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Pantawid mother finishes school, now a licensed professional teacher

As early as 17 years old, Ma. Lyn V. Bustillo of Masulog, Canlaon City, Negros Oriental has already tasted the rigorous life and struggles of a mother. Getting pregnant at an early age has regrettably saddened not just Ma. Lyn but her parents as well, who would have wanted her to get a degree before entering into married life. Her fate seemed to mismatch with how her parents and she have planned it to be when she discovered that she was carrying a little new life in her womb before he could finish college in 2003.

Ma. Lyn V. Bustillo on her graduation photo opportunity on March 2017

Nevertheless, not wanting to dwell much on her failure to fulfill her parent’s expectation, she has always tried to be positive and look at the brighter side of everything that was happening in her life. After giving birth, Lyn decided to focus on taking care of her family. She and her boyfriend eventually decided to get married with the blessing of both their parents on June 4, 2004.

As they venture on their new journey as a couple, things were not going smoothly. They only lived in a small nipa hut with her husband, Mahalie Bustillo, roughly earning a hundred peso a day as a farm laborer. It was hard for them to land a good-earning job as both of them have not finished a degree. Earning something that cannot suffice their daily sustenance, especially that their new born was a premature baby and needed to be bottle-fed, Lyn has learned to become responsible at a young age. She has worked in the farm, offered laundry services, and became a dealer of different products bringing her child most of the time, as she has no one to look after the baby while she’s away from home.

When she gave birth to another child and the two have already started to attend to school, her efforts to sustain their family’s need has also doubled – waking up as early as 3 in the morning to prepare food for her children and to slice fruits like mango and papaya which she was to sell in the school canteen. This has been her routine for quite a couple of years until their family became one of the beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in 2011.

After a year of receiving cash grants from the program, Lyn has thought of some ways on how she can efficiently make use of the resources around her especially that she is already receiving support from the government. She wanted the program to have a remarkable impact in her life and her family’s.

Wanting to secure the future of her family, Lyn wanted to continue her schooling, which was supported by her husband. In 2013, she enrolled at Saint Joseph College of Canlaon City and took up Bachelor of Education Major in Elementary Education.

Striving to finish a degree while also hearing negative remarks from the people around has not discouraged Lyn.

Hala, mo-eskuwela pa ka? Nag usik-usik raka og panahon. Maayo pa sa imong mga anak nga pag pa-eskuwela nalang na nimo igasto (Are you still going to school? You are only wasting your time. It would be better if you spend your money for your children’s education instead.),” said one of her neighbors who finds her plan impractical.

Lyn, however, would just politely respond to this underestimation and say “Sige lang, igo paman kay naa pa man ang 4P’s nga makatabang nako og sa amoang pamilya. At least kung mawala ug mahuman na ang programa, kampanti nako nga makapa-eskuwela sa akong mga anak sa college kay professional naman unya ko ana puhon (It is fine to me since Pantawid is also helping our family. If ever the program may no longer exist, at least I can already stand on my own and will be able to send our children to college because I am already a professional teacher when that time comes).”

Pursuing her desire for a college degree has also meant tripling her efforts as she multi-tasked in performing all her duties as a mother to her children, a wife to her husband, a Pantawid parent leader, and as a student at the same time.

Her first year in college was filled with adversities as it was also the time when her second child was hospitalized and has undergone a surgery of the intestines. She was perplexed when they discovered the amount of the hospital bill that they had to pay.

“I was relieved that the surgery was successful. Our bill reached to P34,000 but I was glad that it was covered by Philhealth. I could not be any grateful for our Pantawid membership. If not with it, we would not have been able to pay that bill, because when my Member Data Records (MDR) form was checked it was found out that it has already expired. Good thing when I showed them my Pantawid ID, they immediately approved the Philhealth coverage for our bill,” Lyn narrated.

Despite all of these, for Lyn, life must go on. She went on and never stopped from multi-tasking. She would sell snacks and food in school to earn something for her daily allowance, school projects and contributions. Most of the cash grants from the program would go directly to her children and family’s need while the extra cash would be paid for her tuition. That was how Lyn has been scrimping to survive every day until March 2017 came.

After four years of her serious effort to secure his family’s future, Lyn is getting closer to that dream as she graduated from college with the degree of Bachelor of Elementary Education at the age of 31, reaping the fruits of her hard work.

“I realize that nothing is really impossible if you dream. Change comes in our own choices. I always believe that God has always been my partner in my way to this success,” Lyn shared.

On March 2018, Lyn successfully passed the Licensure Examination for Teachers through the unfailing support of her husband and family.

“After I graduated, I immediately started teaching in our church as a Kinder teacher until March 2019, and currently, I am rendering a voluntary service in a public elementary school in Canlaon City, Negros Oriental while waiting for the result of our ranking,” Lyn amusingly shared.

For her, getting a degree is important in securing not just her future but of her children and family. She may have admittedly regretted of getting pregnant at an early age but she did not allow this to be a hindrance of resuming her pursuit to education. She worked hard to get back on her feet and finished school. Now, as she remains hopeful of finally settling in a public school and practice professional teaching, she is also seeing a vibrant future ahead of her children and family.

Ma. Lyn Bustillo only proves that the fulfillment of an education is always possible, no matter the age, and that when you desire something all the universe will indeed conspire to help you achieve it. ###

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