Filipino families reaching beyond blood ties

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(File photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — In a country where many families struggle to make ends meet, there are those like the Palacios.

The mother, Rachel, was left to care for her six children when her husband passed away.

Living in the slums of Manila, she provided for her family by working as a laundrywoman, earning an average income of P500 a week.

But it's not only her own kids that she looked after.

As a volunteer for a nongovernment organization, Rachel visited depressed areas in Manila, teaching values and reading and writing to street children under five years old.

Her kids, Michel, Chemil and Merielle, also offered their services for free, helping out in peer-to-peer activities that address issues like bullying.

The Palacios' philanthropy won them a special citation during the first ever Jolllibee Family Values Awards (JFVA) in 2011.

Now on its sixth year, the annual search will recognize six more exemplary Filipino families who have made an impact in their communities.

It chose from 388 qualified Filipino families here and abroad, a 30 percent increase from last year.

Of this number, 15 families have been shortlisted. An 11-member panel of judges deliberated last August 26.

Senator Bam Aquino, chairman of the board of judges, said the nominees come from all walks of life, but "all of them decided to do something about a problem that they saw," despite limited resources.

"When we think of family, of course we think of trying to sustain our families, trying to provide for our families but here are families who come from different backgrounds, but find the time and the resources to give to their countrymen," Aquino said.

Government statistics show two in 10 Filipino families were poor, as of 2015. But the latest survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) says 45 percent, or around 10.5 million Filipino families consider themselves poor.

Aquino said the search is empowering because it shows families who "did not end up just complaining about the problem," but did something about it.

"It's a happy and warm feeling that the Filipinos are still a people to reckon with," Boots Anson-Rodrigo, another judge, said. "Nandito man sila, nasa ibang bansa, ang puso ng Pinoy ay malaki para sa mga nangangailangan ng tulong."

Judges decided on the winners based on the magnitude of the family advocacy's contribution to society, its relevance to pressing issues, the sustainability of the family's effort, and the degree of involvement of each family member.

The JFVA will also give special citations for advocacies in the following categories: Environment, Education, Children, Persons with Disabilities, and Minority Groups.

All six winning families will each receive P300,000 cash (tax-free), a trophy designed by premiere brass sculptor Michael Cacnio, and P10,000 worth of Jollibee Gift Certificates.

Special citation winners will each receive P50,000 cash (tax-free), a Plaque of Recognition, and P3,000 worth of Jollibee Gift Certificates.

The awarding ceremony will be held on October 7.

"We also owe much of our success to the loyalty and support of every Filipino family who have made Jollibee their second home," the JFVA team said. "And in turn, we want to give back by recognizing families who share our cause and fortify Filipino family values."

CNN Philippines is a media partner for the 6th Jollibee Family Values Awards.