Upholding children’s welfare had been a primary advocacy of the late Gina Lopez, who established ABS-CBN Foundation Inc. in 1997 and served as its chairperson until her untimely death last August 19 at the age of 65 due to brain cancer.
During her term, numerous socio-civic and environmental programs were launched, and one of those is the Bantay Bata, which aimed “to protect disadvantaged and at-risk children through a nationwide network of social services”. At the same time, it also fulfilled her aspirations of keeping them from harm, providing them a conducive dwelling place and education, and paving the way for them to a bright future.
One of the projects launched by the said organization was the Children’s Village, which was built in 2003 at Norzagaray, Bulacan to accommodate every child they rescue who needs further attention and take care of them, as well, through health and wellness care, nutrition, and education and psychological development.
And of the beneficiaries of this benevolent work is 15-year-old Jasmine Tabuan, who used to live in the streets and sleep in her friends’ houses along with her eight siblings before being brought to the Children’s Village.
Even though they still have a parent who’s supposed to provide their needs, their father, Lope Tabuan, has found it truly difficult to raise and find a conducive shelter for all his 11 kids since his income as a tricycle driver is not enough for them. Thus, when the barangay staff approached him regarding his children’s situation, he agreed for them to be taken to the Children’s Village.
Apart from being their temporary home, Jasmine and the other kids in the “sanctuary” apparently enjoy their sojourn as each day is packed with activities for their emotional and social development and they are also fed with nutritious food. As she noted the tremendous change in her baby brother’s well-being, she related telling their father to only take them out of the Village once she’s finished with her education since, according Bantay Bata Children’s Village Program Director Jing Castañeda, they’re seeking for generous and kindhearted people who are willing to sponsor her and the other underprivileged kids on-board.
With the re-opening of the revamped facility last year and their continuous efforts to sustain it, Bantay Bata is set to continue pursuing the ambition of the beloved late Gina Lopez of providing a happy and safe home for the deprived and exploited Filipino children, as well as improving their plight and giving them proper education.