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  • “It’s Payback Time.”

    One-On-One
    With Loy M. Palapos
    August 3, 2014

    “It’s Payback Time.”

    There were more than a hundred who submitted themselves to rigorous screenings and be a part of the first batch of Registered Nurses (RN) to graduate at the Bohol Provincial Hospital School of Nursing. Only 49 passed the examination and screenings. Only 27 graduated.
    That was the time when there was only one Nursing School in Bohol, and the requirements for admission were gargantuan. Being a student Nurse was a source of pride and honor. Loreta Garrote-Trinidad became a Nurse, and went to USA where she married a Chemical Engineer from Laguna. After more than 40 years, she has retired, and her sojourns in the Philippines have become long durations.
    It’s payback time for her. She wants to thank her hometown for the nurture, without which she won’t be what she is now. Knowing the value of education, she wants to contribute to her townmates’ intellectual upliftment. This she did by for years through a Mobile Library. Now, she is building a Library for Cortes.

    LMP: Not just anybody can make a library. Aside from this, what other projects did you have in the past years?
    LGT: I worked for special service agency, nursing in a private hospital for 30 years in Kaiser. I have been involved with the Asian Pacific Community. We have this Filipino- American social service group, a non-profit agency, that provides shelter and create projects for the Asian society.
    LMP: What year did you go to the States?
    LGT: 1967. I was still single at that time, and a year after, I met my husband in Los Angeles.
    LMP: How many kids do you have?
    LGT: We have four kids. Our eldest Elson, is 42 years old, still single, and is a Journalist. He finished his studies at the University of Southern California. He founded the East Hollywood Community Group, and he even tried politics in Los Angeles. Lorely, is now living in New York. She took up Theater Arts at California State University. She was here in Bohol for two years, helping out with some community projects including the development of Abatan River. The last time the Loboc Children’s Choir was in New York and Europe, she was one of those who managed the event. She just got married at 38 and is now expecting their first born. Elan (35), finished Digital Arts at Otes College of Fine Arts. He came here a week ago for a vacation. Our youngest, Elliot, is into Game Arts, making video games.
    LMP: Where did your children get this inclination for creativity?
    LGT: Maybe, because of their exposure living in Hollywood. We also have a little art in us. Actually, my eldest is a musician, but he opted to be a Journalist.
    LMP: The name of your husband?
    LGT: My husband is Ely Trinidad, from Pagsanjan, Laguna. He is a Chemical Engineering graduate from Manuel L. Quezon University in Manila. We met across the hospital of LA. (Laughs)
    LMP: So, he worked there as a Chemical Engineer?
    LGT: No, not at first, because when you go to the United States, you need to have a local experience. He started working in a department store, and after a few months, he was employed at an electronics company. Years later, he became a Research Technician of a chemical company. Since, he wanted to diversify himself, he studied Computer Technology for two years. Then, he worked at the steel-wheel operations. There, he was able to apply his skills in engineering.
    LMP: In your case, did you really want to be nurse all your life?
    LGT: No, I wanted to be a writer. I am an ambitious Boholana girl. (Laughs)
    LMP: Where did you get that inclination to write?
    LGT: Our father really loved reading. He had a collection of books in our house. On the other hand, our mother loved to write. I was growing up in that kind of atmosphere. So, I said to myself, “One day I want to be a writer, a columnist,” I was still an elementary pupil at that time.
    LMP: What school did you go to?
    LGT: For my elementary, I went to La Paz Elementary School. In high school, I was first enrolled at the College of Holy Spirit, and then I transferred to Bohol High School. Supposedly, I would take up Journalism in college, but it was only offered in the universities in Manila. I decided to pursue Bachelor of Arts at Divine Word College. On my junior year, a sister of mine, who dreamed of becoming a nurse, but was not able to obtain it, asked me if I could fulfill her dream. So, we have to manipulate our mother for me to enter the nursing school. (Laughs) And I did not regret it.
    LMP: Entering the nursing school at that time was very stiff. There were a lot of applicants but only few were chosen.
    LGT: In my batch, we were about a hundred applicants, only 49 passed the examination and the screening. Twenty-seven students made it until graduation.
    LMP: How many are you in the family?
    LGT: Our eldest, Neodora Diola, is a retired teacher. She graduated from Rafael Palma College, taking up Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. Fe Cresenciana Romanillos, was a Comelec Registrar of Antequera. She was the one who studied nursing, but was not able to finish the course, because she got married. Since, it was the will of our father that all of us should have a college degree, our mother sent her again to school. Artemia Ipong, is also a retired BSEED teacher. Luzvisminda already passed away, she was also a teacher. I am the youngest, and the most unexpected daughter. (Laughs)
    LMP: Why unexpected?
    LGT: Because our father expected that my mother was carrying a baby boy. I was born on April 28, 1944.
    LMP: As far as your life is concerned, is everything fulfilled, no more problems?
    LGT: Well, I still have a library to focus on.
    LMP: What encourages you to do this thing?
    LGT: I want to pay back to the community.
    LMP: Would you say, that the community has made you what you are?
    LGT: Well, I think so. For me, it is a sense of gratitude to the community.
    LMP: Why library, why not a Church, or a classroom?
    LGT: I believe in the creed of the United Nation that, “Every child should have the right for education.” Regardless of your social status in life, all children should have the right to access for good education. It may be a library for everyone, but it is where the kids can dream for their future. In that library we also have technical books.
    LMP: You are expecting that in this library, there is something that is modern, with all of the modern equipment, technology, like the computers.
    LGT: Yes, we have computers, unfortunately, one was destroyed during the earthquake. I believe that the old-fashioned books are still applicable in the 3rd world country.
    LMP: And you will also finance all of these things needed, the equipment, the books in the library?
    LGT: Yes.
    LMP: That’s a tough job?
    LGT: Yeah, it is. But my family is very supportive to my advocacy, especially my children.
    LMP: Is this a family donation?
    LGT: Yeah, it comes from the whole clan.
    LMP: You mentioned a while ago, that your father was a wide reader.
    LGT: Yes, even though he did not finish college, he loved books.
    LMP: What was he doing in his lifetime?
    LGT: He was a businessman. He died at the age of 40, I was only 2 years old at that time.
    LMP: What kind of business was that in particular?
    LGT: My parents engaged into tobacco selling, and “tuba” or the coconut wine. They were the retailer and wholesaler of these products. Our mother painstakingly worked for us, so we could all go to college, as the last will of our father when he passed away.
    LMP: Would like to say that, this artistic inclination you have with your children, comes from your father?
    LGT: I think, on both sides. Actually, my father came from the family of musicians.
    LMP: How long did you stay in the States?
    LGT: 47 years, I retired two years ago. Talking about our library, aside from our building, we also have a mobile library that tours around Cortes. We schedule our visit to the different schools, and we give each class one hour to explore and scan our books.
    LMP: You mean to say, you bring the books to the schools?
    LGT: Yes, through our mobile library.
    LMP: When did it start?
    LGT: It’s been going on for seven years. We go to the public schools, make arrangement with the principal for the scheduling. Because based on our statistics, 95% of these students have never been to the library.
    LMP: How do you bring the books and the equipment?
    LGT: We hired jeepney to carry the books, together with the volunteers, who are also our family member. Our librarian is the daughter of our eldest.
    LMP: How were you received by the people, especially the kids?
    LGT: They were happy, and they love it.
    LMP: Did you not leave them books?
    LGT: It depends, but usually, we gave dictionary to each grade level. I am proud to say that, we have visited all the barrios in Cortes. In Corella, we have an extension on one of the elementary schools, because our grandmother was born there. We also went to Kanangkaan, a remote area, where I volunteered to be one of their teachers in high school. I was surprised, because the students were so amazed of the kindergarten books we brought. A teacher told me that it was the first time, they have seen those kinds of books. I was touched, and I really felt fulfilled.
    LMP: What is your philosophy in life?
    LGT: To help people, provide community service, without expecting anything in return. Our children would always tell us, it would be interesting 10 years from now, how these kids will turn into. We already have one valedictorian. That is what we expect, their achievements.
    LMP: How often do you go to the barrio for your mobile library?
    LGT: Actually, we are trying to trace the place where our family evacuated during the war. The Japanese soldiers were looking for them, so they had to transfer from one place to the other in hiding. Until my father, Loreto, was born. That is why, I was named Loreta. We are also planning to visit some barrios in Maribojoc and Antequera. Aside from our mobile library, we let the children play with some ball games like, volleyball, we have chess board, and many more. When we started this advocacy, I was still working in the US, so I have to be here in the Philippines for just three weeks, everytime I come home. When I was already retired, I come here often. There was one incident that I could not forget, about a woman with goiter who brought her children to the library, and patiently read stories to them. I was deeply touched with what I saw, and I said to myself, “I think, I am doing the right thing.”

    Meeting Loreta and her husband was a unique experience of seeing a husband fully supportive of his wife’s project. He has learned to love Cortes, and narrated to me his concern for the environment by putting up a bird-house in La Paz, a project I am inspired to duplicate.
    Meanwhile, the entire clan lends a hand in putting up a library, even the couple’s children who are now lucratively ensconced in the Land of Milk and Honey. Leaving a legacy for the betterment of life has long been Mrs. Trinidad’s obsession. Above all else, she wants to express her gratitude to the Great Almighty who has always been at the center of her life.

    Filed under: 2014, August | Permalink