The beeping of a reversing loader fills the air one sweltering Friday afternoon in Barangay Lilo-an, Ormoc City. On the driver’s seat, Joselito Laude, 21, has his brows furrowed in concentration.
Driving the heavy equipment to help in the construction of a new multipurpose building inside the Tzu Chi Great Love City fell on the shoulders of Joselito. It was a skill he learned while he was still part of Tzu Chi’s cash-for-work program in putting up the said temporary housing village for the survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in Ormoc.
In 2014, prior to moving in at the Great Love City and getting involved in the housing project, Joselito labored in the construction and gathered sugar cane for a living. He had quit studying, unable to finish his second year in high school. He had picked out his ill vices like smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol from his friends. By the time he was 16 years old, he was earning his own money by working in the construction. However, most of his income would go to his vices.
“I buy almost two packs of cigarettes a day because I would share it with my friends. In drinking alcohol, I tried to drink moderately because of my heart condition. I tend to collapse all of a sudden,” he recalls.
Joselito was born with a hole in his heart that made him sickly.
After Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), the Laude family became one of the recipients of the prefabricated shelter units in Tzu Chi’s Great Love City. Joselito currently lives with her parents and a younger sister in the new village.
In time, Joselito joined in assembling the prefabricated shelters. His experience in the construction proved useful in his task but his fellow workers and Tzu Chi volunteers also encouraged him to learn other skills, among them is driving.
But more than the skills, Joselito appreciates the window of opportunity to transform himself, which Tzu Chi opened for him.
“It’s here that I realized that we should change our lifestyle. By joining the Tzu Chi volunteers, I saw its positive effects because we hear good teachings by [Tzu Chi founder] Master Cheng Yen which we can apply in everyday life,” says Joselito.
For a long time, he had been aware of his wrong doings. But surrounded by the wrong friends, all he could do was go with the flow. His parents had constantly told him to change his ways but he would not listen.
While working at Tzu Chi’s housing village, volunteers and fellow cash-for-work participants consistently inspire each other by sharing their stories of transformation in terms of their attitude and behavior. Eventually, Joselito decided to turn his back from his ill vices.
He began to shoulder some of the financial responsibilities at their home, much to his parents’ surprise.
In early 2017, Joselito’s father, a delivery driver, bought a motorcycle to serve as his personal service whenever he goes to the town proper for work. Joselito helps in paying for the vehicle on installment basis.
Although Tzu Chi’s housing project has been completed, Joselito continues to work for the organization. To this day, he runs errands for the volunteers, drive vehicles, or perform maintenance works inside the village.
On weekends, he volunteers in collecting recyclable materials around the community. He is also present whenever Tzu Chi volunteers hold relief activities in Ormoc, or in neighboring towns.
Joselito’s mother is the happiest with his transformation.
“When he started getting involved with the [Tzu Chi] volunteers, his attitude improved a lot. Unlike before when he was short tempered and preferred to sit at home, daydreaming. Now, it’s different,” says Gemma Laude, 42.
“Whenever he comes home [from volunteer works], he’s happy. He would tell us who they were able to help today and what they did. It makes me and his father happy as well to see him in such state,” adds Gemma.
The Tzu Chi Great Love City means a lot of things for many people. For those displaced by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), it is a safe haven, a new home. For others, it symbolizes hope. To Joselito Laude, meanwhile, it is more than a home or livelihood. It is a place where he has found a new life direction.
Joselito Laude learned to drive a loader while he was still part of Tzu Chi’s cash-for-work program in putting up the temporary housing village for the survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in Ormoc. 【Photo by Rodel Ruiz】
Driving the loader to help in the construction of a multipurpose building inside the Tzu Chi Great Love City became a responsibility of Joselito Laude.【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
Joselito Laude has learned to be filial toward his parents. Today, he would split his income and shoulder financial responsibilities at home with his parents. 【Photo by Light Li】
Joselito Laude wipes clean the motorcycle that his father bought and he helps pay on installment basis. 【Photo by Light Li】
From spending most of his time hanging out with his friends, Joselito Laude has learned to help his parents with the chores whenever he is not busy with work or volunteering activities. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】
For all the years he made his mother worried, Joselito Laude apologizes through a warm embrace. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】