Published at Sun.Star Baguio | 5 June 2013

This piece was written by colleagues and friends of John Paul Barbero who was killed on the 28th of May in Abra. Authorities have yet to conclude the investigation of his death. DSWD Cordillera grieves his tragic and untimely passing.

When children are asked of what they would like to become when they grow up, they would definitely come up with a common list. Some would say they would like to become doctors, or teachers, or nurses, or engineers, or soldiers. Some would even dream of becoming astronauts or superheroes. But only few or even none would ever think of having to spend their lives being development workers, helping people who are in most need.

These are the people who have chosen to take this challenge as a part of their career and their living. These are the people whom we call “development workers.”

In the Cordillera Administrative Region, development workers are often seen in the most far flung areas of the region. Some would cater to the welfare and needs of children, elderlies and persons with disabilities.

Others would devote their time with communities struggling to break free from the chains of poverty. But even if they choose to serve different individuals, one is common among them. Development workers have given their hearts to the people. And among those who are unselfish enough to do such is John Paul Barbero.

A registered social worker, John Paul began his journey as a client service provider in the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office in his hometown in Villaviciosa, Abra. Not thinking of the monetary gains, John Paul remained in serving this office for three years.

It is in 2011 when he decided to take his social work further and joined the Department of Social Welfare and Development–Cordillera Administrative Region (DSWD-CAR).

In this year, he became a municipal link for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in Lacub, Abra. And when opportunity came, he transferred to the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) Project and became the community facilitator of Pilar, Abra.

Being a part of the Area Coordinating Team (ACT) the Project, this brought him the opportunity to serve not only families but communities who are most in need of help. For almost two years now, John Paul has worked compassionately with the people towards attaining their communities’ development.

For development workers like John Paul, mental and physical challenges are common. Beating the deadline in submitting reports have been their skill.

This is aside from the fact that they play the role of teachers, engineers, doctors, and even confidants, or whatever the situation may call for in the community. With this, losing a development worker is not losing just one person.

The tragic and untimely death of John Paul on 28 May 2013 came as a big blow to us. Knowing him for years, we would never believe that such heinous crime can happen to a person with such a beautiful heart. None of us have ever imagined that his humbly lived life would end this way because more than a teammate, John Paul was a brother to all of us.

For his fellow boys in the ACT, John Paul is a cheerful companion who always loves to share his little anecdotes just to make everyone laugh.

His days are made with little and simple things that other people would normally take for granted. It would never take so much effort to make him smile, for a simple “hi” or “hello” is enough. He is a kind of a friend who would stick with you no matter what happens. He would never leave you hanging in times of need.

For the girls in the team, John Paul never fails to show compassion and respect. As far as we can remember, there was never a time that he uttered an offensive word or showed disrespectful behavior towards anyone in the team. He always makes it a point to use words such as ading, manang, friend or sis to address the women in the group.

Befriending John Paul is not difficult for he has been very generous, always ready to share whatever he has. He is always there to offer the best that he can give to anyone who needs it. It is no wonder why he can easily establish good relationship among people regardless of age, gender, economic status or cultural differences.

As a colleague, John Paul has become an asset to the group. He is a reliable partner, always taking another step further to deliver the services that our communities truly need. During gatherings, we can never think of a person other than John Paul to lead the prayer. This is because this God-fearing person always prays from his heart. John Paul is not just a worker, but he has become a treasure to the team and the community.

Being with him for a long time gave us the opportunity to know John Paul deeply. Every single day, we have seen that he had lived his life abiding the values and principles of his profession. Like a true social worker, he has shown concern to the welfare of other people, especially to women and children. This has been an extension of his service as a youth coordinator for the St. Laurence of Rome Parish Pastoral Council.

With his untimely death is the pain of losing a co-worker, a community facilitator, a friend and a brother. This pain is even more than having toothache for us that even laughing can no longer take away.

We will miss his anecdotes, his soft drinks treat during lunch breaks, his one-sided smile, his passion for the development of the poor communities in his native Abra. But most of all, we will miss his cheerful good mornings every time he arrives in the office because even if we would not permit, this good man has made his final GOODBYE. #

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