I love our household help, do you love yours?

(photos taken by me for Habitat for Humanity Philippines)
I used to work for Habitat for Humanity Philippines, and I knew how it was like for the beneficiaries to live an impoverished life and have compassionate people give you a hand up, since I was in charge of interviewing them for success stories.

This past weekend, Typhoon Bebeng hit our country, moreso in the Visayas region. I was gone all day, spending time with friends, so it wasn’t till nighttime that I found out the bad news. Our household help, Josie, casually told me that her grandfather died during the storm. The wind blew him over and knocked him out. He hit his head on something hard and died. Then, she proceeded to share that her family’s house in Samar was ravaged by the typhoon. Their roof was blown away and the whole family, including her sister-in-law, who just gave birth recently, had to endure the torrential rain and gusting wind with only a tarpaulin on one section of the house for shelter from the elements.

A few months ago, Josie and Dina (our other help, who is Josie’s big sister) had their siblings and parents stay with us. Her mother had to undergo an operation in PGH. I was in the middle of shooting a video and holding pictorials for our celebrity ambassadors then, and needed extra hands, so I took Dina and her dad, Democrito, with me. They got to meet Igan and Kuya Kim. The smiles on their faces were priceless. In fact, I learned later on that the photo with Kuya Kim helped mend a rift between Democrito and his brother. So safe to say, even if I don’t know Josie and Dina’s parents well, they’re close to my heart. Dina has a little boy named Andre who is being brought up very well. He opens the gate for me with a firm salute, even if he’s just three. He runs to the front door so that he gets there before I do and opens it for me like a gentleman. Demboy (Josie and Dina’s brother) also lives with us and cuddles Clyde and Max when they’re afraid of the storm. He bought my cousin Niskee’s dog, Jenny, a pink Hello Kitty for Christmas and left a note that said “Merry Christmas Jinny. Love, Tito Demboy”. Needless to say, these people have grown to be a part of my family.

Dina’s son, Andre

I’m currently on vacation, so I don’t have much funds, but I couldn’t stand knowing that Dina and Josie, who have given up Christmas, their birthdays, and basically their entire lives, to be at our beck and call, could not give aid to their families. Josie told me she’d have to save up several months to help her family put up a new roof. When I asked her how much it would cost, she said P2,000. I was surprised that it would take her a few months to save an amount that you or I would normally spend on clothes, bags, perfume, shoes or a beach trip. So I asked some people if I could borrow money and was able to come up with the cash. The relief on their faces was priceless. Dina, who is somewhere out in the ocean with her husband Rey (who also works for us), her son Andre and Rey’s sister Michelle (who used to work for us) said that she was so restless yesterday. On top of being stranded in the middle of nowhere on the way to Leyte, she was worried about her family.

I felt sooooo happy to be able to help them. The moment I heard about their plight, I started having flashbacks of the people I interviewed before, when I was with Habitat. How the people in Bicol, Kalinga, Manila, Pangasinan and other typhoon-stricken areas were so frightened and helpless. With just a couple of thousand bucks, what I would normally spend on a weekend having fun, I was able to help a family significantly. This is the part I miss most about Habitat. I miss being able to actively help families who are victims of disaster. By reaching out to Josie and Dina, I felt that I was able to do something good for a change. I think Habitat has active programs in Disaster Response now. I encourage you to check out their website: http://www.habitat.org.ph or visit their Facebook site and find out how you can help people in our country. A country that seems to be a favorite “stop-over” for typhoons. Believe me, it’s a wonderful, wonderful feeling to be able to help. And while you’re at it, ask your house help regarding their family’s situation in the province. Maybe there’s something you can do for them, too.


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