“Sama-sama nating ipakita sa ating bansa na mayroon ding pag-asa kung tayo’y may pagkakaisa,” sang the Tam-awen family. A musically-inclined family, Mr. Gentry Tam-awen wrote a song for the regional search with his children to express their family’s beliefs–children’s rights and taking care of the environment to name a few.

Mr. Gentry and Mrs. Preciosa chose to raise a family in the land of lush green mountains, clear rivers, rushing waterfalls, and untouched caves. Abiang Taba-ao, Kapangan, Benguet remains to be the Tam-awen’s turf. Mr. and Mrs. Tam-awen met in Metro Manila where Gentry was a construction worker and welder. They were both members of the United Pentecostal Church in Manila and after they got married, the two relocated in Benguet where they took any job that they can to save enough money to put up a small home. The couple found a small lot which can be accessed by hiking 40 minutes from the highway. Soon, Gentry and Preciosa found their calling to serve the church more actively and was then blessed with five beautiful children.

The Tam-awen family lives a modest life. Gentry works as preacher for the United Pentecostal Church and an organic farmer while Preciosa is a homemaker. Their main source of income comes from Gentry and Preciosa’s organic seedlings which are bought by the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources and other agencies for their tree-planting activities. Gentry is a purok president in Abiang where the main project is reforestation. Their group has already planted more than 10,000 seedlings in their community where the Tam-awen family is active in environmental preservation efforts.

With the couple’s meek income of P 8,000.00 monthly, the Tam-awen children learned at an early age that they need to do something to help out. The couple managed to raise 5 children who prioritize their studies, resulting to the numerous awards and recognitions they have received. To mention a few, the Tam-awen boys Paulle Jesrael, Zion Jemillinium, and Kym Christian were chosen to represent the youth achievers of Kapangan on an educational tour in Hong Kong and Macau. The boys traveled on July 14, 2015 with renowned Baguio journalist and University of the Philippines Baguio Journalism professor Jimmy Fong. They were chosen based on their exemplary performance academically and active participation in extra-curricular activities. The boys, now in college, are also scholars: Paulle is a Benguet State University scholar through the University Glee Club while Zion and Kym are DOST scholars. The Tam-awen girls Charis Genema and Misty Joy are also academic achievers with their own awards and recognitions.

“Ginagawa lang po naming ‘yung alam namin ay nakabubuti. Ayaw po naming gumawa ng mga bagay na hindi naman nakakatulong para sa kinabukasan namin,” said Paulle when asked about what drove him and his siblings to excel in school. Since the family was assessed to be part of Pantawid Pamilya in 2011, the children knew that the program is a part of the weapon they can use to fight poverty. The family has religiously complied with the program conditionalities and the children made sure that they do not miss a school day. More than the cash grants that they are receiving, the Tam-awen children know what the program is truly about: investing on their future. “Nakakatulong po ‘yung cash grants para magkaroon po ng motivation na pumasok, pero mas motivation naman po talaga namin ‘yung mga natututunan namin sa school at ‘yung alam naming balang-araw, makakatapos kami ng kolehiyo, makakahanap ng magandang trabaho kung saan magagamit namin ang mga skills namin ng mahusay, at kumita ng sapat para matulungan sina Ina at Ama,” said Kym Christian.

Gentry and Preciosa maintained a well-balanced life style especially when it comes to disciplining their children. Neighbors attested as to how well the couple raised their children. “Positibo ang impluwensya ng mga bata at asset sila sa community. Lahat sila ay matatalino at magalang. Napalaki sila ni Pastor Gentry at Ate Precious ng maayos. Talented din sila gaya ni Pastor,” said one neighbor during an interview with a PDO II. Gentry owed his children’s up-bringing to positive disciplining. “May mga karapatan ang mga bata. Hindi epektibo na negatibo ang isasagot mo sa nagawa nilang negatibo. Mas maganda kung kakausapin sila ng mahinahon, at higit sa lahat, ikaw mismo na magulang ang maging ehemplo nila. Walk the talk,” shared Gentry. The family also practices transparency where the children are able to voice out their thoughts and opinions, and share their experiences and problems with their parents. “Walang sikre-sikreto. Kung gusto nilang sabihin, sabihin lang nila sa amin. Mas maganda nang may masabi silang mali at kami ang makakarinig at maitama kaagad kaysa matakot na silang magkwento sa amin at mag-eksperimento sila ng walang gabay,” said Preciosa, “Kahit sa lovelife, open kami sa bawat isa,” she added. With this, the family has set a standard of behavior in the community, inspiring other families to follow the Tam-awen’s way of disciplining and children’s dedication to education.

In 2002, Preciosa fell ill after her ligation. Gentry had to work extra and the children had to make minor financial adjustments to help out but through the family’s faith in the Lord and support from their relatives, the Tam-awen family was able to get by. Preciosa is still recovering until now but she believes that the Lord that they serve has already healed her.

Next to their love for God, the family’s love for music keeps them united and stronger. While winning several Battle of the Bands competitions, the family has not forgotten to give back to the Lord by using their music skills to glorify him at church. The family believes that every blessing they have received, is receiving, and will receive in the future comes from the Lord. “We owe it all to Him. With Him, all things are possible,
said Gentry. And with the family’s hard work, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program’s assistance, and faith in their hearts, the Tam-awen believes that they will overcome all challenges together, no matter how small or big it may be. # DSWD-CAR, SOCIAL MARKETING UNIT, Ann Jenica Quirimit

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