Beyond the Ordinary
LASAC is committed to the growth and development of its workforce, both in their personal and professional facets. We make sure that our communities are facilitated by animated pastoral workers who are compassionate and able. We believe that investing in them will ensure the sustainability of being of real help to the people.
From the mundane and seemingly ordinary tasks of our day-to-day actions, a pioneer in this apostolate discovers what it means to be animated and flexible—growing through the years beyond what others knew as “ordinary”. This is the story of Ms. Amelia Virtucio who started her journey with LASAC twenty-eight (28) years ago.
“It was in 1991 when I started working with LASAC under the leadership of Fr. Timoteo Prado.
Before that, I was working at a paralegal office. It was thru a close friend that I came to know LASAC. They were hiring. I decided to give it a try.”
Prior to her application in LASAC, Ms. Virtucio was working in a paralegal setting. Yet, in spite of the stability she enjoys, there seems to be a missing piece in her heart. She was looking for a purpose. And she was restless to pursue it.
“Two weeks after my application, they phoned me, telling me that I was chosen. I was all at once, happy and nervous!” She said with a tone of excitement. “My duty then was to take charge of all communications, in and out of the Commission,” she recalls vividly. “They were basically secretarial duties and, very often, they remain the same. It was a routine. But, nevertheless, a routine where I truly devoted myself.”
There were only four (4) employees during that time. Back then, the Commission was just starting and learning how to get things done. “We started small. We were limited in resources. Yet, we knew, we were making a difference in people’s lives.”
In spite of the difficulties and challenges that beset her, Ms. Virtucio know that she is on the right track. “This work that I do is two-in-one. I work and serve the Church at the same time. I serve others and I came to know God more deeply in their needs.” She affirmed that this apostolate is one-of-a-kind since she comes to know her purpose while working. “We are made for service. I think I will never see myself apart from service.”
As the years pass by, she did not only come to know the purpose she was looking for. She also surpassed the long held beliefs she has for herself. She discovered that inside of her, there is something more.
“Before, I was only doing secretary duties. I even served as a cashier of the Pastoral Center. I really do not have any high ambitions. As to where I am assigned, there I will serve.”
Indeed, nothing is constant in this world except change. Upon her assignment to the humanitarian and social service desk of the Commission as Program Officer, a lot of change did happen. “I never thought of doing any other work apart from those which seemed normal and ordinary for me.”
Ms. Virtucio now works with walk-in clients and conducts the initial intake for casework. She also facilitates the assessment and validation of every beneficiaries in need of medical and financial assistance. “It was something new. I felt so challenged but I also felt the warmth and joy in helping people, meeting them in person, listening to their situations, dealing with them face-to-face, day in and day out.”
As to the length of her service, she keeps on telling that it was not the number of years that she is counting. “What I treasure the most are the experiences, the memories I have in this apostolate. I really do not call it “work”. Aside from the fulfillment it gave me as a person, it has opened new opportunities for me.”
Her family is also active in various church activities. During weekends, they render their service at their parish as choir. One of her daughters also works at the Archdiocesan Chancery. The story of Ms. Amelia Virtucio proves that beyond the ordinary, there will be challenges. But beyond these, there is joy and fulfillment.
Looking at the Future with Hope
We are told that the young people are the hope of our future. For Benedick Cruzat, now a Grade 11 student from Malapad na Parang National Highschool in Lobo, Batangas, the future starts today. Being a LASAC scholar has been a motivating factor for him to pursue his education in spite of the many hardships and challenges he encounters.
Benedick and his family reside at Barangay Malapad na Parang, Lobo, Batangas. He is sixteen years old, second to the youngest among his five (5) siblings. His father works at the field as a farmer, while his mother manages their home.
“Given our daily expenses, we really do everything to make both ends meet. I try to be thrifty and resourceful. Everyday, I walk from our home to school, back and forth, so as to save on transportation. My mother would prepare simple meals for us”, Benedick said.
Three years ago, Benedick wasn’t sure whether he would finish high school or not because even with the full-time work of his father in the fields, their income barely supports their needs. “There are times when we’ve got to choose between missing school or missing some meals in a day. The sad thing is we have no choice but to incur absences so as not to starve ourselves. We really try to survive especially for my younger sibling.”
It was easy to get discouraged, but Benedick knew he had to conquer his fears. “I knew that finishing high school was the only way I could make sure that I will go to College and earn a degree someday, and then, help my other siblings, especially my parents.”
He will never forget the day when he was chosen to be LASAC’s scholar for its Adopt-A-Child-Scholarship Program (AACSP). It was January 3, 2016. “I was so happy and excited when the news reached me. My adviser told me that I was nominated and selected!” One of the perks of being a scholar is an annual provision of educational assistance and school supplies.
Today, Benedick is more than eager to finish his studies. “I have found out that when you are truly in need, there will be people who will help you along your path. LASAC truly helped me not only materially but in many aspects, like the seminars we attended about children’s rights and child sexual abuse prevention. I feel empowered!”
Ready to Serve
Imagine a fine day spent with your buddies or with your family, when all of sudden, an accident happened nearby. Will you take courage to respond? Without proper knowledge regarding first aid and basic life support, you’d probably make things worse by doing what you see in movies. But another sad thing that might happen is to simply let it pass and just look out.
However, this was not the case for Mr. Eduardo Bawi, a Project BASIC participant who has undergone a 2-day training for basic Medical First Aid and Fire Safety. True to the name “BASIC” dubbed as, “Batanguenos Assistance and Social Involvement during Calamities”, he took courage in responding to the call of service.
It was a regular Tuesday morning, during an official business trip to Darasa, Tanauan, when he witnessed a motorcycle accident. Kuya Edward, without a second thought, wore his rescue attire, analyzed the situation and brought in his first aid kit.
Armed with the competency he acquired from the training, he was confident. He approached the victim and looked carefully at his wounds. He further assured the victim so as to calm him and gain his trust. “Okey ka ga lang? Wala namang nabali sa iyo?” And with a slight nod, the victim felt somewhat relieved.
Kuya Edward treated the wounded with confidence in his skills, recalling the steps for preliminary treating a wound. He opened his kit took some ointment and applied it to the wounded riders. According to him, he always brings his rescue shirt, along with his first aid kit. And even if the incident did not cause major injuries with those involved, it shows that being ready is always better than being sorry. Moments after, the police arrived at the scene, and with confidence, he turned over the incident to them.
He believes that calamities and accidents may strike at anytime and we should always be found prepared should they come. Kuya Edward is not only an embodiment of a concerned citizen but a hero for those who needed him, regardless whether he knows them or not.
A Good Samaritan, indeed! We, too are invited to emulate his example. Through him Jesus is seen, and through the injured Jesus is served. Let us then be compassionate and act with certainty and confidence especially at times when others need us most.