Giving voice to the voiceless: Stories of courage and resilience in 2018

Bonz Magsambol
Giving voice to the voiceless: Stories of courage and resilience in 2018
Let's look back at some of the stories that renewed hope and inspired Filipinos in 2018

MANILA, Philippines – In 2018, we saw how disinformation online spread like wildfire. We witnessed how digital platforms are being used to undermine and weaken our democracy.

Trolls have dominated the online landscape and affected public discourse. But despite the hateful comments and messages, we’ve also seen hope in people whose stories inspire courage and resilience online.

These stories have enabled our communities to see beyond the tough situations and hatred, with hope and optimism moving them to take action.

This year, in 2018, MovePH went around the Philippines to help tell the inspiring stories of the voiceless.

Hardworking lolo, lola in Los Baños

The story of Rene, 82, and Aida Mojado, 76, is proof that a strong relationship can make challenges bearable. (READ: WATCH: Meet hardworking lolo, lola in Los Baños)

Despite their age, they traverse a busy road in the University of the Philippines in Los Baños to earn a living.

Aida said she accompanies Rene on his trips because she feels bad whenever he drives alone.

Not surprisingly, their story has touched the UPLB community as an example of a relationship that shows “may forever” (forever exists).

According to Aida, they’ve only earned an average of P700 a day since the start of the year. They used to earn as much as P1,000 a day last year, when fuel prices were lower.

But with the rising prices of crude oil in the global market and the Philippines’ tax reform law, consumers like Rene and Aida have been adversely affected.

‘Sponge boy’

The story of Melvin Chua, 22, is one about triumph over poverty. The young boy whom his relatives almost gave away to adoptive parents worked hard to become the family breadwinner. (READ: ‘Sponge boy’: 13 years of selling dish cleaners pays off)

Chua fondly recalled how his customers bought his sponges so he could stop for a few hours and join a birthday celebration.

“Talaga pong pinakanta nila ako, pinakain po nila ako, and then pag-uwi ko po sa bahay ay may dala dala na akong mga handa (I sang and I ate with them. They even packed food for my family),” Chua told Rappler.

Melvin did not abandon his studies despite the toll of being the breadwinner. He adjusted to the school schedule. He sold his dish sponges in the afternoon when his classes were in the morning and vice versa.

Man turns home into public library

The story of Hernando Guanlao, the 66-year-old man who turned his home into a public library has inspired many netizens.

Mang Nanie never thought that his collection of 50 books would grow to two million. People with good hearts, according to him, would knock on his door bringing boxes of books every time his shelves ran out of books.

Unlike the usual ones, Mang Nanie’s library has no rules. It is open 24/7 and people can take home whatever book they want. He doesn’t follow card cataloguing and database updating because for him, these would be an additional job.

Mang Nanie believes that many people still don’t have access to books because of their prices. He says many poor people consider education, much less reading books, a luxury.

“When you know how to read, the more places you’ll go,” he said.

Here’s how you can help him continue his mission of empowering people through books.

Ed Sarao of the Sarao jeepney business

Philippine roads are not complete without the jeepney.

For Ed Sarao, the heir to the Sarao Motors business – one of the pioneers of the jeepney manufacturing industry – jeepneys serve as the “blood of the city.”

According to Ed, the jeepney has served as a melting pot of sorts for the community, where neighbors sit beside each other and strangers make the effort to help pass passenger fare from one end to another.

He is now ready for the challenge of modernizing one of the main modes of transportation in the Philippines. (LOOK: New jeepneys under PUV modernization program)

Ed, however, is appealing to the government and the people to be easy on the industry. (READ: Is the PUV modernization program ‘anti-poor?’)

“I think that 3-year plan nila about phasing out or upgrading, parang kulang eh. They should extend it to probably 5 or 10 years…. Dapat tingnan din nila siguro somewhere in the middle magkakaroon ‘yan ng agreement na maganda,” he said.

(I think their 3-year plan for phasing out or upgrading is too short. They should extend it to probably 5 or 10 years….They should look at a compromise to come up with a good agreement.)

Cebu Skateboarding

In the Philippines, skateboarding has not received as much attention as other sports. (READ: WATCH: How Cebu’s skateboarders are fighting for their own space)

In Cebu City, however, the local skateboarding community has racked up around 3,000 members. Despite the growing number, Angelo Talago, 33, said they continue to struggle with getting both government support and public acceptance.

In the evenings, Talago and his friends would go around the city on their skateboards. He would often be accompanied by 23-year-old college student Anthony Dorot, who started skateboarding when he was still in high school.

The feeling of freedom brought by skateboarding is often fleeting, as authorities would chase them and drive them away. Talago laments the absence of a public skate park where they can practice for free. This is why they’ve been forced to use the streets.

Fortunately, things appear to be slowly changing for the better, after Cebuana skateboarder Margielyn Didal bagged a gold medal in the 2018 Asian Games.



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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.