Family is primarily the support system of a person. The significant people who play a crucial role in someone’s life who never leave when life gets tough. They help us through difficult times as well as give love, care, and essential support. No matter how hard life hits, we can endure and cope with it as long as there is family beside us. With them, nothing can ever beat us, even if life throws the hardest challenge at us.

This is what Maria Cecelia Remalla, 50 years old, a mother of five (5) children, from Palale, San Jose, Camarines Sur proved despite the hardship they’ve been through specifically during the COVID-19 pandemic. Things were not easy for them. Due to lockdown, Cecelia’s husband lost his job in the vehicle repair shop. The situation worsened each day so they decided to go back to San Jose, Camarines Sur in April 2020. Unfortunately, due to financial constraints, only Cecelia and their children could go back that time.

As the day passes by, the challenges in their life intensify. There were times when her husband was not able to provide them financially. As a mother who loves her children unconditionally, Cecelia exerted maximum effort to assist her husband in meeting the family’s needs together with the help of their eldest child.

Yung anak kong panganay, nagtatrabaho na din. Tapos nakiki-trabaho din ako dyan sa palayan,” Cecelia said.

(My eldest child is already working. Then I am also working in the rice field.)

It was in December of the same year, when Cecelia’s husband was able to go back to San Jose, marking their reunion after months of separation due to the pandemic. However, starting their lives together in the province was so challenging. To have income, they started a small vulcanizing shop, but it doesn’t meet their needs most of the time, especially that some of their children were still pursuing their studies. It was then that Cecelia knew about the Balik Probinsya Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) Program. Every day, she prayed and hoped their family would be fortunate enough to be included in the list of beneficiaries.

Ayun, lagi akong nagdadasal. Sabi ko sana maisami kami. Kasi meron din na ano, yung hindi na-approve… sabi ko, salamat sa Diyos…natutuwa talaga kami para sa programang ‘yan. Kasi mahirap talaga ang makakuha ng ganyang halaga, kaya sabi ko salamat at natulungan tayo ng gobyerno.” Cecelia happily shared.

(I always pray. I said I wish we could be included. Because there’s also those who were not approved… I thank God… we are happy for that program. Because it is really hard to get that kind of money, that is why I am thankful that the government was able to help us.)

Cecelia and her family were over the moon when they were included in the list of the BP2 beneficiaries. Upon receiving their grant, their shop began to improve and her husband was able to buy other necessary equipment for their shop, including the grinder, drilling tool, welding machine, oxy-acetylene, and hoss for car wash.

Venturing into business is a challenging and uncertain investment. Achieving immediate success is seldom and experiencing setbacks and losses is a common aspect of the business world. Consequently, as a newbie, there were moments when Cecelia’s husband contemplated stopping their business.

Sabi ko kahit sino naman nagsimula (mag negosyo) may minsan wala (walang customer), minsan meron. Tiyagaan mo lang…malay mo sa mga susunod na araw baka meron na din customers,” Cecelia said as she encouraged her husband.

(I said no matter who started [doing business], sometimes there are no [customers], sometimes there are. Just be patient…maybe in the coming days there might be customers.)

Cecelia has enlightened her husband’s mind to continue and not give up on their business. They work together to let their shop be known in their place by advertising it.

Kasi nasa Sitio kami, mahirap naman, wala naman dumadaan ditong sasakyan. Kaya gumawa kami ng flyers para ipamigay namin. Para kahit papano, makikilala po.”

(Because we are in Sitio, it is difficult, there is no car passing by. So we made flyers to give out. To somehow, be recognized.)

Little by little, their shop was being recognized and their customers were adding up. Because of Cecelia’s optimism, her husband did not give up and they are starting now to reap their hard work.

Indeed, a mother is the light of the family. According to her, no matter how many times life challenges them, she will never lose hope and will stay optimistic. She firmly believed that no matter how hard life is, people will successfully overcome it as long as there’s their family. As for her, family was her primary inspiration and support system while emphasizing that prayer is the ultimate weapon people can have all the time which can’t be understated and should be cherished and valued.

Para sa akin kahit anong paghihirap kayang pagtiisan. Basta tulong-tulong ang isang pamilya.” Cecelia shared her lessons in life.

(For me any hardship can be dealt with. As long as the family is helping one another.)

As the BP2 Program ends, Cecelia advises her co-beneficiaries.

Ang payo ko lang sa kanila [BP2 beneficiaries], sana pag halimbawa ganyang binigyan tayo ng oportunidad na magkaroon ng malaking puhunan, pangalagaan natin. Kasi mahirap makakuha ng ganyan…sa dami ng tao, dami ng nag trabaho sa Manila, swertehan lang yung makakuha ng ganoong oportunidad,” Cecelia stated.

(My only advice to them, I hope that if we’re given an opportunity to have a big capital, let’s take care of it. Because it is hard to get something like that…with the number of people who worked in Manila, it’s lucky to get such an opportunity.)

Written by: Alexandra H. Burce