Most poor Filipino families must have encountered a situation where friends, neighbors, or even relatives turned their backs at them when they needed help. Many poor kids share stories about when they watch TV and suddenly their neighbor would shut their windows at them. This is a common scenario for young Kristine Jane Redillas Mandantes.

In a growing municipality in Zamboanga Del Norte called Polanco, Kristine and her family lived a very modest life which they have learned to adapt and enjoy.

However, as the family grew with the arrival of more siblings, financial constraints was felt progressively, and Kristine had to learn to set aside her own wishes, knowing that her parents could not afford them.

Having a blue-collared job with an unstable income, Mandantes family could barely survive. Kristine remembers that she and her mother had to scrounge for small amount of money, searching for coins in the corners of their home just to buy bread and make ends meet. Because of their unfortunate condition, they resorted to debt which made their situation even worse.

“Utang na pud? Taas na ang inyuhang listahan. (Credit again? Your credit list grows long,)” she would often hear from the sari-sari store nearby as she tries her luck to get some canned goods for their meal.

Moreover, and probably even more sad to think, they faced the harsh reality of relatives who looked down upon them and neglected them because they had nothing to offer.

As a child, Kristine and her siblings would often go to school with an empty stomach. The noise of her stomach crumbling from hunger would disturb her concentration and focus on class. Good thing that she had an aunt whom she can rely to whenever her small tummy needs replenishment.

The family’s financial struggle affected their ability to meet basic educational requirements, even for school projects. Waiting for their father to earn enough money to buy project materials demonstrates the financial strain they were under.

Going to school was not a walk in the park as Kristine and her siblings had to walk for miles to reach the nearest education facility. But this did not hinder her from getting an education that she rightfully deserves. If anything, this showed her determination to pursue education despite the obstacles they faced.

From this experience, it is evident that Kristine’s upbringing was characterized by resilience, perseverance, and the value for opportunities and blessings. When the Mandantes family became a member-beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), a poverty-alleviation program implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), they knew that they had to make the best of what they receive from the program.

As a beneficiary, Kristine and her siblings were monitored by the program as to their performance in school and their health. The 4Ps program provides cash grants to ensure that children are healthy and are provided with tools to support their education. This made her value education even more. Furthermore, her experiences may have taught her the importance of empathy, understanding, and compassion for others who may be going through similar struggles in life.

The challenges that Kristine experienced during her early years likely influenced her dream of becoming a professional educator herself. Fast-forward to the present, Kristine is now called Teacher Kristine as she passed the Licensure Examination for Teachers.

When asked about what she loves about her profession, Kristine says that she sees herself in many of her pupils. Despite the hardships that they face, their perseverance and willingness to learn was very evident.

“I was once like one of those children that I teach. I did not have everything that I needed, but I had the drive. I wanted to learn, and I had dreams,” Kristine said in a statement.

Kristine is the first college graduate and professional in the family and she hopes that this would be the start of them breaking the cycle of poverty. Also, she hopes that no child would ever experience being shut out by their relatives or neighbors as she once experienced.

With this milestone in the Mandantes family comes the respect of the community for having been hurdled the obstacles of life brought about by poverty. Kristine’s personal advocacy now is to instill the same appreciation for education among poor children in their community. She believes that the way to help other poor families like theirs is to make them realize that they can do better and that there are opportunities that help them such us the government’s 4Ps program and many other social welfare programs and services.

The story of Kristine Jane Redillas Mandantes, LPT is a testament to the positive impact that government assistance programs can have on families facing financial difficulties. It showcases how investing in education and providing support can empower individuals to break free from the cycle of poverty and achieve their goals.

Kristine’s inspiring story can serve as a beacon of hope for others facing similar circumstances. It highlights that everyone has the potential to succeed, regardless of their starting point in life. By believing in oneself and embracing opportunities for education and personal development, individuals can shape their own futures and reach their aspirations.