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Finding the Superhero Within

Oftentimes, we underestimate how one act of courage or kindness towards other people can change the world. We think that for us to have a significant impact, we need to be superheroes with superhuman qualities to save humanity or to improve our daily lives.

But for Justin Dale Dela Cruz, small acts can have a big effect. He believes that for bigger change to happen, it must begin in him. He believes that the adversities in his life will not be a hindrance to his dream of becoming a superhero. Instead,  He views each challenge as a  motivation to strive harder to  reach his dreams.

Childhood Memories

Sino po ang kasama ni Mary Jane Dela Cruz?”

Justin’s earliest memories of his mother are their trips to the hospital and him raising his little hand whenever the doctor asked this question. When he was grade one, he remembers carrying their bags down the halls of Philippine Heart Center while his mother tries to catch her breath.

He remembers holding his mother’s hand through every ultrasound and every check-up as she battled against rheumatic heart disease. Meanwhile, his father worked hard as a metal crafter to earn money for their family and his mother’s hospital expenses.

A young Justin with his mother, Jane, who passed away due to rheumatic heart disease in 2014

According to his Lola, the little boy’s mature demeanor for his age has made Jane confident in Justin’s capabilities.

Unfortunately, his mother’s heart became too weak and she succumbed to the disease in 2014.  While he remembers the gloomy hospital trips, his fondest memories of his mother are of her positivity and strength.

“Palagi po siya nakangiti, kahit nahihirapan siya. At ang huling bilin niya po sa akin ay mag-aral akong mabuti at bantayan ko po lagi ang kapatid ko,” Justin said, with tears welling in his eyes.

Life after His Mother

After his mother died, Justin’s father, Joel Dela Cruz, had to juggle different jobs in order to sustain the need of his two sons and to also repay some of the debt the family has due to his mother’s hospital expenses. Their home was also destroyed and was only rebuilt with the help of his father’s family.

In order to have a steady income to provide for his children, his father decided to work in Cavite as a service crew for a restaurant grill. Without a mother and father to look after them, Justin and his brother were entrusted to their grandmother, Ana Dela Cruz, who also lived in Malabon.

Living without his parents by his side has not been easy for Justin. Due to his family’s circumstances, Justin became responsible for his older brother, John Tyron. Though older by several years, his brother had a weak body and was often bullied by his classmates. Justin always came through for his brother and often fended off anyone that would pick on him.

He was determined to fulfil his mother’s wishes despite growing up facing varying difficulties in life. He is a consistent honour student that excells in various subjects. He  actively participates in extra-curricular activities, never letting his challenging circumstances affect his studies, such lack of resources. Like his mother, Justin’s disposition always remains positive; he is even deemed as the joker of their class.

Justin is also Lola Ana’s little helper. His Lola describes him as an industrious and resilient boy. After school activities, he helps in delivering the different goods that their family sell. These include homemade detergents, Boardwalk and Avon products, and meat products such as longganisa. Despite his busy schedule due to his school and his engagement in the community, he makes time to help with the chores around the house.

Justin also immersed himself in the art of Balagtasan. He believes that poetry is a powerful way for him to convey his feelings and his beliefs.  His passion began when he joined a sabayang bigkasan competition when he was in Grade 5.

He said his favourite piece is Jose Rizal’s Sa Kabataang Pilipino, which greatly inspires him to become an open-minded youth that can have a strong impact to the society.

Justin performs his favorite poem, “Sa Kabataang Pilipino” by Jose Rizal.

Committment to Helping Others

Justin’s admiration of Jose Rizal’s works and teachings has awakened his strong sense of altrauism and desire to help the community.  Justin was also determined not to let other children experience the things that he went through. He wants them to be healthy and strong individuals that could also give back to the community. “Ayoko pong maranasan ng ibang bata ang mga bagay na naranasan ko. Iniisip ko po lagi kung paano ako makakatulong sa ibang tao,” he said. Because of this, he decided to join organizations or groups that could help other people.

Justin has been an active volunteer member of Save the Children, an international non-governmental organisation that promotes children’s rights, provides relief and helps support children in developing countries since he was in Grade 3.  As a volunteer, he teaches other students about the importance of hand washing and eating healthy during Health and Nutrition Sessions. Justin also teaches other children to read every Saturday during the NGO’s Reading Camp Sessions.

Aside from his volunteer work in Save the Children, Justin is also a youth volunteer for Red Cross. He is knowledgeable in first-aid and providing basic emergency medical care thanks to the various trainings he completed. He has rendered duty hours in their local Health Center as a Red Cross volunteer. Because of this, his  family members fondly call him their “Little Doctor” who is capable of treating minor cuts and injuries. In October,  Justin became part of the night-monitoring team deployed due to the red alert status declared by MMDA in Metro Manila due the Bagyong Ompong.

Justin, a Boy Scout Patrol leader, instructs his school mates during an earthquake drill.

Justin is also a Tugatog youth volunteer, a member of the local church choir, and a  Boy Scout Patrol leader.

Justin’s hard work in the community and his excellent academic standing did not go unnoticed. On April 3, 2018,  he was awarded a leadership award  by the Office of the Vice Mayor of Malabon. He was also awarded during the State of the Children Address by the Local Government Unit of Malabon.

Passion Overcomes the Odds

Justin wants to continue helping people when he grows up, either as a policeman or a fireman. He became a  Felicance Fire and Rescue volunteer on September 2018 to be one step closer to this dream and to help more people in need. He has completed the basic orientation and training to become a fire volunteer and has experienced responding to several fire incidents.

When asked if he gets scared when he responds to disaster incidents or accidents, he said any fears he have are weaker than his desire to help others. “Tumutulong po ako dahil naiisip ko na kung ako o ang pamilya ko ang nangangailangan ay may mga maaasahan din po kami.”He believes that his volunteer work  is a way to encourage other members to give back to the community as well.

Despite his hectic schedule, Justin prioritizes his studies in order to maintain his grades. His family’s strong support of his studies and work in the community is also vital to Justin’s ability to balance his academic duties and his community work.   Ultimately, he believes that his education will be his doorway towards success. “Mahirap man po kami ay naniniwala akong madami pa akong magagawa. Kakayanin ko po ang lahat, kahit sabay-sabay.  Kung maayos po akong makakapagtapos, matutupad ko po hindi lang pangarap ko at ng aking pamilya na makaahon sa kahirapan at mas madami pa po akong matutulungan.” #










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