What does it take to change? What does it take to realize that family comes first; that one should love his wife and share her journey, dreams and aspirations; that one should toil and save to support his children and give them a good life; and that it is important to contribute to the peace and progress of the community?
This is a story about the Gaña Family from Brgy. Cat-iwing of the municipality of Hinundayan, Southern Leyte Province.
Nelson,a young lad from Cat-iwing, Hinundayan catches and sells fish for a living. Eldest amongst ten siblings and only able to finish Grade 1 because of his family’s constant relocation every time his father is reassigned as a driver. Nelson was compelled to do odd jobs and to work hard at an early age.
On a nearby sari-sari store, Rosaly at age 22 was employed as an attendant. She decided to come home to care for her Lolo after working as a house maid in Manila for three years. Born in the municipality but grew up in Davao where her father works in upholstery, Rosaly managed to finish high school as her parents were no longer able to send her to college.
The two became acquainted through a common friend who was Nelson’s cousin.
They were ordinary friends. Nelson had a girlfriend then. But when the girl left, Rosaly would often jeer at Nelson, teasing him of his heartbreak. It must be fate’s humour. They never were a couple but the two ended up marrying each other. This, after the help of community gossips when someone saw Rosaly visiting Nelson’s place and speculated that the two have eloped. Protective and eager to save Rosaly’s pride, Nelson like a knight in shining armour instantaneously asked Rosaly’s hand in marriage.
Despite the shortcuts and not having to undergo the normal girlfriend-boyfriend relationship, Rosaly and Nelson had less trouble adjusting with each other. They decided to reside in Cat-iwing where Nelson built a quaint little house for them to have a “roof” of their own. The first year of marriage was characterized by the couple’s meek evasion, as they never ask each other’s feelings toward one another.
It was only when Maria Jessa was born that they confirmed their emotional connection, having realized their profound love for the other. Through the Family Development Sessions, they learned how to deal with their differences and how to communicate well. Unlike before, they never shared ideas or plans. Now like a team, they always consult one another before arriving with a decision.
But Nelson fell into the ills of gambling specifically tong-its and it ruined their relationship. Nelson became a neglectful head of the household. In 2002, Rosaly dauntlessly left her husband and together with their kids, went back to Davao. The husband having realized what he has done, pursued his family.
Nelson tried to abandon his vices for the sake of his wife and children but failed. He recalled being tasked by Rosaly to deliver mangoes which was their livelihood in Mindanao. He only came home after two weeks after gambling away all their money. Life was suddenly hard. There were times when the couple had to skip meals for the children.
In 2009, after living in Davao for seven years, Nelson and his family agreed to return to Cat-iwing. Fate may have again worked its way for the couple as the family was included in the enumeration of the National Households Targeting System for Poverty Alleviation (NHTS-PR), now known as Listahanan. That time, they were only living in a shanty and sadly, the husband husband went on with his gambling.
Following the family’s inclusion to the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in 2011 as Set 5 beneficiaries, both Rosaly and Nelson have no idea that it was the beginning of a new life. The family came to learn the goals of the program and their co-responsibilities, including policies against gambling.
At first, it was just Rosaly being the registered grantee who religiously attends the Family Development Sessions. Realizing the importance of the FDS, she always encourages her husband to do the same but Nelson would refuse. In 2013, the topic on Family and Family Relationship required the attendance of all husbands in the FDS. While listening to the discussions of the session, Nelson felt that he has a lot of shortcomings towards his family. The FDS served as his eye-opener. That first attendance resulted to Nelson never missing any FDS up to the present except for occasional times when he has work matters to attend to.
The couple shared that since they are both attending the monthly Family Development Session, their marriage has been happier and more orderly. Through FDS, they learned how to deal with their differences and how to communicate well for the family. Unlike before, they never shared ideas or plans. Now like a team, they always consult one another before arriving with a decision. Guided by and applying what they learned in the FDS, the family has started to prosper. Nelson has deserted his gambling and focused his time and attention to his work, family and in helping the community.
Nelson earnestly said, “Dako ug tabanga ang Pantawid Pamilya ug mga leksyon sa FDS kay nakatun-an man namo ang maayo na pagdala sa mga anak ug sa pamilya. Mao kinahanglan gud nga ang gihatag sa gobyerno diri na to abusuhan. Aton pay dugangan para sa atong pag-uswag. (Pantawid Pamilya and its FDS lessons are such huge help to us since we learned how to take care of our children and the family. That is why we should not abuse what the government provides us. Instead, we should contribute more for our development.)”
Nelson and Rosaly have six children, namely, Maria Jessa (16 years old), Maria Eralyn (15), Nelson Rin Jr. (14), Jasmine (9), Glesia (6), and Junelyn (4). The children’s education comes also as a top priority. All their six children are attending school. As responsible parents, they ensure that their children go to school with complete school supplies wearing neat and clean uniforms as attested by the school teachers and co-residents. Their children even received awards for being the Most Neat and Clean pupils in school. According to the teachers, the parents also make sure that they pay school contributions on time.
Maria Jessa, who is the eldest, graduated as salutatorian and is continuing her secondary education at the town’s public high school. The rest of the siblings are also performing well in school, receiving various recognitions. The couple ensure that their children study hard and contribute to the household chores.
As a community member, Nelson has always been elected to head the Parents-Teachers and Community Association (PTCA). He never let his low educational attainment stop him from being active in the community. One of the teachers of Cat-iwing Elementary School described him as a responsible PTCA president. Nelson is also a Bantay Dagat volunteer who helps in taking care of the barangay’s marine life. Furthermore, he is a Lupong Tagapamayapa member tasked to promote peace in the community.
Admirably, it is not only the husband who is active in the community, but the rest of the family. The couple were also active volunteers of the Kalahi CIDSS-NCDDP 1st cycle. They had their own assignments as volunteers. The wife was in the Procurement Team and the husband was the foreman and the mason. Also, Rosaly and the children help in coastal clean-ups.
Financial management learned through FDS comes in handy. They are now more organized when it comes to their finances and have come to prioritize savings. Little by little, they improve their house every summer when there are no school expenses.
With six children, the couple is venturing into different livelihood activities.
They are now raising three hogs. Nelson who had a background on massage therapy availed the skills training provided by the Provincial Social Welfare and Development in partnership with the LGU. The trainer was even impressed at his skills that he even gave Nelson a rabbit as a token after a relieving massage. Aside from that, the family has planted bananas, pineapples and different varieties of vegetables.
Nelson also collects coconut sap to make tuba or coconut wine. Recently, they started making and selling charcoals for cooking. Nelson also do carpentry and masonry jobs. With the bountiful blessings they receive, the family always thank God by sharing their yields and blessings to their relatives, neighbors and friends.
Their neighbor Florenda Baguinang, 61 years old, shared, “Maajo ni sila nga pamilya maam, maasikaso sa ilang mga anak, tagaan og maayong pamisti ang mga bata inig ngadto sa iskoylahan, pirme jud na andaman ang mga bata usa mungadto sa iskuylahan. Ang mga bata pud nakita nahu nga interesado jud muiskwela. Isip silingan pud, si Nelson kung magpahilot mi, dili sija manukot og bayad, kung pila lang ang amung ibayad, mao lang pud ang ijang dawaton. Muhatag pud ni sila sa mga panahon nga magpahinungod sila ginagmay sa mga adlawang matawhan sa ilang mga anak kay di man lagi ta dato maam maong ginagmay lang pud. (They are a good family.
The parents are attentive to the needs of their children. They dress their children well and prepare them for school. Also, I can see that the children are interested in schooling. As neighbors, Nelson does not ask for anything in return whenever we need his massage service. He accepts any amount we pay and does not demand for more. In his little ways, he also shares to the needy, though it is given that he also doesn’t have much.)”###