One important thing to put in mind to survive the rollercoaster kind of life is that, whatever you do, do it with kindness because you wouldn’t know, that act of generosity might be an answered prayer to others. Especially this time of pandemic where the word “negative” is, ironically, one of the most anticipated positive word. Sometimes, we long to hear some “before pandemic kind of positive news.”
Like the story of one young lad who traveled all the way from Tabuk City to Bohol. He left at the age of 13 or 14 to follow his father in a place he is not familiar with. He said, he wanted to be with his father after his parent’s marriage broke down and they went their separate ways. Having to witness his parents’ separation, he has to endure the loss of his sister whom he did not see for a while. So, he went to find his father with the hope of bidding farewell to his sister one last time. He left his comfort zone, his friends and mother in Tabuk City to live in a whole new place with a totally different culture. And there, the only familiar people he knew were his father and grandfather but that was all that mattered to a 14-year-old boy.
He went to school in Bohol. Life was normal, at least, for a kid of such age. Not until his father went back to Tabuk. He couldn’t afford to leave his grandfather who was getting advance in years behind and so he stayed. He stayed for years and continued life there until Tabuk City, where he was born, became just a piece of his memory.
In 2019, unfortunately, he lost his grandfather. The one who cared for him when no one was there. After his grandfather was buried, he was left to fend for himself so he sailed to Cebu City, hoping to find a job there. It was, however, a life of uncertainty. But as the survivor that he was, he found a job and was doing quite okay. Life settled and was pretty normal as time passed.
Unfortunately, little did he know that 2020 will change his life once again. The pandemic known as Covid 19, ravaged the world including the Philippines, and his only means of living was also drastically affected. Businesses shut down or closed during the lockdowns. Brgy. Luz in Cebu City was hardest hit and he struggled to make ends meet without a regular job to pay his bills and his rent.
But he still has himself, nothing has changed, only that he is struggling and at some point, felt helpless. And in his helpless state, he remembered Tabuk City. He knew in his heart he just needed to go back to his childhood home, to his parents. So Tabuk became his beacon of hope.
In January 2021, he lost his job so he decided to go home, but he had used up all his meager savings. He rang his family but they too are hard pressed for money. They can only send him enough to buy food and pay his monthly rent.
He then cried for help to a childhood friend and then this friend of his asked help from the CLGU through the City Information Office. Reading the messages, the CIO sent forth private messages to groups and individuals who may have contacts in Cebu City. It took a whole night of searching and seeking for help and a lot of people from the CLGU have responded. Luckily, a kind-hearted Police Officer also heeded the call.
In a seemingly dismal situation, a hint of hope was seen and that became the most crucial help the young man needed. Thanks to PCol. Robert Dangli Lingbawan from Magnao, Tabuk City, who is also the Chief Regional Intel. Division Head of PRO 7, and is assigned in Cebu City, 23-year-old Jefferson Gondio, was able to come home to his parents here in Tabuk, reunited with his friends and his family whom he has not seen for 9 long years.
All expenses were paid for by Colonel Lingbawan from the lad’s RTPCR test to his airfare from Cebu to Manila and his travelling expenses from Manila to Tabuk City and he also gave Jefferson 10,000.00 for his use along the way.
When asked why he helped the officer said, “It is the right thing to do. I am from Kalinga and knowing that a young lad from Kalinga is struggling near my area, I just have to do something. It’s my duty as an officer and my moral obligation as an Ikalinga to reach out to my kababayan.”
The Colonel also disclosed that upon knowing the area where the young lad was, he immediately sent his men to find him to make sure he has food and that he is safe. Col. Lingbawan said, “barangay Luz in Cebu City was one of the barangays hardest hit by Covid-19 and I knew that the place is not safe.”
He encouraged people to call on the PNP when they find themselves in dire situations because it is an established institution and most often than not, there will always be someone in the institution who will know other officers or personnel in various parts of the country. As this case has proven, in one GC, a classmate of his from PNPA class of 1995 read the message for assistance and gave his number and that was how the CIO made contact with him.
In an interview, Jefferson told us how thankful he was to God and for using Colonel Lingbawan as an instrument to extend His help. “Natulungan po ako ni sir dahil din po sa CIO na may nakontak na kababayan daw po na taga Kalinga na nasa Cebu po. Pinakuha nya po ako sa barangay at tinulungan sa mga gastusin para makauwi. Malaking pasasalamat ko po sa mga kagaya ni sir na may pusong tumulong,” he added.
Despite the struggles we all are facing, a kind heart will always arise, ready to extend a hand. This Police Officer became the beacon of hope for the young lad, after struggling for months of uncertainty and sleepless nights. PCol. Robert Dangli Lingbawan, is indeed the “before pandemic kind of positive news” we need today.
Mayor Darwin C. Estrañero is pleased to know of what happened and is grateful to PCol. Lingbawan for extending help to Jefferson at such short notice and in such a miserable time. He said, we need more people like the Colonel who will not hesitate to help a Kailian or extend a hand to anyone in need. “The Colonel is right, it was the right thing to do,” the Mayor expressed. He stressed the CLGUs assistance to people like Jefferson and hopes to meet the young lad at some point. “Sapay kuma ta daytoy new chance nga naited kenyana ket agbalin nga challenge tapnu ag aspire ni Jefferson nga ag succeed iti biag na ditoy siyudad tayo a Tabuk. If the City can extend assistance to him, we will,” he further said.
As for Jefferson, he is a brave young man for being responsible for himself for years. He fought his battles alone. But he was never alone. As he has said, God was with him. He sent him the right people when he thought all was lost.
As learned by this young lad, asking for help does not make us less human. Rather, it is a concrete proof of being human and it gives us the chance to meet great and kind people who are willing to extend assistance without question, without judgment.