With a goal in mind, an ALS student from Marinduque works his way to finishing school and supporting his family at the same time. He may have paused for a while but ensured that a ‘well kneaded’ future lies ahead for his family, especially for his siblings. 

At a very young age, Darrel Juliano, 17 years old, from Brgy, Buangan, Torrijos, Marinduque already realized how hard life is. Their family became a member of the DSWD Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) in 2011 after his father left them. Her mother Diane has epilepsy thus she stays at home to look after the siblings of Darrel. Instead of asking for their relatives to give them food, Diane sells kakanin and pandesal to provide for her family. However, what she earns is not enough to support her 3 children who are all attending school. 

Darrel saw how his mother works hard despite her condition. To help Diane in providing for their family, he decided to look for a job where he can still attend school and earn money at the same time. Diane discourages his son from working as she wants him to focus on his class lessons. But Darrel is persistent. He took different part-time jobs to help his mother. “Mabait s’yang Kuya. Maalaga, mapagbigay, at maaasahan. Nasa kanya na lahat [referring to Darrel’s character as a sibling]”, said Diane, mother of Darrel.

A true ‘bread’ winner

Since they lack financial resources, Darrel is determined to finish school and help his mother at the same time. But chances really test him how tight he can hold to his dreams. “Napilitan po akong huminto para suportahan mga kapatid ko. Gusto ko na hindi sila mahinto at makapagtapos sila sa pag-aaral”. Darrel stopped attending school and became a NAS (Not Attending School) from 2018 to 2020. From then on, he became the breadwinner of his family. He worked in Valenzuela City as a bakeshop helper. And since his grandfather also taught him vehicle repair, Darell took a part-time job in an auto-mechanic shop during his day off at the bakery.

To bring Darrel back to school, the DSWD Pantawid Pamilya Torrijos conducted numerous counseling sessions with his family. The barangay council also worked closely with DSWD to ensure that help will be provided to Darell’s family in every way possible. Moreover, the DSWD Pantawid Pamilya Torrijos assisted Diane so she can be registered as a solo parent and get purchase discounts for being a Person With Disabilities (PWD). On the other hand, through the LGU assistance and barangay health center, regular provision of maintenance drugs to Diane became possible. This also helped Darrell as he no longer needed to worry about the medication of his mother.

Aside from the child’s perseverance, Diane was surprised how Darrell was able to manage the salary he received when he worked in Valenzuela City. He was able to save Php 40,000.00 and decided to start building a new house for his family. From the light and easily swayed by wind, through Darrell, the family now lives in a semi-concrete house with an installed electricity connection and connected water source from the community pump. He was also able to buy a Php 13,000.00-worth of carabao and a female hog. 

Kneading way to success

Seeing how the people in his town helped his family and having savings at hand, Darrel decided to go back to Torrijos in 2020. Since he was already 3 years behind his batchmates in school, the child decided to attend the Alternative Learning System (ALS) program instead. “Ayaw ko pong mapag-iwanan at gusto ko rin pong makapagtapos sa pag-aaral para na rin sa sarili ko. Mas maganda ang magiging future ko kung makakapagtapos din ako sa pag-aaral”. Darrel took advantage of the flexibility of the ALS program. While studying his modules at night, he works in a bakeshop in Sta. Cruz during the daytime to continuously earn money for their family. He regularly sends Php 1,000.00 to his mother as additional support to their daily expenses. The rest of his salary goes to his savings as he plans to buy the land on which their house was built.

The ALS Coordinator in Darrel’s school was also impressed by his perseverance and determination to develop his skills. According to Rosa Lea Santelices, he diligently complies with the school requirements every week. Aside from that, Darell also mentioned to her his interest in acquiring an auto-mechanic certificate through enrollment at Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). This is because Darrel plans to work abroad after finishing his ALS program.

“Sa mga kabataang tulad ko na may pinagdadaanan na hirap sa buhay, huwag kayong susuko agad. Ituloy lang ninyo ang pag-aaral. Education ang susi para makaahon tayo sa hirap. Umiwas rin kayo sa bisyo upang makamit ang inyong mga pangarap.”

For Diane, she is the true ‘bread’ winner, referring to having Darrel as his son and those people who helped their family at their lowest time. Just like kneading the dough with hands, Darrel created ways on how to help his family without losing his determination to finish school. He said that success is like baking, it will take time, a strong heart, and patience. Indeed no tough dough is impossible to knead and bread to be baked if hearts and determination will be dedicated to achieving it. ###

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