It was around noontime on a hot day when I and the Bohol team arrived in the hilly barangay of San Isidro, Baclayon on the island of Bohol. We were here to visit the Tubice family comprising Ruben and Alma (44) and their three children; Almira (21), Edison (20) and Arianne (18).
Ruben and Alma both hail from Sta. Mesa, a populated barangay of Manila City. Ruben worked as a day laborer and as an assistant to his uncle in his vehicle repair shop. In 1998, the couple were beset with a medical crisis. Their three year old son Edison contracted meningitis; fortunately he survived but his brain has tragically been permanently affected.
In 2001, Ruben had the good fortune to be offered a job opportunity in Saudi Arabia as a mechanic and he was to stay there for seven years. With his salary, he could remit funds home and fully pay off their debts incurred during Edison’s hospitalisation. In 2008, Ruben lost his job when he was beset with chronic asthma and hospitalised for two weeks. He returned to the Philippines and was reunited with his family. With his savings, he was able to build a two-roomed semi-concrete house on land belonging to his sister in Baclayon on Bohol island.
Ruben adjusted well to life back in the Philippines; he started a small business selling purified water and was elected as a barangay councillor. Being a public servant enabled his children to benefit from a full scholarship in a State University here in Tagbilaran City. His daughter Almira has in fact just graduated with a degree in office management and is now looking for a job.
One of the joys Ruben has experienced from being back with his family has been to work with his son Edison. The two of them deliver water on the motorcycle together, Ruben with one container between his knees at the front and Edison carrying two containers at the back. When Ruben came back from Saudi Arabia, Edison had no physical strength and no meaningful activities to do but Ruben encouraged him and he is now his able assistant.
Ruben is applying for a loan to enable him to purchase twenty additional 5 gallon water containers and thus increase his stocks of containers from 40 to 60. By so doing, he will be able to increase his number of ‘suki‘ regular customers and thus increase his overall income. As of now, he earns about 200 pesos ($4.50) a day from his water business. The additional income will be a great help in providing for his daughter Ariane’s fares and pocket money (she is a second year college student in food technology) and indeed in paying for his asthma nebulizer maintenance medicine.
Analyn T. Gallibot