A job well-done, former SPES beneficiary says of DOLE’s SPES

“I considerably owe my success to SPES for it provided me the opportunity to appreciate the world of work deeply. The program made me understand the importance of dedication towards work. SPES has been one of the many reasons why I was able to build enough patience in every undertaking.”

The conviction by which Dennis A. Espiritu, 25, said these words make them powerful. And as a first-person testimony, it qualifies him as one of the thousands of SPES beneficiaries whose life stories run a common thread–theirs were lives changed, for the better.

Dennis, who is currently working for his master’s degree in business administration at the Universidad de Zamboanga, is from the town of Titay in Zamboanga del Sur.

Consistently an A-1 student, he graduated valedictorian from the Titay Elementary School in 2000, and again, valedictorian from the Titay National High School from the Titay National High School in 2004.

In Zamboanga del Sur, like in many Philippine provinces, a high school diploma is mostly the end of many young people’s education. Poverty is the culprit. There is not enough money in a family to spare for a college education.

Dennis was almost in the same situation when he graduated from high school. Although his family did not totally lacked the means, he had to work his way up through college.

In his freshman year, he stumbled upon the Special Program for the Employment of Students, or SPES, finding a summer job offered by the Zamboanga Sibugay provincial government. Nelsie P. Lazo, the provincial PESO manager, facilitated his application for a SPES slot.

Armed with a strong resolve to pursue college education, Dennis enrolled in a management accounting course at the Ateneo de Zamboanga University, where he was a consistent academic scholar until he graduated in 2008. Throughout his academic years, he remained a SPES ‘baby’, as SPES beneficiaries are popularly called.

“In all honesty, SPES did not fully answered my financial needs. The amount I earned as wage while I was a student was very meager to pay for my matriculation,” Dennis said.

But the SPES strengthened me as a person and as an academic scholar in a private university. The program taught me certain values in life. This is what I consider to be the major impact of the SPES in my life. I am, therefore, taking this opportunity to express my gratitude to DOLE for its SPES program that helped me to be where I am now. I owe it to SPES for giving me a deeper understanding of the dignity of work and its value to a person,” he emphatically said.

Indeed, it was the SPES training that partly shaped his outlook in life, his patience, and his motivation towards work, so much so that it did not take long to find a steady job after he left the university.

“I immediately trained as accounting system evaluator at the St. Joseph Delivery Services before I found my niche in banking,” he said.

At the Banco de Oro Unibank in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay where he now works as accounting assistant, Dennis goes about his daily tasks with an eye to a brighter future, still finding time to be visiting instructor, from 2009 to 2011, at the Western Mindanao State University where he taught money, credit, banking and finance, investment mathematics, marketing, economics, and quantitative techniques in business.

“SPES is, indeed, a job well done. The program gave me a fruitful experience. It offered me the opportunity to grow and develop my sense of responsibilities. The dedication towards my work which I learned from SPES was doubled when I applied it in my studies, and now, my job. I learned to be more patient,” he explained.

Conceptualized as a ‘bridging employment’ program to enhance employability of young student-workers and out-of-school youth, the SPES has brought education and employment closer to poor, but deserving, student-beneficiaries in the country.

According to Labor and Employment Secretary Baldoz: “The SPES provides short-term, yet gainful employment to disadvantaged youth who would like to secure a brighter future. It is for those who have no means, but have the ability to pursue a college education. “It helps students in the countryside, like Dennis Espiritu, to transit easily and fast from school to work.”

“Since I came in as DOLE Secretary in 2010, I made it a priority to partner with the private sector and our LGUs to ensure the continued impact of the program on our student-beneficiaries. Such partnership should be borne out of their corporate social responsibility of helping more poor students,” she said.

Comfortably, Baldoz is not without support. President Aquino III himself is a great SPES believer, doubling every year the budget for the SPES since he became president to make the program more accessible to many.


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