“Galing ako sa mahirap na pamilya kaya nararamdaman ko rin ang hirap na pinagdadaanan ng mga estudyante namin dito (I also came from a poor family that’s why I know the difficulties that our students are going through),” said teary-eyed Geralyn Fajilan, the Pantawid Pamilya focal for education in Corcuera, Romblon when asked about what keeps her motivated in encouraging children from poor families to pursue their studies.
For four years of being a Pantawid focal, Geralyn has been providing services to the beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program beyond her duty of monitoring the compliance verification of the program’s monitored children in Mabini National Highschool in Brgy. Mabini, Corcuera, Romblon. Since she came from a poor family who depends on farming to finance their needs, she understands the challenges that the students have to face especially in financing their education. Therefore, she was glad when she was assigned as the Pantawid focal since she will be able to take part in the program’s advocacy in keeping children in school through provision of financial assistance.
“Napakalaking responsibilidad para sa akin ang maging isang focal ng programa dahil kinakailangan kong siguruhin na maayos na natatanggap ng mga batang ito ang tulong mula sa programa sa pamamagitan ng pagmomonitor ko ng attendance nila sa kanilang mga klase, (Being a focal of the program is a big responsibility for me because I need to ensure that the children will properly receive the aide from the program through monitoring their attendance to their classes),” Geralyn said. “Kaya naman hindi ko lamang silang gustong tulungan na makatanggap ng kumpletong cash grant kundi gusto ko rin silang tulungang mapabuti ang kanilang pag-aaral sa pamamagitan ng pagtuturo ko at ibang mga proyekto ko para sa kanila (That’s why I want to help them not only to receive their complete cash grants but also help them with their studies through my teachings and the different projects I develop for them)”, she added.
Through Geralyn, the 4Ps club in Mabini National High School was established and Pantawid student beneficiaries were prioritized in receiving other services that their school offers. Aside from mobilizing the student beneficiaries in participating actively in school and community activities, the club was also created to better monitor the compliance of the students to the program conditionalities.
In 2016, Geralyn was assigned by their school Principal, Ronald Famodulan as the Pantawid focal. “Nakitaan ko siya ng malasakit sa pagtugon sa pangangailangan ng mga estudyante dahil sa pangunguna niya sa aming proyektong, ‘Adopt-A-Child Program’ kaya siya ang napili kong coordinator (I saw how she cares for our students in attending to their needs due to her management in our project, ‘Adopt-A-Child Program that’s why I assigned her to become the coordinator),” Mr. Famodulan said. As the coordinator of the said project, which was the initiative of the former principal of the school, she encourages the alumni of the school to become sponsors of children, whose grades are not lower than 85%, to help them with their financial needs. As much as she wants to help more students, there are only limited slots since there are limited numbers of sponsors hence, the students undergo screening to identify the deserving students. Currently, 24 out of 46 grantees of the project are Pantawid beneficiaries.
Geralyn believes that part of her responsibility as a focal is to ensure the welfare of the students through helping them appreciate the importance of education in attaining a better future. Because of this, she is determined to exert efforts to help these children in uplifting their lives as well as their families.
“Mahalaga na malaman ng mga bata ang kahalagahan ng edukasyon kaya kailangang bigyan sila ng motibasyon para ipagpatuloy ang pag-aaral at magtiwala rin sa kanilang sarili, (It is important for the children to understand the importance of education that’s why we need to motivate them to continue their studies and to become confident with themselves),” Geralyn said. This has inspired her to establish the 4Ps Club in 2018 to organize the 412 student beneficiaries of their school in strengthening the advocacy of the program. Through this club, Geralyn aims to strengthen the sense of responsibility and leadership of the students as well as boost their confidence of being a Pantawid beneficiary.
“Sa pamamagitan po ng 4Ps club, mas naging proud na po kaming mga estudyante na maging benepisyaryo ng 4Ps dati po kasi ay may mga nahihiya ‘pag sinasabing sila ay 4Ps (Through 4Ps club, we became more proud to be a beneficiary of 4Ps since before, there were students who were intimidated to tell others that they are beneficiaries of the program),” said Trisha Fampo, the president of the club.
The students nominated their officers and each grade level have their own representatives to make it easier for them to gather the members and keep them updated of the activities and the program’s advocacies. The club conducted a community clean-up drive and created an herbal nursery in school, which were all coordinated and organized by the officers of the club.
“Kami po ang nakikipag-usap sa Department of Agriculture para sa mga seeds o kaya sa barangay para sa iba pa naming mga kailangan (We coordinate with the Department of Agriculture for the seeds or with the barangay for the other things that we need),” Trisha said. According to her, the club has inspired them not only to become better students but also become better members of the community.
For Geralyn, the club has also become a great help for her as Pantawid focal since she is able to better monitor the compliance of the student beneficiaries as well as somewhat solve issues on non-compliance. “Mayroon silang peer counselling sa kanilang mga kaklase na hindi pumapasok o kaya naman ay palaging nagcucutting (They conduct peer counselling with their fellow classmates who have issues on absenteeism or on cutting classes),” said Geralyn. It has allowed students to easily seek help to their fellow classmates or beneficiaries and provide listening and support for those problematic students.
“Kapag may mga kapwa benepisyaryo po kami na nahihirapan na at hindi na po namin makausap, nirerefer na po namin ito kay Ma’am (When there are fellow beneficiaries who are having difficulties which we cannot handle, we refer it to our teacher),” said Trisha. She added that the officers of the club also coordinate with the Pantawid municipal staff in conducting counselling to the non-compliant beneficiaries.
The club has gained support of the school since it has also helped them in decreasing the numbers of students who are dropping out. “Dahil majority ng aming eskwelahan ay 4Ps beneficiaries, sa tulong ng mga pagmomonitor sa mga bata, bumababa ang kaso ng drop out sa amin (Since majority of our students are beneficiaries of 4Ps, the monitoring conducted has helped in the decrease of students who are dropping out of our school),” said Mr. Famodulan.
After a year of its establishment, the Municipal staff of Pantawid in Corcuera was inspired to introduce to other schools in their municipality the organization of a 4Ps club for the next academic year through their meeting this May. On March 2019, Mabini National High School recorded a 96.60% compliance rate where 14 students were non-compliant.
Becoming an Inspiration
“Si Ma’am Geralyn ang nagbigay sa akin ng lakas na loob na kayanin ang isang pagiging lider sa lahat ng mga benepisyaryo ng 4Ps sa aming eskwelahan (It was Ma’am Geralyn who has given me the confidence to become a leader of all 4Ps beneficiaries in our school),” said Trisha. Trisha was able to develop her leadership because of being the president of the club since it was Teacher Geralyn who believed in her.
According to Mr. Famodulan, one of the greatest characteristics of Geralyn is her ability to inspire students to reach greater heights of performance and success. In fact, as the Grade 10 adviser, she has been able to motivate all of her students to graduate with honors for two consecutive years already.
Geralyn was motivated to extend efforts to the beneficiaries of the program because she understood the objectives of the program in educating the children. With her strong dedication and passion to help them, she is driven to continue helping the program towards attaining its objectives.
For Geralyn, it is not important to be recognized and appreciated as long as she does things which can benefit other people.
Through being a Pantawid focal, Geralyn said that she was able to be given a chance to use and develop her skills as a teacher to open the eyes of the children in understanding the importance of education in improving their lives, their families, and their community. With this, Geralyn assured that she will continue in becoming an inspiration to the students and in helping them achieve their dreams. ###
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