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Blessing in Disguise

Life is like a roller coaster ride. There are ups; there are downs. One may experience a mixed of emotions but keeping a good grip is essential. A good example of this is Paulo Torino’s story.

Born from parents who are farmers in Barangay Sohoton, Badian in midwest Cebu, the young Paulo dreamt of finishing his education no matter what it takes.

Paulo in his college graduation photo.

Masakiton man ko niadtong bata paku mao nga lisud sa akoa nga motrabaho og bug-at nga mga trabahuon (I was sickly when I was growing up so it was difficult for me to do hard work),” revealed Paulo as his health was one of his reasons to aim high.

“At a young age I realized that having a good education can lead me to have good employment opportunities which will be my bread and butter for the family,” said Paulo.

Gahuna-huna ko ato unsaon naku pagkab-ot sa akong mga damgo nga daghan man kaming gipaeskwela sa akong mga ginikanan (I thought of how would I achieve my dreams since all of us were sent to school by our parents),” said the fifth child among the nine children of Mr. and Mrs. Pablo Torino.

“To dream is simple but fulfilling a dream is difficult especially if you do not have the resources,” added Paulo.

But his parents’ desire for their future has inspired him and his siblings to achieve their goals.

“My parents have done their best because they do not want us to suffer and experience the same hardship they had experienced before because of lack of education,” said Paulo.

“However, like a roller coaster, it was not a smooth sailing ride. I even stopped elementary for a year before I started my secondary education because of financial constraint,” shared Paulo.

He shared that when he was still young, he was also stubborn and most of the time he would cause trouble to his parents.

“But I realized I have to pull myself together and act rationally in order to achieve my dreams in life,” underscored Paulo.

Paulo recalled he had to sell biscuits and snacks to his classmates so that he can buy new shoes, slippers and support his other educational needs.

According to Paulo it is not the status that defines the person it is how he was able to stand and face the reality in his life. “It is the same boiling water which softens a potato that hardens the egg” and I believe it is always you and not others who will write your own destiny,” Paulo who finished his secondary education and graduated with an Honorable Mention, proudly shared the saying.

In order to save money for his college education, Paulo worked as a bartender in a restaurant in Cebu City for more than two years.

Nag-ampo gyud ko og maayo nga matagaan ko og chance nga makaeswela og college (I really prayed hard to God asking for a chance to pursue my college education),” said Paulo.

On November 3, 2013, the heaven had heard his fervent prayer when a parent leader of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) went to see his family and asked him if he is willing to be a scholar of the Expanded Students Grants-in-Aide Program for Poverty Alleviation (ESGP-PA). Two of his younger siblings, Mary Ann and Judy Ann are monitored children of 4Ps, they are incoming Grade 8 and Grade 7, respectively.

The ESGP-PA is implemented by the Commission on Higher Education together with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program (4Ps), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and State Universities and Colleges (SUCs).

“Ecstatic as I was, I told myself that this is the opportunity that I have been waiting for. So, I asked permission from my employer for an additional vacation leave so that I can attend the ESGP-PA orientation by the 4Ps Municipal Link in Badian,” happily recalled Paulo.

But it took a while before he got an update as to the status of the ESGP-PA and he had to continue with his job.

“I thought ESGP-PA was false hope but God has its own mysterious way,” he said.

Paulo received a call from one of the 4Ps Municipal Links in Badian urging him to prepare for an entrance exam and was instructed to take the exam at the Cebu Normal University (CNU).

He took the entrance exam at CNU on April 10, 2014.

That same day he informed his employer about his plan of resigning from the restaurant because he was planning to continue his studies. His employer agreed with him.

“The waiting for the entrance exam result was exhausting and at the same time trembling and by the time that I was informed that I passed the entrance exam, I told to myself that this is it and I can start all over again,” said the teary-eyed Paulo.

While studying up Bachelor in Elementary Education – Early Childhood Education at CNU as an ESGP-PA scholar, he already had his own savings and a few swine which helped him in his school expenses. He even received a separation pay from his former job and at the same time received an allowance that the ESGP-PA had provided.

During his third year in college, family problems started to affect his studies.

Na-ospital akong pag-umangkon for almost one month ug na-admit diri sa syudad. Lisod to nga time kay loaded sad ko sa akong pag-eskwela ug kinahanglan mutabang sad ko sa pagbantay didto sa hospital kuyog akong mga ginikanan (My niece was admitted in a hospital here in the city for almost one month. It was a difficult time because I was also loaded in my studies and I need to assist in her medical needs together with my parents),” recalled Paulo.

“If it was not for my determination and perseverance, I would have chosen to stop, but this is the opportunity that I prayed to God and I would not waste this opportunity. I also know that God will not give us challenges if it is beyond us,”

And on March 2018, Paulo graduated with flying colors.

“Throughout the years the obstacles had played a great role in my life and made me the person that I am today. I am always thankful to my family, friends, classmates and professors who guided and molded me to become a better individual,” underscored Paulo.

Paulo started his career after college as an Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) validator of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Listahanan.

Currently, he works as a Social Welfare Assistant (SWA) of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) in Bogo City, Cebu.

“This is my way of paying it forward for the blessing that the Department had given me and for all the people who made 4Ps possible,” said Paulo.

“The program was instrumental in achieving my college degree and in earning my license as a teacher,” he said beaming with a smile.

For Paulo, every ups and down in the roller coaster ride had been a blessing in disguise and he is excited to start another journey and another ride called life. ###

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