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.
by Portia En Shakespeare
The winners of the Super Lolo and Super Lola Competition are announced….
The GSF Village was the talk of the town last weekend, as the families celebrated the finals of the Super Lolo and Super Lola Competition. Neighbouring communities arrived to support and watch the finals and they had a fantastic time. Alya, our social worker told us that there was so much laughter and happiness as she looked around. The Village is now well known for holding events and people travel from afar to join in. Everyone who visits is well looked after and it is the responsibility of our Youth Leaders who act as ushers, to look after guests on the day.
Ma. Fe Sanger
The judges were retired educators and certified grandparents except for our Chief Judge, Mr. Benbert Benerio who had joined us on the day for another event being held in the village! (We will tell you about this exciting one tomorrow!) He said he enjoyed it so much and that this was his first time to grace an event like this. The program went smoothly with our invited guest from Barangay Council and prominent people from town. The day was hosted by our lovely, Alya Araez.
Juan Aposaga and Casilda Aposaga
The contest had three categories:
* Production number
* Talent Portion
* Question & Answer
Dorotia Toga from block 3
The big winners were:
Winner: Super Lolo 2018, Juan Aposaga from Block 6
Winner: Super Lola 2018 Nelia Morales from Block 11
First Runner Up: Super Lolo Noel Morales from Block 11 (husband of the Grand Winner Super Lola)
First Runner Up: Super Lola Ma. Fe. Sangher from Block 11
Second Runner Up: Super Lolo Jerry Martesano from Block 5
Second Runner Up: Super Lola Dorotia Toga from Block 3
The contestants were serenaded by our bookkeeper, John Kenneth Valencia and our very own DR June Sanico.
Ma. Lina Villano (Sabet)
These beautiful bouquets were made by the young adults in the village and they used flowers picked from the gardens.
At the end of the event the Winners received a cash prize, a trophy and a sash.
The events were made possible through the effort of the Homeowners Association Officers, Youth Officers and all the sponsors who share their resources one way and another. We thank you all for your support, time and generosity, and thank you to DR too, who sponsored the PA system!
The Search for “Super Lolo” and “Super Lola” has started, its competition time!
The GSF Homeowners Association are holding the Super Lolo (grandfather) and Super Lola (grandmother) competition in the village on Saturday 29th September at 2pm and we need your votes on who you think should win.
Please put a comment in the comment section on Facebook with your favourite number! We will then add them up on Friday and put it towards their votes in the village. Good luck to our Super Lolo’s and Super Lola’s.
“SUPER LOLO 1”
“SUPER LOLO 2”
“SUPER LOLO 3”
“SUPER LOLA 1”
“SUPER LOLA 2”
“SUPER LOLA 3”
“SUPER LOLA 4”
“SUPER LOLA 5”
“SUPER LOLA 6”
We will publish the results next Monday 1st October – stay tuned to find out who the winners are.
The “Eye & hEAR Foundation” visit the village.
Last Friday, our friends from “Eye & hEAR Foundation” (Cataract Foundation), joined us in the village and spent the day with our families offering them free eye and ear check ups.
The check up was requested by our older beneficiaries in celebration of Grandparents month, but the team requested that the children have their ears checked as many are prone to ear infections.
The consultation started at 8am in the morning, with Sir Richard Blando conducting the eye tests, whilst Ms Joelyn Latido did the ear check ups and hearing tests. The consultations were very helpful to the villagers – especially those suffering from eye cataracts. The children with ear infections were given medication immediately after the check ups and to help prevent infections in the future were also taught how to take good care of their eyes and ears with regular cleaning.
In total, 93 adults and children were seen by the team and the following results were found:
Multiple Disorder 1
No visual Impairment 78
Other Eye Diseases 5
Uncorrected Refractive Error 4
Reading Glasses 27
Reading glasses were offered to those that needed them for a reduced rate of P50.
Hermie Martesano one of our ladies in the village, who is partially blind had a specialist doctor consultation booked for October 3, 2018 in Iloilo City c/o Dr. Chan’s clinic, arranged by Eye & hEAR Foundation.
Thank you to the Eye and hEAR Foundation for your valuable time and support to the families in the village.
Thirty GSF Village beneficiaries attend a seminar on plant propagation.
As part of the beneficiaries sustainability and livelihood programme, thirty men and women from the village attended a two day seminar on plant propagation at the Nursery Establishment and Management Department of Agriculture Research Outreach Station, Sta Barbara, Iloilo.
The seminar included a lecture on nursery establishment and the factors in selecting a site and nursery management operation followed by a hands on exercise on plant propagation techniques.
This was a valuable lesson for them all and once back in the village they were soon putting their learnings to good use in the “FAITH Gardens – Food Always in the Home.” Later in the week we will update you on this wonderful garden.
Pupils from Capinahan Primary School attend a “Scout Camporee”.
A huge thank you to both DR June Sanico and Brgy Captain of Capinahan, Mr Ismael Bagonoc for sponsoring the children of The Capinahan Primary School so that they were able to attend a Scout Camporee last weekend.
24 lucky pupils made up of twinklers, kid scouts-kinder, star and lab scouts – lab scouts – 1st and 2nd graders all joined the “District Boy and Girl Scout Camporee” at Camp Cristito Lapating, Brgy Marapal, Lemery for a weekend of fun.
There were over a thousand scouts from all over the district of Lemery with the first day involving a foot parade around the grounds. All our scouts took an active part in the activities that were scheduled and absolutely loved their weekend out.
Thank you DR and Mr Ismael Bagonoc for making this possible for the children to experience activities outside of school and the village.
In just a year the number of Pupils at Capinahan Primary School climbs from 31 to 119 pupils!
It’s been over a month now, that our nutrition program was implemented at Capinahan Primary School with every child in kindergarten, first and second grade and now this week third and fourth grade receiving a free nutritious lunch from Monday to Friday.
Aside from loving their lunches, it has been noted that the children are now showing a positive attitude towards school. The 2nd grade teacher, Ms. Shello Garcia, confirmed that absenteeism has been minimised with the children hardly ever skipping school and puts it down to the fact that they are not only well fed but are able to get to school on the free shuttle service. Earlier this week we mentioned the awards that the children have received and how many of these awards went to GSF children!
The feeding program has also given the parents a sense of camaraderie as they work closely together every day preparing the meals and volunteering to stay and help serve it too.
We are also thrilled to announce that this week (3 Sept) Grade 3 and 4 have now joined the school bringing the numbers up to 119 pupils.
The children are all taught in a multigrade system – very similar to many schools in the UK. In the classrooms we now have kindergarten and 1st graders together in one room with a teacher:
2nd graders have their own classroom:
and … 3rd and 4th graders share a classroom with one teacher:
The District Education Supervisor from the Department of Education has promised that additional teachers will be starting in October which will be so important in ensuring that our children receive the best possible education.
In just a year, the expansion of this small community school has been incredible, with numbers increasing from 31 children to 119 children. There is still a lot more work to be done at the school, and if you are reading this, and can help in anyway, please do contact us. These children are the future and they need our help in ensuring they have the best possible education.
Our GSF Children receive awards for: “Perfect Attendance, Most Courteous and Top Achievers”
Capinahan Primary School held their first quarterly awards and the children that attend school from the GSF Village stand out as the best achievers in academic learning, general behaviour and attendance.
We are so proud of not only our children but everyone who has helped make this possible. The children are transported daily to school in the bus and without this free shuttle service, many children could not attend. Once at school they receive a nutritious meal every day, kindly cooked by our mothers and we all know that a well fed child is a well fed mind. Because of these two factors, the children are motivated to attend school daily and their achievement levels increase.
We also have to thank Central Philippines University who come to the village every week to hold a class for the children. During the holidays it was during the week and now during term time back to Saturdays. Because of their commitment, our children have the edge academically compared to other children. CPU have developed their confidence and academically they are thriving – the children are notably more active during discussions, story telling and games.
The future is looking bright for our GSF Children – Education is the foundation upon which they will build their future.
The young adults in the village elect their own set of officers.
With the community growing stronger and stronger in the GSF Village we felt it was important for the young adults (13 – 25 year olds) to have their own set of officers who would not only represent the Greg Secker Foundation Village in the village, but outside of it too. This core group of young men and women will be role models for the younger children in the village and will be the avenue for them to express their passions, dreams and plans for the future.
Their names are: Left to Right, President: Ranie Olayon, Vice President: Jena Bedoy, Secretary: Leslie Artis, Assistant: Vea Olayon, Treasurer: Sarah Cordero, Assistant Treasurer: Athea Lozare (not present in the above picture), Muse: Mary Grace Martesano, Escort: Levi Maglimas.
Being leaders in their age group will help this newly elected set of officers to develop their skills in leadership, join other youth groups and to represent the GSF in future youth forums or related events.
In the evening, 44 young adults attended a social to get to know their new leaders and take part in some activities to bring them together. A Zumba dance soon made them relax and before long they were all laughing and dancing together!
These young adults are the heart and the future of the village and investing time and listening to what they have to say will not only make their future brighter but their families and the community too.
A lot of laughter can be heard in the village … from the fathers!
A few nights ago, it was a fun filled night for 46 fathers in the village as they took part in a ‘fathers activity’. Not only was there a lot of laughter but they also said that they learnt a lot sharing their ideas, thoughts and reflections.
Alya, our social worker, told us that she did not expect the huge number of fathers that did turn up to the activity, to turn up, since most of them had had a hard day at work already, from working in the rice and corn fields, working on construction sites in the scorching sun and driving motorbike taxis around the community.
The activity was just a simple game, they had to make sure that the ball did not get into the hole, but if it did, for one of their team members to make sure they caught it. The objective of the game was to unite them as a group, to cooperate in one task and to let them control the situation (ball). The activity was a great way for the fathers to de-stress after their busy day of work.
During our reflections some fathers told Alya that this was the first time that they had experienced this kind of activity. They do not socialise except sometimes they may have a cold beer after work with neighbours.
They learnt that the game was very applicable to their daily lives, most of them as the head of the family, work hard to sustain the needs and daily expenses, as one father said ” Problems in the family can be solved easily if each member gives their fair share and helps”.
The fathers enjoyed their evening so much and said it felt like they had gone back to their childhood days. They temporarily forgot their hard days work, with everyone smiling, laughing and eager to win!
At the end of the activity, they even requested to extend a few minutes for them to dance.
Life maybe tough for these gentlemen but with hard work, dedication and dreams for their families, day by day they are surviving. Life must go on, and there’s always something to be thankful for. They have a wonderful home in the village with a great community around them and friendships have been made for life.