As the deep orange sky slowly rises in the east and roosters crow in sync, Ofelia Campugan hurriedly prepares their breakfast as the family starts another day.
Her husband, Clodualdo Campugan, turns on the radio and instantly their favorite Visayan song “Samtang ako may Kinabuhi pa” (While I am still alive) played in the airwaves.
“Tumanon ‘ta gayud ang atong mga saad (We must fulfill our promises together),” Ofelia starts singing the chorus while frying some eggs in the kitchen.
“Kasakit ug kalipay yayongan ‘tang duha (In sorrow and in happiness we will carry it together),” Clodualdo sings along with Ofelia as he puts the plates in the dining table.
Ofelia confesses that aside from the nice melody ofthe song, it vividly reflects their journey as husband and wife.
“Nindot ang mensahe sa kanta ug tinuod gayud nga kung kamo mag-tiayon tumanon ang mga saad ug magtinabangay (The message of the song is good and it is true that if you are a couple, you need to fulfill each other’s promises and help each other),” says Ofelia.
Kimberly, the eldest of the brood of six, enters in the dining area and asks her mother “Nganu man Ma kasagaran sa mga bisaya nga kanta kay pirme man masulub-on?(Ma, why is it almost all Visayan songs are always melancholic).”
Ofelia answers “Kay kining mga kanta nagpakita kung unsa ang kaagi sa nagsulat sa kanta basin na-heartbroken siya o gihimuan niyang kanta ang iyang hinigugma (These speaks of the composer’s experiences like heartbrokenness or he purely writes the song for his girlfriend).”
“Usahay magadamgo ako, Nga ikaw ug ako nagkahigugmaay (SometimesI dream, that you and Ifell in love),” Jesper, the only thorn among the roses, sings loudly as he sips his coffee.
“Jesper, tawaga na imung mga manghod kay magdungan nata og pamahaw (Jesper, kindly call your younger siblings so that we can eat our breakfast together),” Clodualdo tells Jesper.
Ofelia, a native of Cordova, Cebu, got married to Clodualdo Campugan who hails from Carcar City in the southern part of Cebu. She actually married late in life at 31. She had apprehensions about marriage in the past, since her siblings happened to marry drunkards.
Later on, however, she felt something was lacking in her life. She prayed the holy rosary straight for nine (9) days every 3:00 in the morning and asked God for a perfect husband.
I prayed at 3 am because most of the people are still asleep and few are praying, Ofelia jokingly says in dialect but indeed God granted her prayers when Clodualdo came into her life.
The couple is blessed with six (6) beautiful children, namely: Kimberly, Clavel, Jesper, Pamela, Clofel Mae and Haneleth.
Kimberly, 23 years old, is a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Information Technology at Cordova Public College and was a scholar of the Ramona Sitoy Scholarship Foundation. She is currently working as a Production Planning-In-Charge at the Mactan Export Processing Zone Authority (MEPZA) in Lapu-Lapu City where she earns a monthly gross income of ten thousand pesos (Php 10,000.00).
Clavel, 21 years old, is an Iskolar ng Bayan and will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of the Philippines (UP) Cebu.
Jesper, 20 years old, was a grantee of the Commission on Higher Education’s (CHED) Expanded Students Grants-in-Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation (ESGP-PA) who graduated in March 2018 at the Cebu Normal University (CNU) with a degree in Tourism.
Pamela, 19 years old, a CHED scholar and currently a 4th year student of Cordova Public College taking up Bachelor of Elementary Education.
Clofel Mae, 17 years old, and Haneleth, 15 years old, are grade 12 and grade 10 students, respectively, of Cordova National High School. Both are monitored children under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
While everyone exchanges banters in the dining table, Ofelia looks at her childrens and realizes time flies so fast. She remembers the times she brought all of them to talent contests in their town.
“Dili gyud ko maulaw kay kining talent gihatag man sa Ginoo ug angayan gyud nga ipaambit sa uban (I would not be ashamed of our talents because this are God given and this should be shared with others),” she responded.
It was Ofelia’s can-do attitude and willingness that made their family famous for talent contests in their town.
Her children have been joining contests such as quiz bowls, declamations, song and dance, beauty pageants, poetry, writing and sports competitions. Medals, ribbons, certificates, sashes and trophies hang in the wall of fame in their house like badges of honor.
Aside from showing exceptional talents and skills, their children are also academic achievers which qualified them for scholarship grants.
They are all consistent honor students since in their elementary years. They are also active in extracurricular activities as exemplified in their membership in school organizations.
After they finished their breakfast, Pamela, Clofel Mae and Haneleth proceeded to school; Kimberly went to her work and Jesper take his chance to apply for his first job.
Kimberly and her siblings bid goodbye as each of them take their parents right hand and presses on their forehead as a sign of respect.
Alleviating Poverty Through Education
Raising the six children without a stable source of income is really tough for the Campugan couple especially that the children have age gaps of 1 to 2 years. However, Clodualdoand Ofelia rose above their circumstances and set aside all excuses to send their children to school.
“We do not use our being poor as an excuse not to send our children to school. We work hard and make sacrifices. We put ourselves into our work, day and night, for our children to be in school and get educated. Our principle is to send all our children to school,” says Ofelia in dialect.
She added that they wanted their children to finish their studies because it is the only gift that they can give to them. The couple believes that education is the key to improve their children’s future and keep them from experiencing the hardships that they went through.
“Swerte pud me sa among mga anak kay naningkamot pud sila sa ilang pageskwela(We are blessed to have children who are diligent with their studies),” expresses Clodualdo.
They are also grateful for the scholarships received and for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, which helped them realize their goals in life.
“Dako gayud among pasalamat sa Pantawid kay nakatabang kini sa pagpaeskwela sa among mga anak (We thank the government for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program because it helps in sending our children to school),” Clodualdo says in dialect.
Madiskarte Factor of the Family
The family’s resourcefulness helps them meet their needs because Clodualdo’s income as carpenter is not enough for the family.
“Ma, muadto saku sa akong gitrabahuan nga balay (Ma, I will report now to work),” Clodualdo endearingly says to Ofelia as he went to the house he is currently working on.
“Amping Pa (Take care, Pa),” replies Ofelia.
“When we started together, he used to earn Php 150.00 a day from his carpentry projects. I would have to stretch the amount for three meals and the children’s allowance in school. Good thing, my children also understood our situation and always helped us,” Ofelia said.
Having her own home-made sweet recipes, Ofelia prepares home-cooked food and sells it in their neighborhood. This enables her to augment Clodualdo’s income. Out of their hard work, the Campugans able to purchase their own refrigerator and sell ice and ice candy.
Currently, Ofeliaand her children are making flower vases out of recycled plastic bottles. Clodualdo collects plastic bottles at work and also buy plastic bottles from neighbors if the demand is high.
“Naa ra gayud ang kwarta depende ra gayud sa imong diskarte basta ang importante sa tinarong nga paagi (Money is just there; it depends on how you find ways to earn itbut the most important one, it is made through hard work and honesty),” Ofelia says as she starts making flower vases together with Clavel.
Ofelia’s family learned the craft when they were asked by a neighbor to help in the production of flower vase from plastic bottles. A flower vase is sold at Php 75.00 each.
Clavel said doing productive things during vacant times is better than watching TV or tinkering mobile phones.
Most often, Ofelia shares their income to her children and put the money to their savings account.
Financial Management Style
As a wife and a mother, Ofelia believes that the amount of money earned does not matter at all. What is important is how much her family saved.
It is interesting to note that the family establishes a healthy relationship with money. They make sure that their hard-earned money is spent well. They know what their needs are over their wants.
Clavel said that they seldom buy new clothes. Instead, they prefer to go to the “ukay-ukay”. They consume less pork and chicken. Rather they eat fish and much vegetables and fruits.
Each family member has own savings account and own passbook in their local cooperative. Clodualdo and Ofelia give their children money to be deposited in their passbooks and they always set aside some of their allowances in order to save.
In fact, Clofel Mae and Hanelethspare some amount of money from their education grant.
“Gi-instill sa among mga ginikanan nga dili mag-sige utang ug magtigom gayud aron sa panahon kung adunay emergency makakuha mi didto (Our parents instilled on us to be debt-free and to save money for emergency),” underscores Clavel.
Being a Pantawid Partner-Beneficiary
The Campugan Family belongs to the Set 6 of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in Cordova.
When asked if being a beneficiary of the program makes them indolent and dependent, Clodualdo said “Dili gayud makatapulan ang programa(The program does not make us lazy).
“Mas maningkamot pa gani og trabaho para matubag gayod ang panginahanglanon sa pamilya. Ang Pantawid alang gayud sa pagpaeskwela sa mga bata ug sa ilang panglawas. Dako gyud akong pasalamat niini ug sa mga nakat-unan namo sa pag-attend sa Family Development Session (FDS) (We need to strive so that we can provide for the needs of the family. The Pantawid program is for our children’s education and health. I am really thankful for this program for the learnings we get from FDS),” Clodualdo adds as he starts to varnish the kitchen cabinet for the new house where he works.
Clodualdo, who only finished elementary, works as carpenter and sometimes drive a “trisikad” to augment his income.
He started to hone his carpentry skills when he was still single.He always dreamt of being called Engr. Clodualdo Campugan as he saw himself building homes and standing tall amid skyscrapers which he thought he would someday build.
But his dreams remained where he left his childhood as his parents asked him to quit school to begin tilling the soil at an early age.
“My parents would tell me that nobody gets rich out of staying in school. They said real wealth was found under the soil,” the 54-year-old Clodualdo recalled.
“My 13-year-old self-looked closely at the soil that breaks as the tractor passed by it, but I couldn’t see the money that my parents were talking about. I did not understand until a few months later when we harvested the crops. Yes, there was a little money we got but I could not stand the long wait,” he added.
“I started dreaming of becoming an engineer. But there was no chance of realizing that dream since schooling was very expensive and I also had to help my parents,” he said.
“When I got married, I vowed that if we will have our own children, I will make sure that each of them will finish their degrees and have a better future than I had,” he added.
Clodualdoeven recalled that in one of their break times, he advised his fellow co-worker about the proper use of the Pantawid grant.
“Ako siya gi-ingnan nga ang madawat nga kwarta sa Pantawid kay para gyud na sa mga bata ug dili kay gamitun sa mga bisyo (I told him that the cash grant of Pantawid is for the children and not for vices),” Clodualdo imparts.
Clodualdo also conveys that aside from the grants, Pantawid Pamilya also helped them become indigent members of PhilHealth,which they can avail during emergency situations.
When asked about the continuity of the program, he believes that it should be continued because it helps a lot of poor families like them.
He further says that they are now stepping at a ground above poverty. However, he expresses concerns for those who still succumbed to abject poverty. He opines that they also need to be helped.
Participation in the Community Development
Apparently, the family’s world is not confined within the corners of their abode but also extends to their community.
Clodualdo is a member of the “Empowerment and Reaffirmation of Paternal Abilities” (ERPAT) in their barangay. ERPAT advocates the role of fathers which is beyond putting food on the table but should also be a good role model to his children and community.
Ofelia, on the other hand, serves as a Heritage and Tourism Officer of Brgy. Poblacion. She is also an active member of the Cordova Women’s Association, Ugnayan ng Barangay at Simbahan (UBAS) and the Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council (BADAC).
She also maintains a strong stance against drug addiction, human trafficking and gender equality. She holds the position of a Purok Officer and volunteers herself as an assistant bookkeeper in their Kalahi-CIDSS sub-project implementation.
Ever since the town was in the limelight as a cyber porn capital, Ofelia maintains that trading one’s self is against her moral beliefs.
“Dili tungod kabus, ibaligya nalang imung kaugalingon (Not because you are poor, you can just easily trade yourself),” Ofelia lamentsabout her town’s notoriety for cybersex and online pornography.
“Diri sa among barangay kay abtik man ang tanan ug kay kung adunay report nga ingun ani, mahibaw-an gyud dayun kung kinsa to (In our barangay, everyone is active and if there is a report like this, we can easily identify them),” adds Ofelia.
She also said that the Local Government Unit is serious in curbing the crime and takes a proactive role in eliminating the crime and the negative impression of their town.
Their purok recently joined a slogan making contest in their barangay about anti-cyber porn and crime prevention and the Campugan family actively participated by providing catchy phrases for the slogan. Their purok won in that contest.
Ofelia and Clodualdo’s spirit of volunteerism is also mirrored by their children. The Campugan children also help in community building. They are active in the Singles for Christ (SFC) and Parish Youth Coordinating Council (PYCC). They also serve in the San Roque Parish Church and believe that distractions of the present times and their negative effects can best be countered by actively participating in meaningful community activities.
Clavel, for instance, holds the post of President of PYCC where she spearheads the conduct of feeding programs, team building activities, HIV Awareness Campaign, anti-drug addiction activities and against teenage pregnancies. Every month of May, she also teaches catechism to children in their neighborhood.
Jesper, on the other hand, won in the recent elections as Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Councilor. It gives him a platform to be the voice of the young people in his community. He plans to champion sports, education and information drive regarding the issues affecting the youth today. He also wants to organize livelihood trainings for out-of-school youth (OSY).
The Campugan family also extends help to their neighbors not necessarily financial but encouraging words to distressed and depressed individuals and by simply lending a listening ear.
“Helping is not all about money; it is about selflessly giving your time and listening them share their problems,” Ofelia says in dialect.
Gardening, Waste Management, Sanitation and Proper Nutrition
Ofelia,who is currently battling stage 3 breast cancer, put their health as top priority. Having hereditary cancer, she makes sure that a healthy lifestyle should be practiced by the family.
She quips“Lawas ang puhonan sa inadlaw adlaw nga panginabuhi (The body is our capital for daily survival),” as she starts to prepare their dinner assisted by Clavel.
The family has a small garden. Since their soil is not good for vegetation, they collect soil and put organic fertilizers such as animal manure and biodegradable wastes like vegetable and fruit peelings. They use containers out of recycled materials to grow vegetables such as malunggay, alugbati, camote tops, spring onion, eggplants, tomatoes and pepper. They also cultivate herbal and medicinal plants.
Ofelia knows some nutritious recipes. In fact, her family’s favorite dish is “Utan Bisaya” or native vegetables soup.
“Dali ra kini buhaton nga recipe kay isagol raman ang mga utan ug usahay butangan pud og isda (This recipe is easy to do because all vegetables are just put in a pot with water; bring it to a boil and season with salt and add fish),” says Ofelia while stirring in the string beans, okra, malunggay and tomato inside the pot.
To ensure clean environment, the family together with purok members practice waste segregation. The family has three containers intended for Bio-degradable, Non-Biodegradable and Recyclable Materials. Bio-degradable wastes are used to fertilize their garden. Non-biodegradable are collected by the barangay waste officers while the recyclable materials are used to create recycled items which the family sells in their neighbor. The barangay has strict implementation of waste segregation.
Clodualdo just returned from work and started sweeping the floor.
“Dili man ika-ulaw aning maglimyo sa balay kay ang matag miyembro sa pamilya kinahanglan man magtinabangay (There is nothing to be ashamed of in cleaning your house because every member of the family should help each other),” he firmly said.
Pamela, Clofel Mae and Haneleth arrived from school and immediately asked their parents right hand for “pagmamano”.
Just in time for dinner, Jesper and Kimberly arrived.
Right after dinner, Pamela and Clofel Mae clean their dining table while Haneleth and Jesper wash the dishes.
“Amo rang gitugyan ang tanan sa Ginoo (We lift everything to God),” Ofelia in her statement when asked how they handle all their problems that they encounter.
“Dili mailhan nga aduna koy cancer kay daghan man ko buhaton aron mabusy ko (It is not evident that I have cancer because I do many things to make me busy),” she said with a sense of strength and courage.
Her fight against cancer for ten years now may not be far from over but little battles won gives hope that it can be overcome by remaining steadfast and resilient.
No matter how dreadful it would seem to have cancer, she stands unfazed when she uttered that “Kung ang inahan maoy kahayag sa panimalay ug ang kahayag mapalong, unsay mahitabo sa panimalay? Unsay mahitabo sa pamilya? Busa ako sa akong kahimtang, nagpabilin akong lig-on ug positibo alang sa akong pamilya (If the mother is the light of the home and when the light loses its spark, what will happen to the home? What will happen to the family? That is why, despite my condition I remain strong and positive for the sake of my family).”
As Ofelia starts to prepare for bedtime, she asked her family to pray in front of their altar. She leads the prayer of the holy rosary while reflecting on each mystery.
“Ang tanang pag-antos ug kaagi kay gihalad namo sa Ginoo ug kini nakapalig-on pa sa among pagtuo(All our sacrifices and experiences we offer it to God and this strengthen our faith),” Ofelia saysafter her concluding prayer. She further says that their family is grateful every single day and hopes that tomorrow will be another bright day.
The commencement exercise for Clavel has come and everybody was excited, most especially her proud parents. Ofelia enters Clavel’s room and helps her dress up for her red letter day.
“Ma, kining kalampusan nako kay para ni sa inyu ni Papa kay kung wala kamo dili nako kini makab-ot(Ma, I offer this achievement to you and Papa because if it weren’t for you and Papa I will not be able to achieve this),” Clavel expresses to Ofelia as she faces the mirror while wearing her ecru-colored dressand the ‘sablay’ hanging from the right shoulder.
“Ikaw ug kamong tanang mag-igsuon ang among hiyas, hinumdumi pirme nga pinangga ta mo ug proud kay ko inyu (You and your other siblings are our treasure, always remember that we love you and we are all proud of you),” she replies as she tightly hugs her daughter.
Today, marks another milestone for their family.