by Glenda B. Gutierrez
23-year-old Enrico Teliquido knew that if he would dream of a better future, he must acquire education. There was no other way. He also knew that he would not gain the education that he needed via the regular, or formal, route.
Thank goodness, there is the Alternative Learning System (ALS) of the Department of Education (DepEd).
“That is why I enrolled in ALS,” Rico, as he is fondly called, said. “I really want to finish my studies.”
Rico stopped his studies after finishing Grade V at the Sergio Apostol Elementary School in Sta. Cruz, Manila, became of financial constraints. His family was too poor.
However, he found an alternative in the form of the ALS Program in the Manila North Cemetery (MNC) in 2012. The next year, he passed the elementary level of the Accreditation and Equivalency (A & E) examination. That made him one of the original ALS graduates of the Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI).
However, he felt he had to help out in providing the needs of the family, so he stopped his studies again. He earned and continues to earn a living for the family by driving a pedicab inside the Manila North Cemetery (MNC).
Rico is the fourth of six siblings. Their father, Victor, is a “barangay tanod,” while their mother, Delia, is a housemaid. Rico would tell you that there had been better days. Their lives had been better years before when they lived in Divisoria, a business area in Manila.
Victor’s adoptive parents then owned a meat stall in Divisoria. Their income was steady with Delia augmenting the family income by selling vegetables. Their financial problems started when Victor’s adoptive parents died and they moved to MNC with Delia’s relatives.
Earning a living in MNC is difficult, Rico said. Victor initially worked as a helper in the construction of tombs and “museleos” but the income was not regular.
Added to the family’s problems were the early marriages of the elder Teliquido children that meant additional mouths to feed.
Rico showed dedication in his studies. His school works indicated promise. He also demonstrated good leadership skills. In fact, he was elected as the president of the MNC Youth Generation. This organization is composed of youth from the cemetery with the objective of promoting unity and mutual protection among members. Among the projects implemented during his term was the fund-raising for their registration and participation in barangay basketball leagues.
Rico dreams of being a teacher, which is now an achievable reality given that he is now allowed to enroll in college.