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From child laborer to WODP Scholar, now a Teacher
Wed, Dec 02, 2015 (Source: ICFO)
Ms. Rodnejeane I. Babao, is the daughter of Mrs. Diana I. Babao, a canteen caretaker of Basilan Electric Cooperative (BASELCO) and Rodolfo V. Babao, a security guard. She is a resident of Km. 3, Binuangan, Isabela City, Basilan, and is the youngest of the three siblings.

As the saying goes, “There is no glory without sacrifice”, Rodnejeane and her three other siblings also suffered the repercussion of their parents’ inability to provide the basic needs of the family. In her primary and secondary years, she struggled a lot. Her daily routine is to walk three (3) kilometers from her house to school. Most of the time, she attends classes without “baon” and with empty stomach. She could still remember her torn slippers because of the distance that she had to walk just to attend her class regularly, not minding the thick mud that covers her frail feet.

In her fragile age, she gambled to work as a baby sitter, house helper and “pandesal” vendor just to sustain her educational necessities. As a house helper and baby sitter, she encountered being maltreated by her employer. As a “pandesal” vendor, she experienced being bullied by her neighborhood. These pains and difficulties did not hinder her from aiming her ambition and aspirations, rather she was challenged to go forward towards the end of the tunnel. She finished her secondary years as a working student in year 2010 at Basilan National High School.

Rodnejeane and her siblings are fortunate enough because their parents really value education. Notwithstanding the inadequate income, they tried hard looking for means to sustain the educational expenses of their children. They even ventured into lending schemes which later on put the family in a difficult status because it accumulated extremely high interest.

After graduation, Rodnejeane’s parents were worried about getting her into college because even serving meals three times a day is already a struggle for them. Rodnejeane, after knowing again her parents’ difficulties, continued working as house helper and baby sitter for her enrollment in college. However, the insufficient amount she earned and her parents’ income could not vouch for her enrollment to college. She even forethought that her situation could not bring her towards her dream, to become a teacher. Hence, she tried to apply for any scholarship in the locality.

Just in time, DOLE Isabela City Field Office, through its Field Office Head Orlando T. Bernardino, was strong enough on their advocacies on Workers Organization Development Program (WODP) in the city. Rodnejeane together with her parents, after knowing about the program, immediately took the rare opportunity to apply for the scholarship program of WODP. The former had complied all the necessary documents with this Field Office.

While waiting for the result, Rodnejeane having a feeling of inferiority got frustrated after knowing the other applicants’ qualifications. In the process, she even felt like giving up and thought that the other contenders were better and more qualified than her. But, it came out Rodnejeane was the first lucky scholar to have availed of the program in the city.

In June 2010, Rodnejeane’s WODP scholarship application was officially approved by DOLE Regional Office through the leadership of then Dir. Ponciano M. Ligutom.

With great happiness and gratitude in her heart, Rodnejeane had enrolled herself at Claret College of Isabela, taking up Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education Major in Biological Science.

The WODP scholarship benefits were not just solely enjoyed by Rodnejeane. She even shared some of her cash and book allowances to her three (3) other siblings in pursuing their studies.

During college years, Rodnejeane seriously studied her lessons in all areas. She always observed and adhered to the WODP guidelines because she was afraid of losing the rare and noble opportunity enjoyed by their family. In one of our conversations with Rodnejeance, she said in her statements, “Dako kaayo tabang ang WODP scholarship sa akoa ug labi na sa akong mga igsoon. Dili na mangutang ang akong ginikanan sa 5, 6 para sa among pang eskwela. Nagpasalamat gayod ko kay dili nako magtrabaho as house helper ug baby sitter sa among mga silingan, like what I have experienced in my younger years. Salamat kaayo sa DOLE as a whole.” (WODP scholarship program is of great help not only to me but also to my siblings. It spared my parents from lending with high interest just to send us to school. I am thankful I don’t need to work as a babysitter of our neighbor anymore. I thanked DOLE as a whole)

Meanwhile, the two elder brothers of Rodnejeane, who are indirect beneficiaries of the WODP, had finished their collegiate course in year 2012 and 2013 with the degree of Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and Bachelor of Science in Criminology. Both siblings are now working.

On March 22, 2015, Rodnejeane graduated the degree of Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education Major in Biological Science at CCI. After seven (7) months, she passed the Licensure Examination for Teacher.

Less than a year, she was hired as a secondary school teacher holding a permanent position in the Department of Education, Isabela City Division at Calvario Peak National High School, Calvario, this city.

Harvest time has come, the then Child Laborer, who was the first lucky WODP Scholar of DOLE ICFO is now a Teacher.

Marlyn M. Anoos, DOLE ICFO
Gay Iris T.S. Tangcalagan, DOLE RO-9 TSSD

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