(Metro Manila, Philippines) “Gusto ko lang makatapos mga anak ko sa pag-aaral.” This is one of the most cliché phrases that we’ve been hearing from our parents since we were studying, and it was always backed up with the phrase “Edukasyon lang ang tanging maipapamana ko sa inyo.”

For Arnel D. Inere, 42 years old and a father of 3, those common phrases push him to go against all odds just to provide proper education for his children.

Since Arnel believes that education is essential in securing life’s future, he sees to it that his 19-year-old son Albert Ruzzel P. Inere has the privilege to finish his studies.

Arnel shares that he didn’t carry out his schooling and that his life was such a difficult course back then. Financial difficulties and lack of opportunities had been a struggle for he doesn’t have a college degree to present in job applications.

He also had a challenging life before as her mother departed early and his father is the only person whom he could lean on with.

“Ako po ay lumaki kasi sa hirap at maagang naulila po, seven years old po ako nang mawala po ang aking magulang [nanay]. Ang nagsilbing nanay at tatay ko po ay ang aking ama…Hindi na po siya nag-asawa ulit para mapalaki po nila kami nang maayos kahit hanggang high school lang ang kinaya niya,” said Arnel.

Despite these challenges, Arnel didn’t go astray and gave up living. Instead, he used those as his motivation to become a responsible father to his family and persistently finds ways to yield a good future for his daughter and two sons.

That’s just how Arnel dreams big for his children to afford education and fulfill his dream of finishing studies through them.

“Pangarap ko po na kahit man lang sa mga anak ko na maisakatuparan ang aking pangarap na makapagtapos sa pag-aaral kaya sinisikap ko pong pag-aralin sila sa abot ng aking makakaya,” Arnel stated.

He said that being like him who wasn’t able to finish his studies because of poverty and being like those youths who are clueless about their dreams is something that he doesn’t want to happen to his children.

“Marami po talaga akong concerns na ayaw kong mangyari sa anak ko, tulad ng [pagpasok sa] masamang bisyo dahil hindi sila nakapagtapos, nabarkada, maagang nagkapamilya at marami pa… Ayoko talaga sila magaya paglaki sa ibang walang matutunguhan sa buhay, napabarkada lang,” he said.

And because of this salient nature and perseverance, when he had known the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) Workers Organization Development Program (WODP) that helps labor union members and their dependents, he immediately took advantage of it and fortunately enrolled his eldest son Albert in college last year.

Arnel has been a member of the Nagkakaisang Lakas ng Suy Sing Commercial Corporation for 3 years as a finance secretary.

Arnel Inere works at the Suy Sing Commercial Corporation in Manila and a member of their workers’ organization called “Nagkakaisang Lakas ng Suy Sing Commercial Corporation.” As a member of the said labor group, he is eligible to avail of the Workers’ Organization and Development Program (WODP) scholarship grant under DOLE Department Order No. 203, Series of 2019 for his son Albert.

Seeing how dedicated Arnel is towards work and family, there’s no doubt that his son Albert gets the right mindset of youth about the importance of education.

As a 19-year-old child, focusing on his studies was marked on his head by his parents. Aside from the fact that education cannot be taken by anyone, being well-educated per Albert increases the level of respect earned from others.

With this, Albert much appreciated his parents because even if they don’t possess a college degree, they still act like well-educated people.

“Ayun po ‘yung gusto kong motto nila, mag-aral ng mabuti kasi hindi nanakawin ’yan, it will never vanished,” Albert also pointed out.

As an Isabelo Delos Reyes – WODP (IDR) scholar, a WODP educational grant given for legitimate dependent/children of bona fide members of labor unions and workers’ associations, Albert was granted a four (4) year program of Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the National University – Manila.

Albert said that he took BS Nursing because he wanted to become part of the health professionals whose purpose is to help the community with proper medical assistance and treatment.

Albert Ruzzel Inere is a scholar under WODP Isabelo delos Reyes (IDR), currently taking a nursing degree.

“When I was a kid, since kinder[garten] po, I dreamed of becoming a doctor. And becoming a nurse po is a first step to achieving a medical degree,” Albert expressed.

“I believed po na the health of the patients nakakatulong din po ‘yung pakikipag-socialize by treating them good para mas mabilis pong gumaling and mas lalo pong maka-relate sa ibang tao since every patient needs understanding and more prioritization po,” he added.

Just like Arnel, Albert was also greatly influenced by his father. He assures them that their efforts won’t be in vain as whoever he was right now, it’s all because of them.

“Since they did everything for me and they’re trying their best po para maiangat kami ng mga magkakapatid ko, all I just want to say is don’t worry mama and papa kasi someday in the future, I will pay them back na mas malaki pa since they help me in this kind of this situation and kung ano ako ngayon dahil po ito sa tulong nila,” Albert promised.

Meanwhile, Arnel hopes for his son to put his best into his studies and prove that he can accomplish all his aspirations.

“Sana ay matupad mo ang pangarap mo makapagsilbi sa iba dahil ang pag-aaral mo na ’yan ay sarili mo naman ‘yan, hindi ‘yan maalis hangga’t nabubuhay pa tayo…Hindi po nangyari sa aking buhay dahil po sa hirap ng aming buhay, kaya po sa aking anak po sana ay mapagtagumpayan niya,” Arnel said to his eldest son.

According to Senior Labor Employment Officer in DOLE-NCR Manila Field Office and WODP Focal Person Charity Guerra, only Arnel and Albert have diligently applied to the program granted that there are few documentary requirements needed and processes to take before finally being recognized as a beneficiary.

And even before Albert graduated from Senior High School, he already informed his father Arnel that he wanted to avail the scholarship grant.

That’s why, on behalf of the labor department, Ms. Guerra shows full support to Albert as they see how determined the child is in finishing college and pursuing dreams.

“S’yempre mag-aral ng mabuti si Albert Ruzzel kasi isa pa sa nakita ko sa kanya is that gusto niyang maging doctor actually, ito ‘yung magiging pre-med niya…Hangga’t maaari nga kung pwedeng hanapan pa natin siya ng iba pang scholarship gagawin ko ‘yun kasi nakita kong pursigido ‘yung bata makatapos at ‘yung dream niya na maging doctor,” WODP focal person’s advice to Albert.

The story of this father and son testifies that the financial capacity of one’s family greatly affects the ability of the parents to send their children to school. And the more the country records low-income Filipino families, the more education becomes inaccessible, and the greater the labor force affected–the economy rather.

DOLE, with the help of its regional and field offices nationwide, has been continuously adapting contingency plans against this concern. And WODP is just among the programs of the national agency that help Filipinos eradicate the crisis in education.

Albert believes that issues and concerns start to occur when the country has a low level of education, and so the solutions would arise if people are well-educated.

“Education builds society. If karamihan po ng mamamayan ng isang bansa is well-educated, the country will be better pagdating po sa progress and other factors po,” Albert stated.

Subsequently, Albert is grateful to DOLE for keeping up the mantra of serving the people. He hopes for the continuous effort to lay down the programs closer to the needy, especially the youth in making their future certain.

“Nakakatuwa pong isipin na they [DOLE] actually serve the people like sa scholarship kong ito. It is one step po na nakakatulong po sila para mas lalo pang gumanda ‘yung future ng ating mga kabataan. And a good future of the youth po, means a good future of the country,” the WODP scholar said.

Nagkakaisang Lakas ng Suy Sing Commercial Corporation representatives including Arnel D. Inere (extreme left) with son Albert (3rd from left) pays courtesy visit to DOLE-NCR Regional Director Sarah Buena S. Mirasol (4th from left). Said labor group was accompanied by then DOLE-NCR Manila Field Office (MFO) Director Ma. Corazon M. Pepito (5th from left) and Senior LEO and MFO WODP focal person, Ms. Charity Guerra (extreme right).

For a dedicated man behind Albert’s success, DOLE’s program is something that he’s grateful for as he’s getting nearer to his dream, and his son’s ambition as well.

“Ako po ay nagpapasalamat, kasama ang aking buong pamilya, dahil kung hindi po sa tulong niyo mahihirapan po akong patapusin ang aking anak sa pag-aaral sapagkat mahirap po talaga ang magpa-aral ngayon lalo na sa hirap ng buhay. Kaya sobrang thankful po ako sa DOLE sa inyong programa,” said Arnel to DOLE.

It is always true that parents have nothing to wish for but a good future for their children. Come what may, they are willing to do everything in their power.

Indeed, Arnel serves as the role model of those parents, and Albert is a good example of a child who supports and listens to whatever beautiful plans his parents have for him—treating education as his parents’ legacy is just one of those.

END / Chris Agustin with photos by Gladys Lopez