Despite not being able to finish education, the couple Amancio Saac and Remegia Saac have instilled in their children the importance of education.
“Lisud gayud ang among kahimtang sa una kay wala gayud mi regular nga income sa akong bana apan naninguha kami pinaagi sa pagpananom ug pagbuhi og mga hayop aron mabaligya namo (Our life before was difficult because we do not have a regular income, but we persevere through farming and raising livestock),” recalled Remegia.
By toiling their farm in Barangay Lanao, an upland barangay in the town of Moalboal, Cebu, which they planted with corn and coconut, the couple strive to make ends meet to sustain their growing family.
“Kadtong gagmay pa ang among mga anak, naa rako sa balay gaatiman nila ug nagpuyo sa simple nga panimalay nga ang atop ug ang bongbong kay lukay. Samtang akong bana magtrabaho sa umahan (When our children were still small, I stayed home to take care of them in our simple house with roof and wall made of palm, while my husband worked in the farm),” recalled Remegia of their simple abode.
Remegia believes that women’s role is not only confined within their homes but also in their communities.
Her leadership skill was first recognized when she was elected as the President of the Parents, Teachers and Community Association (PTCA) for five years in her children’s elementary school.
She later joined and became one of the board of trustees of the Association for Improvement of Life, Inc., a people’s organization (PO) funded by World Vision. The association provides skills training to its members, such as dressmaking, servant leadership, agriculture, livestock training, among others.
The dressmaking training proved to be useful for her. Since there is no dressmaker in the barangay, she offers dress repairs and services for children’s school uniforms and costumes for school activities.
“Nakahatag gayud og dugang income ang pagpanahi. Kung daghan gani mga tahiunon halos dili nalang matulog. Aron lang makasuporta sa akong mga anak (Sewing dresses was an additional income. There were times that I would not want to sleep because orders for dresses to make were many. I did it because I wanted to help support my children),” she tearfully recalled her experience.
Coupled with determination and perseverance to sustain the needs of her eight children, she also opened a small store in their house and sell food items in the school.
Balancing her role as a mother, doing business, and community activities was not an easy feat to Remegia.
“Dili siya dali buhaton pero kung supportive imong partner sama sa akong bana, madali ra gayud ang mga trabahoon (It was not easy to do, but having a supportive partner, like my husband, it would become easier),” Remegia said.
To manage household chores, she revealed that her children take a proactive role in their tasks. They do house cleaning, doing laundry, and helping raise the chicken, pig, and goat in their backyard farm.
As Remegia gradually earns income, she only buys the essentials, giving importance to save the family’s hard-earned money.
She started saving in the traditional piggy bank. Later on, she puts her money in the Community Manage Savings and Credit Association or COMSCA, in which she is a member.
When the family became a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), a poverty alleviation program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD), Remegia was able to use the cash grant intended for the education and health of her children specifically for Meriam, Margie, and Mercy, her three youngest daughters as they were the monitored children under the program.
As an active community resident, her co-beneficiaries chose Remegia as one of 4Ps’ Parent Leaders in the barangay. Her task was to help the 4Ps Municipal Link to disseminate relevant information to her co-program beneficiaries.
She cited the importance of the program’s Family Development Sessions (FDS) in enhancing her parental roles and responsibilities that she ably applied in her own family.
Seen as a reliable leader in the community, Remegia embarked on another leadership role, the Barangay Sub-Project Management Committee (BSPMC) Chairperson under the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS). Kalahi-CIDSS is another poverty alleviation program implemented by the DSWD.
Together with other community volunteers they successfully implemented a road concreting sub-project in their barangay.
Convinced by other community members, she ran as barangay councilor, her husband as barangay captain. They both won in the 2018 barangay election.
According to the Saac couple, the people’s vote of confidence in them is a great challenge to them to improve their barangay.
Graduating from 4Ps
“Dako akong pasalamat sa Pantawid nga nakahatag dakong tabang kanamo labi na sa panginahanglanon sa mga bata sa ilang panglawas ug pag-eskwela (I am grateful to Pantawid. It helped our family, especially in the children’s health and education needs),” she underscored.
“I am proud to say that we can now stand on our own because most of our children already finished their education and have jobs,” proudly said Remegia in dialect.
The eldest son, Reyman, is a farmer and a reliable partner for their family’s farm. Marissa, the second child, now works in a bakeshop. The third child, Remmel, works as operator maintenance in Cebu City while Maricor, the fourth child, finished education. Marian, one of the twins, currently works as a saleslady.
The three former 4Ps monitored children, Meriam (one of the twins), Margie, and Mercy is now a call center agent and are third and first year college students, respectively.
From living in a house made of light materials, the family now lives in a concrete, two-story house out of their hard work and perseverance. ###