Bato Central Elementary School in Taytay, Palawan.
“Napakapalad ko pa rin po na may mga anak akong nakakintindi at tumutulong sa akin,” Angelino said.
Angelino never gives up despite all the difficulties and challenges he faced. And it was never in his thoughts that he will be able to get help and support through Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in 2009.
“Isang napakalaking tulong ng programa lalo na para sa akin na solo parent,” he said. As the provider of the family, Angelino is also in charge of budgeting including the grants he receives through the financial assistance of the program.
Because of the program, he was able to learn how to become a more responsible parent through their monthly Family Development Sessions (FDS). It has also allowed him to discover himself as a leader when he was chosen as their cluster’s parent leader. Angelino became not only a responsible father but also a responsible leader to his Pantawid Pamilya fellow beneficiaries.
Being a Pantawid Pamilya beneficiary opened a lot of opportunities for his family.
The program has helped Angelino became an active member of their community. He became the president of PWDs in their barangay and served as the president of the Parent-Teachers Association in Yakal Elementary School. He also volunteered in their local barangay for 5 years. Currently, he was elected as a councilor of their barangay.
Through the program, Angelino became familiar with the other programs and services that DSWD offers. In fact, he became president of a Sustainable Livelihood Program Association (SLPA) in Taytay where they established a business on buying and selling of fish. Meanwhile, his third child has attended the House-keeping Training provided by SLP before getting into college.
“Sa totoo lang, hindi totoo na hindi tumutulong ang gobyerno para sa aming mahihirap. Napakadaming oportunidad para sa amin at kinakailangan lang maging matiyaga para umunlad,” he said.
Angelino’s story has inspired many families in their community. People are amazed of how he was able to cope up with poverty being a solo parent and physically challenged.
But according to Angelino, it was never easy. There were those times when he wanted to give up but his children have always come to his mind.
“Kung hindi ako lalaban, paano sila? Sino pa ang tutulong sa kanila at mag-aalaga?” he exclaimed. “Laking pasasalamat ko na lang talaga sa gobyerno sa mga ibinibigay na tulong sa amin,” he added.
Angelino proves that becoming a solo parent does not mean facing lives difficulty alone. With great love and understanding of the family, they can overcome the challenges that lie ahead. ###
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