Come hell or high water, this 57-year-old taxi driver, husband, and father of three will reach for his dream of giving his children good education for a chance for them to have better lives.
Jose Lacebal, or Manong Jose to many in Baguio City, is just one of the millions of fathers, who dream of providing for their children well and sending them to good schools for a brighter future.
To him, not even poverty could stop him from trying to fulfill this dream.
“Mahirap magtrabaho lalo na at may edad na, pero kailangan kasi isa akong ama. Ayokong maranasan nila ung naanasan ko noon. (It is difficult to work when you are aging, but I am a father and I do not want my children to experience the kind of life I had),” Manong Jose says with conviction.
Despite the hardship and challenges he hurdles daily, he remains optimistic that life will be better, if not for him, for his children.
As a cabbie, Manong Jose earns PHP400 to PHP700 a day. But with his family’s simple and frugal lifestyle, they get by with the measly income, meeting their basic daily needs and still having something to spend for the children’s education.
“Hindi ganon kalaki pero napagkakasya naman namin (It is not much, but we are able to stretch it for our needs),” he says.
Manong Jose works 14 hours a day to provide for his three children–one taking up Civil Engineering, another taking up Accountancy at Saint Louis University, and the youngest, a grade 6 pupil at the Special Pupils Education (SPED) Center.
Manong Jose says he wants his children to go to good schools and finish college, so their lives would be uplifted.
He used to till the land on a farm they used to rent in Rosario, La Union. But he could hardly make ends meet then, torn between paying for their lease on the farmland and saving up for his children’s education.
This prompted him to take his chance in Baguio City, where he could work as a taxi driver and at the same time send his children to one of the universities in the city.
He describes himself as a disciplinarian father and a loving husband to his retired wife. But his sight is always on his goal–to provide for his children’s education, which he never had the chance to have.
“Mas pinili ko magtrabaho bilang isang taxi driver kesa maging construction site worker kasi gusto ko pang umuwi ng buhay sa pamilya ko, walang labis walang kulang (I chose to be a taxi driver rather than a construction worker because I want to go home alive–no more, no less),” he quips.
Manong Jose repeatedly says poverty is never a hindrance for his children to have a good education.
He says his wife’s little pension as a retired employee of the National Power Corporation also helps them financially. But he says it is his prime responsibility as a father to tide his family over–again, for his children’s education.
“May pension din naman ang asawa ko pero siyempre responsibilidad namin na mabigyan ng magandang buhay ang mga anak namin (My wife is receiving a pension, but it is our responsibility to provide a good life for our children),” he says.
He believes this is not impossible with God’s mercy.
Manong Jose also devotes time to preach the word of God on weekends. “May pangako ang Panginoon, hindi tayo iiwan, di tayo pababayaan, kaya magtiwala tayo (God has a promise. He will not leave and forsake us, so we just have to trust him),” he shares. (PNA)