Victoria Junsay, hopeful amidst trials.

MONTEVISTA, Compostela Valley – Four months before Typhoon Pablo brought down her house and every property she had, Victoria “Bicay” Junsay’s husband deserted her and her six children for another married woman from their village. Before TS Pablo struck her town, she already lost her husband. Now, she only has her children and her dreams for them.

“Hagba tanan among balay, walay nabilin maski usa ka butang, napalid tanan. Nagpuyo mi karon daplin sa karsada, nag tent mi sa akong mga anak. Lisod ug pait dyud kaayo ang among kahimtang (Our house collapsed, nothing was left, everything was blown away. Now we are staying along the road in a tent. Our situation is so hard and depressing).”

Deprived but determined

Victoria, 42, is medium-built and finished second year high school. Her small face echoes a long-suffering existence but her aura exudes the strong will and the confidence of a responsible mother. Her sunburnt face lit up when finally her name was called to receive her Cash For Work after working for 10 days.

“Ipalit nako ni og nipa para atop sa among balay. Magpalit pud ko og bugas, tulo ka plato, tulo ka baso , tulo ka kutsara, duha ka luwag, ug panty or shorts sa mga bata (I will use this to buy nipa for the roofing of my house. I will also purchase rice, 3 plates, 3 drinking cups, 3 spoons, two ladles, panties and short pants for my children),” Victoria happily shared.

Victoria participated in the DSWD Cash For Work by cutting weeds and clearing their purok from debris.

Being a typhoon victim, she was also able to receive 10 kilos of rice for three times.

“Maayo nalang kay ginatabangan pud mi sa akong igsoon nga naa sa Nabunturan (We are lucky my sister in Nabunturan helps us).”

“Nagplano ko nga magpagabas og lubi para hinay-hinay ma-repair ang balay. Kulang pa ko og sin, amakan ug lansang. Mobalhin mi kon maayo na among balay (I will have coco lumber sawed to rebuild our house. Right now, I don’t have GI sheets, bamboo slats and nails. We will return to our house once it’s repaired).”

For the children

Victoria’s children are: Rene, 14; Renjie, 13; Renebel, 12; Rvjane, 8; Rencel, 4; and Reniel, 2. Rene, Renjie and Renebel are still in Grade 4 while Rvjane is in Grade 1. Three of her children are covered by the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program and the family gets a monthly subsidy of P1400.

Victoria feeds her family by doing the laundry of other people and making barbeque sticks which she delivers to nearby Nabunturan town. She does laundry three times a week and makes P150 per day. From her barbeque sticks, sometimes she earns as high as P500 per delivery.

Her bigger children also pitch in by fetching water for their neighbors. “Makadawat pud sila og suhol diha sa paghakot og tubig sa among mga silingan (They earn from fetching water for our neighbors).

She said her husband who earns P330 per day as a welder shares with them a measly P800 every month. “Kulang gyud ni kaayo, dili ni igo para mabuhi mi (This is very insufficient, we could not survive on this).”

Victoria said her children are fine. “Ok ra gihapon sila. Wala man nagsakit. Kaloy-an pud sa Ginoo (My children are good. They are free from ailment, with God’s mercy).”

She brings her children to the health center for regular check-up and weighing. She laments though her second child Renjie, is malnourished who she now feeds with vegetables. She also enlisted him with the barangay feeding program that serves lugaw and arrozcaldo to similarly-stricken children.

“Pahumanon nako akong mga anak, Mam oi. Nagtabang-tabang man pud ilang mga angkol sa ilaha. Magtanaw pud ko og unsay puede nga scholarship. Kana ra baya dyud atong ikabilin, ilaha ra dyud na. Makahuman ra na sila, Mam (I will let my children finish school, Ma’am. Their uncles are also helping them. I will also explore any available scholarship programs. That’s my only legacy with them and that’s theirs alone. They will graduate, Ma’am),” Victoria confidently pronounced.

Following the Cash For Work payout at Poblacion Montevista, Victoria took a habal-habal [public utility motorcycle] with three other passengers, and headed home to her six children in Barangay New Visayas.

A mother who is determined enough and who has overflowing love in her heart will always achieve her goal and will always triumph in the end. Nothing can stop her. DSWD