Gusto ko po makapag-aral uli (I want to study once more)“, were the words silently etched on the calloused, bruised hands of “DEL” (not his real name) a young 15 year old boy, who worked as a farm helper.

The province of Ifugao has profiled children as young as 12 engaged in various kinds of labor: at the farms, construction, and even hauling of sand and gravel to earn some money. Del is among those profiled child laborers in the municipality of Kiangan, with the eager aid of their barangay officials.

Del is not new to hard work, he was previously engaged in farming, working around twice or thrice a week, only to earn a meager Php 600 to aid in his financial expenses. Living with the family of his uncle on a farm at Kiangan, Ifugao.

Among three children, Del is the oldest, and his parents are also farmers with minimal income stretched for daily needs. These factors pushed Del to stop from continuing his education after highschool.

Kailangan ko tumigil mag-aral, kasi mahirap ang buhay (I need to stop studying, because life is difficult)“, Del said as his eyes sunk to the reality he faces. But behind those calloused hands and hopeless outlook, Del clearly yearns to go back to school.

Under the Department of Labor and Employemnt’s Kabuhayan or DOLE Integrated Livelihood Program (DILP), Del’s family was given an opportunity to start a livelihood project through DOLE- Ifugao Field Office’ (DOLE-IFO) assistance. Del’s mother chose raising of Kabir chicks for their livelihood project, since they have an available area for raising chicken.

The livelihood assistance consisting of 250 kabir chicks. starter feeds, medicines and vitamins amounting to Php 29,250.00 was provided to Del’s family with the presence of DOLE-Ifugao Head Ms. Isabelita Codamon and Child Labor Prevention and Elimination Program (CLPEP) Focal Mr. Joseph Taguinay.

Three months after the provision of the livelihood project, Mr. Tuguinay together with Community Facilitator (CF) Mr. Rodel Bumidang visited Del’s family to monitor the livelihood project. The results were astonishing; as the Kabir chickens are already sold and Del’s family are currently waiting for the next batch of 250 chicks to raise and dispose once again.

Nag-ragsak diyay annak mi idi naala mi diyay Livelihood nga nag-gapu ti DOLE. Nailako-min am-amin nga manok, ken agur-uray kamin ti sumarunu nga manok nga mabalin mi nga mailako manen (Our son was so happy when we received the livelihood assistance from DOLE. We already sold all of the chickens, and are waiting for the next group of chicks to sell once more),” exclaimed the parents of Del.

The additional funds meant that Del can finally continue his college education. “Kayat ni Del nga ag-adal kuma ti Criminolody (Del wanted to study Criminology),” said his mother, “Ket gapu ta adda ti baru nga pag-alaan mi ti kwarta, makapag-adal tun isuna idyay Ifugao State University (and because of our new means of income, he can start his college at the Ifugao State University).”

Del, whose hands once tilled the heavy soil, now holds books and pens- as should be for every youth of our country.

 

END//Daryll Ponard with initial report from DOLE-Ifugao Field Office (DOLE-IFO)