“If you can dream it, you can achieve it,” for many, however, some dreams seem out of reach, especially when faced with financial struggles and competing priorities.

Meet Myra P. Yanela, a 39-year-old woman married to Jonar A. Yanela. They reside in Brgy. Bakiad, Labo, Camarines Norte. The couple is blessed with three wonderful children: Jaymar, 17; Xyrene, 14; and Joshua, 7, who are currently enrolled in senior high school, junior high school, and elementary school, respectively. Jonar, a tricycle driver, is the primary provider for the family, while Myra supplements their income through a small honorarium from the barangay and other allowances as a child development worker. Despite their efforts, the couple’s income often falls short, leading them to seek assistance from relatives.

 In 2013, the household became one of the beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, the national poverty reduction strategy and human capital investment program that provides conditional cash transfers to qualified households. This human development program offers social protection, social assistance, social development, and other complementary support services in partnership with concerned agencies, local governments, and other stakeholders to improve health, nutrition, education, and socio-economic aspects of their lives.

When the household became a beneficiary, Myra was identified as the grantee, and she actively attended the Family Development Sessions (FDS). Jonar served as her proxy whenever she was unavailable due to work demands.

The Family Development Session (FDS), conducted monthly, aim to enhance the parenting capabilities of the grantees, encouraging them to be more active citizens of society. Through these sessions, Myra and Jonar strengthened their parenting skills and learned valuable lessons in time and financial management, as well as the importance of open communication within the family.

“Napakahalaga po ng open communication sa bawat isa. Dito ay malaya po namin napag-uusapan ang mga problema at plano namin sa mga bata, mga dapat naming unahin sa pangangailangan, lalo na po yung sa cash grant na nakukuha namin sa programa. Ito po ay talagang inilalaan namin sa pangangailangan ng mga bata sa school,” shared Myra.

(Open communication with each other is very important. Here, we freely discuss our problems and plans for the children, the things we need to prioritize, especially the cash grant we receive from the program. We really allocate this for the children’s needs in school.)

In 2018, Myra decided to pursue her dream and continue her studies. With the support of her husband, she enrolled at Camarines Norte State College, taking up a Bachelor in Elementary Education.

“Lahat ng plano at pangarap ay kailangan ng tiyaga at pagsisikap upang maabot ang pangarap. Sa pamamagitan po ng pagkakaroon namin ng open communication, napag-uusapan namin yung mga dapat unahin at pag-planohan yung mga gawain, lalo na at pareho kaming may trabaho at ako ay nag-aaral din,” said Myra.

(All plans and dreams require perseverance and effort to achieve. Through having open communication, we discuss our priorities and plan our activities, especially since we both have jobs, and I am also studying.)

The couple’s determination paid off when Myra graduated in 2021 with a degree in Elementary Education. However, Jonar believed there was more to achieve. He encouraged Myra to take the Licensure Examination for Professional Teachers, emphasizing the importance of aiming higher. In the following year, Myra succeeded in becoming a licensed professional teacher. Currently, she continues to work as a child development worker while waiting for an item in the Department of Education, having landed rank 19 in the Registry of Qualified Applicants.

Myra’s success story underscores the vital role of the Family Development Sessions in the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. Her journey reflects the importance of embracing the lessons from these sessions, emphasizing hard work, time management, and using government assistance wisely.

“Huwag natin isipin na tayo ay isang mahirap lang, dahil may pag-asa pa rin na naghihintay. Lahat tayo ay nakakaranas ng hirap sa buhay. Kailangan lang natin isabuhay ang mga bagay na itinuturo sa atin sa Family Development Session. Magsikap tayo, time management at tamang pagbabudget at gamitin sa tama ang tulong ng gobyerno maliit man ito o malaki,” she expressed.

(Let us not think that we are just poor, because there is still hope waiting. We all experience hardships in life. We just need to live by the things taught to us in the Family Development Sessions. We must work hard, manage our time and budget properly, and use the government’s assistance wisely, whether it is small or large.)

This story serves as an inspirational narrative, urging others, especially the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program beneficiaries, to embrace resilience, plan strategically, and harness the power of determination on their path to success.