Babysitter Finished ALS, Now Prepares For College

While her peers were at school, learning new things and skills, Malou Lom-oc was busy handling errands and household chores as a kasambahay. Undeterred and driven by her dreams, she continued her education through the Alternative Learning System (ALS) of the Department of Education (DepEd) at STI College Ortigas-Cainta.

The journey was challenging for her but she was determined to help her family. From cleaning the house to babysitting—she juggled work, school, and everything in between. Despite the odds, she remained motivated and recently passed the Accreditation and Equivalency (A&E) Test in April 2016. Grounded by her values, Malou is one step closer to reaching her goals as she readies for an Accountancy course in college.

ALS aims to provide school dropouts, like Malou, a chance to complete basic education for free, in a mode that fits their distinct situations and needs. An A&E Test passer may then move on to secondary school or pursue college.

Labor of Love

Born to a family of six and living on a meager income—with a carpenter father and a homemaker mother—Malou Lom-oc made the decision to leave her hometown, Ormoc, to work at a young age. She was 15when she started to labor for households around Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

Malou is now residing in Cainta, Rizal where she works as a babysitter and a part-time cashier at her employer’s meat shop. Albeit already earning for herself and her family, she firmly believes that a college diploma can open more and better opportunities.

The ALS journey

Although underprivileged, Malou was blessed with employers who supported her plans to pursue her studies. They enrolled her at Francisco P. Felix Memorial National High School as a Grade 8 student.
Through her principal, Malou learned about the ALS program at STI. Almost four years behind as she should be in college today, Malou let go of the regular schooling and signed-up for the program to prepare for the A&E Test.

In collaboration with DepEd, STI College Ortigas-Cainta is only one of the STI campuses nationwide which serve as Community Learning Centers (CLCs) in the delivery of ALS. Aside from providing classrooms and facilities, STI teachers and personnel also dedicate their time to share their knowledge as volunteer learning facilitators. The said campus piloted the implementation of ALS.

Living a few blocks away from STI, Malou walked every Saturday to attend her classes. Her employers became part of her support system throughout her ALS journey. They even checked her exercises as she reviewed her modules and read notes during weekdays, notably when the A&E Test was just around the corner. As she recalls, “Kapag tulog na yung alaga ko saka ako nagbabasa. Basta kapag may chance, nagrereview ako.”

Her final words

Amid all the struggles, this big dreamer from a humble town shows resilience and persistence. She keeps her hopes high not just for herselp but for her loved ones as well. When asked what advice she can offer to others, she points out, "Huwag kang sumuko. Tuparin mo ang pangarap mo. Magtapos ka ng pag-aaral." From facing her obligations as a babysitter to fulfilling her duties as a student, Malou's journey is a long way ahead. This is not yet the end as we expect greating things coming to her.