Rowena Bermudo, 27, had been an ambulant food vendor since her late teens. After spending just a month in college as a Hotel and Restaurant Management student in Iloilo, she was forced to return to Tacurong to be her family’s bread-winner. She had to stop her studies when her mother got seriously ill.
Weng, as she is fondly called by her customers, is very persistent in doing business. She sells her food items in government offices, battling the heat and even rain during weekdays. “Napatapos ko ang manghud ko sa pag eskwela tungod diri sa pagbaligya-baligya ko,” she proudly said.
Determined as she is to provide for her family, she joined the Cash for Training Program of DSWD, TESDA, and LGU in February 2013 along with other out-of-school youth in Tacurong. Weng is one of the 19 trainees of C4TP’s Commercial Cooking (National Certificate Level II or NCII) course. At the same time, 21 youths were trained for Housekeeping NCII course.
Tacurong C4TP scholars, like Weng, were identified by the City Social Welfare and Development (CSWD). Each scholar received assistance amounting to PhP20,000. This amount included tuition/training fee, allowance, etc. The courses were facilitated by Sultan Kudarat Educational Institution or SKEI.
Weng and her classmates underwent 463 hours of training. Managing her time for training and work may seem difficult but Weng never thought of dropping out especially when she realized the positive effect of C4TP on her trade.
“May bag-o ako nga knowledge kag ideas, pareha sang mga garnish kag iban pa nga nagamit ko sa pagluto kag pagbaligya ko,” she said.
After their training, Weng and other C4TP scholars passed the national assessment for NCII. They finally graduated on May 20, 2013.
The newly-graduated Weng claims that she feels fulfilled with this new accomplishment in her life. “Daku guid ni nga tabang sa akon. Una, may knowledge na ako, may bag-o nga ideas kag mas nagtiwala ang mga customers ko sa akon kay tinapusan ko ini,” she said beaming. “Na-proud man ako sa sarili ko..may fulfillment,” she added.
            Commercial cooking graduates were provided with P6,000.00-worth of new cooking utensils while housekeeping graduates received the second wave of their allowance worth P7,000.00.
Weng said that she plans to continue selling food items in offices. And, she will soon establish a small ‘carenderia’ in front of her home with her newly-acquired skills, new tools, and with a little bit more of self-esteem.

Jezereel Billano (LGU Information)