ONE CAN see that the tribal members now consider the Latuga couple as part of their tribe. But Lanie herself admits it was not like that at the start. They had to show the tribe members that they were really sincere in their desire to help them. “Napaso na kasi sila ng maraming beses noon (They’ve had many unpleasant experiences in the past),” says Lanie. The tribal members have been disillusioned with various “volunteers” who promised to help improve their living conditions, taking videos of the miserable condition of the tribe to solicit donations locally and abroad. But after these “volunteers” left, they have not heard from them anymore.
Lanie and Ely had to show the Dumagat that they were different from these people and were sincere in their intention to help. They are transparent to them with all the assistance they receive, and everything is accounted for. The tribe can feel the couple’s earnestness to help them, and they have their full trust in them.
Ely and Lanie left in the lowlands their family of four children, three of whom are already married. The youngest child was in college when the call for them to serve the Dumagat beckoned and they could not say ‘No’ to the call. Their youngest child was forced to stop schooling because of the couple’s decision to pursue their missionary work. “We had to explain to our children that sometimes, one has to forsake oneself or one’s family to help other people who have much bigger and pressing needs,” relates Lanie.
We salute Lanie and Ely Latuga for their selfless dedication to serve a community in need. The majority of us, myself included, won’t be able to muster enough courage to do what they have committed to do, but I’m sure many of us would also be willing to help them continue their missionary work. All those who would be interested to help Lanie and Ely, and the Dumagat community they’re serving may contact Angeli Mamaril of the For God’s Glory Foundation at 8920723 or 24 or 0917-8835942. May their tribe increase.