Like any other teenage boy, Ariel loves pizza, movies, basketball, and girls. But unlike most other teens, he is working double time - as a student and as a call center agent. He has to work to be able to support his studies. He is having a hard time in his situation, yet Ariel doesn’t let the circumstances stop him.
He is part of a growing number of students working at call centers. Although the requirements are relatively easy to comply with, only certain types of people can qualify for the job. “This job is not for everyone,” said Alfredo, Ariel’s father. The job requires a lot of skills and training because over-the-phone work is very challenging, he added. “Bago pa lang siya sa trabaho nya- ilang linggo pa lamang subali’t magaling ang anak ko, at alam kong kayang-kaya niya ang trabahong ito,” boasted Alfredo. A number of them have opted to quit school because they cannot cope with the demands of academics and work. But not Ariel. “Alam kong nahihirapan ang anak ko sa kanyang sitwasyon, dahil iilang oras lang ang kanyang itinutulog. Subali’t kaya ng anak ko ‘yun. Matiisin ang anak ko at alam kong abot -kamay na niya ang kanyang mga pangarap.”
This is how Alfredo describes Ariel. He is very proud to have such a fine son and articulated that he loved him so much. He also describes him as a determined, patient and an understanding son. “Ilang buwan na palang iniinda ng anak ko ang sakit ng tiyan. Nung minsang pumunta ako sa tindahan, nasabi ng nagtitinda na lagi raw nabili ng buscopan ang anak ko. Di niya sinasabi sa amin dahil alam niyang kapos kami sa buhay. Nag-aaral po siya at graduating na ng criminology. Malamang matagal na niyang iniinda ang kanyang sakit hanggang sa pumutok na lamang ang kanyang appendicitis.”
Alfredo Balbalosa is a 54-year-old farmer from Tebag West, Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan, who, despite having almost nothing to eat, struggled to enable his son to study. He has four (4) children, with Ariel being the eldest and the others are of ages 17, 9 and 9 months.
Ariel knows that the money his father makes is not enough for his studies, and so he became a working student, although it meant a lot of sacrifices for him.
When Ariel’s appendix ruptured, he needed to have an emergency surgery to remove it and clean his abdominal cavity to prevent serious complications such as peritonitis, an inflammation of the tissue that lines the abdominal wall.
After his son’s operation, Alfredo and his family started to worry about how they can cover the cost of the operation. Ariel is just newly employed and not yet eligible for PhilHealth benefits. Believing that there is a reason for every single thing, and a reason for every worry and concern, Alfredo was relieved when the social worker of the hospital informed him that he is qualified to avail himself of PhilHealth’s Point-of-Care (POC) enrolment mechanism and need not pay for anything. “Iniisip ko na talaga kung paano at saan kami kukuha ng pambayad sa ospital. Subali’t malakas ang loob kong malalampasan namin ang pagsubok na ito, at heto nga may program pala ang PhilHealth na POC, kaya’t lubos-lubos ang pasasalamat ko.”
He was very grateful to PhilHealth because he had availed himself of benefits during those times he needed it. “Maraming salamat po dahil sa tulad naming mahihirap na kapos talaga sa pinansyal, malaking tulong ito. Kagaya nito, hindi ko alam kung magkano ang billing namin kaya mamomroblema pa sana ako kung saan kukuha ng pambayad. Pero ngayon, talagang blessing dahil ni karampot na singko ay wala akong inilabas; ang mga gamot, laboratory at bayad sa doktor ay libre lahat!”
He also thanked the hospital staff especially the social workers who often deal with patients and their families at vulnerable times. “Ang kanilang kabaitan ay hindi matatawaran, lalung-lalo na sa suportang ibinigay nila sa akin bago maopera ang aking anak,” he added. Hopefully, Ariel would soon be able to go back to his work and studies and fulfill his dream of becoming a respected policeman.
The Point-of-Care enrolment scheme targets non-members belonging to Class C-3 or D confined in government hospitals. Their premium contributions shall be borne by the government facility, provided that they are certified poor by the medical social worker at the time of admission. Qualified patients and their dependents will fall under the Indigent Program and are provided with PhilHealth benefits.The facility identifies the hospital-sponsored members through their Social Welfare Workers and pays the premium contribution of P2,400 for the applicable calendar year.
The list of identified members who are enrolled under the POC is submitted to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for validation if they are qualified to be included in the Listahanan for the following year. (END) (Emelita M. Retuta)