Home is one of the necessities of a family. It is a safe place for a family to come together. Yet, in these modern times, poor households in the country struggle to have their own houses. That was the case before for the Miot family from Ayungon, Negros Oriental.

The Miot Family.

“There were times that our children had to pass through the rusted wire fences just so they could go to school that their uniforms got soiled every time,” recalled Jessie Miot of their struggle to have a home.

Karon anindot ug linaw na ang among pagpuyo kay dili na kami kuyawan nga adunay magpalayas pa kanamo (Now our living conditions are better and more secure because we no longer live in fear of being forcibly evicted),” she added.

A sweet first meet

In 1996, a young Jessie Amantillo was helping her parents in their small family business of selling rice cake and chocolate drinks, or “puto and sikwate” in local terms. One day, young Nicolas happened to buy and instantly loved the food, and from the first time, Nicolas Miot became a frequent customer until the two became close friends. The friendship grew over time, and Nicolas would even help them open the stall as early as 5:00 in the morning.

Six months later, Nicolas expressed his feelings to Jessie and asked permission from her parents to visit her. While Jessie’s parents did not object to their relationship, they refused, citing religious differences and getting married at a young age contradicts their beliefs.

Despite the challenges, Nicolas and Jessie’s love persevered, and after two years, they tied the knot at the tender age of 19.

After the marriage, the young couple decided to live in Dumaguete City and set up the “puto and sikwate” business along the highway, near a private university. They stayed there for five (5) years, and the business thrived. Part of their income was used to pay for renovating their rented space.

As the saying goes, some good things never last. Not long after, they were expelled by the house owner, saying that they already needed the space. It was devastating news for the family.

The family moved to Barangay Tinago in the same city and found a new location to restart their business. However, the place was demolished after a year.

With a heavy heart, they moved to Barangay Looc, where they lived for almost three (3) years. They put up the business again, yet the struggle continues due to the dangers in the area. They had to endure constant arguments and noise from their neighbors, as they had no choice since they now had two children to support.

Unfortunately, they had to move again for the fourth time when the lot owner decided to use the property.

In 2009, they relocated to Barangay Cantil-e, Dumaguete City, and rented a lot to start over. However, when the kind lot owner passed away, they were harassed and threatened by the owner’s relatives, who fenced their house and pressured them to leave immediately.

As Jessie recounted these awful events, she felt emotional and tears fell on her cheeks. “Laban ra gihapon me, mosuong me sa alambre para makaagi ug magkahugaw-hugaw ang uniforms sa akong mga anak padulong sa ilang eskwelahan (We kept on persevering. There were times that our children had to pass through the rusted wired fences just so they could go to school, and that their uniforms got soiled every time).”

Feeling the hardships her family endured, they sought refuge with relatives in Barangay Bajumpandan, where, after a month, they found a house to rent where they could finally settle down. Jessie also worked as a massage therapist to augment the family’s income.

God answered her hopes and prayers for a permanent settlement when one of her massage clients, impressed by her skills and understanding of her financial difficulties, offered her a place at a low price.

In 2010, a year after they were interviewed by an enumerator under the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR), the Miots family was identified as one of the poorest households in Dumaguete City. Managed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the NHTS-PR is an information management system that identifies who and where the poor are in the country.

They qualified to be beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) because their family was identified as poor households under NHTS-PR.

Dako kaayo ang akong kalipay ug puno sa grasya sa Ginoo kay wala lang niya gitubag ang akong pag-ampo nga makapuyog permanenteng balay ug yuta pero iya pa akong gipakapinan para sa kaugmaon sa akong mga anak (The family was elated because God not only answered our prayer of a permanent residence but also granted us an additional blessing, which is for the future of her children),” Jessie said.

Of the four children, three became 4Ps monitored children. They were Nheljean, James Mike, and Jayson. The children received education grants from the program, which they used for their educational needs. The family also received a health grant, and in 2016, they received a rice subsidy.

Although the cash grants provided augmentation to the family, Jessie continues to run her business of selling “puto and sikwate,” doing massage home services, farming, raising goats, and taking on laundry jobs while Nicolas drives a tricycle. All these are to supplement the family’s income, prioritizing the children’s education and their basic needs like food, clothes, and shelter.

Reaching self-sufficient level

Through determination, hard work, and proper use of the grants, the family succeeded in surviving and becoming self-sufficient. From the term itself, it means that the family can provide for themselves even without the cash grants from the 4Ps.

Mrs. Jessie Miot proudly stands outside their new house, which is beside the old one.

Their eldest daughter, Nheljean, who is currently working for a private company, also supported the needs of the family.

Ako ug ang akong banay makatulog na og tarong kay dili name mahadlok palayason kay amoa na gayud ang balay ug yuta. Sauna 100 meters lang among property ug karon nadungagan kini ug laing 100 square meters ug impas na og bayad. Magtiwas nalang og panindot ani unya puhon kung naa nay dugang ikagasto (My family can sleep well now since we are no longer afraid to be evicted because it is our own house now. Also, from only 100 square meters, our property increased another 100 square meters and is now fully paid. We will just continue beautifying our house if we already have extra money to spend),” Jessie proudly shared.

At present, James Mike studies at the Iglesia ni Cristo School for Ministers, while Jayson is studying through the Alternative Learning System (ALS). The youngest child, John Carlo, is a Grade 8 student.

Looking back, Jessie is grateful for all the blessings she received from God and the government through the 4Ps. The family is proud to be part of the program that has assisted them through the years, and they recently graduated from the program.

After years of having no permanent address, they now live and enjoy their new sweet home, built of love, perseverance, and resilience. ###

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