Written By Tini Castillo, Volunteer Writer, Operation Blessing Philippines


Top row, from left to right Alvin (21 yrs. old), Christian (15 yrs. old), Danica (19 yrs. old); Second row, from left to right Joshua (13 yrs. old), Nanay Lolita (53 yrs. old), Darius (8 yrs. old)

Joshua Cantoba, is the tenth child of Danilo and Lolita from Brgy Lual, Casiguran Aurora. For someone as young as thirteen, he has a heart that speaks volumes about his maturity. While ordinary fifth graders may be seen playing with other kids their age, Joshua spends his spare time by the seashore picking shells and parek (shellfish) which he sells for about 60 pesos ($1.3) on good days and a mere 30 pesos ($0.64) on not so good days. He contributes his daily earnings for food for their family and the extra he keeps for baon (school allowance).

His mother, Lolita, is a 53 year old widow who makes a living by selling pawid (palm branch) for 6 pesos each – not a promising source of income in raising a big family like hers. Her five children are already married with kids, and one daughter, Laila (17) works as a house helper in Las Piñas. She is left to raise her sons Alvin, Christian, Joshua and Darius all on her own, and also supports the family of her daughter Danica, 19, who married at 16.  Their family underwent some tough ordeals when Darius fell into a comatose for a month due to tetanus. Three days after he was brought home from a month-long confinement, while he was still in a coma, Tatay Danilo started experiencing chest pains and died instantly of heart attack.  This left Nanay Lolita as a solo parent. Thankfully, Darius miraculously awoke when she came home. Unfortunately, she still had to put up youngest baby Jane for adoption.

Despite the hardships, she still considers herself to be blessed with hard-working children who help out with the household expenses. Alvin (21), a tenth grader, works catching crabs and cutting rice stalks, while Christian (15), a fifth grader, works as a fisherman’s aide. Joshua isn’t far behind in helping with the household income.

2When Typhoon Lando made its landfall in Aurora, the Cantobas were forced to evacuate from their shanty to the town hall. Like many other families, they had to stay in the evacuation centers for the remainder of the typhoon. Nanay Lolita kept her faith amidst her fear and prayed fervently that they will all be spared.

For Joshua, the recent Superbook film showing conducted by Operation Blessing was a life-changing experience. Learning about the story of David gave him hope. He was inspired by how David trusted the Lord and triumphed over trials and challenges. Now, he knows that he needs to trust that God will see his family through after Lando and that there is no typhoon that his family can’t weather when they keep their trust in God.

In the aftermath of Lando, Nanay Lolita has one desire—to rebuild what was lost and start anew. She longs to veer away from selling pawid, a very tiresome work for a woman her age which has very little profit. She longs to be able to sell fish instead and raise an initial fund of P2000. Learn how you can help Nanay Lolita in rebuilding their life by calling us at 477 7802 to 04 and 06. You may also give through banks (http://www.staging2.obphil.com/home/give-through-banks/) or credit card (http://www.staging2.obphil.com/home/give-through-credit-card/), or you may drop off your gifts-in-kind at our office (http://www.staging2.obphil.com/home/give-in-kind/).

Together, let us rebuild their hope.

Contributor: Kristine Gado, Children’s Program Coordinator