If the recently concluded year was a disaster to most of us, what more to our fellow Filipinos who only had themselves in during the most trying times as they have to pay for the misdeeds they committed? The same goes for the ex-convicts who have been having a hard time getting back to their lives due to the stigma ensued by their past. Thus, Iba ‘Yan chose to ring in 2021 by giving hope and fresh start to them for its inaugural episode aired last Sunday, January 3.
Among the biggest challenges they have to deal with is finding a decent job. Gratefully, HLAF or Humanitarian Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc., a non-government and non-profit organization that helps persons deprived of liberty, have been assisting them not just in scoring opportunities, but in starting over in life as a whole.
One of the principal people who helps the organization is ex-detainee Alfredo “Fred” Alaras, who have been working in HLAF for 12 years already. Growing up, he witnessed how hard it is to come from a broken family, which was probably the reason why he had taken the wrong path in his teenage years as he got involved in vices and riots. He was put to jail thrice and was even transferred to Iwahig Penal Colony, which was hard for him because his connection with his family and friends was cut.
In his conversation with host Angel Locsin, he imparted that when he was freed, he got enlightened and was able to deepen his spirituality and faith in God. That motivated and pushed him to share what he learned to his fellow ex-detainees who are trying to have a new beginning. In fact, in HLAF, he had his own program, which is the “FRED Program” which means Focused Reintegration of Ex-Detainees. Aside from the assistance that he gives to the organization, he also extends his personal help to the 32 inmates of Rodriguez Municipal Jail who were affected by the Typhoon Ulysses. Thus, Iba ‘Yan gave him 32 grocery packs for the 32 inmates under his wing.
One of those who received aid from HLAF and Fred was Reynalyn Costales, a former overseas Filipino worker who went back to the country immediately when she got pregnant. In 2017, she worked as an administrative assistant for a real-estate property but got terminated along with other co-employees. A year after, a case was filed against them, depriving them the chance to defend themselves. She described her stay inside the jail as challenging and difficult time because she was away from her family, especially her daughter. Fortunately, she and the complainant arrived at a settlement which allowed her to be emancipated.
At present, Reynalyn makes up to the time that she lost with her daughter and gets herself busy with online selling. In order to help her start anew, Iba ‘Yan gave her a laptop and pocket WiFi that her daughter can use, as well as a coffee business package worth 25,000 pesos and vitamins worth 15,000 pesos from an anonymous donor. She was also offered job opportunities from TrabaHanap and More Than Jobs. She also received additional products for her online selling business.
Angel also got to meet another ‘returning citizen,’ 21-year old Francis Alba, who got imprisoned for two years. On the day of his release, his family didn’t know that he was already going home. As soon as he arrived home, he got emotional and immediately hugged his family, especially his grandmother.
He wasn’t able to finish his studies because spent most of his time more with his friends and worked as a caretaker in a fish pond to help his sister who’s still at school. However, he got involved in a drug crime which caused his imprisonment for two years. But now that he’s given another chance, he said that he’ll do his best to better himself and help his family.
Iba ‘Yan gave him a laptop which he can give to his sister Hilarie for her online school and also received cash assistance and a bigasan business package. He was also offered job opportunities from TrabaHanap and More Than Jobs.
Angel gathered Fred, Reynalyn, and Francis together to tell them the good news – Iba ‘Yan gave HLAF 10 tablets for their E-dalaw program and financial assistance for their beneficiaries. Meanwhile, Francis and Reynalyn were given vacation packages so they can spend more quality time with their families.
May this Iba ‘Yan episode restore our faith to humanity and second chances. Happy New Year, Kapamilya!
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