Conchita Yoro receives her Certificate of Recognition for attaining distinction with honors in academic excellence in Grade 11 at Sinait National High School.

Hindi ko alam ang magiging buhay ko bilang isang mahirap, matanda, at walang pinagkakakitaan kung wala ang Social Pension. Kaya naman, ako ay lubos na nagpapasalamat sa programang ito ng DSWD. Mabuhay kayo! (I do not know what my life would be like as a poor, old, and no stable source of income without the Social Pension that is why I am very grateful for this program of the DSWD. Long live!”), Conchita Yoro shared.

Nanay Conchita is a 74-year-old social pensioner of the DSWD Field Office 1 who was able to continue her education through online and modular learning. She is also one of the numerous individuals all around the world who have been affected and changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. She is currently enrolled as a Grade 12 Senior High School student in the Humanities and Social Sciences Strand at Sinait National High School (HUMMS), Sinait, Ilocos Sur.

After enduring countless struggles and tribulations for her family, including paying for her children’s education and losing her husband due to colon cancer, it was time for her to take a break. Nanay Conchita wanted a break from her other responsibilities because she has always been consumed with the whirlwind of life. After some rest, she was able to think about both her own and others’ actions. She also learned how to look at problems from several perspectives. Without proper education, Nanay Conchita knew that she may feel ashamed, which would worsen the discrimination she already faced.

“Hindi ako maaaring tumigil na lamang sa pag-aaral dahil ang kaalaman ay napakahalaga, lalo na sa mga taong mahihirap na tulad ko. Kung gusto kong baguhin ang aking buhay, kailangan kong magpursige. Ilang taon akong nakikipaglaban at nabigo. Ngunit natuklasan ko rin ang isang bagay na mas mahalaga: isang uhaw para sa kaalamang nagpabago sa paraan ng aking pagtingin sa mundo. Hindi lang ito tungkol sa pagyaman o tagumpay (I cannot just stop learning because knowledge is incredibly vital, especially to underprivileged people like me. If I want to alter my life, I must persist. I spent years battling and failing. But I also discovered something more important: a thirst for knowledge that changed the way I viewed the world. It was not simply about getting rich or succeeding),” Nanay Conchita said. 

She eventually decided to enroll in the Alternative Learning System (ALS) of the Department of Education (DepEd) in order to gain fundamental and functional literacy skills and to have a path toward finishing her basic education. Despite being in her senior years, she wants to inspire young people as well as her fellow older persons who lack knowledge and proper education. She is determined to pursue Bachelor of Early Education and take the Licensure Examination for Professional Teachers.

Additionally, juggling studies and working as a fish vendor is quite difficult for her. Hence, Nanay Conchita is sincerely grateful for being one of the indigent senior citizens who has been receiving a monthly stipend of PhP500.00 from the Social Pension Program of the DSWD Field Office 1 for the past four years. She utilizes her stipend for daily school expenses including the fare, school projects, and allowances in addition to her medications, vitamins, and basic necessities.

The DSWD Field Office 1 has been providing assistance to Social Pensioners with a total of 206,074 Social Pensioners (Ilocos Norte-21,296; Ilocos Sur-47,621; La Union-28,629; and Pangasinan-108,528) as of September 2022. 

Nanay Conchita proved that anything is achievable with hard work and determination, regardless of background or circumstances and age, with the help of the DSWD Field Office 1. Indeed, she wants to build a legacy that her children and grandchildren can be proud of and someday it will be their turn to do the same. (by: Princess R. Dumpit, Information Officer I, Social Pension Program Management Office)