Education is a Collective Effort:  Mahinda Pinmiliw’s Story

The proverb, it takes a village to raise a child rings true.  One’s holistic growth and success in school and in life is often the result of the collective and concerted effort of the home, the school and of the community.

One warm morning, Mahinda Pinmiliw, a graduating Bachelor of Secondary Education students shares her story.

I was born on April 2, 2001 in Palidan, Dalipey, Bakun, Beguet. I was raised by my grandparents, late Nicasio Pinmiliw and Marina Pinmiliw because my mother, a single parent, had to leave for work. My childhood years were some of the greatest of my life because I was able to witness my grandparents’ goodness, care, and love. They did their best to supply whatever I needed, and they never cease to amaze me with all they do. When the time came for me to start attending school, we were struggling financially but I was eager to study because I knew how difficult life can be. Even at a young age, I had to wake up early every day to be with my grandparents and uncles to the farm where they 

work until night. I love the vegetable farm. It was my playground. I played around barefoot, walking and running on the soil and enjoyed the happiness of a child. Seeing  the hardwork of my grandparents who were continually working day and night, I knew right then and there that education was the key to a better life for me. I may not be as intelligent as the others, but with determination and hard work, it paid off in the end, and I was able to finish primary school in 2013-2014.

High school arrived, and I went to my mother, where I stayed for six years with my two half siblings. I had a difficult time adjusting to my new family, possibly because I did not grow up with them, and I also experienced culture shock when I started high school at Baguio City High School-Main, where I was sometimes bullied because of my ethnicity. But, thankfully, I was able to deal with them, and I did my best to fit in. So many questions were in my head when I was sixteen. I realized I was longing to see my father. I was able to locate him via technology, and from there I began communicating with him. In 2017-2018, I completed my junior high school education. In the 2019-2020 school year, I continued my senior high school education at Philippine Women’s University.

When the pandemic hit, I returned to Bakun, where I began my college days, and I was grateful to CCDC for making learning more simpler for those in the provinces. During the pandemic, CCDC had made modules available to their students to enable us to continue learning even if we were restricted to travel.  Benguet is a secluded province, we had no access to internet signals and many of my fellow students could not afford to buy high end phones to support online learning.  We found printed modules helpful especially with the presence of Drop off and Pick up centers which were strategically placed within reach. With the assistance of the police officers in police stations, one of the designated centers, I was able to learn and pass my subjects. 

My first and second years of college were never simple. Tuition has always been an issue for me.  But I am grateful that the school’s scholarship coordinator assisted me and I became one of the TDP-TES grantee when I was a freshman until the present.  This helped a lot to partially pay my school fees.  Relatives also offered to help fund my tuition in exchange for me helping them in the garden. Day after day, I would go to the farm to work, and in the evening, even if I was exhausted, I would do my best to complete the activities assigned to me by my instructors.

I am so thankful that even though life had been tough to me, I was surrounded by loving aunties, uncles, and grandparents. Unfortunately, my grandfather passed away in 2021.

I have many dreams for my grandparents, and I hope that one day I will be able to repay their sacrifices and hard work. But I can’t do it anymore because he’s already joined our creator. I couldn’t picture my grandmother’s existence without him. But life must move on; perhaps God has bigger plans for my life; my grandfather may have passed away, but God blessed me; He answered the longing in my heart for 22 years, and I was finally able to see my father. God is so wonderful since through the years, he has been blessing me with a loving family, community and school.