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By Susan Palmes-Dennis

Straight from Carolinas

Saturday, January 25, 2014

HER love for her father's birthplace motivated Gloria Cagadas Grifenhagen to head to Bohol province and join the reconstruction effort there.

Gloria is leaving a week from now for Bohol province, a place she's never been to before. She's a Filipino teacher who came to North Carolina 30 years ago to start a family with husband William “Bill” Grifenhagen, also a teacher.

Bill worked with the Peace Corps when he met his future wife in Manila. She never set foot in her native country again until three years ago. There is something in the Tarsier Island that she wants to see.


Her heart aches for the island that she also sees in her dreams. When a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit Bohol province last year and leveled age-old churches, properties and killed and displaced several people, Gloria thought her dreams of visiting Bohol lay wasted.

But seeing the devastation only fired up Gloria, who was enjoying retirement in North Mecklenburg and made her more determined to visit Bohol province to lend a helping hand.

A little Thursday throwback; Gloria learned that her father Tesiano Sale Cagadas, now 97 years old, was born in either Panglao or Tagbilaran City in Bohol province.

She grew up in Manila and had no chance to visit Bohol. Gloria's father was orphaned at an early age and was left to care for his brother and sister.

He left Bohol to join the military and fight the Japanese during World War II. He was in the Death March to Bataan. While he and other war prisoners headed there, he collapsed from fatigue in Bulacan. Luckily the Japanese didn't shoot him, thinking he was dead.

Gloria's father joined the Philippine Air Force after he married her mother. They raised Gloria and her 11 siblings. “We are all fortunate to be in good health and enjoying God's blessings in this country,” she told me.

“My uncle on my mother's side found him on the side of the road. He picked him up and brought him home. They helped him recover from his illness,” Gloria told this writer.

More giving

Gloria's father retired after three decades of service in the Air Force at 55 years of age. He then moved to North Carolina and spent the rest of his productive years working for an insurance company.

Now decades later, Gloria's desire to help the earthquake victims in Bohol was propped by her children who helped her create a website to raise funds. She managed to raise US $250 worth of materials for each house.

“The amount may still change because the website will be there for a few more days and more people are giving,” Gloria told Straight from the Carolinas.

Gloria intends to work closely with the Bohol development council for the rebuilding operations in the quake-hit areas. “Anyone who wants to help can donate,” she said.

Gloria's rebuilding project took root after a dinner at her house with a Peace Corps group. Then the checks started to come in and her children thought of using social media to raise more funds.


Donors from as far as Israel gave. Gloria's daughter had a classmate now living in Cambodia who plans to go to Bohol to join in the construction of new houses.

Her daughter's message read thus: ”A friend of mine named Brian...I met him when I studied for my MBA at Bar Ilan when I first moved here...he's living right now in Cambodia and saw my Facebook post.”

“He's very interested in hearing about any volunteer opportunities to help rebuild Bohol and maybe meeting you in Bohol when you're there. Do you have anyone he can be in touch with about.”

For anyone in Cagayan de Oro reading this piece, Gloria has this request: “If you happen to know of anyone who knows my uncle in Cagayan de Oro, Ruben Cagadas, he might be able to direct me to some relatives in Bohol. He grew up in Bohol.”

I thought writing this article would be the best way to contact Ruben Cagadas. Anyone who knows of him can contact me at this corner or at my email

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 25, 2014.


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