Golden hearts-A A +A
By Luci Lizares
Saturday, May 31, 2014
CRISTIANA Lizares-Du Pribus is graduating from high school in the States and as part of the curriculum, they needed to present their charity and outreach projects.
Cristiana’s Mom, Lizette, wanted her to experience hands-on and visual experiences apart from mere monetary donations and charity balls so she decided that it was best that they fly to the Philippines and experience what real charity work is all about
Cramming eight days with three cities— Cebu, Bacolod and Manila— Lizette and Cristiana, with cousins in each city, set their hectic schedule.
Lizette is the daughter of Carmela Lizares of Talisay and Benjamin Du of Cebu. An only child, Lizette has been reared by her parents to recognize that the true value of life is to love and to have a golden heart.
Life is above all about love, respect for the dignity of others, God, family and community. Although born and bred in the United States, she is a total Filipina in spirit exhibiting virtues and values inculcated by both parents early in life.
Her Mom is the youngest sister of my Dad, and I have seen Lizette grow from infancy, to a young lady and now a wife to Cris Pribus and mother of two, Cristiana and Jessica.
In Cebu was a feeding program in a destitute area prepared by the Du family. Cristiana saw kids in the sorry state they were in. These are scenes you see in Time magazines or National Geographic. Seeing the reality of life can be quite a culture shock if perceived up close and personal.
Upon arriving in Bacolod, more accurately in the Silay airport, there was a quick visit to the maternal ancestral home of the great mother of Lizette and Cristiana and a stopover in the Lizares cemetery in hometown Talisay. That was a bit of ancestral history for Cristiana. Then it was off to the GK site.
When we got there, the community was assembled. There was a short program where Lizette and Cristiana were introduced and the members of the GK homeowners as well. The children performed numbers. Both visitors were overwhelmed. They did not expect this warm and welcoming reception. All they wanted was to give some gifts to the more than 500 students now enrolled in the GK community.
A little over three years ago, Tito Ben and Tita Cami came and were interested in the GK program. They wanted to help the poorest of the poor in the vision of Tony Meloto’s Gawad Kalinga program. Their desire to help resulted initially in the donation of 20 homes. These homes have been turned over to the beneficiaries over two years ago.
Three of the beneficiaries gave their testimonies of their plight and how the gift of these homes has not only elevated the status of their lives but even the feeling of security of shelter.
One, a widow with children, was in tears as she expressed her gratitude. Lizette’s Ilonggo is closed to zero but she understood every word in the woman’s short soliloquy. As the mother was speaking, Lizette was in tears, too. I was interpreting to Cristiana what she was saying but I could see in her eyes that she knew what the donee was saying. You do not need to be articulate in a different language to comprehend what is said from the heart.
The other two were beyond words as well. They were grateful for the golden hearts of this family who have given them a roof over their heads that don't leak when the rains come and a new lease to life. Repeatedly, they mentioned their gratitude for the golden hearts of this family.
After the short program, we walked into the area of the homes donated by the Lizares-Du family. They were welcomed into the homes. One eagerly showed that a part of her home is converted to a “tiangge” and beyond that prepared “arroz valenciana” for them.
There was a ceremonial cutting of the ribbon of the Arch in the entrance of the homes done by Lizette and Cristiana assisted by Joe Gatuslao and Amelito Lizares. This added to the welcome surprise of the guests.
While a simple merienda was prepared for the community of pancit and bread by the guests, the true Filipino spirit surfaced.
There was a table prepared by the homeowners with their personally prepared homemade goodies from saging na sab-a, puto, cuchinta, bibingka, a refreshing coconut drink and many more. It was like a fiesta laid out which Lizette and Cristiana were touched to the core!
They were overwhelmed with joy and felt like this was really too much! But we explained that this is an intrinsic character of the Filipino. Their gratitude overflows when they have been blessed especially when good people share from their golden hearts.
How can you not be grateful when you are given a house? And this was their golden opportunity as well to thank the very people who have given them this gift of shelter.
Lizette and Cristiana were euphoric. Indeed this was a great day!
Cristiana, in her message to her Lolo Ben and Lola Cami encapsulated it in one word: AWESOME!
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on May 31, 2014.