Celeste Ovana of Brgy. Minuyan, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan has six children. The eldest, who is 19 years old, is in college. The youngest was born just seven months ago.

Celeste is a Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiary. Last Saturday (February 27), she attended a campaign rally of the Daang Matuwid Coalition held at an industrial site near the nearly completed San Jose del Monte Sports Center. In the middle of his speech, Daang Matuwid presidential bet Mar Roxas called her on stage to tell the 8,000-strong crowd her story—a story most of them knew because it was similar to their own.

“Dati po, kasi kaming mag-asawa wala kaming pagkakaisa,” Celeste said, relating her struggle to provide for her family. She is a housewife who sometimes does laundry for extra cash, while her husband works in construction. They both do not always have a steady source of income.

“So magkano ang inyong budget sa pang-araw araw na pangkain?” Roxas asked her.

“Mabigat na 600,” Celeste said. “Baon ng college ko P100. Yung grade 10 ko, P60. Yung dalawang elementary ko grade 6, P25. Tapos ‘yung isa na grade 1, P30. Grade 1. Tapos nagpapaaral pa ako.”

The money Celeste uses for her children’s allowance, as well as for their food, comes from the P2,000 allotted to her by the 4Ps. But other than cash, the program has also educated Celeste and her husband on how to raise their family well.

“Noong ako po’y napasok sa 4Ps, nag-aral po kami ng mga batas, ng mga kung ano pang dapat gawin sa mga bata,” she said. “Buwan-buwan po iyon kaya naia-apply po namin sa mga anak ko na may ganito palang batas. [Pinapaalalahanan] po namin sila na mag-aral sila nang mabuti.”

For Roxas, Celeste and the millions of Filipinos in the same boat as her serve as his inspiration to continue the fight for good governance.

“Ang istorya ni Celeste ay istorya ng mamamayang Pilipino,” he said. “Natutuwa ako na nakilala natin si Celeste dahil siya ang dahilan kung bakit isinusulong natin ang Daang Matuwid.”

Roxas also stressed that a more direct step towards alleviating poverty is the provision of jobs.

“Trabaho, kabuhayan, pagkakakitaan—’yan ang unang konkretong hakbang para sa mas maginhawa at mas tiyak na pamumuhay,” he said. “’Pag may trabaho, may dangal, nagiging mas hawak natin ang ating kapalaran.”

“Ang storya ni Celeste ay istorya ninyong lahat. Nais natin na ang storya ni Celeste ay hindi magtapos sa ngayon. Nais natin si Celeste, tulad ninyo, sige-sige, step by step, gumaganda, gumiginhawa ang kanilang buhay,” Roxas told the cheering crowd.

“’Yan ang Daang Matuwid. ‘Yan ang istorya ni Celeste. ‘Yan ang ating ipinaglalaban.”

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