MANILA, Philippines – The ties we share with our families may be the most powerful bond we will have in our lifetime. Going above and beyond one’s call of duty is a way to strengthen that bond – it defines our life’s purpose and inspires the next generation as well.
Last October 11, Jollibee recognized Filipinos who espouse this belief at the 7th Jollibee Family Values Awards – an annual celebration of families who are dedicated to serving others and creating a positive impact in their communities. The event was held at the Crowne Plaza in Ortigas.
This year’s selection committee was co-chaired by Senator Sonny Angara and Ateneo de Manila President Fr. Jett Villarin. Other members of the panel included Coca-Cola Vice President for Public Affairs and Communications Atty. Adel Tamada, ANC news anchor Edric Mendoza, inspirational speaker Francis Kong, parenting and relationship consultant Maribel Dionisio, actress Dimples Romana, and columnist and children’s advocate Audrey Tan-Zubiri.
The committee reviewed almost 100 nominations before narrowing down the roster to 9 families who each received a P300,000 cash prize, a brass trophy by sculptor Michael Cacnio, and P10,000 worth of Jollibee gift certificates.
Jollibee Philippines’ President JJ Alano opened the evening with words of gratitude to the families present: “These families are bound by a common desire to do something for our country and make the lives of their fellow men a little better each day. They are all heroes who truly deserve the greatest honor.”
The families awarded that night were:
The Dickson family, a family of doctors from Abra, recognized for their dental and medical missions they initiated in their province.
The Felix family from Pasay holds eye exams and provided free eye glasses to military personnel through their program 20/20 Vision.
The Matti family from Taguig City established an organization called Green Earth Heritage Foundation for the welfare of farmers in Cavite. Their projects include offering scholarships to the children of their farmers, as well as sustainable organic farming practices. One of their scholars was recently accepted to Harvard.
The Macalintal family from Oriental Mindoro were recognized for their efforts to house Mangyan students who lived far away from their schools, by building dormitories through the Balay-Lakoy Project.
Also recognized were the Mallari family of Rizal for Silid Aralan, Inc., an NGO that set up learning hubs dedicated to maximizing the potential of young learners in marginalized areas such as Payatas.
Genuine service from thousands of miles away
The Castro family came all the way from California to receive their award.
Even though they’re currently based thousands of miles away, they’ve made a tremendous impact in many lives in their province of Paniqui, Tarlac. Through their organization the Children’s Health Education Fund Foundation (CHEF), The family regularly sends books and other educational materials for children.
In the States, they live a simple life. Juvenal and Erlin Castro both moved from Tarlac to the United States to pursue their individual careers – Juvenal is a member of the US Navy and Erlin is a dietician.
Juvenal shared that he was very much in love with Erlin when he first met her. But Erlin left for the US to pursue her studies in Nutrition without any idea of how he felt about her. Both were happily married had children and grandchildren of their own.
In 2007, their spouses passed away. After almost 49 years, they finally reconnected and were married in 2010.
But their story goes beyond their serendipitous love. Juvenal has always been passionate about giving back to his home province. Since 2002, he has been donating books and other school supplies to different communities in Paniqui. As husband and wife, and now with the help of their son Jay, they continue the advocacy of giving the youth a chance at education.
“It’s God’s will. When I asked for this project, I said, “Lord, please give me 500 books’ but after connecting with different schools, suddenly here comes more than what I asked for. I even said, ‘Lord please don’t let them call me, I have no more space in my house,’” Juvenal says.
Every corner in their house, even their back yard, is filled with stacks of books and boxes of school supplies that they donate to the Philippines. “Can you imagine in a place where they [people from communities in Tarlac] never had books, now they’re happy because they can read books for free,” Juvenal says.
Their son Jay proudly says that the books that he and his family sends are well-maintained, some even brand new.
Jay adds that finances will always be one of the most challenging parts of their advocacy. But as long as they continue to have the resources, they will continue to ship and collect books.
“From 2014 to the present, we’ve sent 265 boxes, plus the 6 by 4 container vans which weigh about 40,000 pounds each,” Erlin shares.
Now, being recognized for the 7th JFVA only motivates them to do more and hopefully gather more resources to continue their advocacy.
Jollibee also gave out special citations for specific advocacies. The Special Citation for Education (co-presented with National Book Store) was given to the Caballero family of Negros Oriental for Gaba-An Youth Lead Foundation. The Borela family from General Santos City was given the Special Citation for Children (co-presented by Children’s Hour and AISEC) for their feeding program for underprivileged children. Finally, the Acuela family of Taguig City received the Special Citation for PWDs for Future Vision Sighted, Inc., which provides care of the visually-impaired members of the community.
Apart from being a finalist, the Matti family was also awarded the Special Citation for Environment (co-presented by Maynilad).
The recipients of the Special Citations were given P50,000 in cash, a plaque, and P3,000 worth of Jollibee gift certificates. – Rappler.com
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