“I am extremely grateful to DOLE 9 under the leadership of Regional Director Ofelia B. Domingo for the help extended to me. I promise that the assistance given to me will never go to waste.”

This was the expression of gratitude from Jay-Ann D. Paraon, an eighteen-year-old daughter of a rubber tapper and a utility worker who are both bonafide members of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries of Marcelo Multi-Purpose Cooperative (ARBEMMCO). Her family resides at Marcelo, Kalawit, Zamboanga del Norte.

Coming from a low-income family, Jay-Ann thought that finishing a degree in Agriculture and Bio-systems would be too impossible. However, she was proven wrong when the Department of Labor and Employment IX (DOLE 9) granted her with a scholarship under the Workers Organization Development Program (WODP) through her parent’s workers’ organization, ARBEMMCO.

Now, she is currently taking up her dream course at the Western Mindanao State University in Zamboanga City.

DOLE9 Regional Director Ofelia B. Domingo stressed that WODP is one of the flagship programs of the DOLE for workers’ groups which serves as a facilitating mechanism in strengthening trade unions and other workers’ organizations. It provides educational opportunities to union officers and members, including their dependents, and offers greater productivity, prosperity, and welfare to the employer and workers’ organization. Convinced that the program also targets to promote the capabilities to perform their roles in the organization effectively and efficiently, DOLE believes that quality education produces qualified and competent labor force in the future.

Among the successful implementers of the WODP in Zamboanga Sibugay Province is ARBEMMCO. It is a rubber cooperative that employs more than 200 workers deployed in its various divisions but most of the workers are assigned in the rubber plantation as tappers.

As a WODP scholar, Jay-Ann receives per semester financial assistance for her tuition fees; book allowance; and monthly stipend for four (4) years.

Through the scholarship, Jay Ann is now able to go to university and fulfill her dreams of giving her family a better life. The said program has lifted a heavy burden from her parent’s shoulders.

“I wish that the program continues to help new aspirants the way it helped me. It may take some time for sure, but this way of helping the community will manifest favorable results someday,” said Jay-Ann.

END/ With reports from Arian D. Labiano, GIP-ZSFO

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