Far from what we call life, Herme’s life is the dragging part of ours. Herme is married to a person with disability and is supporting six students at school, one of which is her daughter, Lisa. Being the older sister of her family, Herme handles all the responsibility of her parents. From food, clothing to school finances, Herme takes it all as part of the tragic life she’s in now.

Life for Herme is a never ending struggle. She has experienced already all the complexities of this earthly journey. That life is so unfair in all its angles; from giving her the parents that everybody would not even care to think of to the family she handles now, to having a husband with disability; life as we call it a blessing is the very opposite of hers. Heart-rending. Ill-fated.

Herme together with her family lives in the mountainous area in the municipality of Tago in the Province of Surigao del Sur. Supporting 6 students, she crossed fingers to fully provide the needs of these students every day. During times that their health leaks, they manage to cure themselves with “pampamaba” or shaman healing.

As this lifelong journey flips its pages, Herme ventures herself to other possibilities that she thinks would alleviate her from the life she calls the wheel of sacrifice. She started participating Barangay related activities, joins “tapok” or unceremonious assembly and learn to continue her education despite of the heightened level of poverty they are experiencing as one family. Having one unified vision, Herme thought her younger siblings and even encourages all the members of her family including her husband to take action towards ending the intergenerational cycle of poverty in their family. She envisioned seeing herself in the academe together with the students she is presently supporting.

Life really has its own power to look beyond possibilities. It has the power to create its own features in our individual life. Sometimes we may fall, but definitely, if we learn to try to handle ourselves with doggedness and beliefs that someday, our dreams will come to the fullness of its reality, it will happen leaving an ink behind in disguise.

Herme’s life is. After learning the beauty of real-education (institutionalized education) upon her involvement in ALS (Alternative Learning System), she finally decided to continue her study in San Francisco College of Agusan del Sur. At first it was a try, but as time goes by, it became a challenge to her.

It was not after Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program was introduced in their place. As she reminisced, Pantawid Program helped them to live again. Pantawid Program serves as renaissance to her family. If not because of Pantawid, they might not able to experience the life that she has now.

So unbelievable it is to think but yes, Herme graduated her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education degree; and as years linger, she was elected as Barangay Chairman of Barangay Anahao. Even before the election, she first became one of the active parent leaders of the Pantawid Program in their municipality serving tops of all the vulnerable.

She reminisced, “it was Pantawid that empowers her. It was Pantawid that thought her to have the spirit of service to others.”

There she saw the power behind Pantawid. That the program is not just about giving cash to its grantees, but, Pantawid nonetheless is all about empowerment. That Pantawid further is about social development and much more to say, Pantawid seeks to teach each lives and change each lives for good.

Thankful she is to DSWD, she narrated. If not because of this social action, there couldn’t have been a change of life. Life as she call it, is life indeed.###(SocialMarketingUnit DSWD CARAGA).