We are not lazy, we just need access and opportunity,” this is the cry of many beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

How can we equate poverty with indolence? How dare we belittle the hard-work of each poor individual who works relentlessly in the farm, covered with sweat and mud under the heat of the sun? How are we able to say that they are sluggish when we see them on their daily grind only to earn a few pesos that is meagerly enough for day-to-day consumption?

No, we have no right to discount their labors. Many of them stay up night and day in order to make ends meet. Others juggle their time despite having more than enough on their plate working left and right to make a living. Haney Datukali, a mother of two, struggles to find time to attend to her kids, meet with her clients as an online seller, and at the same time looking for other means to earn. Her husband, on the other hand, is a security guard on night duty. As a security guard, Dhats Datukali keeps an alert mind and body all night to perform his duty well.

Datukali Family

But despite all this hard-work, the couple from Malangas, Zamboanga Sibugay knows that this will never be enough to provide for the needs of their growing family. It is quite fortunate that the education of their two children is subsidized by the government through the 4Ps program. But what happens when they reach the maximum retention period in the program or when their children get to college? No matter how many sleepless nights he will spend, Dhats hardly be able to sustain the children’s educational and personal needs.

Haney and Dhats discussed this matter as a couple and as parents and the only thing that they can think of at the moment is that one of them must finish a degree, find a higher-paying job, then they may have a chance at being good providers to their family. A bit challenging, but definitely not impossible. They think that this is the right time to do it while their children are still in grade school and expenses are still quite manageable with the assistance from the government.

And so, the two enrolled for tertiary education while being parents to their kids and while working on the side. Dhats works as a security guard at night and a few more sidelines, and he is a student by day. His wife, Haney, also studies in college and selling basically anything that can be legally sold online. In other words, all of the members of the Datukali family go to school, each strives hard to earn that diploma.

For them, education is key, education is their access to success. They believe that once any of them could get a hold of that diploma, their life will be much lighter. According to Haney, “Hindi madali ang lahat, pero dahil sa tiyaga, pagsusumikap, tiwala, at pananampalataya kay Allah, at sa tulong ng 4Ps ay makakamit namin ang aming minimithi. (Nothing is easy, but because of perseverance, hard-work, trust, faith in Allah, and with the help of 4Ps, we will achieve our goals.)”

She was not wrong. In 2019, Dhats finally graduated in college with a bachelor’s degree in Criminology and subsequently passed the licensure exam. He is finally a licensed and respected police officer. While Haney is expected to finish this year as an English Major in the Liberal Arts. With this success, the Datukali family waived their membership in the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

Their story is a manifestation of dedication and hard-work; a proof that poor families only need access and opportunities as others have in order to end the cycle of poverty. ###

Determined couple, Haney and Dhats Datukali, proudly wear their togas for their graduation pictorial.