For this student, P400 is worth her future

How much is P400 worth to you?

For some it could be a meager amount just enough for three value meals at a fast food chain, an hour stay at a massage spa, and other perks to provide them temporary happiness.

For Jocelyn Aligata, it is worth her future. For her, it could already buy her many things she needs for her school projects to be able to pass her subjects. “That (P400) is the biggest amount that Mama and Papa sent for my allowance,” she said.

And it motivated her to study harder.

Jocelyn Aligata
Jocelyn, 23, is among the six Students Grant-in-Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation (SGP-PA) scholars who received medals as academic awardees during the “Pasidungog 2014” recently held at the WVSU-CAF campus in Lambunao, Iloilo.

The incoming third year Bachelor of Science in Forestry said it was her first ever award in school.

The other SGP-PA scholars who are academic awardees are Jovelyn Dulman, Johnny Lutrago, Rey-An Montes, Irene Ortega, and Ledy Villarma, all taking up Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. Four of them—Dulman (Murcia), Lutrago (Toboso), Aligata (Hinigaran) and Ortega (Murcia) are from Negros Occidental while Montes (Nueva Valencia) and Villarma (San Lorenzo) are from Guimaras province.

SGP-PA scholars

Jocelyn is the eldest among seven children of Juanito Aligata, 56, a fisherman, and Rosario Aligata, 48, a housewife of Zone I, Barangay Tagda, Hinigaran, Negros Occidental.

“At first it was difficult because I was nervous. It has been five years since I quit schooling,” she shared. “I was so happy when I learned that I became a scholar of SGP-PA.”

Being a scholar, Jocelyn is entitled to a free tuition, uniform and book allowance which total to P60,000 a year. The SGP-PA program is jointly implemented by the Commission on Higher Education and the DSWD. The scholars’ families are also beneficiaries of the DSWD’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

“But sometimes, when we have many projects, my allowance as scholar gets short so I ask money from my parents. They send me what they can just afford because my family is poor,” she said.

Trying to hold back her tears, Jocelyn related the hardships they have gone through while she was growing up. “But we never got hungry because Papa always finds a way and when we don’t have something to eat we borrow rice from our neighbour.”

At 18 years old, Jocelyn went to Manila to work as a househelp to be able to augment what her father earns from fishing and to help send her younger siblings to school.

Another SGP-PA scholar, Jhonny Lutrago, from San Isidro, Toboso, also of Negros Occidental, did not only finish his second year as Academic Awardee. He was even elected as the college representative to the Student Council of WVSU-CAF.

A typical case of a “sacada boy,” Jhonny is also giving his all not only to be able to finish his studies but also to excel. However, unlike Jocelyn, who got her first ever medal only in college, he has been a constant achiever since grade school.

“I am very proud because we were given a chance to study in a high standard school. I really want to help my family out of poverty,” he said.

The six SGP-PA scholars who are recently recognized as Academic Awardees of WVSU-CAF in Lambunao, Iloilo pose for a souvenir picture with Mr. Jonathan Anteza, DSWD Field Office VI’s PantawidPamilyang Pilipino Program Regional Project Coordinator and Ms. Corrina Rene Magbanua, SGP-PA Coordinator.

 Happy but sad

“This medal is a proof that there is nothing impossible if one has a dream and that person works hard to achieve that dream. I was just an average student but I am doing my best because it is my ultimate goal to finish my studies to be able to help my family,” she added.

Jocelyn is the only one in the family who is able to study in college. Her two sisters, who are high school graduates, are working as a sales lady and a househelp, respectively. Jocelyn was also working as househelp in Manila when she learned she was chosen to be an SGP-PA scholar and she never had a second thought accepting it because “it was a dream come true.”

“I am so happy because this is the first time that I received a medal. But I am also sad because Mama and Para are not here right now,” she said misty-eyed./dswd6/Wenna B. Bendol

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