Lisud gayud ang kinabuhi namo sa una kompara karun nga naapil nami sa 4Ps (Our life was really in difficult compared now that we are part of 4Ps),” said Arlene Vallecera.

Arlene Vallecera

Commonly known as “Lyn” among her peers and neighbors in their community in Barangay Marcelo, Mabini, in the northern part of Bohol, she shared that their lives were different before they became a Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) household in 2011. She was a regular housewife then with no stable income while relying on her husband, Victor, who works as a fisherman and earns a maximum of Php 5,000 per month, depending on the weather conditions.

Lyn has to stretch their income, prioritizing their daily meal with no budget for their other basic needs like purchasing new clothes, housing materials, and even school supplies for their children.

Blessed with four (4) children, namely Myca, Myla, Mylene, and Mike John, the Vallecera couple tried their best to send them to school.

With meager income, they could not improve their own nipa house made of light materials.

Naay panahon nga dili nako kabalo unsaon nako pagbudget ang kita sa akong bana ug miski unsa pa ang paningkamot niya dili gyud paigo sa among mga panginahanglanon (There were times that I would not know how to budget the income of my husband and despite his efforts it could not suffice the needs of our family),” said Lyn.

Becoming a 4Ps beneficiary

After being identified as one of the poor households in Mabini under the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR), the family became eligible beneficiaries of the 4Ps. Lyn will never forget February 26, 2011, because it was the day when the family officially registered as 4Ps households.

Since then, the life of the Vallecera family has changed for the better. The program has had a positive impact on their lives. The education grants she received aided her in purchasing her children’s school uniform, school supplies, and other miscellaneous expenses, while the health grants helped her buy vitamins and food.

The conditional cash transfer received by Lyn as a grantee augmented their income, and now, she efficiently manages their household’s budget for food, nutrition, and support for children’s education.

Lyn also became one of the 4Ps parent leaders in their barangay and has helped her co-beneficiaries whenever they have concerns and queries about the program. With a compassionate heart and genuine concern for others, she would always listen and offer practical advice concerning the 4Ps or their personal life.

The Family Development Sessions (FDS) component of the 4Ps, which the beneficiaries attend every month, encourages them to be more responsible parents and active citizens in their community. The different developmental topics in the FDS serve as an eye-opener for Lyn and how it could deepen communication, understanding, and mutual respect within the family.

Aside from the 4Ps, Lyn also became aware of the different programs and services of the government and how her family and other members could avail of services in their Barangay Health Center.

She also became an active member in their barangay’s women’s group that advocates for gender equality and women empowerment.

As time went by, Lyn realized the positive changes that the program provided to her and their family. Her understanding of the program objectives deepened, and she realized they could not succeed without their efforts.

Life improved

Over time, the family’s economic status improved through hard work and perseverance. Lyn’s eldest daughter, Myca, is now married. The second daughter, Myla, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education as an English major and passed the Licensure Examination for Teachers in March 2024. Myla works as a call center agent in Cebu City while waiting for the result of her application to be a teacher.

The family celebrates Myla’s success on graduation day.

The third child, Mylene, is a first-year Bachelor of Science in Office Administration student, and the youngest child, Mike John, is a senior high school student.

Eventually, the family built a new semi-concrete house with access to water, electricity, and a sanitary toilet.

Lyn still works in Manila and receives a monthly income of Php 12,000.00. She will end her contract in December 2024.

Lyn has been extremely thankful that her family became a 4Ps beneficiary.

“The program helped develop my sense of volunteerism. I discovered my confidence in interacting with the public, and paved the way for me to know my community more and have more friends,” Lyn said in dialect.

She added that poverty cannot deter people from dreaming and planning for a better life. She wished that her two remaining children could graduate from college. She hopes all children will have their own families and better lives.

Lyn proudly said yes when asked if she was ready to graduate from the program.

Dako ang natabang sa programa labi na sa panahon nga walang-wala gyud mi ug karun nga kaya na namo makabarog sa among kaugalingon, andam nami nga mohawa sa programa ug mahatag napud kini sa uban pang mas nagkinahanglan (The program helped a lot especially during the time that we really do not have anything and now they we can stand up on our own, we are ready to leave the program and give this to others who needed it the most),” said Lyn.

Lyn believed that true success could not be measured by the heights one attains but by the obstacles one overcomes. ###

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