Tiktilaok! Says the rooster in the backyard.

The morning greets him first before anyone does. The wind is still cold as it envelops the morning dew. Little rays of sun begin to kiss the trees, the leaves, and plants. It is still early for most families, but Aldrin Sanaan is already up, hustling. The life in the small community of Barangay Liasan in Pitogo, Zamboanga Del Sur is peaceful, calm, and green. Not much establishment is seen. Majority of the people belong to the Subanen tribe, an ethnic tribe that is indigenous to the Zamboanga Peninsula.

Aldrin lives with his father while his mother works in Manila as a house helper. Being a farmer that he is, Aldrin has to wake up early to do some chores such as checking the garden, feeding the pigs, and helping his father in the grassland.

When he is done, he starts getting ready for school. But the hustle does not stop because he needs to take a 30-minute walk from their house to school. In most days, he ends up being late in class.

Mr. Sanaan, you are too early for you next class,” the usual greeting he would get.

This went on for months and he cannot do anything. He cannot get a ride since they do not have extra money for transportation. This affected his interest in school. Aldrin called up his mother in Manila and expressed his intention to be with her. He plans to stop from schooling and help his mother work in Manila.

So he went to Manila. He sold peanuts in the streets to earn additional income. He also sold fried chicken, whatever that could augment earnings for the family.

As an intervention, the Municipal Link, Vanessa Arbuiz, regularly checks on them and convinces Aldrin to go back to his schooling. Vanessa even advised the family to process transfer of residency for him to be able to enroll in a school in Manila and receive grants as a support to Aldrin’s education, a government support to indigent families through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) of the DSWD.

Instead, the family decided to come back to their province and start anew. Along with counselling by the Social Worker, the family is back on track and ready to face a renewed life as they start over.

Despite the new normal brought about by the global pandemic, Aldrin returned in school last October 2020 as a Grade-8 student. The challenge was that since face-to-face classes are cancelled, the school needed to use alternative methods such as the digital platform. This poses yet another threat to Aldrin’s education since the family does not own any smart phone and internet signal in the area is pretty weak.

But just like the sun, sometimes it fights amidst a rain. Realizing this dilemma, Aldrin borrows the android phone of his friends and avails piso net service for internet connection. That is how he got through Grade-8. And as with all efforts that are done with determination and perseverance, Aldrin successfully passed all the subjects and advanced to Grade-9. Currently, he is enrolled T Paulino Dari National High School. The school presently offers modular classes.

Dako kayo ug tabang ang 4P’s sa amoa labi na sa akong pag-eskwela, busa gapasalamat jud ko ani nga programa. (4Ps is a big help to us especially in my education so I am very grateful of this program,)” Aldrin said in an interview.

Esterlito and Marisa, Aldrin’s parents, are truly delighted with his decision to continue his studies despite the hardships that he had been through and despite the current situation. They never have lost their hope to their son even when it seemed like the sun have set on their misfortune. It may have darkened during the night or during the rainy days, surely tomorrow or the day after, it will shine again. Perhaps even brighter.

Ang mapapayo ko sa kapwa ko estudyante o kabataan na mahihirap, kailangan natin ng sipag at tiyaga upang makamit natin ang ating mga pangarap sa buhay.”-