Studying while working at the same time is a tough act to balance on top of providing support for one’s family. And for Florence Tual, she had to learn the ropes at an early age amid the health crisis.

Fondly called “Siomai” by her family and friends, Florence hails from Pandacan, Manila, and the youngest among the three siblings of a stay-at-home solo parent. At present, she is a graduating student at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM), currently taking up Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Major in Financial Management.

Determined to complete her college degree at PLM, Florence had to find work and earn cash to help her shoulder the school fees. With her persistence to succeed in life towards attainment of a better future for herself and family, she took a leap of faith to find a meaningful work by applying for the Government Internship Program (GIP) of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). She looked forward to being a beneficiary of one of the flagship programs of the labor department for the youth, hoping that it would allow her some space to juggle her studies and family priorities.

“Isa po kami sa mga lubos na naapektuhan ng COVID-19 pandemic. Nawalan po ng trabaho ang aking nanay na nag-iisang nagtataguyod sa aming pamilya simula noong sumakabilang buhay na ang aking ama,” she said.

“Dahil po sa kagustuhan kong matulungan yung aking pamilya, ang aking nanay, at para na rin po matustusan ang aking mga gastusin sa pag-aaral ay pinursue ko na talaga na maging isang GIP,” said Florence who became a GIP at DOLE-National Capital Region (NCR) on September 6, 2021. She learned the GIP vacancy announcement through DOLE-NCR’s official Facebook Page.

“Nagpasa ako ng resume at sa mabuting palad po ay may tumawag sa akin at nagsabing isa po ako sa mga mapalad na natanggap bilang isang GIP,” she said.

As a GIP beneficiary, Florence is assigned at the Employment Promotion and Workers Welfare Division (EPWW) at DOLE-NCR Regional Office in Malate, Manila. Given the existing COVID-19 preventive measures enforced by the government, Florence was allowed to Work From Home (WFH)—remotely providing administrative assistance in the implementation of TUPAD or Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers.

Apart from ensuring an accomplishment on any tasks given, Florence also strives to learn an essential skill.

“Isa sa mga pinapagawa sa akin ay ang pagtatawag ko sa mga beneficiaries ng TUPAD. Dito ay nakakasalamuha ko ang iba’t ibang tao. Kahit ito’y sa tawag lamang sa telepono ay nahahasa nito ang aking communication skills at kung minsan ay talas ng isip sa kanilang mga concerns,” said Florence.

“Ngayon lamang ako na expose sa working environment at bago sa akin ang lahat. Nahirapan ako noong unang mga linggo sapagkat wala pa akong alam ukol sa mga aking gagawin at dahil WFH set-up ay may barrier sa pakikipag-usap. Nang kalaunan din naman ay nasanay na ako at nagamay na ang trabaho,” she added.

While pressed with school requirements and work tasks, her supervisor, labor officer Eloisa Santos already noticed and lauded her good work ethic.

“Si Florence pag binigyan mo yan ng work tinatapos niyan agad efficiently; yung konti lang din yung mga pagkakamali. Tapos may mga time ‘yan nagtatanong ‘yan pag wala na siyang gagawin; magtatanong ‘yan katulad ng ‘Ma’am ano pa pong pwede kong gawin?’,” said Santos.

“Responsible s’ya kahit naka work from home. Minsan kahit papaano nag e-extend para lang matapos ang work pag masyadong marami. Dini-display niya yung integrity at work. Kahit walang nakatingin, ginagawa pa rin niya ang tama,” she added.

Florence said she is grateful that she can study while earning and gaining work experiences from being a government intern—no matter how challenging it is as she is fully aware of how the pandemic has made it difficult for people to cope with the new normal.

“Napakalaki po ng naitulong ng Government Internship Program sa akin at sa aking pamilya. Bilang isang GIP ay nakakatanggap po kami ng suweldo, at sa suweldo pong ito ay natutulungan ko po ang aking nanay at nakakatulong din po sa aming pang araw-araw na gastusin sa bahay,” she said.

“Higit sa lahat ay natutulungan din po ako nito bilang isang estudyante. Natutustusan po nito ang mga gastusin ko sa pag-aaral at mas binigyan po ako nito ng malawak na kaisipan na magagamit ko sa aking buhay. Bukod po rito ay nagkaroon din po ako ng mataas na kumpyansa sa aking sarili at natutong makibagay sa ibang tao. Naniniwala po ako na hindi hadlang ang pandemya na ating nararanasan kung ikaw ay may pangarap. Kaya nagpapasalamat po ako na naging parte po ako ngayon ng programang ito at nawa ay magtuloy-tuloy pa ito upang mas marami pang matulungan ang DOLE,” she added.

The labor department’s GIP is a component of KABATAAN 2000 under Executive Order no. 139 s. 1993, and DOLE Administrative Order No. 260-15, which aims to provide opportunities and engage young workers to serve the general public in government agencies, entities, projects and programs at the national and local level.

END / Hershey Aquino