Sunday, September 26News That Matters

Heartbreaking Story: Former PUP activist now living through 4Ps program

When Marcus Mauricio passed the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP-Manila), entrance exam in March 2001, his parents told him to stop seeing his high school sweetheart. Their reason was, the girl didn’t deserve him as they were aware that her parents cannot afford to send their daughter to college.

Marcus was an officer of Student Supreme Government (SSG) during his high school in Bulacan. His family runs a rice mill and a small factory of salted eggs. Money was not a problem for his family. His two older brothers, although had their own families, were both OFWs.

Elena Morfe, a shy and simple girl who graduated with honors is the older of two daughters of a rice farmer. His father had been working with the Mauricio’s since he was single. The two families knew each other well.

The son of the employer and the daughter of his employee had been in a secret love affair in the last four years since both entered high school until the former’s parents told their son to “stop the foolishness” because he will have no future with the girl. The son had no choice but to follow his parents.

Marcus studied Electronics and Communication Engineering while becoming active in campus activism. With high pride and spirit, he totally forgot his former sweetheart, Elena.

Elena, on the other hand, went to Manila to work as a nanny. Her employer was a Fil-Am director of an international Non-Government Organization, a foundation aimed to help Persons With disabilities (POW).

4Ps beneficiaries

Elena experienced and witnessed how the organization was helping needy people. Thus, after she asked her employer if she can volunteer to work during her free time, her employer allowed her to do so.

Elena’s employer saw her dedication to helping needy people. A new nanny was hired and Elena was given full time to volunteer in the foundation. In return, her good employer sent her to college to study social work in a prestigious private school in Quezon City. After four years, Elena graduated with honors and she was immediately employed by the government while still doing volunteer work in the same organization.

The former shy girl became a social worker helping indigent people in Quezon City. Her salary was not big enough to live her desired lifestyle, but she managed to buy a house for her family, and send her only sibling to college after five years of working.

The family relocated to Quezon City, where her father drives a family-owned taxi, while her mother attends their sari-sari store at home.

Meanwhile, Marcus graduated after seven years in college. His studies were prolonged due to irregularities as a result of his campus activism. His family’s business was seen going down for years after a big part of their land was sold to a real estate developer. The money was not used wisely and spent on the family’s luxury.

Marcus failed to pass the board exam twice. He lost hope and started looking for a job.

Because of his arrogance and high pride (typical to people with ideology), he always jumps from one company to another. He couldn’t stay in one company because he always had labor complaints.

Things became worse when his girlfriend became pregnant with twins. His aging father became sick and a big part of his family’s fortune was drained to hospital expenses. His father passed away after spending more than two million pesos in hospital bills due to diabetes and kidney failure.

The jobless and cash-strapped Marcus relocated to Manila to find a better livelihood, but luck was not in his favor. He managed to work as an electronics technician in a small shop, but his income was not enough to send his twins to school.

When former President Benigno Aquino Jr. started to implement the 4Ps program, Marcus’ family was one of the first beneficiaries.

When President Duterte took office last June 2016, Elena was on maternity leave for her first baby girl. She got married to a lawyer a year before after finishing her Master’s in social work. When she returned for work, she was promoted to a higher position. The 4Ps program became her primary job.

When one of her staff submitted the names of 4Ps beneficiaries in Culiat, Quezon City, Elena couldn’t believe it when she saw Marcus Mauricio’s name. She taught it was a different person with a different address. The list of indigents was reviewed after President Duterte ordered to release the additional P1,200 for the rice subsidy.

But Elena didn’t stop there. She asked her father about the Mauricio family, but her father too had no idea what happened to them since the family left Bulacan more than eight years ago. The only information her father heard was, the Mauricio family sold their land and other properties to a real estate developer.

Curious about his former sweetheart, Elena, together with three of her local staff visited Marcus.

There she met her former high school sweetheart, living in the slumps of Culiat Quezon City with two pitiful twins and their mother.

Elena ordered her staff to extend some help for the family. / Rosebele Salamanca/

Note: real names were not used in this article to protect the mentioned persons’ identities as requested by Elena.

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