It was her first time to set foot in Manila. It was one of her unforgettable moments. Getting into a trip from Roxas City to Iloilo by bus, taking a van from Iloilo City to the Airport, and boarding a plane from there to the country’s capital. These happened to her like a dream.
She then found herself at Sequoia Hotel, Timog Avenue, Quezon City attending the National Children’s Congress hosted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Along with nearly 50 children who were the top three winners of the DSWD Search for Exemplary Pantawid Pamilya children in their respective regions, G. Bhe Lasala of Roxas City, Capiz was all the time active and participative.
The 12-year-old child left no indication that she felt the trauma of someone who was left homeless when typhoon Yolanda, internationally name Haiyan, lashed in Western Visayas and left her family in a problematic situation.
It was only when she spoke when the crowd knew of what happened. But there was no pain in her voice. Instead, hers was a strength that sent a lesson to the crowd.
“Tulad namin, kahit nawasak ng bagyo ang aming bahay, hindi kami nawalan ng pag-asa. Ang importante, nagmamahalan kami at kompleto kami at masaya. Dahil kami ang bumubuo ng tahanan at hindi ang bahay ang bumubuo niyan (Although the typhoon destroyed our house, we never lost hope. It is still the love, it is still our being complete and it is our happiness that matters. Because we are the ones who form our home, not our house forming our home),” she said.
G. Bhe’s family, headed by Wilfredo and Bernardita, gradually fought the difficulties of being homeless. They made use of whatever housing materials were available out of the rubbles and are currently staying in the makeshift house.
Wilfredo is a vendor while Bernardita dabbles at almost any work that comes her way from selling fish, ready-to-eat food and doing laundry job for friends and neighbors.
Inspite of poverty, G. Bhe shone as a brilliant child. She is a consistent honor student since kindergarten. Aside from graduating as a salutatorian in the elementary level, she also got awards as “Junion Einstein” and won in competitions ranging from academic related activities to dancing.
With her benefiting from Pantawid Pamilya, the government’s conditional cash transfer program that provides for her education and health needs, she dreams to be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) someday.
“Malaki po ang naitulong sa amin ng programa, natutustusan po nito ang ibang pangangalian ko na hindi naibibgay ng aking pamilya (The program has helped me a lot. It has provided my needs, which my family cannot give),” she said.
CHANGE CAN HAPPEN
G Bhe’s optimism is radiated by the way she looks at life and the future that awaits her. She has long dismissed poverty as a hindrance to her success.
“Ang kahirapan ay hindi hadlang upang magtagumpay sa buhay, dahil ang tagupay ay nakasalalay sa pagiging matiyaga, masipag, at aktibo sa pag-aaral. Sa tulong ng aking pamilya, komunidad, eskwelahan, at simbahan, masasabi kong kaya ko ang pag-babago (Poverty is not a hindrance for us to succeed because it depends on hard work that you put in your studies. With the help of my family, community, school and church, change can happen),” she said.
G. Bhe was standing as she narrated how the typhoon has devastated their house. But she stood with strength and her voice was steady.
The typhoon might have damaged their house but it did not destroy her dreams./dswd6/May Rago-Castillo