Maria T. Dondriano of Agutaya ranks 8th in the 2022 Social Worker Licensure Examination.

A Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiary in Agutaya ranked eighth in the 2022 Social Worker Licensure Examination (SWLE).

The 23-year-old passer, Marissa T. Dondriano, said she was surprised with her result, noting that she only had two weeks to review and had to attend to some family problems before the examination day.

“Hindi po kasi ako ay nag-work sa company tapos naglaan lang talaga ako ng dalawang linggo para mag-review. Halos isang linggo lang din talaga nag-review, nakaraan ay na-stress din ako, na-depress sa family problem. Hindi ko in-expect,” she said.

Dondriano finished her degree in 2020 and spent her time in Araceli for a year. The examination was supposedly scheduled for August 2021, but it was canceled. She had to find a job in Batangas to pay her debts incurred for the initial schedule of examinations.

Topnotchers of the Social Work Licensure Examination. (Photo from the PSU College of Arts and Humanities)

She worked as a production operator before she took the licensure examination in February.

“Noong na-cancel, nangutang pa ng pera kaya kailangan ko magtrabaho. Tapos last week na mag-i-exam ako, nagkaroon kami ng family problem kasi nga ‘yong sumunod sa akin, nag-asawa agad, pinapaaral ko pa. Naapektuhan din ako kaya hindi talaga ako nag-expect pa na makakasali pa kasi limited lang ‘yong time ko para mag-review,” she shared.

Dondriano said that getting her license now would help her reach rural areas as her advocacy involves making locals realize the importance of education. She believed that education could also address the increasing trend of teenage pregnancy being faced nowadays.

“Gustong-gusto ko talaga ‘yong issue lalo na sa rural areas. Katulad sa area namin, tumataas ang teenage pregnancy, parang kulang ‘yong pagtutok sa education lalo na sa rural areas. Kaunti lang ‘yong pagbibigay ng attention about education, kapag sa rural ka, kuntento lang sa ganoong sitwasyon– dapat ma-uplift ang education lalo na sa rural area,” she stressed.

(Photo from the PSU College of Arts and Humanities)

She added that they also deserve a good education and should explore opportunities outside their community as she did.

She enrolled at the main campus of Palawan State University (PSU) and took the course program in BS Social Work. She thought that going to the city would give her opportunities, particularly scholarship grants.

Through the help of cash grants received by her family under 4Ps, or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), she said some of her needs in school were supported. Dondriano was also a monitored child in the program.

“Malaki ‘yong tulong sa 4Ps kasi kapag may natatanggap na cash grant si mama, nakakapagpadala siya, sakto-sakto lang din. Ang allowance ko lang talaga noong nag-aaral ako hanggang nag-graduate ako nong college ay P500 per week,” she said.

She said the profession of a social worker is close to her heart, as she can relate to its goal of reaching families like hers. Right now, Dondriano mentioned that there are some offers for jobs for her, but she hopes to practice her profession under government service.

“Noong first year college ako, mag-teacher muna ang kinuha ko tapos sumunod lang ako sa mga kaibigan ko sa social work. Parang nagustuhan ko na siya, kasi exposed din ako sa poverty, sa kahirapan. Katagalan, noong nandon na ako sa profession ng social work, naramdaman ko ‘yong feeling lalo na ‘yong makatulong sa kagaya ko rin,” she added.

Dondriano dedicated her achievement to his father, who supported her studies through fishing. As the eldest of five, she hopes to inspire her two younger siblings, who are still in high school, to finish their studies.

She also encouraged her fellow aspirants in the profession to pursue their dreams despite the challenges.

“Ang profession namin sobrang hirap—nasaksihan ko rin ‘yong ibang kabatch ko, grabeng hirap. Masasabi ko lang na ituloy lang nila, ‘wag sila mawalan ng pag-asa. Kasi kahit kailan, hindi naman naging hindrance ‘yong kahirapan. Sa profession kasi namin, naniniwala kami na lahat ng problema ay may solusyon,” she said.

PSU performance
According to the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), 533 out of 1,211 passed the SWLE given by the Board for Social Workers in Manila, Baguio, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Legazpi, Lucena, Pagadian, Pampanga, Rosales, Tacloban, Tuguegarao, and Zamboanga in February 2022.

The PSU ranked second as the top-performing social work school in the Philippines after the recent licensure examination with 92.31 percent. A total of 12 passers out of 13 examinees were recorded, passers were all first-time takers.

Dondriano shared the rank with Angela Natividad for the top 8 with 82.60 percent, while John Ronel Salvador got the top 3 with 84.60 percent.

Other passers from the university are Madonna Arcuyo, Cynthialyn Belenario, Beverly Cañete, Lorena Dimate, Jhea Masbate, Evalyn Paduga, Jean Kristy Palay, Cherry Pie Salunga, and Lee Ann Zumarraga.