I was at church today and was approached by Tito Efren. He asked how I was and I told him that Mamu was here. They had known each other before when she was assigned here and he was and still is the president of the association of Filipinos who work in the various diplomatic missions here.
Tito Efren is from Tarlac and I met him through my mom and also the other Filipino friends that I have here in Geneva. What is so striking about him and not just him but his wife is the passion they have for life. They lovingly call each other "amore" which is Italian for "my love" because they met there 20 years ago. They still have the picture of the first night they met and he offered a bunch of roses to Tita Lalaine. (On the first night they met!!!) Well, it only ended happily ever after and three kids later, they are well-settled in Geneva raising their beautiful children, serving in the church but most of all - trying to help people.
Mamu was invited, I coming along, because he wanted to talk about his project in Tarlac. He had been developing a project to help graduating agricultural students in Tarlac through the establishment of a livelihood project composed of an organic restaurant and marketing organic fruits and vegetables at the roadside where their land borders the high way. He researched all that he needed to know and contacted the people that could possibly help him. For now, he wants to install a pump that runs on renewable resources to bring up the water from the stream into the 8 hectares of land that he has. He gets student volunteers to help develop the land and offers a profit-sharing scheme so that the students can earn.
Tito Efren is financing the whole thing for now and hoping that it will become a model for other land owners in order to help their tenants, the students and generally to help the whole community. He's been helping his community ever since he could.
What really strikes me is the passion, both he and his wife, of helping people. They are also one of the focal points of the Bantay Bata 163 Foundation of ABS-CBN here in Geneva. They seem to be tireless in helping and their home is open to anyone who needs a home.
I am so awed by people I meet who in the peak of their lives, only want to help others. They live simply with few amenities here. They don't count the costs and are warm and loving people.
I love to meet people like them because their passion is so infectious. They are so lovable. They are so down-to-earth. They are so real! It's rare nowadays to find people like these. It's a pleasure to know them and to be their friends. I learn a lot from them and how much they take from life. Everything is a blessing and everything is an occasion for joy.
When they call each other "amore", even with the occasional teasing from husband and wife, it is such a light atmosphere. The love is infectious and it's wonderful. I'm glad to have spent time with them tonight.
Thank you for being such wonderful people, Tito Efren and Tita Lalaine. May God continue to bless you for your goodness.