(L) Aldimar shows his book to his younger brothrs Jamar and Junimar. Under the care of their grandmother, these three children get enrolled in school through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.
(L) Aldimar shows his book to his younger brothrs Jamar and Junimar. Under the care of their grandmother, these three children get enrolled in school through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

There could never be as sweet to remember like childhood memories. In the case of Aldimar, 11 year old and Pantawid Pamilya grantee, these memories remind him of his triumph amidst life’s crises – – – the tears he shed and the selfless sacrifice he had to do for his siblings’ sake.

Aldimar was in grade one when he stopped schooling because his parents could no longer support him. It was also the time that he started to witness his mother’s suffering in the hands of his father. The image of a happy family was never realized, and probably never will be.    At a young age, Aldimar’s dream of becoming a civil engineer started to fade. To Aldimar, the world was dark, no rainbows and no butterflies.

At nine (9) years old, he knew he was living a life that will never be understood by someone his age. Having no parents to take care of them, he had to be a dependable leader for his younger brothers- Jamar, 6 years old and Junimar, 5 years old at present.

Head slightly bowed while playing with his yellow rubber band on his wrist, Aldimar said, “Usahay mingawon ko sa ilaha (I still miss them),” referring to his parents. Marissa, Aldimar’s mother, died in 2010. She was the second wife of his father. According to Lola Batrice, Marissa got ill due to violence and abuses inflicted by his father. Lola Beatrice also said Aldimar’s father abandoned them and lived with another woman. Aldimar’s father is in jail for the heinous crime he committed.

While most of his friends enjoyed their childhood, Aldimar had to bear the tortures of missing his parents, the horror of uncertainty of daily survival, and the quest for love and security. His young mind rescued him from the constant inquiries of his younger brothers about their situation. Young as he was, he knew he needed help.

Aldimar saw a ray of hope when in 2011 the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program was introduced in Bayugan City. However, one of the rules of the program prohibits him from being a beneficiary. Besides being a minor, the condition which requires one of his parents to attend the Family Development Sessions (FDS) could not be met because he did not have his parents. Attendance of parents to the FDS is a vital component to ensure compliance and continued involvement in the program.

These circumstances seemed to snatch his only chance to have a normal life. Fortunately, his case was assessed and appropriate actions were taken so as not to compromise his right to education and health. Aldimar was then included in the program. His Lola Beatrice from paternal side takes care of them now as their guardian.

Now, the 11 year-old Aldimar has begun a new chapter of his life through Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

Their playmates and classmates in school and being too young to grasp the reality they were in helped Aldimar and his brothers forget the dark experience they had. “Pero gusto man gihapon nako kompleto among pamilya pareha sa uban (I still want my family to be complete just like the others),” Aldimar added. Although they seemed to have forgotten the past, it can never be taken away from them to wish having a complete and happy family.

“Nagpasalamat ko kay nakaapil gihapon mi sa Pantawid, makaeskuyla gihapon kami (I am thankful that we became Pantawid beneificiaries; we can still go to school),” Aldimar said.

Aldimar together with his siblings are now in the care of their grandmother who is also too old to work. Aside from Aldimar and his siblings, two of their cousins are also in their grandmother’s care. The only person who earns money in the household is their uncle Orland who works in a rubber farm and earns P150 a day.

With seven (7) mouths to feed, their uncle’s income is not enough for their daily needs, especially their school needs. That is why lola Beatrice is so thankful that Pantawid Pamilya is there to help her send the children to school. “Mag lisud gyud mi kung wala ang tabang saPantawid Pamilya, basin dili pa namo sila ma pa eskuyla, mao maayo nalang nga adunay tabang pinansyal ang gobyerno pinaagi ani nga programa (Without the help of PantawidPamilya, life would be very different for us. Without it, maybe we could not send them to school),” lola Beatrice said with a smile.

As it is true that the program may guarantee a lifetime success to its beneficiaries by investing in education and health, it also rekindles that remaining hope of Aldimar. That even without his parents, he stood and carried himself through the rigors of life at an early age.

Aldimar’s story of triumph is also a living testimony of success for the government’s Pantawid Pamilya as DSWD’s contribution in ensuring the education, health and nutritional needs of poor families.

Aldimar is now in grade three at Claro Cortes Elementary School together with younger brother Jamar, grade 2 and Junimar kinder-2. He finished 4th honor in his grade two class last school year 2012-2013. # # # (Social Marketing Unit)