B A R O G
(a Cebuano term which means ‘to stand’)
My name is Reneboy Asong Dela Torre. I am 30 years old. I am now an Enlisted Personnel of the Philippine Army, 2ID Infantry Division, Camp Mateo Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal.
I arrived in Calabrian Children’s Foundation in May 2005. I stayed there for seven and a half years.
To say that my life before entering CCF was difficult is an understatement. We were homeless and without food to eat most of the time. Being in that situation, going to school stopped to become a priority. At some point, I started selling cigarettes in Cogon Market in Cagayan de Oro with my mother. We also resorted to asking food from random people out of desperation. I was an innocent kid and to go through such difficulties at an early age, I couldn’t help but ask God the big question, “Why?!”. I would find myself crying constantly because of what my life has turned out to be at that time.
All those experiences had finally taken their toll on me when I acquired a serious illness and was on the brink of death. It was at this point in time that CCF literally saved my life. Fr. Luciano Gervasoni, then CCF director, came to my aid. I was hospitalized and gradually was able to recover. The kindness extended to me by CCF is the only reason that I am still alive.
For me, living inside CCF felt like winning the lottery. I was just one of the luckiest that I found CCF, or maybe it is the other way around: CCF found me. They helped me in all aspects of my life. Everything was free – shelter, food, education, and above all, their commitment to teach us about God and faith.
The rules that were upheld in CCF were not a problem for us, because they were important so that we, the CCF children, will be molded to become better persons.
Everything that I have and am now is all because of the support I have received from CCF. I will never forget the things I learned from the religious brothers, staffs, and house parents and the pieces of advice I received from Sister Yoly, Father Matulin, Bro Von, Kuya Samuel, and Ate Joan Del. Ginapataas nila ang among moral gikan sa wala nay paglaom tungod sa kawad-on o kalisod sa kinabuhi. (They have boosted our morale from being hopeless because of poverty and difficulty in life.)
CCF had become an instrument of God to wake us up to dream for a better life and in turn, be able to give back and help others who are in need as well.
Truth be told, the only reason that I am able to survive in the profession I chose and was able to achieve my dreams is because of all the good things I learned while living in CCF.
Gitudluan mi nga maging mamaayong mga anak sa Dios, para time will come wala na kami sa CCF, kaya na namong mobarog sa amung kaugalingong tiil. (We were taught to become good children of God, so that time will come, when we leave CCF, we will be able to stand on our own.)
Message to CCF resident children:
Be a dreamer. Be different. Be positive. Be ambitious. Be independent. Believe in yourself and above all, believe in Him and love Him.
(a Cebuano term which means to be lively, inspired, and motivated)
I am Shela Dela Torre. I am 25 years old. I graduated Bachelor of Elementary Education major in General Education.
I arrived in Calabrian Children’s Foundation in the year 2005. I stayed there for 8 years.
Life before was difficult. Our family moved from place to place and since it was hard to find food to eat, we had to scavenge empty plastic bottles or anything that we could sell to survive in a day. Ultimately, when my mother can no longer provide for our needs, she decided to let my other siblings live with our relatives in the different parts of the country. That was the start where our family got separated.
We got no choice. My mother worked as a housemaid for a Muslim family and I was with her helping her so as my other siblings. We had to stay strong and work more because we had no relatives to seek help from and we knew no one from the city.
However, I believe that
In our darkest moments, God sends the most wonderful people. When our family was on the brink of giving up, God sent to us Calabrian Children’s Foundation.
The love, care, and nurturance the foundation showed made me comfortable to live there. I have learned so many things while inside the foundation. I learned how to pray, to do house chores, to make friends, to diligently study, and also, to take God’s word into actions.
The foundation helped me a lot to become who I am now. It had impacted my whole being to reach for my dreams. I remember those times when we had to perform dances, sing songs, and do role plays during feasts and celebrations. The foundation helped us to build our self-esteem and confidence to show our hidden talents. That helped me a lot because I used to be shy and uncomfortable in front of many people. The foundation made me do more of what I got.
The experiences inside the foundation continuously inspire me to be better so I could also help other children like me. It inspired me to volunteer in the Philippine Red Cross during college and now that I finally graduated, I can say that I am ready to help and serve other children who are in need.
My message to CCF Kids:
To the children in the foundation, continue to reach your dreams. You may, at some point in your lives, get to a situation where you couldn’t do it anymore, just always remember that there is nothing you can do unless you pray your worries to Him.
I know life is hard, but do not lose hope. If you feel like you’re lost and have no one to turn to, just look up. He will always be there. Just pray and trust His timing.
T U N O B
(A Cebuano term which means to set one’s foot; make step; step)
I am Rashel De La Torre. I am 30 years old. I am a graduate of Bachelor in Elementary Education. Currently, I am working as a full-time teacher at Calabrian Formation School, in Taytay, Rizal.
As I remember, I arrived in CCF in the year 2005. I stayed there for 7 years.
The difficulties that my family experienced started when my father passed away. Our clan of siblings became separated because at home, we did not have enough food to eat. My other siblings lived with my uncles and aunties whose houses were located in different places.
Time arrived when my mother wanted to look for my other siblings. We searched and searched until we reached Cagayan de Oro City. When we arrived in that city, we knew nobody else. We were homeless. Left with no choice, we slept on the streets. In order for us to survive, we collected plastic and other goods we scavenged from the streets.
Despite the difficulty that we were going through, my mother was still persistent that we, her children, should be in school like other ordinary children. According to her, education is a treasure that can never be stolen by anyone else. It was our only way out of poverty.
To realize my mother’s dream of sending us to school, we reached out to one center. However, that time, that center could not support our schooling. Since my mother was firm in her desire to give us education, the center finally referred us to Calabrian Children’s Foundation – the children’s center which was for me, an answered prayer.
I am so blessed to know the Calabrian Family because it made me a complete and a whole person. It was here where I experienced having a family to lean on whatever will happen. It is in CCF where a person will be formed into a good person, good citizen, and a good Christian.
When I was in the foundation, we were provided with a timetable that we followed. This training was really helpful for me. It trained me to manage my time better like getting to do my daily chores. Now that I am already working and living alone, I can see more clearly the benefits of such training that I received.
In the foundation, I felt that I was loved, healed, and freed. Such experiences made me strong and capable to carry out decision-makings on my own. The way that the foundation nurtured me, made me who I am right now. They helped me to become courageous in any endeavors of life.
Since I am well-trained in the foundation, I now bravely face any circumstances that come to my life. It may, at times, be difficult, but I believe, I can surpass it all. CCF prepared me for the real battles of life which is why I am and will always be grateful to my CCF family for the role they portrayed in my life.
My message to CCF kids:
Open your heart and mind to follow the rules inside the foundation. Life is hard so don’t be contented of what you have right now. Think for tomorrow and for your future. I have been in your situation so I am encouraging you not to stop dreaming. Have faith in God and pray always.
With all the problems that came into my life, it took only one ONE STEP in order for me to surpass it all. For sure, you can do the same.
(a Cebuano term for license, a permission to act, a consent for an activity to take place, a freedom of action)
In Jeremiah 29:11, God says, “For I know the plans, I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
I am Arcelie Brigole, RSW. I am 25 years old. I graduated from Lourdes College with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Social Work. I am now a Registered Social Worker and currently working at City Social Welfare and Development (CSWD) in Cagayan de Oro City.
I arrived in Calabrian Children’s Foundation (CCF) in 2008. I stayed there for 4 years.I was born out of wedlock. Since I was conceived out of sexual molestation, there were those that were not really happy to accept me. However, my mother stood firm with her decision to give birth to me. She fought for me and loved me unconditionally.
I have 6 half siblings, and I, as the seventh, am the youngest. My mother became a solo parent with 7 her children. She nurtured and raised us well despite the inadequacies in our family. Though my mother experienced maltreatment, abuse, and other bitter experiences from her previous husbands including my biological father, she did not think of giving up nor abandoning us. She is a mother who is willing to risk her life just to protect and provide for her children.
To sustain our needs, my mother used to sell “kakanin,” and did laundry for our neighbors. I and my half sisters and brothers learned to do some works like “magdaro sa uma” and “magbasok sa silingan.” We also experienced cutting firewood to sell it to earn extra income. Our priority was to at least buy rice.
I remember how my mother used to give us milk that was made of pure sugar. We experienced to have a viand like salt, sugar, “sanaw sa ginamos,” “ulo sa bulad,” or anything that could add some flavor to the rice and fill our empty stomachs. One day, I tried to ask my mother something about my father. I wished to hear a story about my father or at least see his picture. She refused to share and scolded me. She told me not to talk about my father anymore.
That time, I could feel how much hatred my mother bore against my father. Even my other siblings also shared the same grudge. For that reason, I strove to never bring up again the topic about my father in their presence. In the long run, I began to understand those things. My mother was active in our small chapel in our community. She was elected as the president while I became a catechist. I taught children during Flores de Mayo in our community. The experience helped me a lot to be God-fearing just like the way my mother taught and disciplined me.
One day, when our parish priest visited our chapel, my mother sought his advice about what to do with my cousin who was addicted to vices that time. Fr. Nonong suggested that the best thing to do was to refer my cousin to a Calabrian priest for rehabilitation.
At that time, my mother was also worried that she could not send me to school after elementary due to inaccessibility to any secondary school. She tried again to coordinate to Fr. Nonong, hoping that he could help me. Fortunately, my mother was referred to the superior of Calabrian Children’s Foundation, Fr. Luciano and the social worker, Ate Yolly. They were able to assist me and visit our place. In the end, I was accepted to their institution.
Even if it was a hard for me to adjust and be separated from my mother for the very first time, I was still willing to take those offered opportunities because I dreamt of finishing my studies, get a better job, and give my mother a better future.
It took time for me to adjust in the community of Calabrian Children’s Foundation – Girls Community. However, the foundation gradually molded me to become a better person. They gave me shelter, food, medical health care, and love. They gave spiritual activities to strengthen my faith in God. They taught me values formation and proper hygiene. They provided recreational activities to enhance my skills. Above of all, they sent me to school with all their efforts and support.
Obeying the rules and regulations while in the center was not hard for me to follow because I had a goal and purpose in life. The foundation even helped me process my past experiences and I was able to embrace and accept all the pain, hatred, and bitterness in life through counseling. The administration in CCF, including the priests, brothers, and staffs were a great providence. They were indeed an instrument for me to pursue my dreams in life. I was lucky to have them who helped me to become the person that I am today.
Indeed, I am so grateful to St. John Calabria for founding this charitable institution run by the Calabrian missionaries who heartily offer opportunities especially for underprivileged children by sending them to school.
In the year 2012, I continued my stay with the Calabrian Sisters’ community at Brgy. Carmen, CDO. I stayed with the Sisters for 7 years until I finished my college degree, passed the board exam, and finally landed a job. Sr. Luciane de Cesaro and the rest of the community accepted and treated me as their own daughter. They helped me to fulfill my dreams in life. They supported me in my chosen degree program. They trusted me and paid my tuition fee on time, bought my books, uniforms, and everything else I needed.
When I was in the convent, the sisters really showed their love. They were the ones who cooked for my meal and always had available food in the kitchen anytime. I felt that I was on my own home and family. Sr. Luciane always ensured that I ate properly before I went to school.
I remember and could not forget how Sr. Luciane was worried when one time, it was already 10 PM, and I did not yet arrive at home due to our research defense presentation. She suddenly arrived in Lourdes College and I was so shocked that she already talked to our dean on why they let the students come home late in the evening. That time, I felt the motherly care and love from my second mother, Sr. Luciane.During my board exam, the sisters and the rest of the Calabrian missionaries were my prayer warriors.
I could not imagine that I surpassed those difficulties in life. I could never be more grateful to God for giving me the Calabrian family, a great instrument of His Providence.
I learned that everything that happened to me happened in purpose. Instead of locking myself up in the cage of fears, revenge, heartaches, embarrassment, and failures, I treated them as teachers. They became my tool in both self-improvement and success.Time flew so fast and now, I am already a Registered Social Worker, a public servant who help vulnerable individual, families, and communities to uplift their living condition here in Cagayan de Oro City.
My message to the CCF children:
Dreaming isn’t always the easiest task to accomplish, especially if they may seem to be unreachable. However, if one is motivated and willing to work for it, they can be achieved. So don’t waste the opportunity that is already on your way. Have a goal and seek your purpose in life. Follow your dreams and do hard work. Know that your hard work is a license that paves the way to success. With hard work and perseverance, dreams do come true and expectation becomes a reality.
In addition, be patient! Be humble! Keep moving forward and know that all the hardwork you’re putting in, day in and day out will produce the results you’ve been looking for.
Do not give up and HAVE FAITH IN GOD. God won’t give you anything that you can’t handle.
Think of this: NAKAYA MAN GANI NI ATE ARCY, AKO PA KAHA?
(n) a Cebuano term which means ‘will’
I am Anna Mae S. Burdas, 22 years old. I arrived in CCF on April 17, 2007. 6 years I stayed in the foundation. I was 9 years old at that time.
My stay in the foundation was a saving grace for me. Prior to my admission to the foundation, my biological father wanted us, his 8 children, to stop studying. Looking at it now, I’ve understood why my father decided to do so. Considering the number of children that they had to sustain, that time was really hard for the family. The only source of income that my father knew was selling automotive parts, while my mother was a plain housewife. For all these reasons, sacrificing our studies meant being able to provide food on the table.
However, my mother and elder sister wanted us to pursue our studies despite all odds. At some point, we experienced collecting bottles and scrap materials in the streets in the evening to sell them next day just so we can have our baon or snacks in school.
One day, one of the PSDP brothers at that time saw my sister and her bestfriend scavenging at one corner of the street. This brother gave them a calling card, and for all we know, it was that moment that would change the rest of our days.
Life inside the foundation was such a blessing. In God’s providential ways, the foundation molded me to become the person I am today. The best thing they taught at my early age was being independent. And for that I thank them so much, especially for their patience for us all. They sacrificed a lot for us. I can still remember how the house-parents and our social workers cared for us when we were sick. At some point, they had to sacrifice their sleep just to look after us. They taught and reminded us to be a good person. Also, I can still recall the sorrow in the face of our administrator, thinking how to sustain our living. But God is great, He didn’t abandon us. He is truly a Provider.
During my stay there, I was fed not only with food but also with spiritual values. We had different activities that nourished both our body and soul. We had summer camps, at the end of each school year. It was one of the most awaited time yearly because, you know, it was a time for relaxation and a break from academic hassles. We shared sorrow, laughter, success, failure, and love. Among everything, sending us to school was the best gift that CCF ever gave to us.
As I look back to my timeline before, I couldn’t imagine how time flew so fast and put me where I am in the present. Who would have thought that I could finish my studies and pursue Master’s degree? God is amazing. Everything falls perfectly in His time. My heart gives thanks to St. John Calabria for founding a charitable institution run by Calabrian missionaries. They are truly instruments of making my goals in life more than just a dream. Indeed, if there is a will, God has a way.
My message to the CCF Kids
Just do well in your studies. Find time to play and relax your mind from any kind of distraction. Prayer is the highest ingredient towards success. Never forget to thank the people whom you are living with today. In school, whenever you accomplished something, treat yourself, even in simple ways. On the other hand, when things don’t turn out the way you want them to, try again. Awaken the courage within you.
Always remember this, “Muabot man gani ang problema na wala gi pangayu, ang blessings pa kaha nga gi-ampo. Dasig lang!”