“Ang medalyang ito ay ang aking kayamanan na nagpapakitang nakamit ko na ang pangarap ko sa buong buhay ko – ang makapagtapos ng high school (This medal is my treasure which shows that I already realized my dream in my entire life – to finish high school),”Pantawid Pamilya Grantee Veronica “Vicky” Guillermo proudly uttered while she shows her graduation medal.

Oldest but the mightiest in spirit, 60 year-old Vicky delightfully marched together with her 25 young batchmates during their graduation in August 2019 in Piddig, Ilocos Norte after successfully finishing high school through the Alternative Learning System (ALS).

For Vicky, senior years are still productive. “Walang pinipiling edad ang pag-aaral basta’t kaya mo. Parang ako, pakiramdam ko ay bata pa ako, gusto ko pa ring mag-aral. Malakas ang loob ko na makapagtatapos ako (Learning knows no age as long as you can. Just like me, I feel so young, I still want to study. I am optimistic that I can graduate),” Vicky shared.

She also testified that her sole reason of enrolling in the ALS is to encourage her grandson to go back to school. Kenneth, 17, has been in her custody since his parents separated. This led to Kenneth’s loss of interest in going to school, thus, identified as one of the Pantawid Pamilya children not attending school.

According to Vicky’s husband, Ruperto, 62, “Sabi ko sa asawa ko na mag-enroll siya sa ALS dahil Grade 6 lang din ang natapos niya at baka ito ang makahikayat kay Kenneth na tapusin ang high school, may DSWD naman na tumutulong sa amin (I told my wife to enroll because she only finished Grade 6 and this might encourage Kenneth to finish high school since DSWD is helping us).”

“Mahal na mahal namin ang aming apo. Mas higit pa sa anak ang turing namin sa kanya. Paano na lang ang magiging buhay niya kapag wala na kami? Kaya hinikayat namin siyang bumalik sa pag-aaral. Pumayag naman siya at ngayon ay sabay kaming nagtapos (We really love our grandson. We treat him more than our own son. How will his life be if we are gone? So we encouraged him to go back to school. He listened to us and we graduated together),” Vicky shared while tears are rolling on her cheeks. Vicky believes that education assures a better future for Kenneth.  

Ruperto was thrilled upon knowing from Ms. Maria Elena Esteban, ALS Mobile Teacher, that his wife and Kenneth are the only graduates in their barangay out of the 25 finishers in the whole municipality.

Ms. Esteban described Vicky as a bright student. Despite her age, she was able to cope up with her lessons and showed exemplary performance. She also challenged Vicky to continue inspiring her fellow senior citizens especially her co-beneficiaries. (by: Jaesem Ryan A. Gaces, Information Officer II/Pantawid Pamilya)