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by: Edgilyn R. Alcasid

When Jonas and Rebecca Cultura were still in high school, a startling news hit their family. Their father, who was a seafarer, encountered an accident while working abroad. The injury was severe and their father lost the use of his legs. The accident left their family in a difficult situation, not only emotionally, but also financially since their father used to be the sole breadwinner as their mother was a housewife.

In challenging situations like these, the thought of giving up on education is probable. But not Jonas and Rebecca. The two decided that they will continue to pursue their studies while earning an income on the side. This was made possible through the collaboration between the Department of Science and Technology-National Capital Region (DOST-NCR) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in implementing the Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES).

SPES is DOLE’s employment bridging program that seeks to provide opportunities to poor but deserving students, dependents of displaced workers, or out-of-school youth so they can augment their family’s income. 

Learning while Earning

Jonas, 17, and Rebecca, 19, are two of DOLE’s SPES beneficiaries who are spending their school break as assistants at DOST-NCR. Jonas is currently a Senior High School student at Moreh Academy Taguig who dreams of becoming an architect while Rebecca is a fourth year education student at the City University of Pasay who longs to become an elementary teacher upon graduation. 

Despite their father’s accident, the two were determined to continue with their studies while assisting their older brother and sister in their family’s finances. 

“Pangalawang taon ko na po ito na mag summer job sa DOST-NCR. Tulad noong nakaraang taon, ang kinikita ko po sa programa ay gagamitin kong pandagdag sa pang-gastos namin sa darating na pasukan. Malaking tulong rin po ito para sa mga magulang ko,” he shared.

Rebecca added that aside from the financial assistance, she also values the job and career skills that she is able to acquire from the SPES experience. As she plans to excel as a secondary school teacher in the future, Rebecca shared that being exposed to a work setting gives her an additional advantage when it comes to dealing with different kinds of people.  

Taking a leap from college to a workplace setting can be daunting for some as it requires adjustment in dealing with individuals and meeting deadlines. Jonas and Rebecca were thus very thankful that they were given the chance to hone their skills while earning an income.

“Malaking tulong po talaga na pareho kaming magkapatid ay naging SPES beneficiaries. Kaya’t nagpapasalamat po kami sa DOST-NCR at sa DOLE sa oportunidad na naibigay sa amin,” Rebecca said. 

Enabling Filipino Youth to Succeed

Mr. Jose B. Patalinjug III, Regional Director of DOST-NCR, emphasized that the agency is steadfast in its support for the successful implementation of the SPES Program. 

RD Patalinjug said, “Typically, students look forward to summer as a time for leisure and as a welcome break from school. But there are those who use their summer breaks wisely to earn an income so they can help their families and acquire valuable skills for work. We want to give opportunities to these underprivileged but deserving students. That is why we fully support DOLE’s SPES program”.

In the succeeding years, RD Patalinjug added that DOST-NCR is looking forward to the same partnership with DOLE so no student should be forced to give up his studies or dreams because of hardships or financial struggles.

“We will definitely support more students in the future and I am excited to see both Jonas and Rebecca succeed in their endeavors. We are also looking forward to provide similar assistance and opportunities to senior citizens and differently-abled Filipinos as part of our quest to empower more of our fellowmen,” RD Patalinjug said.