For many Filipinos, â€œhome is where the heart is.â€ This is especially true for closely-knit families, who consider any dwelling place a home regardless of whether they live in a cramped house or in a dilapidated shelter that is just made up of scrap materials put together.
Twenty-nine year old Luther John De La Cruz knows this only too well, having lived in the slums for almost 3 decades before finally achieving his dream â€“ a home that he could finally call his own.
Lutherâ€™s story is a testament to how many Filipinos today still looks back to the place they called their home no matter where their journey in life takes them to. For him, home is where the family can stay together even if they have to share a crowded room or change residence many times over.
â€œI donâ€™t want to call myself a squatter but we have been illegal settlers for about 27 years,â€ Luther began. â€œGrowing up in a place like this is hard, but I still cherish it very much since this is my first home, it taught me how to dream big. It was a never-ending struggle for me but I accepted it as a challenge. Living here gave me the happiest moments of my life. Iâ€™ve met some of the most fun-loving people here. I listened and sang karaoke music until dawn, and saw some of the busiest streets here in Manila. Iâ€™m proud to say this where I grew up.â€
But like everyone else, Luther also dreamt of a better life. He wanted to live in a house that he, his mother and his father can call their own. â€œI wanted it to be my gift to my parents. I saw how hard they struggled to make both ends meet for our family and let me finish my studies.â€
As an only child, Luther nurtured this dream early on. He remembers the words of his father that changed how he coped with lifeâ€™s challenges for as long as he can remember. â€œAnak, pasensya ka na mahirap lang tayo. Tricycle driver lang ang tatay mo at janitor sa simbahan at ang nanay mo labandera lang, pero salamat dahil hindi ka nagreklamo. Basta tandaan mo na edukasyon lang ang tanging mapapamana namin saâ€™yo [Son, Iâ€™m so sorry weâ€™re poor. Your father is just a tricycle driver and a janitor and your mother, a laundrywoman. But thank you because you never complained. Always remember that education is the only gift that we can pass on to you].â€™â€
Taking his fatherâ€™s words by heart, he applied for scholarship at the Technological Institute of the philippinesof the Philippines where he took up marine engineering. While studying in college, he also worked part time by encoding term papers for fellow students.
To the joy of his parents, Luther eventually graduated from college and found a job at a shipping company that transports cattle across the Atlantic Ocean. They were overjoyed but little did they know that something more magical is in store for their son.
After working for three years, he was then recruited in the youth activities department onboard the Disney Magic â€“ one of the four ships of the ` that takes its passengers on a fantasy voyage in different destinations around the world.
â€œI originally applied for a more technical job,â€ Luther narrates, â€œbut luckily, I got offered the more enjoyable tasks of hosting and making sure that guests would have fun and be entertained.â€ For eight years, Luther surfed the Bahamas, explored Europe and met new friends and workmates that he called his second family. But the glamour of the job has not been able to cure him of his homesickness. He just held on to the promise that someday, he will be able to save enough money to buy his dream home which heâ€™d like to give to his parents.
One day, while browsing the internet, he chanced upon a spacious, resort-type condominium in Pasig that was then being sold at a very affordable rate. This was DMCI Homesâ€™ Mayfield Park Residences which is located along Felix Avenue in Pasig City.
The Zen-inspired condominium complex consists of 9 mid-rise buildings and boasts of premium amenities such as a swimming pool, gym and a clubhouse for the entire family. About 60 percent of the total land area is allocated for wide open spaces, gardens and koi ponds that promote wellness and comfort. Moreover, the development is close to schools and shopping hubs like the Araneta Center, Greenhills and Libis Commercial Center.
â€œIt was both an answered prayer and a dream come true,â€ he says. â€œMayfield Park Residences offered a quiet, safe and relax environment with lots of nature. Itâ€™s really perfect for my ageing parents. I immediately bought a unit online. After that, everything seemed like a breeze and the next thing I knew, I was already dreaming of going back home and looking forward to the new home I could finally call our own.â€
But another challenge tested their family. Lutherâ€™s father died of heart attack a few months before the scheduled turnover. â€œIt was a sad time but the memory of his strong and persevering character helped us move on. He will always live inside our hearts as a role model,â€ he said.
Today, for over two years now, Luther and his mother had been enjoying the comforts of their 2-bedroom unit. â€œIt has always been my sanctuary where I get peace of mind knowing that this is the promise I have delivered well. I imagine my father giving me his approval from heaven,â€ he beams. ###