The Lad from Lanao and His High Hopes

“M’baal ako sa madak’l a masgit para ku mga Muslim agu eskwelaan para sii ku di k’k’las. (I will build many masjids for the Muslims and more schools for the students.)” answered by Abdul Azis Asnawie when asked why he wants to become an engineer as a professional. 

A lad well-known through the name Azis in the streets of the Balindong municipality is a Pantawid Pamilya child beneficiary from Brgy. Dilausan, Balindong, Lanao del Sur. Azis is a 14-year old young boy and currently at the 6th grade level in Balindong Central Elementary School. He is the seventh child in the eight off-springs of Mr. Asnawie Lao and Mrs. Norma Agui.

As sources of their daily living, his father is hired to drive utility vehicle routed from Balindong to Marawi City and vice-versa while his mother maintains a small sari-sari store in their house. With the number of their family members, they are living together, congested in a small house made of light materials. Upon having an extended and growing family, the income they earn is not that sufficient enough to subsidize their regular needs. Due to this situation, Azis’ parents have to exhaust possible resources that could make them survive for a living. Thus, his mother also maintains a backyard garden which somehow serves as one of the sources of their nutritious foods.
Further, with the supplementary aid provided by the government through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, one of the government’s major flagship programs that seek to address poverty alleviation to those identified and validated families belonging to the poorest level especially those located in the remote areas like the Asnawie family, they are able to have sources and sustain their necessities including the schooling of Azis and his other siblings. Cash grants are given to the household beneficiaries based on their compliance to the program conditionalities in the aspects of health, nutrition, and education. And currently, the program have a total number of 347, 577 household beneficiaries all over the region including Azis’ family.
Witnessing his parents do their utmost best to make both ends meet in order to ensure their family’s welfare and needs had inspired Azis to aspire for a bright future. This encouraged and empowered him to excel in many aspects.
Being a Striving Son who’s Stronger than his Struggles
As occupied as Azis is for his school requirements, he still attends to his tasks at home. Azis fetches water, washes dishes, sweeps, and takes charge of their mini sari-sari store. His parents are thankful that he even spares time to massage their backs and legs to relieve their tiredness or body pains from work. “Igira p’kasima iyan a ad’n a masakit a p’kag’dam ami ki Ama iyan na pagisaan kami nyan u anday masakit na pam’s’lan kami nyan bapya k’naba ami run ip’sugo. (Whenever he notices me and his father feel body pains, he would ask us where it hurts and massages us even though we don’t ask for it.)” said by his mother.
Despite all the impediments that the family tries to outdo, Azis’ parents still feel being blessed in having a son who is loving and has moral understanding at a young age. “Isa ku kapya nyan a wata na sumasabot skanyan ku b’tad u mga lok’s iyan bapya naku maytu p’n. Pakaraw sumung sa eskwelaan bapya da a luto iyan,” (One of his good qualities as son is that he understands the situation of his parents. He goes to school even without any allowance.)” she testified. Despite having no allowance and anything in his pocket, his determination to succeed only is sufficient for him to study hard, keep going, and pursue his goals in life.
Strengthened by the several struggles he is striving to surpass have molded Azis’ mind to maturity who already has deeper understanding of his family’s situation. After experiencing a lot, he still upholds his moral vigor and willingness to endure a lot more all for the sake of his ambition. 
Being an Art Whiz with Academic Wit
The family’s situation did not constrain him from exploring his inner talents and discovering what he can do. As to his experiences, he had been representing not only their school but also their province to various competitions in the region like the Regional Schools Press Conference under the editorial cartooning category. 
Aside from this, Azis also has great inclination also in the field of Mathematics. This has been proven by him as a consistent contender for the consecutive years in the Metrobank – MTAP – DepEd Mathematics challenge competing under the banner and in honor of their respective district. Azis is also a consistent top 2 honor student since his first grade making him not only an art whiz but also proves his academic wit.
Taking Part in Nation-Building 
With the kind of determination that Azis has in order to enhance himself more by exposing himself to different areas, he definitely does not want to limit the jurisdiction of his learning and experience. His other extra-curricular activities led him to his early exposure to public service since Azis is an active member of the Boy Scout of the Philippines (BSP) participating in different camps that trained him about servant leadership, nation-building, and other advocacies. Azis has some words also to offer in the aspect of journalism because he is an active member of Kamaradika, their school campus’ journalism club who contributes in their publication not only through sketching caricatures but writing articles as well. Clearly, Azis’ all-wrapped-in-one potentials show his interests also in civic engagement by being an active and productive young citizen of the country.
Becoming a Pantawid Pamilya Exemplary Child 
Upon possessing those salient attributes manifested by the people around him including the assigned field worker in their barangay had made him the official nominee of their municipality and eventually their own province to the ARMM Pantawid Pamilya Regional Search for Exemplary Child 2018. After thorough deliberation by the board of judges, this led him to be the official contingent of the region to the national search level and became a national child-delegate to the National Children’s Congress conducted by the DSWD Central Office held in Metro Manila last December 2018. Primarily, the annual conduct of the event sought to hone the special skills of the children and empower them to become responsible, proactive and productive citizens even at an early age. The week-long activities were filled with different interactive and informative sessions where Azis stood out, expressed himself and had spoken in behalf of his fellow Bangsamoro youth.
During the children’s congress, Azis had met the DSWD national head, Secretary Rolando Bautista and other inspiring celebrity-advocates along with the other children contingents from the seventeen (17) regions of the country. All the regional winners were awarded with plaques of recognition and were duly recognized on stage during the Araw ng Kabataan held in SM North EDSA Skydome in which the Bangsamoro region was represented well by Azis. The event culminated with inspiration and hope for the children’s future. Despite not being the national champion in the national search, Azis still went home and brought with him another pride and honor not only to his family but to his homeland as he had shown and proven that Bangsamoro children can do and offer invaluable contributions in the plight of nation-building.
Turning his Passions into Future Profession
A young selfless visionary he is, he dreams for the welfare his fellowmen and wants to take part in the recovery and rebuilding of his community. And the major stepping-stone for that is to be a future builder, an engineer, who will build not only his family’s dream house but also the dreams of his fellow Meranaws that is to revolutionize the Lanao del Sur province including their war-torn neighboring city, the Islamic City of Marawi to become industrially and economically progressive someday. Thus, becoming one speaks a lot towards his inclination in the fields of art and mathematics which clearly indicates the relation of his passions to his desired future profession.
Azis can definitely be considered as one of the program’s champions and living testimonies who continuously prove the milestones that Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program can achieve and will be achieving moving forward for the years to come. He is one of the pool of outstanding extraordinary children that ARMM and the entire country can be proud of. Truly, the government’s assistance will never go to waste in making the dreams possible and securing bright future of a deserving child beneficiary like Azis, a multi-talented lad from Lanao with high hopes for his homeland. (DSWD ARMM-Pantawid Pamilya, Jidday Buat Lucman)

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