From sponsored child to Captain

By Lisbet Esmael
World Vision Communications Intern

To achieve his dream of a successful life, a former sponsored child battled the poverty in the slums of Caloocan City and endured the misfortunes life threw at him.

Who would have thought that the young boy who used to go to Sunday class shirtless with mud on his face is now a high-ranking officer of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)?

A child who only once dreamt for an ounce of luck, now swims with the waves of blessings – this is proven as his name and face continually flash on national television every time he delivers statements or warnings on the issues of the Philippine shores, portraying his duty as the official PCG spokesperson.

Meet Captain Armand Balilo, a former World Vision sponsored child.

As a child, Armand had to balance his schooling and his owned responsibility in the family. Selling rice cakes, quail eggs, and newspapers right after school were his ways to put food on the table. If the sales failed to suffice their hunger, he would roam outside in search of scrap metals and bottles to sell.

For a young Armand, surviving was not easy.

But when he encountered World Vision, the possibility of leaving behind the miseries illuminated his dim present. “During what probably was the darkest time in my life, I came across World Vision. Nilapitan ako ng isang WV project staff, inimbita niya kami ng mother ko to know what World Vision is all about, what it can do to help me and my family. I eventually joined the World Vision Child Sponsorship Program and to make a long story short, it changed my life,” he related.

Even though Armand knew nothing comes easy in life, he was still delighted for the new hope given and ecstatic to get his dreams achieved. His persistence pushed him to walk some 10 kilometres to and from his high school. For Armand, this was only a small sacrifice. “Getting to school was the least of my concerns. While my classmates never had to worry, I could not even afford to buy a single piece of bond paper or find a working typewriter for school projects.”

In college, his constant companions in pursuing his dreams were bread and instant noodles. Having not enough allowance made him more determined. Armand believed education is the only way to get out of his deprived life so chose to be strong.

As evident as it is, Captain Armando Balilo successfully braved all the challenges life gave him. With a loving wife and two beautiful daughters who inspire him, he is motivated to be a blessing to other hopeful children. Now, he tries to give back the blessings as he sponsors two children from Palawan.