28 year-old Jonalyn Morales from Barangay Hulong Duhat, Malabon City graduated from High School in 2009 when she joined the Special Program for Employment of Students (SPES) of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

SPES provides employment to the poor and deserving youth aged 15-30 years to help finance their studies.

After completing the program, Morales went to college but had to stop due to some personal and financial crises. She re-applied in SPES in 2012—this time, as one of the Out-of-School Youths (OSY). She hoped for another employment opportunity through SPES to help fund her college fees.

“May anak na ako noon kaya kailangang huminto sa pag-aaral kahit ayoko. Mabuti na lang mayrong gobyernong nakaalalay sa mga kagaya ko. Kung hindi ako nakapagtapos ng pag-aaral dahil na rin sa programang SPES, iba siguro ngayon ang takbo ng buhay ko. Naging beneficiary ako tapos eventually, naging part ng implementer ng programa,” Morales recalled.

Morales was assigned as assistant to then SPES coordinator at the City of Malabon’s Public Employment Service Office (PESO).

In the same year, through her hard work and determination, Morales was absorbed as a Job Order (JO) personnel and was designated as SPES focal person.

Aside from her employment as a JO personnel, Morales was also given the opportunity to continue her studies at the City of Malabon University (CMU). As a result, she later obtained her degree in Bachelor of Science in Public Administration in 2018. She then pursued teaching units and passed the Licensure Examination for Teachers.

After earning her Registered Teachers’ License, Morales received a job offer from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) as a Research Assistant I but was torn between an opportunity to land a permanent job with a greener pasture or continue doing what she loved as a SPES focal person.

“Mahirap bitiwan ang programang [SPES] pinagsimulan at minahal ko ng mahabang panahon kaya nahirapan akong mamili kung ipu-pursue ko yung posisyon,” said Morales.

After a careful consideration, Morales decided in favor of pursuing a permanent position as a Science Research Assistant I at the DOST. In 2019, Morales was promoted as a Science Research Assistant II and then became Project Technical Assistant IV in the earlier part of 2022.

“Bilang isa po ako sa mga kabataan na nagkaroon ng pagkakataon na makapaghanapbuhay at makapagtapos sa pag-aaral dahil sa SPES, nagpapaabot po ako ng pagpapasalamat sa DOLE dahil sa programang ito na nagiging pag-asa ng mga kabataan para makapagtapos ng pag-aaral kahit hirap sa buhay.”

END / Angelica Fresnoza