Caravan of Love for the Aetas of Subic, Zambales
In a picturesque panorama of undulating hills in the mountainous terrain of Zambales, the indigenous Aetas have found their humble abode– poor, marginalized and grappling with abject poverty.
Among them is Darwin, one of the Aeta children, who toils to help his family make both ends meet. His family subsists mainly from the conversion of scrap wood into charcoal but that is barely sufficient to tide them over.
“I began crafting charcoal at the tender age of eleven to support the needs of my family.” Darwin shares.
Darwin is just one of the hundreds of young Aetas in Barangay Batiawan who endure the horror of sleeping with a rumbling stomach and miles of travel on foot just to reach school.
But in the eyes of a child, a pilot light of hope never faints. Proof to that is Darwin’s response to the question about his aspirations in life. “I aspire to become a soldier one day, so I can champion the cause of the impoverished and fight for righteousness,” he confides.
Darwin’s father, Rodulfo, formerly served as a member of the CAFGU (Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit), but the meager allowance from the government compelled him to seek alternative sources of income.
Presently, they engage in slash-and-burn farming, cultivating corn and sweet potatoes during the wet season, and manufacturing charcoal or fashioning bamboo sticks for sale.
Despite their deplorable plight, Rodulfo and his wife, Diana, are hopeful that one day, one of their children will succeed in his studies that will eventually break the shackles of poverty in their family.
The Aetas constitute 30% of the population in Batiawan. Apart from slash-and-burn farming, they subsist by vending dried Cogon grass used in construction, and during the rainy season, they depend on hunting and agricultural yields. Despite their natural wealth, the majority of mountain-dwelling families remain living below the poverty threshold.
Amid this ordeal, a flicker of hope arises as Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy extends his annual ACQ International Children’s Day to the Aeta Kids of Barangay Batiawan in Subic, Zambales.
At the behest of the good Pastor, hordes of volunteers from SMNI Foundation, Inc. threw a grand celebration for the Aeta children, showering them with an unforgettable birthday experience. The good Pastor brings Sonshine Land, a wonderland where scores of Aeta kids revel in love, care, and an abundance of surprises.
It proves to be a day brimming with joy and mirth—giving the Aeta children the best birthday treat they deserve. They received gifts replete with school supplies and toys, prompting each one of them to flash their wide smiles from ear to ear.
It was truly a day to remember. Darwin and his family are deeply touched by the kindness and generosity shown by Pastor Apollo.
Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy’s message resounds with clarity: love possesses the transformative power to alter lives, infusing hope and positivity into the lives of children, regardless of their status in life. By extending a kind gesture of love, Pastor Apollo has carved an indelible impression in the hearts of these Aeta children, assuring them that they are not alone in their struggles.
As the Caravan of Love departs from Barangay Batiawan, Subic, Zambales, the love of one man reverberates perpetually in the lives of these children. Love knows no bounds, and when shared selflessly, it has the potential to change the world we live in. No amount of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.