Can you believe that a year has already gone by since the families moved into their new homes? The village is thriving with the community spirit stronger than ever.
Throughout the year many competitions have been held in the village – from sporting achievements, to talent competitions, a search for Super lolo and Super lola and more. To celebrate a year of living together in the village it was the turn of the teenagers to hold their contest. Who would win best in sports attire, best in production attire and best in talent?
The day began with a thanksgiving mass to celebrate the anniversary of moving into the GSF Village. In the afternoon the village filled up with neighbouring villagers who travelled to come and watch the finals of the Teen Competition. People travelled from miles around to see who would win.
It was a close competition as all the girls took great pride in making their costumes but there has to be one winner, and she was Mitchelle Bermudez.
Runner up was Athea Lozare and second Runner up was Via Olayon.
Well done girls you all did so well and we are so proud of not only what you achieved today, but what you have achieved throughout the year.
What competition do you think should be next? … we’d love to hear your thoughts …..
It’s competition time again in the GSF Village and this time it is the turn of the teenage girls. The finals will be held on January 5th in the village so if you are in the area please feel free to come along.
Please vote in the comment section of Facebook who you think should win……
Good luck to our lovely teenagers.
ATHEA LOZARE – Block 6 (below)
BABELYN CASIPE – Block 1 (below)
CLEAR AURECENCIA – Block 2 (below)
MICHELLE BERMUDEZ – Block 8 (below)
NADJA BEDOY – Block 11 (below)
REAN DELA CRUZ – Block 4 (below)
RENA DE JESUS – Block 3 (below)
RENALYN AZUELO – Block 5
ROSEMAE AROSTIQUE – Block 7
VIA OLAYON – Block 10
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It’s competition time: Who has created the best Belen?
After the success of last year’s Christmas tree competition, the families decided that this year they would get together in teams and see who could create the best Belen. (otherwise known as the “Nativity scene”). We have five official entries this year, and the categories given to the families were: creativity, workmanship, use of recyclable materials and impact to the Greg Secker Foundation Village.
Here are the five entries:
BELEN NUMBER ONE: Created by the Deploma Family and made of plastic bottles, dried leaves, nipa and plastic cut outs.
BELEN NUMBER TWO: Created by the Cordero Family and made of plastic bottles, plastic wrappers and coconut husks.
BELEN NUMBER THREE: Created by Nelia Adrigado and friends and made of coconut leaves, dried leaves and plastic bottles.
BELEN NUMBER FOUR: Created by Nemia Arban and friend and made of bamboo, plastic bottles, dried clay and dried husk.
BELEN NUMBER FIVE: Created by the Casarmil Family and made of bamboo, plastic bottles, dried leaves and plastic wrappers.
Please let us know which Belen you think should win by commenting on Facebook. Good luck to our entries – the winners will be drawn at the GSF Village Christmas party on the 21st December.
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The children celebrate Children’s Month with a party in the GSF Village.
On Wednesday, 112 of our GSF children celebrated the end of Children’s Month by having a big party in the village. There were songs, a short film, some delicious chicken porridge served by the mothers, and then finally one of their favourite games, known as Pabitin.
Pabitin is a wooden lattice frame tied with various goodie bags suspended mid air and lowered up and down. The children then jump up as high as they can to grab the goodies.
The GSF team made sure that everyone received a goodie at the end of the evening. It was a lovely end to Children’s Month celebrating all together.
On Friday the children from the GSF village travelled to Iloilo City ready for their performance on Saturday. For most of them, this was not only their first time ever in a big city, but also the first time they had ever left the Barangay of Lemery.
The children were treated to a delicious meal at Jollibee which was kindly sponsored by, Norman Agbas. Thank you Norms.
It was then time for a little tour around SM City Iloilo which is one of the biggest malls in the Philippines. All the Christmas decorations were up which got everyone very excited.
The children then had the chance to go grocery shopping to buy their breakfast for the morning. This was the first time many of them had ever been grocery shopping and the selection of food for them was just overwhelming.
We look forward to hearing how you got on at the parade … pictures and story to follow…..
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The children from the village represent GSF at the Children’s Month Celebrations in Iloilo.
There is a huge amount of excitement in the village as fifteen of our children make their last rehearsals before heading to Iloilo tomorrow morning.
On Saturday, the children will be representing GSF in a performance for the Children’s Month Celebrations held by the Department of Social Welfare and Development at one of the biggest malls in Iloilo, the Sm City Iloilo. The program will have performances from different social welfare and development agencies where the children will be able to showcase their talents.
For many of these children, this is the first time they will leave Lemery to travel to the big city. Very exciting times. We wish you all the luck and can’t wait to see and hear how you get on.
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“Portia En Shakespeare” writes us another story from the GSF Village …..
Success and downfalls are probably the most poignant and important ones in our life. We experience them to help us to create who we become. We can really learn even when we have a bad experience. Sometimes we experience someone who hurts us, betrays us, or breaks our heart, however forgive them, for they have helped us learn about trust and the importance of being cautious when we open our heart. If someone loves you, love them back unconditionally, not only because they love you, but because in a way, they are teaching you to love and how to open your heart and eyes to things.
This is the story of Jocelyn Villariz Delacruz and is all about loving unconditionally despite the obstacles of life.
Jocelyn Villariz Delacruz was born out of wedlock. Her father had two wives that included her mother and the other woman. They lived in the same roof in the mountainous part of Lemery. In her young mind she wondered why their family was different to the others in their neighbourhood and as she grew up together with her other sisters and brothers she kept on thinking the same question.
When she was nine years old she got sick with poliomyelitis that required her to have an operation that left her leg to be physically imbalanced. Both her physical and family condition affected her wellbeing. She never finished her elementary grade and when she was still just a teenager she got married to Noli Dela Cruz and they were blessed with nine children. The couple made a living by what they got from their hard work and they made a life by what they can give to their children. Their married life was full of trials and difficulties but they remained strong and had a real realization that overcoming those obstacles will prove their potential, strength, willpower, and heart.
One of the big obstacles that hit their family is when Noli had a stroke. However, despite him being paralyzed he found ways to help Jocelyn sustain their family needs. He tried hard to go to their farm to help harvest corn crop. Anybody could shed a tear and feel pity for Noli’s condition yet he never let himself be a family burden. Years have past and still the family keep striving in their living cycle.
However, it was November 8, 2013 when a horrible, painful and unfair Typhoon hit the Philippines. It was Haiyan’s day that stole and devastated their chances, opportunity, property and their life. Jocelyn’s’ family was drastically affected by the super typhoon. During the typhoon Jocelyn wrapped Noli with plastic to protect him from the cold. She could do nothing but pray to stop Haiyan. Their house was totally destroyed and they had to carry Noli and flee to the evacuation center in their Barangay.
The typhoon left them with nothing but devastation. Jocelyn’s family tried hard to bring their life back to normality. Years had past when they heard that the Greg Secker Foundation were launching a Build a House Build a Home project in Lemery and that they were helping victims of Haiyan by building then a safe house to live. Jocelyn was very excited to hear so quickly applied. After several interviews her wish was granted, and her family were chosen as one of the beneficiaries. Jocelyn was so happy and thankful for the blessing and opportunity that came to her family.
According to Jocelyn everything happens for a reason. All the trials that happen are to test the limits of her soul. And for her without these small tests, her life would be like a smoothly paved, straight, flat road to nowhere. It would be safe and comfortable, but dull and utterly pointless.
Today Jocelyn’s family are now living happily in the Greg Secker Foundation Village and they are full of hope with the realization that they are now running through towards a brighter future.
by Portia En Shakespeare
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Queen of Barangay Capinahan, is our very own “April Rose”.
In celebration of Children’s Month in the Philippines, all the Barangay’s of Lemery took part in a parade of floats that went around the town. We are so proud of one very special little girl, April Rose Barcemo, who was the Queen of Barangay Capinahan. April Rose is the sister of Fatima and the daughter of Annabelle and Raffy. She looked so beautiful sitting on the float amongst all the colour.
The night before the parade, the mothers in the village all helped until 1am making sure that the GSF float really stood out. The flowers were picked from Annabelle’s garden, DR sponsored the lovely dress and yet again, this lovely community all rallied together.
Five years ago today, our families were all going through the most terrifying night of their lives as Typhoon Haiyan hit their community – rain, darkness, wind and noise, but today, thankfully, we see a very different day, sunshine, vibrant colours, laughter and above all happiness.
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Benbert Beniero kindly donates enough money to buy a bus for the GSF Village.
The generosity from Benbert Beniero now means that the children are able to get to school every day. Already in just a few months, the attendance levels have quadrupled. The parents told us that they can now go to work knowing that their children are able to get to and from school safely.
Thank you Benbert for helping give these children the opportunity to attend school and get the education that they so deserve.
In this video, Benbert visits the GSF Village and attends a ‘blessing of the bus’. Whilst there he was also a judge at the Super Lolo and Super Lola competition too!
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Portia En Shakespeare tells us in her very own words about life before Typhoon Haiyan ..
One of our beneficiaries, Portia En Shakespeare writes in her own words about life before Typhoon Haiyan and becoming one of the families who live in the GSF village.
In a shanty cottage there lived a young couple with three little children. They live a very simple life, yet they are happy and content. They have never owned a radio or a television, and they don’t have appliances. All they have are the piles of books that the mother has kept for years. In their leisure time the mother would read her little children stories. She read to them every night before they went to sleep.
The couple live according to their earnings that they work hard for. The father works as a hire hand in the corn and rice field and also sometimes in carpentry. The mother helps her husband too and also does all the household chores. She bakes a buko (coconut) pie in the early morning and sells it in the nearby school canteen to add to her husband’s income.
Despite their living conditions, the couple have a dream. The couple dream to one day give their children a decent house to live in and their children are the reason why they are striving hard to battle the poverty. The mother always thinks of ways to help her husband. She wants all the best for her family especially her little children. Every night when they are fast asleep she looks at them very carefully and thinks hard for some other ways to support them. Sometime she thinks of going to a far place to work and give her children a better house and better living. However, she has too much love for her husband and children, which forbids her to leave. Her desire to be with her family every day is stronger than her desire to leave and find work. All she wants is to see her children grow and teach them the right things that her father taught her when she was a child. Her family, especially her children are her priceless treasure that she will treasure for her whole life.
One day, whilst sitting on a chair something sparks in the mothers mind, she realised something within herself, the talent that she had hidden for years. Unknown to others, the mother has a talent in writing. She knows how to write; stories, poems, and even books, like the ones she kept in their house. She only did it just to entertain her small children. With that realisation she started to make a plan, she went to the nearby school where she used to sell her pies. She talked to some teachers who were close to her and told them her plan. After hearing her story, they promised to help her to start. With her friends help, she starts up her writing project, which will help lessen the financial burden of her family with her earnings. Her writing serves now as the bread and butter of the family. The couple can now buy new things in their home. Their children can now buy the food they want and new clothes to wear. The couple begin to save money to build a new house.
However, in the middle of her journey whilst saving money for a house project, life hits them very hard once again. On November 8th, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan hits their home and leaves a trail of total destruction with nothing left behind. During the typhoon the family ran to their neighbours house to shelter. From the distance, the couple saw how the typhoon cruelly ruined their shanty cottage that was once their home. A home where their dreams had started. Hurt and uncertain of the future now, the mother could do nothing but to cry and hug her little children to protect them from the wet and cold. She thought that her wet clothes were less cold than the future that her family were now facing. They don’t have a house to live in anymore. Typhoon Haiyan has stolen and ruined everything that they had. It ruined not just their home, but also their dreams and their future. The four portals of their shanty cottage now only served as a witness to their dream. It was scattered all over, along with the mother’s treasured books which were now destroyed by the rain. The books that she has taken good care of for years have now gone.
The couple and their children were left uncertain after the typhoon. The father almost lost hope. Their home had been devastated and the only thing that was left was their faith and their dream. The mother persuaded her husband not to worry because God will help. She said that it is just a portal of woods that has been destroyed by Haiyan. Haiyan is not enough to turn down their faith and determination. Haiyan cannot stop them to persevere.
The couple started to build a new cottage out of the materials that was left by the typhoon. It felt like they were starting all over again.
A few years have now passed. The town has now returned to its normal activities. New buildings have been built and classes have returned back to their normal schedules. The couple still live in the little cottage they built. One day, with hope the mother visited the nearby school again, and once again asked her friend who was a teacher if she can start writing again. Her prayers have been answered, as one of them needs her writing. The mother was very happy and she became even happier when she heard that The Greg Secker Foundation had visited their town and were looking for beneficiaries for their “Build a house Build a home” project. She tells the news to her husband and they decide to apply the very next day.
The couple attend some interviews with the Greg Secker Foundation Team and not long afterwards, they hear the amazing news in a letter that announces that they are chosen to be one of the beneficiaries in the Greg Secker Foundation Build a House Build a Home project. They will be entitled to own a new house. The couple rejoice tremendously from the good news. They thank God and the Greg Secker Foundation for the opportunity to have a brighter future. The couple works voluntarily on the building site, as they waited for the turnovers day to come.
Months have passed and their most awaited day has come. The family prepared their things to be move in their new home. It was the very day of the mother’s birthday, a day before the inauguration day when they move in. The mother could not believe everything that was happening as the GSF staff help carry their belongings inside their new home. She felt so loved that even the baby in her womb felt it too. She was really gifted by God, a gift of a home where she could raise her four little children and let them grow and turn into brilliant but humble people in the future.
The mother thanked God through his instrument to touch their heart and make their dreams come true.
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