Former salt vendor pays it forward by helping the out-of-school youth

DSWD social worker Richard Sevilla helps OSY find their way back to school

The story of Richard Sevilla, an alternate focal person by the Department of Social Welfare and Development for Western Visayas for the youth serves as an inspiration for many.

When he was a child, he sold rock salt at the Iloilo Supermarket to help his family survive financially. It was the age when he was supposed to be playing with other kids but he had no time because he had to help with selling rock salt.

“I experienced waking up at dawn to sell one pail of salt. Salt in one Caltex (refers to a plastic container for petroleum usually recycled in households) costs P2 or P6 for a ganta and around P30 to P40 per pail. We give that money to our mother to help with the family expenses,” Sevilla said.

Apart from selling rock salt, their family’s source of income back then was to take care of fishponds. The vast fishponds are long gone and replaced with Megaworld’s township.

Sevilla said that their income made it possible for him and his siblings to go to school. He is thankful to his parents for that.

He shared that his father and mother’s educational attainment were elementary and college levels respectively. “I think one of the things that our parents taught us is how to value education. They do not want us to suffer the same fate. They wanted us to be schooled to give us a fighting chance in life and to have a better future.”

But it was not easy because of their financial limitations. “The eldest was prioritized so that he can finish college. I had to stop schooling and help my parents earn money instead. I was in the second year of my college education that time at Central Philippine University taking up BS Elementary Education. I became an out-of-school-youth (OSY).”

Sevilla said that being an OSY is difficult. “It hurt to see and think that I had to quit schooling while my batchmates were finishing college. But I did not allow that feeling to defeat me.”

Volunteer work

Sevilla did not waste time. He volunteered as a daycare worker in their community. A social worker, Eduardo Guevarra (now deceased) noticed him and because of this, he was invited to join the Pag-asa Youth Association of the Philippines (PYAP), a DSWD-led organization for young individuals who are mostly OSY. From 1998 to 2000, Sevilla became the president and secretary of the federation.

“Volunteerism is always in my heart. I never stopped and I enjoyed helping in the community and the society as a whole. I volunteered under Mr. Guevarra who was then working as DSWD Regional Focal Person for Youth Welfare and PYAP implementer. I am very thankful to him for coaching me and my fellow OSYs. He taught us what he knew and positive disposition in life,” he said.

He added that Guevarra also taught them to become self-reliant, economically productive, and socially responsible.

Career in DSWD

Guevarra hired him as DSWD FO6 – PYAP Liason Officer, with an allowance of 1,000 per month. “At the time I was happy while earning and getting experience from working in the government for almost one year.”

Later on, he became a clerk on the Purchase Service contract under Program Specialist Joel Galicia (later became OIC Regional Director of DSWD) who was implementing the Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (CIDSS).

He became an administrative staff of KALAHI CIDSS – Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan, a World-Bank funded Program. In 2003, he won as Best Administrative Staff at the national level.

Later on, he was hired as Regional Information Technology Office I (RITO) of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) up to the present.

Working student

While working, Sevilla also attended college. He graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Science in Social Work in 2012 and became a licensed social worker two years later.

He never stopped learning. He took BS Computer Science in 2017 and later on took units under Masters in Public Administration at Northern Iloilo Polytechnic State College.

While working at DSWD, he also sent his brothers to college.

“Poverty is not a hindrance at all. If you want something, you can achieve it with persistence, industry, and love for yourself. I am very happy with all the opportunities given to me. That is why I continue to commit myself and dedicate my work to DSWD.

Paying it forward

“I sort of invested in human capital. My younger siblings are now professionals; one is a Certified Public Accountant working at the Bureau of Internal Revenue and another is a Registered Social Worker now serving as Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program Municipal Link assigned in Balasan, Iloilo,” Sevilla said.

According to him, he feels now that he is reaping the fruits of his labor as he sees their parents enjoying their success. “We want our parents to feel how much we love them. I remember that we were always praying. Indeed, a family that prays together stays together.”

Sevilla’s work as an Alternate Focal Person for the youth of DSWD and the PYAP Regional Focal Person for Western Visayas, on top of his work as RITO is “like a pay-it-forward thing.”

“I am a product of the generosity of people and a testament of positive things and blessings that came my way. It is time that I spread my blessings by leading to ensure that the out-of-school youth can find productive endeavors and find their way back to school. With that, too, they will have a better chance in life./

Source: DSWD

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