Exemplary Filipino families honored in Jollibee’s 4th Family Values Awards
For many Filipinos, love for family extends beyond one’s kin to close friends and even one’s community.
Such is how Octavio and Jean Gonzales of Cubao, Quezon City, define the word “family,” for they have embraced other couples who like them have been blessed with a child who has autism. Aware of the challenges of raising one—their second son Magiting was diagnosed with condition in 1982—they have made it their advocacy to support other families with the same experiences.
Octavio, 70, and Jean, 67, upon realizing that there is a void in Filipinos’ knowledge and understanding of the complex developmental disablity, established the Philippine Association for Citizens with Developmental and Learning Disabilities Inc. in 1999. The non-governmental, non-profit organization exists to provide counseling and livelihood programs for parents of children with autism, as well as workshops for the kids themselves.
Remarkably, the Gonzaleses’ other three children have also taken an active participation in their parents’ cause. Son Dakila, the eldest, who is now based in Europe helps fund the family’s projects. Daughter Mayumi, who chose to become a teacher specializing in autism, acts as a consultant for regular schools with special children. And finally, youngest son Marangal helps provide training sessions for persons with special needs within the organization.
The outstanding Gonzales family is just one of eight other Filipino families whose inspiring way of life were duly honored at the Gabi ng Parangal Para sa Pamilyang Pilipino of the 4th Jollibee Family Values Awards (JFVA) at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City on September 25.
Here are their moving and selfless stories that will surely renew one’s faith in the goodness of the Filipino and the human race.
* * *
The Palacio family
After her husband passed away six years ago, Rachel Palacio, 48, was left to care for their six children—Michel Anne, 21; Chemil, 19; Marielle, 16; John Emil, 12; Rachel Ann, 10; and Micah, 7.
Though they live in the slums of Metro Manila, Palacio strives to bring food to the table so that her children, most of whom are scholars of various institutions, can concentrate on their studies. She works as a laundrywoman, earning P500 per week.
Despite their daily struggles, the Palacio family still find time to help other families in their community as active volunteers of the Families and Children for Empowerment and Development, a non-profit organization that promotes social and economic development in depressed areas in Manila.
* * *
The Manalaysay family
The Manalaysay family of Cavite, who also received a Special Citation for Children Award, is proof that the meaning of family is rooted in connection and commitment, and not blood relations.
Harnin “Tatz” Manalaysay, 47, is behind Club 8586, a Bible study group for young boys and girls, which offers literacy and values formation, organizes sports festivals, and talent enhancement activities. He believes that education is the key to dissuade less fortunate youths from joining gangs.
In 1992, Harnin met Cris “Kesz” Valdez, 15, a scavenger since the age of two. Kez was five years old when Harnin adopted him and raised him along with his children, as if the boy were his own.
At age seven, Kesz, inspired by his adoptive father, established his own foundation called Championing Community Children (CCC), which raises funds to teach kids basic hygiene habits and children’s rights.
So far, CCC helped 10,000 underprivileged children kids in Cavite, which earned Kesz the International Children’s Peace Award.
Harnin is also known to be the mentor of 2008 CNN Hero of the Year Efren Penaflorida, who in turn is behind advocacy groups Dynamic Teen Company and KaritonKlasrum.
* * *
The Serrano family
The Serrano family is a staunch advocate of children’s education. Pastor Nestor, 57, and his wife Maryann, a professor, founded the Champions Alive Foundation (CAF), whose aim is to provide free education to out-of-school youth and adults aged 15 to 66 years old.
As expected, the Serrano’s children are also involved in pursuing this good deed. Eldest daughter Pinky, 33, serves as the supervisor of CAF’s free daycare program; Nassam, 32, leads the Alternative Learning System program for those who want to attend class but are unable because of work; Daniel, 29, heads the family’s music and youth ministry; and David, 27, is in charge of free weekly taekwando classes for 30 to 50 students.
* * *
The Villa-Wilcox family
This family from San Jose, California is the Jollibee-Coca-Cola Global Pinoy Family of the Year, and recipient of the Special Citation for Education Award.
In 2008, Clif Wilcox, 65, and his Filipino wife Melissa, 50, founded Project Pearls (Peace, Education, Aspiration, Respect, Love, Smiles), which provides educational scholarship and feeding programs for underprivileged children in Manila, Bulacan, Zamboanga, Dagupan, Guimaras and Masbate.
They also help the children of Ulingan, a slum area in Tondo, who earn a living through charcoal making.
Melissa serves as the executive director of Project Pearls, while Cliff and daughter Francesca are in charge of organizing fundraising events and developing educational programs. Moreover, Melissa’s brother Juan acts as the team leader in the Philippines.
* * *
The Solidum family
Medical practitioners Gilmore and Judilyn Solidum, together with the rest of their family, are health advocates, who have zeroed in on raising dengue-prevention awareness.
The husband and wife are behind Dengue ReMove Program, a commissioned research of the Department of Science and Technology-National Research Council of the Philippines (DOST-NRCP), with Dr. Judilyn, 45, heading the eco-socioeconomic arm of the project and Dr. Gilmore, 45, serving as research specialist.
To raise awareness about dengue, the couple created the children’s storybooks Moskee ang Bampirang Lamok, Dinudugo si Dino, and Huwag MOKONG Kagatin: Kuwento ng Batang Na-dengue published by the DOST-NRCP. The family brings these books to life during storytelling sessions in different schools in Metro Manila, the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) and Manila Zoo.
Geoff, 15, the Solidums’ son, provided illustrations of the books, and also composed two songs about dengue titled Dengue Slayer Ako and Aedes Aegypti. The family also holds the annual Kwento Concierto, a benefit storytelling concert whose proceeds go to the dialysis fund of the pediatric kidney patients of the PGH.
* * *
New and special citations were also handed out during this year’s Family Values Awards, such as the Special Citation for the Environment to the Hagad family of Singapore who funded and lead the construction of a waterworks system in a community in Daliaon, Davao City; the Special Citation for Minority Groups to the Macalintal family of Victoria, Oriental Mindoro who established BalayLakay, a home center for Mangyan students who need to travel on bancas to get to school; and additionally, the Special Citation for Persons with Disability to the Gonzales family.
The top six JFVA winners each received a cash prize of P100,000, tax-free; a trophy designed by renowned brass sculptor Michael Cacnio; P10,000 worth of Jollibee gift certificates; and a Sony home theater.
Meanwhile, each special citations awardee received P25,000 cash, a plaque, and P3,000 worth of Jollibee gift certificates.
The esteemed board of judges for the 2014 JFVA comprised of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales and Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman as co-chairpersons); Jollibee Group Foundation president Grace Tan Caktiong; Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Director Carmelina Velasquez; Gawad Kalinga founder Tony Meloto; Center for Migrant Advocacy Philippines Executive Director Ellene Sana; parenting and relationship consultant Maribel Sison-Dionisio, Coca-Cola Export Corporation’s Director for Public Affairs and Communications Atty. Adel Tamano; ANC host Edric Mendoza; Jollibee Philippines vice president for Marketing Harvey Ong; and assistant vice president for Human Resources Ruth Angeles.