A mother can go hungry, shabby, wearied, and heartbreakingly shriveled; but she will hold on dear to family as a cloud keeps tight of the rain. Until come a time when she sees her own children hungry and shabby that, inevitably, the strength to hang on collapses.
It starts to rain.
“Umiiyak noon ang anak ko. Gusto talaga niyang pumasok, pero wala akong pera. Minsan pa, ang suot nila, sira-sira (My child was crying back then. He really wanted to go to school, but I don’t have the money. Sometimes, they wear ragged clothes),” Myrna Benitez, 52, of Barangay Mambog in Hermosa town, pained in telling.
“Diyos ko, sana mapagtapos ko ang anak ko (My God, I hope I can put my child through school).”
After finishing only elementary education in Masbate, Myrna has spent the rest of her life in the Province of Bataan with her husband who works part-time as tricycle driver and construction worker. Supporting her three children, Myrna took on the proverbial odd jobs: selling fish at the market, setting up an eatery, and surviving as household maid.
The tough grind she can endure, but not the harrowing episodes when her children can only go to school in days when budget allowed for it. When payments were needed to be made, they were crying. Even the school teachers chipped in for the children’s food and transportation. Alas, the eldest of Myrna had to stop from attending school.
“Wala akong pera. Saan ako kukuha? (I don’t have the money. Where would I get it?),” Myrna recalled.
Life was a little less harsh for Corazon Gantang, 50, of nearby Barangay San Pedro also in Hermosa town, if you can call failing the Licensure Examination for Teachers and having to sort garbage for livelihood a little less harsh. The same proverbial fate looked down on Corazon. A former private school teacher now digs into a pile of used clothes and effects. Worse was the ridicule of people when they learned that a college graduate was living off with sorting garbage.
Corazon finished BS Education, major in Filipino. In this language she hears the mock of people who apparently think academic background trumps attitude and hard work. “Madalas naririnig ko sa kanila, ‘Nakatapos ng Educ pero nangangalkal ng basura.’ Sa akin, huwag mahiya. Palakasin ang loob, puhunan ay tiyaga (I hear them often say, ‘An Education graduate but digs through trash.’ For me, don’t be ashamed. You must hold it in, perseverance is key).”
In an interview, Myrna and Corazon shared their different stories of hardships. Both of them found the single fiber that would connect them for the rest of their lives and change their perspective on poverty. At Econest Sanitary Landfill in Hermosa town they met and their tale of success began.