“It is difficult if you do not have a mother. I feel lonely whenever I see children with their mothers and I do not have my own mom. I wonder if she loves me,” says Nica, 12, from Dasmarinas City, Cavite.
A carbon copy of her mom, Nica cannot remember anything about her. Her mother died due to pneumonia when Nica was two years old.
“I wish she were here to take care of me and to help me with my assignments in school,” she says, with head down and eyes staring at their floor.
Life with a “padyak” father
Nica, the youngest of seven children, lives with her father in one of the villages in Cavite, a nearly two hour ride from Manila. Three of her siblings stay with her and her father, while the other three stay with their grandmother in a nearby village.
Their house is about two meters by four meters – an all in one abode – as this serves as their living room, dining room and bedroom. Their floor is covered with patches of old floor mat. They do not have electricity or water.
Her father buys and sells used bottles, plastic bottles and scrap metals. He uses a “padyak” (cycle rickshaw) provided by a junk shop, which also gives him P500 as capital.
Nica's father works as a "padyak," selling used bottles plastic bottles and scrap metals.
“It is hard to earn money. Sometimes there is money, sometimes there is. It depends on how much you gather during the day,” says Sergio, Nica’s father, who cycles around the village everyday.
During rainy season he could not go out daily compared to summertime. He would endure the heat of the sun with the temperature going as high as 36 degree Celsius sometimes or have cough and colds during the cold months.
“There are times we don’t have food to eat because my father did not earn enough during the day,” Nica says.
When her father gets back home, he would arrange the things he bought before bringing them to the junk shop. During that time, he would collect leftover cooking oils from the used bottles to be used in their makeshift kitchen.
Sergio would also go over the things he was able to scavenge like used clothes, old jars and wall clocks among others.
“Most of the things in our house are either given to me or I have picked them up along the way,” he says and these include stray animals like cats and dogs.
Sergio, Nica’s father, now acts as both mother and father to the family. He cycles around the village everyday selling scrap materials.
Nica’s toys were also the product of her father’s scavenging.
“I want to have toys like Barbie doll but we do not have money to buy. My toys were from what my father was able to scavenge while doing his work,” says Nica. Her collection of toys includes Woody from the Toy Story movie.
“Most of the things in our house are either given to me or I have picked them up along the way," says Nica's father.
With their current situation, Sergio says, “Times were better when my wife was alive. I am inspired and we were happy. Even though my earning is minimal, she stretches our budget and she takes care of the kids.”
Experiencing mother’s love
When Nica was nine years old, she became a part of World Vision through its child sponsorship programme. She was then in Grade 1.
“It was a great help. My school things were provided - notebooks, pencil case, shoes among others,” says Nica, who is entering the fourth grade this coming school season.
She shares that last Christmas, her family was able to have some food prepared during the Noche Buena as she received a food package containing spaghetti among others from her sponsor.
As mother’s day approaches, Nica longs for her mom. Her message to children who still have their own mothers is, “Respect your mother, do not disobey them.”
“Now, I feel the care of someone who have a mother," says Nica with a smile.
Even if she would never feel her mother’s care, Nica is happy because she was able to experience it through the World Vision staff and community leaders she interacts with in their village.
She says, “They tell me to take care of myself, not to stop studying and to love God,” she says.
“Now, I feel the care of someone who have a mother because every Saturday we have values formation. We learn about God. This is my favorite activity,” Nica says with a smile.