Anyone who has experienced turbulent times in life needs that spark of hope, that fuel to ignite a quest within them – a deep desire to break free from stagnation, move forward with their lives, and fulfill their purpose in a way that might inspire others.


The Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) Program, as the frontline social welfare service of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), caters to clients from various walks of life by providing financial augmentation. Workers often hear numerous stories of loss, struggle, and hope. One of these stories was openly shared by Ms. Lahlyn Esparagal, a 31-year-old solo parent from Bagumbayan, Masbate, who has been a beneficiary of the educational assistance program since 2019.




“Simula nang magpasya akong bumalik sa pag-aaral, alam ko na para matapos ko ito, kailangan kong magsikap, lalo na bukod sa sarili ko ay may dalawang anak at mga matandang magulang pa akong kailangang buhayin,” Lahlyn sighed, trying to make sense of what she has to sacrifice to finish her education.


(When I decided to return to school, I knew that to complete it, I had to work hard, especially because, aside from myself, I have two children and elderly parents to support.)


Lahlyn works as a service crew in a fast-food chain in town, where she earns a minimum of Php 7,000. According to her, this monthly income is just enough to cover her family’s basic needs. However, it isn’t sufficient to pay for her school expenses. That’s why she participates in other income-generating activities, such as buying and selling and providing beauty care services for children, whenever she has spare time.




“May [kaibigan] akong nagpaayos ng anak niya para sa activity sa school, noong 2019, naikwento niya sa akin ang tungkol sa AICS – na nagbibigay raw kayo ng educational assistance para sa mga eligible na estudyante,” she recalled.


(In 2019, a friend of mine told me about the educational assistance from AICS available for eligible students.)


Upon learning about this, she quickly applied at the DSWD CIS-AICS Satellite in Masbate, underwent an interview and assessment, and was scheduled for a payout.


“Sakto noong time na una kong naka-receive ng educational assistance [year 2019], prelims po namin noon. Magsusulat sana ako ng promissory note dahil wala po akong pambayad ng tuition,” she added.


(When I first received educational assistance in 2019, it was during the prelims examinations. I was planning to write a promissory note because I didn’t have the means to pay my tuition.)


This dilemma changed her life forever. With DSWD AICS educational assistance, at that time, she was able to pay her tuition on time, which inspired her to realize that she didn’t have to drop any subjects due to budget constraints, as government agencies like DSWD may help with financial augmentation.


Since 2019, she has applied every year at the Masbate Satellite Office. Last September 2023, Lahlyn received Php 5,000.


“Malaki po ang aking pasasalamat sa programang ito ng DSWD. Hindi man po siya araw-araw na tulong pinansyal, at least po, nakakabawas po ito sa mga gastusin ko at malaking bagay ito para sa akin bilang solo parent na nagsusumikap makapagtapos ng pag-aaral,” Lahlyn shared.


(I am extremely grateful for this program of the DSWD. It is a great relief, especially that I am a solo parent striving to finish my degree.)


As of writing, Lahlyn is already a graduating student pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education at Liceo de Masbate.


“Napakalaki ng papel ng AICS sa mga tulad namin na may mga pangarap sa buhay. Hindi dahil ikaw ay may anak na, hindi ka na pwedeng mangarap. Hanggang sa nabubuhay ka, pwede kang mangarap. Tiyaga lang talaga,” she emphasized.


(AICS plays a significant role in the lives of people like me. Motherhood shouldn’t be a hindrance to your dreams. As long as you are alive, you have the right to dream and overcome your adversities.)


Lahlyn is very hopeful that by June 2024, she will finish her degree, and before 2025, she will become a Licensed Professional Teacher.


The stories of individuals availing financial assistance in the AICS program exhibit remarkable stories of hope and display incredible human spirits – to start anew to provide for their children, care for each other, and co-create a life of purpose.