Mahirap ang buhay kaya hindi ako nakapagtapos ng high school pero nagsumikap ako. Isa na ako ngayong supervisor (Life was hard so I didn’t finish high school but I persevered. I am now a supervisor).”

At a young age, Cris Baraoidan from Laoag City, Ilocos Norte had to sacrifice youthful pleasures and needed to mature early to understand and accept a difficult life caused by poverty. Putting food on the table was the family’s main priority leaving the acquisition of formal education behind. Imagine their parents’ struggle of sending eight kids to school without regular income, they had no choice.

Being the sixth child, his parents were able to send him to school until grade six only. His older brother, the third among them, took the responsibility of sending him to high school. Cris stayed with him in Pangasinan. However, fate challenged him further when he needed to stop schooling after his brother took a troubled path.

Twist of fate

He stayed as a helper at his uncle’s house in Quezon City for two years then was later referred to a relative in Laguna where he worked for another two years. Because life was cruel in Laguna, he had to leave and stayed with a cousin in Muntinlupa City.

Life started to become better than before. His cousin helped him land a job as a Food Court Crew in a mall in Metro Manila in 2007. After a month, he was re-assigned as a comfort room (CR) housekeeper then as a CR attendant until 2009. It was also the time that he finally found the love of his life and was blessed with a daughter.

He has been so hardworking that when one of his superiors established his own agency, he was pulled out to work for him. While waiting to be re-assigned finally in Ilocos Norte to be with his parents in their twilight years, he stayed with his relative in Cavite where he helped as a fisherman.

In 2009, he was hired as a lead man, one that helps in the overall housekeeping, in a mall in Ilocos Norte. After five years of diligence, he was promoted as a Project Coordinator with tasks that included hiring employees and coordinating with the Agency’s main office in Manila. He then started enjoying privileges like 13th month pay, performance-based company bonuses on top of his PhP512.00 daily wage and mandatory government contributions. What he thought as promotion later became a threat to his rising career. The former staff who resigned from the job left anomalies and issues on unpaid salaries which Cris needed to face and address. ‘“Yung promotion ko ay parang mas naging stress sa akin. Parang walang sense of fulfillment pero kailangan kong gawin ang trabaho ko (The promotion became more of a stress to me. There was no sense of fulfillment, but I had to do my job),” he shared.

Cris had to walk the extra mile to coordinate with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) personally. Eventually, the concerned staff received their salaries in expense of his promotion. He was demoted to a lead man supervisor, with his daily pay trimmed down to PhP340.00. He thought it was unfair, so he coordinated with DOLE again. “Ipinaglaban ko ang karapatan ko. Nagsilbing lakas ko ang aking pamilya (I fought for my right. My family served as my strength).” The parties came up with mediation where the mall pays him PhP240.00 while his Agency pays him PhP232.00.

In November 2017, he was identified as one of the Employment Facilitation beneficiaries of the Sustainable Livelihood Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 1. The cash assistance he received was utilized in acquiring renewal requirements for his job. He said that the cash assistance from DSWD was very timely. ‘“Yung pera na itinabi ko para sa pagkuha ng mga dokumento para sa renewal ng trabaho ay nahugot ko dahil nagka-emergency kami. Akala ko mawawalan na ako ng trabaho dahil strikto ang Agency namin sa deadline ng pagpapasa ng requirements (The money I had set aside to acquire job renewal documents was utilized for an emergency. I thought I was going to lose my job because the Agency was strict in the deadline of submission of requirements),’’ he added.

Noong bata ako, ipinangako kong kapag nagkapamilya na rin ako, gagawin ko ang lahat para mabigyan sila ng komportableng buhay, ‘yung buhay na maayos kumpara sa naranasan namin (When I was a child, I promised that when I have my own family, I will do my best to give them a comfortable life, a life better than what we used to have).” His smile was bittersweet.

Most of his pay is used for his family’s daily needs. He also helps his siblings financially. “Sinisikap kong ibigay lahat ng pangangailangan ng anak ko (I strive to give all my child’s needs),” he said. Apart from being consistent in the honor roll, his daughter is also a badminton player who has represented her school and the entire province of Ilocos Norte in many sports events in the Region.

To augment his salary, he watched video tutorials on dressmaking and repair, then later on bought a secondhand sewing machine. During his days off or even after coming home from work, he sews costumes and repairs clothing where he usually earns PhP50.00 to PhP1,200.00 per transaction. He also plans to enroll in a short-term dressmaking course to hone his skills.

Wala na tayong magagawa sa past natin pero meron at meron tayong magagawa para maging maganda ang ating kinabukasan. Alam ko na may nag-aantay pang mas maganda para sa akin at sa aking pamilya. Laban lang (We can’t do anything to change our past, but we can always do something to make our future better. I know that the best is yet to come for me and my family. We will keep on fighting),” Cris ended. (by: Janine Joy B. Altero, Social Marketing Officer, Sustainable Livelihood Program)