Back in October 25, 2013, there was a young girl who cried in an interview during the conduct of the National Search for Exemplary Pantawid Pamilya Children when she was asked about the absence of her parents from their family. It was because, at the age of 10, her father left them while her mother had to leave them to work in Manila to provide for their needs. “I just can’t help it whenever I am asked about them (Hindi ko lang po talaga mapigilan kapag tinatanong ako tungkol sa kanila),” she said at that moment — which turned out to be the moment that gave an impact on her life and her family’s to change.

After ten long years, that little young girl is now a 23-year-old professional Civil Engineer (CE) and emerged as a strong woman as she continued to study hard to achieve her dreams and arose as a youth leader and an active student despite her pain and hardships. 

That naive young girl’s name is Shemiah M. Pineda. At present, she has obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering (CE), with Specialization in Structural Engineering, at the Technological Institute of the Philippines (TIP) in October 2022 and just passed the CE board exam in April 2023. While securing her license, she works as a freelancer in structural designing, social media marketing and advertising, conducting tutorials with students, and is currently affiliated with a small business of fabricating mirrors to supply her daily necessities considering that she is living independently in the city far from her family. 

Looking back, Shemiah became a monitored child of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) as her family became a beneficiary of the program in 2013. She was a consistent honor student in high school at San Jose, Occidental Mindoro. Aside from the cash grants her family has received from the program, being a single parent of three (3), her mother, Prescy, supported them by working far in order to survive and to suffice the needs for their education and the medication of their grandparents. 

Shemiah’s intelligence, diligence, and her young age won the hearts of the jury to be proclaimed as the Regional Pantawid Pamilya Exemplary Child in MIMAROPA and later gained the palm for being the 2013 National Pantawid Pamilya Exemplary Child winner. Her family received a total amount of ₱50,000.00 cash prize in which they utilized to start a new life after a painful experience. 

“We used the money when my father left us. We couldn’t talk to our mother. Being the eldest child, I don’t know how to ease the situation because I was still young. All I felt was fear, fear of the thought that we would be left behind because Mama seemed to have given up and she doesn’t know how to raise us. We also experienced sharing food because we had nothing,” Shemiah shared.

An photo from 2013 National Search for Exemplary Child: The former Pantawid Pamilya Regional Program Coordinator Vincent Dominic Obcena and National Deputy Program Manager Wadel Cabrera with Shemiah Pineda and her grandmother, Melania Mendoza, after receiving the national award.

Being named as the National Exemplary Child opened up many opportunities for Shemiah. It also motivated her that “she can and hence, she will”. She became the voice of the youth and child representative of their barangay and municipality. Her mother felt and saw that her children were persevering to have a better life, she likewise strengthened her heart and stood stronger than ever for them.

Shemiah is very grateful to DSWD for the financial support. She also met many people who believed in her potential and helped her. When she attended senior high school in a private institution, San Jose LGU assisted her with scholarship since it is not covered by the 4Ps cash grants.

Then, when she was no longer a monitored child of 4Ps, Shemiah decided to pursue college in Manila with high hopes that her father would finally support her. Unfortunately, expectation doesn’t match reality sometimes. “When I arrived here in Manila, I would probably starve if I didn’t know how to find ways,” Shemiah stated.

With the help relatives, she was able to study in TIP while living at her Aunt’s house. She cannot depend fully on her mother since her two siblings, who were both 4Ps monitored children, were also studying. Her life situation was not easy as she entered college. Hence, she learned to earn her allowance through her side hustles while attending school and applying for scholarship programs.

Despite the many challenges and trials she faced and went through since childhood, Shemiah still has a positive outlook on her path toward her dreams in life. Her career in the engineering field has not yet begun, and she still has a lot to learn. What she prays for now is for her family to be together, achieve financial freedom, and be happy, “I don’t want my mom to live far from us anymore because of work. If I could send our youngest to school, I’ll take care of it.”

On the other hand, Shemiah stands firmly as she continues to be an advocate of the program to be an inspiration to young people who also aspire to a bright future. 

“Don’t give up until we reach our goals. Let’s remember that no dream is impossible as long as you keep going. Each step counts, every effort counts. As long as we make a way for what we want to happen, nothing is impossible (H’wag taong sumuko hanggang sa maabot natin ang ating mga hinahangad. Tandaan natin na walang pangarap na imposible basta nagpapatuloy. Each step counts, every effort counts. Habang gumagawa tayo ng paraan para mangyari ang ating ninanais ay walang imposible),” Shemiah’s words of encouragement for every youth most especially to all 4Ps monitored children.

Until this time, Shemiah is full of pride proclaiming that she was a 4Ps beneficiary and was once a 4Ps National Exemplary Child. It is because if those did not happen, she wouldn’t be in the situation where she is now. It was these two events that motivated her to continue towards success.

Shemiah’s mother and two siblings

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