Christian Jay Jimenez lives in Brgy. Alma Villa, Gloria, Oriental Mindoro, with his parents and siblings.

A 17-year-old child from Oriental Mindoro realized that there is no easy way to success. But with perseverance and determination, his little steps will go a long way. Thus even with fear and doubt in his heart, he keeps up with his dream and continues his journey to possibilities. 

The family of Christian Jay Jimenez lives in Brgy. Alma Villa, Gloria, Oriental Mindoro. At the age of 10, Christian and his eight siblings already lost their father. “Sampung taong gulang po ako noong pumanaw ang aking ama. Para mabuhay, sinikap po ng nanay ko maghanap ng pagkakakitaan kaya po siya pumasok sa pangangamuhan”. 

Christian is seen in the kitchen of his home while helping to prepare their meal.

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At a very young age, Christian already recognizes the hardships of her mother just to be able to provide for their family. His mother, Lourdes, earns Php 4,000.00 in a month for working as a stay-in house helper. Her mother’s income has to suffice for a month for the food and education of his eight siblings. “Noong lumalaki na po ako, nakikita ko na po yung tunay na ibig sabihin ng sadlak sa buhay. Hindi pala ganun kadali na magkaroon ng kaginhawaan sa katulad naming nagsimula talaga sa hirap”. Thus in his own way, Christian takes small steps to reach what his heart desires — a better life for his siblings.

Believing in little steps
Being a beneficiary of the DSWD’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), Christian gets the chance to attend Youth Development Session (YDS). Through the topics from the sessions, Christian realized that education is what he needs to be able to reach his dreams. 

“Dahil po sa YDS, sumubok po ako sa pag-aaral. Nag-Grade 1 po ako. Sinikap ko po na makisabay sa mga kaklase ko kahit na pitong taon po ang agwat ko sa kanila.”

Christian with his ALS instructors.

Christian was already 10-years-old when he enrolled in the first-grade at a regular school in Gloria, Oriental Mindoro. According to Christian, it was hard to keep up with his dreams because of his age. “Naging tampulan po ako ng pang-aasar ng aking mga kaklase. Dahil po doon, nahirapan po akong makipagsabayan sa kanila. Kaya nagdesisyon nalang po ako na huwag nalang pumasok at mag-aral”. 

The child once lost his interest in finishing his studies. Instead of attending classes, he has dedicated his time looking for jobs to help his mother provide for his siblings. Christian tried different jobs to earn a living. At the age of 14, he became a food vendor and a farmer. He was able to earn a small amount of money and this helped his mother Lourdes. 

But as Christian sees his siblings grow, Christian realizes that what he need is a permanent job so he can regularly give financial support to his other six siblings. “16 po ako noong sinubukan kong maghanap ng maayos na trabaho. Kaso hindi naman po ako natatanggap dahil Grade 1 nga lang ang natapos ko.”

Keeping up with his dreams
“Ang hirap po pala ng walang pinag-aralan. ‘Yung wala kang ibang alam kung hindi ang isulat lang po ang mga letra ng pangalan ko. E, pagbabasa nga po hindi ko kayang gawin kasi nga hanggang Grade 1 lang po ako. ‘Yun po yung naging dahilan ko kaya po nagdesisyon akong bumalik sa pag-aaral,” he said.

Even with fear and doubts in his heart, Christian went back to school in 2016 through the Alternative Learning System (ALS) Program of the Department of Education (DepEd). 

With the support from the Municipal Link who monitors his family, Christian enrolled at the Gloria ALS Center. “Bumalik po ako sa pag-aaral. Gusto ko pong ipagpatuloy ‘yung naudlot kong pangarap. Gusto ko po kasing maging chef.” Christian realized that his dream to lift his  family from poverty will never turn into a reality without any action. He believes that dreaming is the first step and there is no shortcut to success. 

For him, one should not just aspire for a better life because you also have to work for it. “Lagi pong sinasabi sa akin na libre lang ang mangarap. Kaso hindi po ata pwede na puro pangarap nalang ako. Kailangan ko rin pong tulungan ang sarili ko para matupad lahat ng mga pinapangarap ko. Gusto ko pong maiahon sa kahirapan ang pamilya namin. Saka gusto ko na pong umuwi si Nanay sa pangangamuhan.”

Indeed still a long road ahead of Christian towards his dream of becoming a chef but he knows that his journey to success has already begun when he took that one courageous step — go back to school. From being a first-grader, he is now attending the Basic Literacy (Level 2) Program of ALS. Aside from knowing how to write the letters of his name, Christian also started to learn how to read.

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