Press Releases
Life after teaching: Story of a K to 12 DOLE AMP Beneficiary
Ana Luz Ong shares how the K to 12 DOLE AMP’s financial assistance aided her small business. 
“Ang mahirap dun, yung ini-imagine mo na every time na dadating yung akinse at katapusan, may natatanggap kang sweldo then suddenly wala. Yun yung mahirap na adjustment for us.”
That was the sentiment of Ana Luz B. Ong from Pasig City, after she was laid off from her work as a teaching personnel at the Far Eastern University. Ong was one of the displaced Higher Education Institution (HEI) workers due to adverse effects of the K to 12 program implementation in the country. 
“…iba pa rin yung may monthly budget na alam mong may aasahan kang allocation for your daily expenses kaysa sa yung big amount na bigla mo na lang magagasta then suddenly wala kang pagkukuhanan kahit saan,” she said.
Ong’s employer encouraged her to apply for the K to 12 DOLE Adjustment Measures Program (AMP) of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). They also helped her facilitate the eligibility requirements to support her program application at DOLE. “All we have to do is submit the necessary papers, and then yung employer ko na ang nag-work nung mga documents for us so hindi mahirap on that part,” said Ong.
Also known as the Department Order (DO) No. 177-17, the K to 12 DOLE AMP aims to provide assistance and interventions to displaced HEI personnel. In a news released by DOLE, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III urged all affected HEI workers to avail of the DOLE aid through its new order, which superseded DO 152-16 or the Guidelines in the Implementation of K to 12 DOLE AMP.
Ong was displaced in 2015, which made her qualified in the expanded guidelines.
Applicants may avail all or select three of the K to 12 DOLE AMP program components: Financial Support, Employment Facilitation, and Livelihood Opportunities.
Ong chose the program’s Financial Support. She said that she finds it more practical, allowing flexibility to her budget system. "Ang ganda nung program nung budgeting ko nung dumating yung financial assistance. Na-stretch ko yung budget ko kasi malaking amount yung tinulong ng DOLE,” she said.
Prior to receiving the monetary aid on a monthly basis, Ong needed to submit a proof of active job application every month—a DOLE conditionary requirement intended to help beneficiaries in their daily expenses while they look for subsequent employment. Ong said she had challenges during the job search but was surprised by the responses she got from her applications.
“Pakiramdam ko para akong fresh grad na I have introduce myself," she said. “Among the applications I have sent [to employers], lahat naman sumagot. Nasa teaching profession din yung ni-rerequire nila. So even if it’s a requirement to follow, ang masaya dun ay yung may call back! Na meron pa palang mag-hihire sa akin just in case.”  
While seeking for jobs, Ong had been contemplating on a childhood hobby that she wanted to turn into small business—her contingency plan apart from finding a wage employment. She was thankful to DOLE's monetary assistance as she was able to fund her new venture.
"Bata pa lang ako, nag ko-crochet na ako. Dream ko na sana kahit hobby ko s'ya [crocheting] ay maka-earn din ako. Buti na lang I can freely use some part of the [DOLE] financial support to buy the materials [for my business] kasi hindi ko kailangang humugot sa ibang part ng budget ko."  
Crocheting as a business
FROM HOBBY TO A FULL-TIME BUSINESS (L-R): Ong shows her products to DOLE-NCR K to 12 DOLE AMP Technical Staff, Jessa Marie Boc.
Photo taken at her residence in Pasig City.
"Nagagawa ko lang mag-crochet noon kapag may spare time ako. Eh dahil retired na ako, marami na akong time."
Fortunately, the childhood pastime served Ong well in creating intricate patterns using precise techniques that were noticeable in her sample blouses, sling bags, bonnets, scarves, and even accessories. She said that coming-up with a design would always demand some creative energies. Thankfully, Ong has an internet connection to get some style inspirations.

"Marami akong tinitignan sa Youtube na designs. Pag na-challenge ako, gumagawa ako...ang hahanapin ko na lang ay mood para makagawa," she said. 
"Pag nag-iistart, nandun yung challenge...lalo na kung malaki yung project. Kapag blouse, matagal yan gawin. Mabilis ako sa simula then makakatamaran ko s'ya in between tapos gagawin ko paunti-unti. Kapag malapit na ako matapos, bibilisan ko na naman ulit kasi gusto ko makita yung finished product."
Still teaching but more on a personal level
Some of the major challenges that Ong had to face was idleness. In her 30 years of being a full-time professor, she got used to waking-up early and working on a to-do list for students on a daily basis. Ong still reminisce her teaching days yet despite those memorable episodes, she believed that things happen for a reason.
“It's God’s way of telling me na ‘ako naman ang i-serve mo. Sa akin ka naman maging busy para yung time mo, magamit mo ng tama.’" Ong was referring to her bible study ministry in Pasig; another activity that she is currently involved with apart from her crocheting business. 
"Nung totally nag-retire ako, nadagdagan pa. Nasa church ako with different activities...bigla na lang nag-shoot up yung different ministries. Kinuha akong secretary nung isang group tapos ginawa akong officer dun sa isang group—aside dun sa existing na nagtuturo ako [about the Bible]. Kaya ang dami-daming activities na parang lumago for God’s glory." 
Ong was able to coincide her bible studies and crocheting business. She recalled a time when she had to make products for free, at least to her close friends, but since she was laid-off, she needed a source of income to make ends meet. She was not sure if her products were marketable but in order to find out, she had to crochet new products that even her church-mates found interesting.
"Yung second batch ng [crochet] products na ginawa ko ay naibenta ko...nakita ko yung church-mate ko na gamit n’ya. Kaya sabi ko, nakakataba ng puso kasi may bumili nung ginawa ko na ibig sabihin may nagkagusto din," she said.  
Nuggets of wisdom
Ong considers her separation from employment a blessing in disguise and a doorway that led to many opportunities. 
In time, she learned that success comes in all ages as long as you know how to manage life and with the right mindset to persevere. "After you have retired, it’s not the end. Pwede kang gumawa ng paraan to make things worthwhile. Not necessarily earning that much but you are satisfied with what you are doing," she said.
Ong also advised similarly laid-off HEI workers to remain hopeful and stressed on maximizing one's strengths and abilities to survive and succeed. She pointed some significant values that helped her land the kind of life she continuously pursue to this day. 
"It doesn’t matter how old you are. Basta yung motivation mo to help yourself and your can do something. Basta your heart’s desire,” said Ong. END / Hershey Aquino
(watch her video success story here)
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