Lucena O. Velasco, a 50-year-old mother of three, comes from a family of farmers. All her life, she has worked alongside her parents who farm on a land that they do not own. Her uncles and other relatives are farmers as well.

In the far and quiet municipality of Salug in Zamboanga Del Norte province, they live a peaceful albeit meager life cultivating the bounty of nature. They mostly spend their days under the scorching heat of the sun, growing crops, and working the ground for planting seeds.

Although this provides for her family, Lucena certainly does not dream this for when she has a family of her own. She desires for a better life for her children. For her, it is enough that her hard work and sacrifices stay with her generation and not pass on to her children.

When she married, she worked double time to make both ends meet. Her husband, Remegildo, is into carpentry earning three thousand pesos monthly. Lucena, on the other hand, applied as a house helper to suffice the needs of their growing family.

The couple strives hard to let their children be in school as they think that this will be their ticket out of their unfortunate situation. They are just grateful that the country’s conditional cash transfer program, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), helps them keep their children in school by providing cash grants for education and health.

Through dedication, perseverance, and prayers, her children reached college and took up Bachelor of Science in Marine Engineering. It was quite a challenge for the family especially that her eldest son, Ryan, was enrolled in Zamboanga City. Good thing that Ryan was diligent and gumptious at the same time which landed him a scholarship grant at the university.

By God’s grace, Ryan triumphantly finished his degree and was able to pass the licensure examination. He was hired by a company in Manila and currently works overseas with an income of 70,000 pesos monthly.

With this well-deserved success, Ryan had built their fully-concreted house with two air-conditioned rooms as a gift to his parents. He also bought 2 units of XRM motorcycles as gifts for his father.  The family also bought some farm lands in the municipality of Godod, Zamboanga Del Norte as a recollection of their childhood experiences as farmers.

Lucena’s and Remegildo’s second child, Jan Cris also wants to try his luck on the sea as a Mechanical Engineer. He is currently waiting for his schedule for licensure examination. Meanwhile, the youngest child, Desiree is in Grade 12.

As per latest assessment of the program, Velasco family is now at Self-Sufficient level and they actually have already exited from the program. Lucena and Remegildo feel so proud of the achievements of their children. They have successfully transitioned from being farmers to seafarers.

The hard-earned gift of Ryan Velasco for his parents: their own convenient home.