Four years have passed since we met her during the Zamboanga siege. Through their hard work and their peanut brittle business, Reaiah was able to graduate from college and passed the Social Worker Board Exam last August 2017.

At the heart of Brgy. Talon-Talon, Zamboanga City is a national high school. Just 10 minutes away from the Talon-Talon National High School is a community with an environment that brings a fresh provincial ambiance. Some of the houses in the community are permanent ones while others were made up of light flimsy materials.

One of those is the house of Reaiah’s family.

Life was good for Reaiah, her parents and her sibling. Her sibling is in high school. Reaiah’s mother, Nanay Melicel, is a housewife helping her father, Tatay Renolito, with their peanut brittle business. And Reaiah is getting ready for college. Though they do not have everything, their love as a family brings them peace and unity.

Zamboanga Siege

Reaiah and her parents showed their peanut brittle products to Operation Blessing. Photographed by Fred Deserva

Then her father suffered from a stroke and their business was affected. For several months, Nanay Melicel needs to take care of her husband while also tending to their peanut brittle business to sustain their daily needs.

Simultaneous Problems

Another problem came. At the nearest National High School, the MNLF rebels came up and the Zamboanga crisis began. For a month, their business was stopped so their finances were greatly affected. To survive, they depended on the aids that came from the disaster relief efforts.

Since their childhood, Reaiah’s parents have always impressed to them the importance of education. And because of their situation then, she knew there will be adjustments with their life, especially with her education, but still had high hopes.

Zamboanga Siege

Reaiah, with her parents, pose in front of their sari-sari store. Photographed by Fred Deserva

Through the partnership of Operation Blessing and their church during the disaster response to the Zamboanga siege affected families, Reaiah was considered as one of the Back-to-School scholars. The Perez family knew nothing about the scholarship yet when OB was still assessing the needs of the families.

“That time, I was disappointed with my husband because our last money was given to the church as a tithe. The P500 (around $10) that we had then was intended for the down payment of Reaiah’s tuition fee,” Reaiah’s mother told Operation Blessing Philippines.

“We did not know then what we will do with Reaiah’s education. We have not yet recovered from the bankruptcy of our business,” she continued, “then we heard the news from our church pastor.”

“I really did not expect that I will be chosen as the Back-to-School scholar of Operation Blessing,” said teary-eyed Reaiah.

Through the Peanuts

Operation Blessing helped the family of Reaiah to start their peanut brittle business again. Reaiah did not just sulk in the corner of their room because of the problems that came, instead, little by little, after the siege and her father recovering, Reaiah strived and worked hard to excel in her studies.

This August, all her hardships paid off after she received the news that she passed the Social Worker Board Exam. She can now help sustain their needs and to reach her goals in life. Also through the peanuts, they were able to start a sari-sari store.

Zamboanga Siege

Their peanut brittle business is their only source of income since the start until now, which is a big help to the schooling of Reaiah and her brother, and which also played a big role in their everyday needs. Photographed by Fred Deserva

Thank you very much for #InspiringChange with us! This is all because of your help that Reaiah and her family is getting closer to achieving a better life. Be part of Operation Blessing’s other programs. Visit or