LA PAZ, LEYTE – A story of resilience and determination unfolds as Glen and Maribel Morales, a couple who faced unimaginable loss, find the strength to rebuild their lives and create a thriving business from the ashes of tragedy.

After losing their four children from a tragic fire in 2016, Glen Morales, 43, and his wife Maribel, 43, had to rebuild their lives from scratch. From their busy city life, they returned to Glen’s hometown in La Paz where they found themselves at a crossroads, unsure of how to move forward.

May 25, 2016 marked a devastating turning point for the couple, as a tragic fire claimed the lives of their four children – Gwenyth, Glen Marie, Glen Mark, and Danjade. The couple went to the market early that morning to buy supplies when they learned the tragic news. 

The couple, who also lost their eatery business, were left with nothing but grief and the weight of financial burden. “We no longer had a business. All that’s left was our loans from CARD Bank and we did not have the will to revive our eatery business that reminded us of the tragic loss of our children,” he shared.

CARD Bank, Inc. is the first rural bank to have evolved from a microfinance non-government organization to turn poor women who were once considered “non-bankable,” to financially inclusive. “It pained us every time we looked at our canteen. We couldn’t bear it so my wife and I looked for other ways to earn,” he said.

Upon returning home to La Paz, Glen recalled that his mother knew how to make turmeric tea due to its abundance in their community. “We tried to produce turmeric tea and sold them but I was a bit hesitant that our product would not sell because it was just packed in ice wrapper,” Glen said.

In 2017, someone from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), who remembered the incident, approached them at a mall and inquired about their business. Upon seeing their products, they have been invited to attend a seminar at the Tacloban City Hall on packaging and labeling, where they learned how to improve their business. They were also able to attend livelihood trainings of CARD MRI.

From turmeric and ginger tea, Glen’s brand expanded with more products from the crops that they have such as karlang strips (taro), banana, sweet potato, and coconut vinegar. “CARD helped us relive our dreams. Our loan has motivated us to work hard,” he said, sharing that his wife has been a member since 2005, while he has been a member since 2008.

The Department of Science and Technology also extended to them a loan in the amount of PHP375,000.00 to buy a juice extractor and pulverizer machine.

Glen’s Turmeric and Food Products is now being displayed at the Leyte Pasalubong Center. He also joins bazaars and trade fairs in Tacloban and Manila. They now earn PHP30,000.00 to PHP50,000.00 a month with a regular helper and on-call worker. 

Glen prides himself with certified organic ginger and turmeric products. They also practice crop rotation to ensure a year-round harvest. As they continue to expand their business and reach new heights of success, the couple remains grateful for the opportunities that have come their way and the support that has propelled them forward. By Marie Tonette Marticio (EV Mail June 24-30, 2024 issue)