This is a story about a former homeless individual who have big dreams for her family. Her name is Liwanag Lopez Ocampo, who turned 41 years old on May 14, 2019. Her story is an inspiration to the members of the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer for Homeless Street Families (MCCT-HSF) in Navotas. Liwanag represents other MCCT members who looks forward of having a good and better life for their families. They are also the people who are striving hard to experience wellness in their lives.
Liwanag lived quite a privileged life during her younger years. Her parents both worked at the Fishport of Navotas as vendors and biyahero as well. She studied in a well- known private school and reached second year college. During those times, she was living her dream and was ready to finish college. However, when she met Marlon, her common- law partner and better half, she began to experience a 360 degree turn in her life. She got pregnant at quite a young age of 19 years old.
Liway, as her friends call her experienced living life away from her parents and family. She started living with Marlon’s family while the latter, tried working to various jobs. Marlon finished a vocational course as electrician which he took for two (2) years. Life back then became quite difficult for Liway because of the adjustments she had to make. The couple was blessed with four (4) children. Her eldest is now a mother herself to a one year- old daughter. She stopped from school but she is now planning to enrol in Alternative Learning System (ALS) since her child is already able to walk and move along at home.
The three (3) children are now studying and being monitored as beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) for MCCT- HSF in the City of Navotas.
Liwanag’s family experienced their worst living condition when a misunderstanding between them and Marlon’s biological family arose. He was then working as a call center agent and eventually, stopped working. Since then, he started changing his ways toward his family and engaged himself in vices such as alcoholism and womanizing. Because of this, the couple’s relationship became a little shaky. From being a regular employee in a company, he turned into a caretaker of a small computer shop located in the same Barangay where they live.
Because of the problems that arose from their situation, the couple decided to move out of Marlon’s family house and lived under the ceiling of the computer shop where he worked. Given their family size, one could only imagine how hard it was for them to live the life of a homeless family. Liwanag tried selling different food outside of the said establishment to help her on the household expenses.
In the year 2015, the family was enumerated by the Listahanan and were assessed to be from eligible members of the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer for Homeless Street Families (MCCT- HSF). They have been provided with rental assistance which they used wisely and is still sustainable until today.
Because of her determination, Liway is now working as a private school teacher in Caloocan City and earns the starting salary of six thousand pesos (P6,000.00) which increases over time. She applied for a low tuition fee education at Navotas Polytechnic College and graduated in the year 2018 with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Education Major in General Education. During interview, Liway said giving her children the best future they deserved is what she always dreamed of. She also wants to inspire Marlon by being a good example to him through graduating and being a good provider for their family.
The cash grants which they received from their compliance with the conditionalities of the program were used for her children’s school needs. By proper management of said cash grants, improvement on their lives is being felt.
Presently, Liway is being encouraged by the Case Worker handling their Pantawid membership to apply for a vacant position at the Regional Office of DSWD- NCR to help improve their family’s overall well-being. Her husband on the other hand is presently looking for a job in the LGU of Navotas to assist Liway in providing for their basis sustenance.
Continuous mentoring is Liwanag’s pledge for her children to have a better future. She encourages them to dream big and dream like her because she believes that nothing is impossible if someone wants to improve his or her life. She also continues to impart the importance of education to her children and she sets good example. She also reminds them to always be grateful to the program which helped them during their plight.
“Ang maipapayo ko lang ay una, magdasal. Pangalawa, magkaroon ng target o goal na araw- araw iisipin kung paano ba magiging posible. Tapos maghanap ng mga tao o ahensya ng gobyerno na handang tumulong dahil mahirap bumangon ng nag-iisa. Mayroong mga scholarship programs at educational assistance ang gobyerno. Kailangan lang po ng sipag, tiyaga, determinasyon, inspirasyon at paraan para po magtapos sila sa pag- aaral at makuha ang mga pangarap nila. Ngunit kailangan ding tandaan na huwag abusuhin at dumepende lamang sa tulong.” – Liway Liwanang