Darell Juliano sits at his front door, reading a book to continue his education. He is determined to finish school while helping his mother in providing financial support to his siblings. (Photo by DSWD MIMAROPA)

At 17, Darrel Juliano is no longer just a teenager. An Alternative Learning System (ALS) student from Marinduque, he works to help his mother provide for his family.

Darrel, a resident of Barangay Buangan, Torrijos, Marinduque, understood how difficult life is at an early age. After their father abandoned them, their family joined the DSWD Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) in 2011. Diane, Darrel’s mother, has epilepsy and must remain at home to care for his siblings. Diane sells kakanin and pandesal to support her family rather than relying on food from relatives. However, her earnings are insufficient to maintain her three school-aged children.

Darrel can be seen working in the bakery in this picture. To achieve his goals, he alternates between working and studying. (Photo by DSWD MIMAROPA)

Darrel saw his mother working hard despite her illness. To help Diane support their family, he decided to look for a job that would allow him to continue his education while still earning money.

Diane did not want her son to work because she wanted him to concentrate on his schoolwork. But Darrel is tenacious. To assist his mother, he worked several part-time jobs.

“Mabait s’yang Kuya. Maalaga, mapagbigay, at maaasahan. Nasa kanya na lahat, Diane said referring to Darrel’s character as a sibling.

A true ‘bread’ winner
Darrel is motivated to complete school and assist his mother at the same time since they don’t have enough money. Chances, on the other hand, put his ability to hang on to his aspirations to the test.

“Napilitan po akong huminto para suportahan mga kapatid ko. Gusto ko na hindi sila mahinto at makapagtapos sila sa pag-aaral,” he said.

From 2018 to 2020, Darrel stopped going to school. He became the family’s breadwinner. He worked as a bakeshop assistant in Valenzuela City, and also got part-time work at an auto-mechanic shop on his day off since his grandfather had taught him car maintenance.

Bringing Darrell back to school
Darrel’s family had many therapy sessions with the DSWD Pantawid Pamilya Torrijos in order to get him back to school. The barangay council also collaborated closely with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to ensure that his family received every available assistance.

Diane was also helped by the DSWD Pantawid Pamilya Torrijos to register as a single parent and get purchasing discounts as a Person With Disabilities (PWD). She was also able to get monthly maintenance medications, thanks to the help of the LGU and the barangay health facility.

This also benefited Darrell since he no longer had to worry about his mother’s medicines.

Aside from the child’s persistence, Diane was surprised at Darrell’s ability to handle his income while working in Valenzuela City. He saved P40,000 and chose to begin construction on a new home for his family. The family currently lives in a semi-concrete home with an established power connection and a linked water supply from the community pump.

He was also able to purchase a carabao and a female hog for P13,000 which he could use to further earn.

Darrel (middle) with his mother Diane (left) and sister. (Photo by DSWD MIMAROPA)

Kneading way to success
Seeing how the people in his town helped his family and having savings at hand, Darrel decided to go back to Torrijos in 2020.

Since he was already 3 years behind his batchmates in school, the child decided to attend the Alternative Learning System (ALS) program instead.

“Ayaw ko pong mapag-iwanan at gusto ko rin pong makapagtapos sa pag-aaral para na rin sa sarili ko. Mas maganda ang magiging future ko kung makakapagtapos din ako sa pag-aaral,” he said.

Darrel took advantage of the ALS program’s flexibility. While studying at night, he works at a bakeshop in Sta. Cruz during the day to support his family. As a supplement to their daily expenditures, he sends P1,000 to his mother on a monthly basis. The remainder of his income goes into his savings account since he intends to purchase the property on which their home was constructed.

Darrel’s family’s support also enabled him to keep his goals alive. (Photo by DSWD MIMAROPA)

The ALS coordinator in Darrel’s school was also impressed by his perseverance and determination to develop his skills.

According to Rosa Lea Santelices, he diligently complies with the school requirements every week. Aside from that, Darell also mentioned to her his interest in acquiring an auto-mechanic certificate through enrollment at Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). This is because Darrel plans to work abroad after finishing his ALS program.

“Sa mga kabataang tulad ko na may pinagdadaanan na hirap sa buhay, huwag kayong susuko agad. Ituloy lang ninyo ang pag-aaral. Education ang susi para makaahon tayo sa hirap. Umiwas rin kayo sa bisyo upang makamit ang inyong mga pangarap,” Darell said.

For Diane, she considers herself the true breadwinner, alluding to having Darrel as a son and those that supported their family while they were in need.

Darrel found methods to assist his family without sacrificing his desire to complete school, much like kneading bread with his hands. Success, he added, is similar to baking in that it takes time, a strong heart, and patience. If hearts and determination are committed to accomplishing it, no difficult dough or bread will be hard to knead.