Gawad Geny Lopez Bayaning Pilipino Awards: Cardente, Peña impart ‘Legacy of Love’

February 15, 2016

Gawad Geny Lopez Bayaning Pilipino Award aims to recognize Filipinos who have faced challenges and difficulties and managed to become role models to fellow Filipinos.

It is an annual search for modern day heroes, to give recognition to ordinary folks who have done heroic acts and extra ordinary deeds, lauded for their exemplary service and commitment delivered particularly in nation building. It is envisioned as a fitting tribute to Filipino values of humanitarianism, industry, determination and dedication to public service.

The heroes recognized are those who are living and those whom the ordinary people can emulate.  Their role according to Sec. Luistro, “Taking in the challenge of eliminating illiteracy and ignorance among the minds of the Filipino Youth” emphasizing that “every educator is a community leader.” Said gala of awards was held at ABS-CBN Dolphy Theatre, on February 2, 2016.

Bayaning Pamilyang Pilipino 2015 Grand Prize Winner; Cardente Family lived a simple life. Jason Cardente, the father, works as a freelance photographer. Jennifer Cardente, the mother, works as an elementary teacher. They have three children namely, Esther Joy, Joshua James, and Nick Jay. Despite lacking in material wealth, the family’s treasures are the works they do for the community.

Their current contribution includes managing and raising funds for a girl’s student dormitory called the “Yellow Dorm” in the town of Kabasalan, Zamboanga Sibugay.  In this dormitory, the female students of Kabasalan who are from far-flung areas walking six to 10 hours to get to school can stay here. As such, they do not have to walk through rivers, forests and mountains just to get proper education. This dormitory has given these students a better chance to reach their dreams.

Said family continuously coordinated with organizations like the Yellow Boat foundations and Project Pearls to get the help they need in terms of funding this worthy projects.

The Yellow Boat Foundation helped them with Hope for Paddlers: Sibugay Funds for Little Kids, which has also given them scholarship funds and educational materials. Through their help, school drop-out rates have decreased and more students graduated high school and moved on to college.

Project Pearl, an organization based in the United States, assists them in conducting weekly classes through storytelling and values formation.

Aside from these projects, Cardente Family is also actively helping street children, out of school youths, street vendors, persons with disabilities and children who need medical attention.  Helping others have been a part of their family values, and it is one thing that keeps them together.

Bayaning Pilipino-Individual Finalist: Dr. Estrelita Peña is not a stranger to poverty.  She had her share of a difficult childhood by walking several kilometers every day in going to school.  This experience had inspired her to help children, who, like her, had to cross rivers and walk through mountains to be able to go to school. She made it a personal goal to help students who are at risk of dropping out.

She established the SSA-DORA (Sagip a Student Advocacy-Drop Out Reduction Association), a program that was able to build a dormitory that houses 66 male students from far-flung areas of Zamboanga Sibugay.

With her hardwork and perseverance, she was assigned to lead an NGO called Sibugay funds for Little Kids.  This provided her the opportunity to work with other foundations and build connections with businessmen and professionals who later on, helped her build another dormitory for female students.

At present, she works as a School Principal in one of the remote sitios in Zamboanga Sibugay. Her programs have reached around 2,000 students and this number will continue to grow because she believes that her work is not done yet.

This region is envisioning that there will be more of their kind exponentially arising in this region.

Looking at the breadth of the place, there are a lot more children to reach out. The challenge still remains, and to be able to accomplish this endeavor is for us to be part of it.