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SPES baby redefines PWD as People With Dream, ably serves to inspire others

SAN JOSE, OCCIDENTAL MINDORO - When we hear about people who were born with disability or becoming disabled through an accident, we often wish that it wouldn’t happen to us. Most say they would rather die than live with a frailty. The argument of having a disability is definitely difficult, but it’s also one of the richest classrooms a human can learn, too. While these learning experiences are more profound, there are some special tokens of inspiration we can pass along.

In the story of Robert E. Declito, 25, a resident of Brgy. Iling Proper, San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, living with orthopedic impairment seems just normal for him like others. Being the sixth among his nine siblings, “Kuya Robert” never failed to show his optimism and positivity in life despite life’s hindrances.

In 2014, being a graduating student in high school, Kuya Robert knew that things will be much more difficult when he enters the Tertiary Level. “Nakikita ko ang hirap ng aking mga magulang upang itaguyod kaming lahat, ramdam ko ang kanilang pagod para sa amin, kaya’t para sa akin, kahit ganito ako, alam kong may silbi ako at gusto kong tulungan ang pamilya ko” (I really felt the hardships and challenges faced by my parents in raising our family, thus despite of my disability I am still motivated to help my family), he said.

My mother wants me to just be contented as a high school graduate, but my teachers and friends pushed me to pursue and strive more. For me, even I am impaired, my life shouldn’t just end here, I have a dream in life, I want to help other people who are also impaired”, he added.

Learning the Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES) of DOLE in partnership with LGU San Jose in 2014, he took the courage to apply through its PESO during the summer vacation and fortunately qualified as one of the beneficiaries of the said program.

 Kuya Robert’s first assignment was at the Municipal Tourism Office (2014-2015) working as guide in the municipal playground.

While in the summer of 2016 and 2017, he was assigned at the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) under the Pantawid Pamilya Program as an encoder.

Being a SPES beneficiary significantly helped me in my studies. Instead of putting all the expenses to my parents, I can already support myself for school needs, uniform, and other expenses in school. Aside from that, working in the government made me realized that it is rewarding to be part of the public service, plus the fact that I even gained experience from it. At first, I was so shy, but as I continue, I learned to be confident and value the work I have despite my physical difference. It even enhanced my soft skills in communication which I know aced me to land the job I have today”, he said.

With four consecutive years of working deemed as SPES baby, Kuya Robert was exposed to public service gaining not only financial support through SPES salaries but also a lot of remarkable experiences that helped him to grow as a better and confident person.

After finishing his degree on Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at the Occidental Mindoro State College on 2018, holding the fear that he might get rejected, Kuya Robert confidently applied to LGU San Jose, and knowing his good performance and positive feedbacks at work, he was hired on 16 April 2018, as Administrative Aide II at the MSWDO under the Person’s Disability Affairs Office.

DOLE MIMAROPA’s SPES is a youth employment-bridging program which aims to provide temporary employment to poor but deserving students, out-of-school youth, and dependents of displaced or would-be displaced workers during summer and/or Christmas vacation or any time of the year to augment the family’s income to help ensure that beneficiaries are able to pursue their education.

OIC Regional Director Albert E. Gutib commended the perseverance demonstrated by Kuya Robert as SPES baby, “Cheers to your success Robert! With your job as public servant, may you continuously help and inspire others especially PWDs who are doubting their potential capabilities”.

Recognizing the DOLE’s opportunity given to Kuya Robert, he said “I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the DOLE and Local Government Unit of San Jose for believing in me and seeing my full potential. Being a SPES beneficiary for four years had greatly helped me in my studies and be what I am today. I have learned before and I am continuously learning today. You didn’t see me differently but rather a youth full of hopes and dreams. Being part of this program had opened me more opportunities to serve and inspire others. What I have learned will surely be of help. Again, thank you Department of Labor and Employment MIMAROPA”.

And what he advises to those who are also impaired: “If there is a single definite lesson to be learned from us, people with disabilities, it is that we should not give up no matter how hard life becomes. Even if that setback changes our life forever, yet patience and perseverance are irreplaceable values. And most of all, nothing can match our internal strength, that is what makes us keep on fighting in life. We are stronger than we know. PWD is not just a word for persons with disabilities but rather People With Dreams".

Joining the MSWDO family, Kuya Robert’s dream to help other PWDs and serve as an inspiration to others has finally come true and he is continuously fulfilling it for three years now.

 

End/Gener L. Francisco

 

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2020-07-20
ALBERT E. GUTIB

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