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SPES baby, aces in the Teachers’ board exams

Cebu City, Philippines. Being the eldest in the family and having seen how difficult it always had been for them to make both ends meet every day, Rhea Mae made sure to do what she always did best and that is to put her heart into her studies – all the time.

21-year old Rhea Mae saw how her father, a forklift operator at Pier 1, Cebu City, worked hard to provide for them. “I would even see him getting so tired from work every time he’d come home every Sunday. Kahibaw ko dili gyud paigu ang iyang kita, mao nang naningkamot pud ko nga maka-kita ug paagi nga makapadayon sa akong pag-eskwela,” she said.

Rhea Mae C. Ongkit is a native of Ilaya, Cawayan, Dalaguete, Cebu, who finished Bachelor of Elementary Education at the University of the Visayas-Dalaguete.

She said she would like to credit her getting the diploma that she, of course had worked hard for, not only to her loving parents but also to the assistance she got from government through the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) under its Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES).

She said, with the meager earnings of her father and with her mother being a housewife, it was always challenging sending her and her three (3) other siblings to school. Although, providing them education was never treated less priority by her parents.

Fortunately, she added, she was able to avail the DOLE’s SPES, which had been assisting her school needs for 3 years since 2015. “Inig kadawat naku sa akong stipend, sigurohon naku ug palit ang akong mga gikinahanglan sa eskwelahan unya ang sobra akong ihatag sa akong mama para pud ipalit sa mga kinahanglanon sa balay sama sa pagkaon,” she humbly said.

As a SPES beneficiary, Rhea Mae got to receive her stipend every May or June for the work she rendered for at least twenty (20) days every year.

Apart from her innate drive to finish her studies, the program, she said further, was really a huge motivating factor for her to continue what she loved doing not only for herself but also for the family especially her siblings, who definitely needed her assistance in their studies as well.

After graduating in March 2018, she took the Licensure Examinations for Teachers (LET) on September 30 of the same year.

“Na-shock gyud ko sa balita. Dili ko maka-tuo. Abi gani naku nga fake news to kay nagtuo manko nga dili gani ko maka-pasar sa exams,” recalled Rhea Mae, who had still sparkles in her eyes narrating how she received the big news.

The news that she did not only pass the exams but also made it to the top 10 LET passers completely stunned her and her family. Rhea Mae successfully landed on the 7th place among the Top 10 examinees all over the country.

“I was elated. I did not expect to make it to the Top 10 but God willed it for me and I’m so grateful. All the hard work paid off. It felt surreal but it was really real!” she exclaimed,

She thanked the DOLE for implementing the SPES program. “The SPES had been a part of my journey. Had it not been for it, I would not have been able to make it through the way I did. Hina-ot pa unta nga daghan pang matabangan ang maong programa. Salamat gyud kaayo,” she said.

Asked on her plans after passing the board exams, she said she might consider teaching at the University of the Visayas-Main Campus after she got an invitation from the school. “This is also my own way of giving back and perhaps to inspire others to do their best and work hard and pursue what they want to achieve in life,” she added.

DOLE-7 Regional Director, Atty. Johnson G. Cañete lauded Rhea Mae and the rest of the SPES babies of DOLE for successfully putting a face on the SPES, a reputation which he hope would ignite the same sparks of courage among students who have less in life.

OIC-Assistant Regional Director, Atty. Roy L. Buenafe likewise congratulated Rhea Mae for such a milestone. Personally congratulating her when she dropped by the Regional Office, Atty. Buenafe encouraged her to push herself and take advantage of her youth and drive until she’s able to finish her masteral and eventually her doctoral degree.

Rhea Mae is one of the 3,650 SPES babies that DOLE-RO-7 produced in its implementation of the SPES. For 2018, it tallied 14,763 beneficiaries from all over Central Visayas benefiting the program.



For more information on this report, you may contact Luchel SenarloTaniza, Regional Labor Communication Officer at telefax number (032) 266-2792 or you may send an email at

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