Written By Rosemarie Conde Caasi, Volunteer Writer, Operation Blessing Philippines
“Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more valuable than them?” Matthew 6:26
This is a promise the Tanglaw family personally experiences daily in Sitio Haduan in Mabalacat, Pampanga. Living in the mountains all their lives, surrounded by plants, birds and wild animals, they rely on God’s provision of their daily needs.
Baby Tanglaw, 58, clearly recalls how they came to know God in 1991 when Mt. Pinatubo erupted and the Aeta community was evacuated to Marcos Village. There, Baby, together with her husband and then only 3 children, accepted Christ as their Savior and turned their back on their ancestors’ beliefs.
They realized however that life in the plains is harder than their life in the mountains. So, they decided to go back home.
“Mahirap ang buhay sa patag, kapag wala kang pera di ka makakakain. dito sa bundok, kahit minsan gabi o kamote, maghanap ka lang diyan, makakakain ka araw-araw,(Life in the plains is hard. When you don’t have money, you will not be able to eat. Here in the mountains, you can easily find taro or sweet potato. You will be able to eat everyday,)“ shares Baby.
Baby and her family appreciated how blessed their simple lifestyle is in Sitio Haduan. And as their family grew, Baby passed on the faith and hope she had acquired to all her seven children.
The family earns their living by planting taro, sweet potato, and papaya. Every week they trek down the mountain for an hour and sell their goods in Mabalacat. They usually earn 500 pesos and use it to buy rice, sugar, salt, and soap they carry back home to the mountain.
Once a month they earn extra out of charcoal they make from the wood they collect.“Minsan nakaka-15 hanggang 20 sako kami sa isang buwan tapos itinitinda namin ng 200 pesos kada sako sa baba,(Sometimes we are able to fill 15 to 20 sacks in one month and we sell them for 200 pesos per sack in the plains,)”says Baby. This gives them additional income from 3,000 to 4,000 pesos every month, enough to feed the Tanglaw family which now has 14 members.
Her faith was tested when her eldest son died in an accident. But believing God has a purpose in everything, she remained faithful.
Baby is grateful and content with their life in Sitio Haduan. However she dreams for her children and grandchildren to finish schooling. “Grade 2 lang inabot ko kasi may bayad mag-aral sa school sa lugar namin noong bata ako,(I only finished Grade 2 because we had to pay school fees in our place when I was growing up,)“ she said.
Baby sees the public elementary school just across their house as the key to her dreams if only her children persevere and continue their schooling. She sadly shared though that most of her children chose to stop schooling and decided to help the family earn a living. Only four children are now in school, her youngest Ronald and Akwano, and two of her grandsons, Marvin and Times. Everyday, she encourages the children to study and she still hopes that one of them will be able to finish schooling.
While education is free in public schools, she shared that the usual cause of her children dropping out is their lack of school supplies. Hence, Operation Blessing enlivened her hope when her children were given free school supplies.
The Tanglaw children are among the 100 children Operation Blessing reached through the Holiday of Hope and Cheer program, specifically designed for children by giving gifts and feeding not only their young bodies but also their hearts and souls with hope and thanksgiving.