Against all odds

Sun.Star Davao - - FRONT PAGE - By Adam B. Mor­rell

HE did not fal­ter af­ter his work place for 13 years was burned while his home in Lower Madapo Hills, Ban­kero­han, was flooded last De­cem­ber.

Roel “Roy” Gi­marino, 40, worked as a reg­u­lar main­te­nance crew of NCCC Mall B3 Cen­ter Lanes which was en­gulfed by flames on De­cem­ber 23, 2017.

“Sabay sa baha pa jud ang pagka-sunog sa akoang tra­bahuan ug hang­tod karon nan­ingkamot kay hugaw ug daghan gamit ang nawala. Mali­payon gi­hapon kay buhi pa sa mga gi­a­giang kalami­dad (The flood and the fire came to­gether. Un­til now we're clean­ing up our house. We lost a lot of our pos­ses­sion but we're happy be­cause we sur­vived the calami­ties),” Gi­marino said.

His pos­i­tiv­ity can­not be ques­tioned.

He grew up in La­par­eas in Su­lop, Davao del Sur, when it was awar zone be­tween armies and rebels.

“Nag sugod ang sto­rya sa akoang kinabuhi atong naa na dayon koy buot. Gi­himo ug tam­bayan ang amoang balay sa re­belde kay naga ayos ug baril akoang papa (Rebels would hang out at our house be­cause my fa­ther knows how to fix guns),” he nar­rated.

It was Mar­tial Law and his fa­ther and two older broth­ers were ar­rested when guns were re­cov­ered from their house. They were tor­tured, Gi­marino re­called.

They were jailed for three years, ac­cused of be­ing rebels.

“Nak­a­gawas sila tun­god sa amnesty sa ta­bang sa Task Force De­tainees (TFD Philip­pines),” he added.

His fa­ther and broth­ers' in­car­cer­a­tion forced them to live in dire straits, he re­called.

“Luoy kaayo among kahim­tang atong panahuna kay mo kaon lang mi ug sag­ing ug kamote kay gag­may pa akoang mga mag­u­lang ug ang akoang mama lang ang among masandi­gan (We led a piti­ful life. Our daily fare was made of ba­nanas and sweet potato be­cause my el­der sib­ling was still very young and we only had our mother to rely on),” per­tain­ing to his mother who was a farmer then.

They had to move from one place to an­other and even tem­po­rar­ily changed their sur­name to An­tipuesto.

“Nag ilis mi ug ape­lyido kay init sa au­thori­dad ang amoang Gi­marino (We changed our sur­names be­cause Gi­marino has be­come no­to­ri­ous to au­thor­i­ties),” he said.

When they set­tled in Tu­lu­nan, North Cota­bato, they didn't fare any bet­ter as it was also a con­flict area.

“Sa maong pag­bal­hin namo, mikuyog pud ang kagubot kay naa pud mga re­belde sa maong lu­gar. 1986 tong panahuna ug naa ko yata sa edad na 10 years old. Bak­wit diri bak­wit didto kay sige ug gera (Con­flict fol­lowed us. I think it was in 1986 and I was around 10 years old when we'd al­ways evac­u­ate be­cause of gun­bat­tles),” he re­called.

In 1990, the war be­tween the Moro rebels and sol­diers wors­ened they had to move to an evac­u­a­tion cen­ter. That was a bless­ing in dis­guise.

“Ni­abot ang Depart­ment of So­cial Wel­fare and De­vel­op­ment ug TFD sa maong evac­u­a­tion cen­ter, nan­guha sila ug mga bata nga gusto pa es­kwe­la­hon (The DSWD and TFD ar­rived and sought out chil­dren who wanted to con­tinue school­ing),” he said. He was among those cho­sen.

Through the help of TFD, they were housed in a pri­vate or­phan­age founded by lawyer Solema Ju­bi­lan. The or­phan­age was then funded by a Ger­man or­ga­ni­za­tion, Stiftung Fur Kinder Ger­many.

Gi­marino was able to fin­ish el­e­men­tary and high school.

From Cota­bato, Gi­marino was in­structed by Ju­bi­lan to move to Davao City.

“Nan­gita ug spon­sor ang or­phan­age sa akoa. Sur­pris­ing kaayo. Time na nako na mag­paDavao ug muhawa sa or­phan­age kay grad­u­ate na lagi (The or­phan­age looked for spon­sors for me. I had to leave the or­phan­age and head off to Davao City be­cause I al­ready grad­u­ated high school),” he said.

He did ev­ery­thing just to get a schol­ar­ship.

He ded­i­cated ev­ery­thing to his stud­ies and fin­ished a Bach­e­lor of Science Ma­rine En­gi­neer­ing in Agro In­dus­trial Foun­da­tion Col­lege of the Philip­pines (AIFCP).

He worked in a ship af­ter­ward, but was dis­cour­aged by the loose cul­ture there, which he de­scribed as “naa tanan kabuang”.

He opted to be a con­struc­tion worker for SM City Davao in 2001 be­fore mov­ing to Ca­gayan de Oro City to be­come a main­te­nance crew of SM there.

He trans­ferred to NCCC Mall B3 Cen­ter Lanes and worked as an elec­tri­cian af­ter that. That was where he felt he fit­ted right in.

The Christ­mas fire, thus, near crushed his spirit. But he stayed pos­i­tive know­ing that it's the best op­tion.

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