New Baby a Symbol for Fresh Beginnings

New Baby a Symbol for Fresh Beginnings

Publication info


Wilma Cabatingan is nine months pregnant and due to give birth in a week. 

The baby will be the third child for the 30-year-old woman. A resident of Monterico, a far-flung, farming village in Ormoc City, in the Leyte region of the Philippines, Wilma is very excited about the arrival of her new bundle of joy. 

Yet, along with the anticipation comes anxiety. Only a few months ago, her old home was blown away by the ferocious winds of super typhoon Haiyan.

Wilma now lives in a makeshift home made from salvaged materials collected from the typhoon’s debris and donated tarpaulins used as temporary roofing – hardly the ideal house to bring home a newborn baby.

Wilma also constantly worries about the health and safety of her other two daughters, ages five and three. The kids have been suffering from coughs and colds, and Wilma says it could be due to the water leaking through the tarpaulin roofing during heavy rains. Unfortunately, it seems that the rains have been constant since the typhoon first hit. 

“I also have intermittent fever, maybe because we don’t have enough protection from the elements. When it’s hot, it’s so hot, when it rains hard, we get hit by the waters that leaks through the roof,” says Wilma. “I know it’s not good, given my condition. But this is the reality we have to live with now. I just hope there’s a better way I could protect my kids, more than anything else.”  

Before the storm, Wilma’s husband worked as a farm helper, earning about 150 pesos a day or barely $4.00, about four to five times a week. She used to help her husband earn a living, but had to stop when her pregnancy progressed. 

Now, because most of the farmlands in their village have been damaged and many do not have enough money to buy the seeds to replant, Wilma fears that work for her husband will become scarce. 

Despite such challenges, she says they are all trying their best and refuse to be totally defeated by the disaster. 

“Haiyan took our house [and] yes, I feel unsafe in our temporary home. But I know, we also have so much to be thankful for. First, of course, is that we are all alive. And so many people from the Philippines and around the world are helping us. We are very grateful,” she says. 

For example, the food relief they have received has been a huge help to her family. Wilma fondly thanks CARE for the food, saying, “CARE gave us the biggest food package containing 25 kilos of rice, almost a dozen canned goods, there’s dried fish, mongo beans, etc. It sustained us for more than two weeks of our food needs.”  

Immediately after the devastation of Haiyan, CARE and its local partners responded to help provide emergency support to the typhoon-affected areas in Leyte, Samar and Panay. CARE’s target is to reach 200,000 people with lifesaving food, shelter livelihood assistance.

In the coming weeks, CARE will be distributing high-quality shelter repair kits to the most vulnerable people in Monterico. Containing corrugated sheets, specialized nails, wire, tools and other useful items, these kits will help families build stronger homes that can better withstand the elements.

Wilma vows that the one thing Haiyan did not and cannot take away from them is the value of hope. She remains positive that her entire village will recover and go back to the farming that used to sustain them. She believes that in time they will also be able to rebuild a new and better house. 

Most of all, consistent with traditional Filipino beliefs, Wilma remains faithful that her new baby will be a bearer of good fortune for their family, a symbol of a fresh beginning for all.  

Written by Winnie Aguilar, CARE Philippines communications officer

Keep learning:

Wilma Cabatingan, 30. Due to give birth very soon, she holds on to the traditional Filipino belief that a new born is a bearer of good fortune for the family.