A FAMILY of five from Guimaras was hailed model OFW family in sea-based category of the 2018 Model OFW Family of the Year Awards of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).
The family of Reynaldo Gaitan and Tessie Baje-Gaitan of Barangay Lawi, Jordan, Guimaras represented Western Visayas in the national level after winning the regional competition.
The couple has three children – Dubhe Lynn Gaitan-Guarnes, DenebGaitan and RigelKeziahGaitan-Sulmaca.
Aside from providing a better life for their family, the Gaitan family is unwavering in their commitment to share their time and resources to the community.
Mr. Gaitan said being awarded as model OFW family is a fulfillment of his dream to enter the Malacañang Palace to personally receive the award from President Rodrigo Duterte.
The former seafarer underscored that they did not advertise their noble deeds, but the Provincial Government of Guimaras took notice of their endeavours.
He hopes that this will encourage other OFWs in the province to help their fellow Guimarasnons.
“I hope ini maka-encourage man sa aton diri nga mga OFWs, sa mga sea-based or bisan sa land-based, katulad man sang ginahimo namon. I hope nga masobra pa ang inyo nga mahimo sa nahimo namon,” Gaitan added.
Born on February 18, 1952, Reynaldo Gaitan is the second youngest of the 8 children of Inocentis Gaitan and Alejandra Granada Gaitan. Due to poverty, only three of the siblings were able to finished college.
Reynaldo attributed his success to his perseverance.
He earned his degree in Bachelor of Science in Marine Transportation from the Iloilo Maritime Academy in Iloilo City on January 17, 1979 by working to finance his studies.
He used to work for his uncle from high school until college to earn money.
On August 29, 1979, Mr. Gaitan married Tessie Baje of Iligan City in Lanaodel Norte and were blessed with three children.
Mrs. Gaitan did not come from a well-off family as well.
When she was young, she used to walk two kilometers every day to reach school while in High School, she worked in the small business of her grandmother to earn money to finance his studies.
Due to her dedication, Mrs. Gaitan was able to finish a Bachelor of Science in Social Work degree in Misamis.
For the first five years of their married life, the couple earned minimal salary that was just enough to pay their debts acquired when they attended school.
As their salary increased due to promotions as a result of dedication to their job, the couple was able to save for the construction of their house.
A portion of the income was also allocated to health and life insurance and when the family attained financial stability, a huge amount was set aside for investments and savings.
Currently, the Gaitan family has several family businesses and enterprises that include Reynsie Refilling Station, Reynsie Aqua Farm, vegetable farm, hollow blocks factory and quarry; and have investments in GOFWS MP Cooperative, Favor Enterprise and Starbox 23 Internet Cafe.
The couple was also able to send their children to school where the eldest graduated in Western Institute of Technology with a degree of Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and presently working at the Department of Health Region 6.
Their only son finished Bachelor of Science in Information Management from Central Philippine University in 2008 and now manages his own internet cafe and the water refilling station business of the family.
The youngest child of the Gaitan family graduated Bachelor of Science in Accounting Management from the Central Philippine University and now managing their own business – The Favor Enterprises.
Reynaldo and Tessie value close ties among family members and believe that family is a constant support in life.
Despite the distance of the head of the family from his wife and children, Mrs. Gaitan said that this was not a hindrance for them to let each other feel the love, importance and concern for each other.
Greeting cards were sent during special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, Christmas and Valentine’s Day.
The family also see to it that they have an open communication and a day doesn’t end without having a text or call with each other.
Five percent of the family income per year is also spent for family and social and amusement and get together activities.
Like any traditional Filipino family, the Gaitan couple raised their children with love and faith in God.
They trained their children to be church servants where the eldest is a drummer, the second child is a guitarist and the third one plays the organ of their church band which was also organized by the family.
The family also attends church services together every Sunday as they believed that the family who prays together, stays together.
Giving back to the community is the way of the Gaitan family to express their gratitude for the blessings they have received from the Lord.
As a seaman, Mr. Gaitan is always away from the country, working to provide for his family.
His wife was left to take care of their kids and all their responsibilities as parents to their children.
Mrs. Gaitan is an active member of the International Care Ministry which has been existing for 25 years to provide help, inspire hope and create change for families living in extreme poverty in the Philippines.
They reach hundreds of thousands every year through partnerships in local churches and Mrs. Gaitan held their mission in their small church located inside RenSie Resort.
The Gaitan family also gives school supplies to kids to encourage them to go to school despite their financial struggles.
The family also provides medical missions especially for the elderly while Mrs. Gaitan also extends monthly service at Sitio Lactad and Gituway by holding feeding program, raffles of gift items and parlor games for children who attend the teaching on moral values.
Mrs. Gaitan also became a counselor for parole and probation and was part of planning and implementing arm for program and services offered to persons granted with parole.
The family is also involved in different civil and community organizations such as Guimaras OFWs Multi-purpose Cooperative, Barangay Developmental Council, Lawi Marine Reserve and Management Board, Barangay Drug Abuse Council, Brangay Child Protection Council, Barangay Nutrition Council, Parole and Probation Council among others.
Aside from giving livelihood to their fellow Guimarasnons through their family businesses, the Gaitan couple also sent scholars to school.
For sustainable advocacy, they initiated to build two churches within their property and extended assistance in the ongoing construction of the church in Maabay, Sibunag, Guimaras.