Marcelino “Marcy” Ballaran really wanted something better for his family when he decided to enroll in a short vocational course at the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in Albay in 2006.
The eldest of eight children, Marcy’s father is a farmer while his mom is a plain housewife and could barely make ends meet from his father’s meager income.
“Like most poor, I dreamt of liberating my family from poverty. I want to send my siblings to school and give my parents a decent house, a comfortable future,” he said.
Marcy wanted to change his destiny and didn’t want to farm like his father. He wanted a high-paying job with all the perks and benefits and he knew he could achieve this even if he does not acquire a college degree. He knew his stepping stone would be a technical-vocational course.
“I don’t see anything wrong with farming, it’s a decent and honest job but the truth is it doesn’t pay much. My father is tilling a land that doesn’t belong to him. There’s not enough resources for us, some of my siblings are not even going to school,” he said.
He has heard success stories of young people in their town who, after taking up short technical and vocational courses at TESDA, have easily found jobs or were hired by the government agency itself.
Marcy was further encouraged when he saw a posting on TESDA’s various available short courses at the city hall in Daraga, Albay.
“At first I was hesitant because we didn’t have money. But I looked for ways to pay for my tuition which was really not that expensive. So I enrolled at TESDA and took auto-mechanical course because I like it. I know I can be a good auto mechanic,” Marcy said.
Contrary to some perceptions, TESDA Director General Joel Villanueva said an auto-mechanical course is very challenging because it requires students to be keen, diligent and analytical.
“Some people would think that an auto mechanical course is easy but it is actually very challenging. Students must have skill, speed and accuracy to diagnose the problems of a certain car. That is why, auto mechanics or auto electrician technicians are also in demand abroad because it's a special skill,” Villanueva explained.
At TESDA, Marcy learned about how to efficiently work on all parts of car deemed problematic.
“We were taught how to examine the engine while it is running to see if our initial assumptions are correct. We learned how to be good mechanics by using our eyes, ears and even nose when we search for problems and potential hazards. When the part is worn or damaged, we recommend to replace it for the owner’s sake. We’re like doctors of cars,” Marcy explained.
Villanueva, for his part, stressed it was important for aspiring auto mechanics to continually adapt to changing technology, especially because cars' designs and make up continuously change.
"This is where TESDA steps in. We fulfill our mission to hone young Filipino auto mechanics to become world-class and competent auto mechanics. They can get hired in Doha, Qatar or in Canada and we will be proud of them because they're good and stand out above the rest," he said.
"That is why TESDA, we see to it that our students become the best auto mechanics before they get a certification. We see to it that they have already mastered a wide variety of integrated skills,” Villanueva added.
After earning his certification at TESDA in 2007, doors opened and Marcy was employed by Japanese car company Toyota in a branch in Albay as auto electrical technician.
Marcy is now receiving a P16,000 salary a month, money that he could only imagine before. Toyota also provides him benefits, travel opportunities and other perks.
“My life has drastically changed since taking up a course at TESDA. Because of TESDA, I was able to get my dream job. Now, I am sending my siblings to school and contributing food on the table. Perhaps, without taking this course, I will remain poor,” Marcy said.