Sunday, December 13, 2015

For a Father, Age Does Not Matter

"At last! We’re here. We survived!" These were the words I uttered with relief when we finally reached one of the most remote communities I’ve ever visited, Barangay Sulu-an. Being an island barangay 39.3kms away from mainland Guiuan in Eastern Samar, to reach Sulu-an is an adventure. It took our team almost four hours of travel on a medium-sized pump boat towards the open Pacific Ocean, to reach the island barangay. Amidst the big and daunting waves, we found the will and courage at the thought that when we reach our destination we would be welcomed by the hospitable people of Sulu-an.

On arrival, I immediately interviewed some of our local community partners who took part in the Cash for Work activities under the Livelihood Component funded by Asian Development Bank's Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction. One person I had a chance to talk with is Tatay Melchor Badanoy, Sr.

Tatay Melchor is 58 years old. Despite his age, he is proud to say that he is still capable of working, and even lead his colleagues as they completed their Cash for Work activity. He shared, "Bisan na ako lagas, nahimo ko la gihap makipag-sabayan ngan akon pa gin tutdu-an hin sakto nga pama-agi an akon mga ig kasi cash for worker han pag limpyo ha amon barangay. Age doesn’t matter". (Even if I am old, I was still able to do what younger people could do, and I even taught my fellow cash for workers the proper way to clean our barangay. Age does not matter.)

After receiving his pay for 30 days of work, he used the money on three things, "Una, akon gin palitan hin mga gamit pan-eskwela an akon anak ngan apo sugad han mga sapatos ngan iba pa nga gamit pan-eskwela. Ikaduha, akon napa-ayad an amon pump-boat nga naguba han lumabay nga kalamidad. Ngan usa pa, kahuman mismo namon paka-karawat han akon sweldo, ako ngan han akon misis pumakadto merkado han Guiuan para mangumpra hin mga igbaraligya ha amon barangay". (First, I bought school supplies for my children and grandchildren like shoes and other school needs. Second, I had my pump boat, which was destroyed by Yolanda, repaired. Moreover, after I received my salary, me and my wife went to the market in Guiuan to buy items which we intend to sell in our barangay.) Excited to share what he has bought, he even stood up and rushed into his home to get the receipts for the goods they bought. Seeing all the receipts, it surprised me that he, indeed, was able to purchase a lot.

Furthermore, he shared that with a little bit of hard work and determination, he and his wife will be able to sustain his mini-assorted store and newly repaired pump-boat to provide for his family. "Diri ko gud sasayangan an iyo bulig ha akon ngan ha mga Sulu-anon". I will not waste the help you gave me and the Sulu-anons.)

Barangay Sulu-an, though isolated from mainland Guiuan, with meager resources, is abundant with inspiring stories of even more inspiring people like Tatay Melchor. And although travelling to the island is a challenge, to say the least, it is a place worth coming back, every time.

Jiggs Venick Garcia
Monitoring and Evaluation Officer
Plan International, Inc.
(Implementing Partner of ADB-JFPR Grant 9175 Project, Sub-component A.2)



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