PASAY CITY—CANDIDO Caminero’s legs didn’t wobble in his recent band sortie with some of his nine children. There are over-12 videos in his son’s laptop to prove it.
One would not even think the 63-year-old is tired and weary from months-long work as chief engineer in ships.
On this return home from his 21st year as an international seafarer, Caminero is paying mind to family matters. A band performance is up, and so is managing businesses.
The family rock band is scheduled to perform in their hometown of Argao in Cebu province (some 66 kms. from Cebu City). Then there are the agriculture-based enterprises to handle with wife Elizabeth and son Denver in their poor barangay and neighbor barangay in Argao.
There is the corn sheller and service milling enterprise that produces “palay” out of corn that is staple fare among Cebuanos. There is the poultry farm with 6,000 heads. From the manure, the Camineros make organic fertilizer. There is also the rice mill that produces 150-160 sacks a day during harvest season, and the sand and gravel business that produces and delivers some 300 hollow blocks a day.
And yes, Caminero’s still a seafarer. Nearing the end of his 40-year domestic and international seafaring career, he earned over-US$4,800 monthly from his latest contract
Mind that Candido and Elizabeth have nine children. He remains sturdy amid all these.
As an award, his family was adjudged the Model OFW Family of the Year for seafarers this year by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).
The prize, a total of P600,000, means another busy vacation for Candido; it is additional rolled-up capital for some of the businesses, proclaims the father-and-son tandem of Candido and Denver.
But Candido is used to a busy life. This vocational-technical graduate of the old Cebu School of Arts and Trades came from a poor household—and he claims to know what it takes to work “extra hard” to meet family needs.
After a career in domestic shipping from 1972 to 1990, Candido tried overseas ships and sailed various continents. Lately, Candido says he can no longer endure non-Asian routes and thus, joins ships that ply East Asian and Southeast Asian routes.
While he then earned at least US$2,800 in monthly salaries, Candido surprisingly constructed a small “kubo” for the family, and bought a second-hand elf truck. Then he set up his businesses and constructed a small village chapel named after San Vicente, as his kubo was being extended “slowly but surely” to fit the entire household.
His family’s economic sturdiness, Caminero proudly boasts, did not lead to an immediately lavish lifestyle that’s common to other Filipino seafarers. “We love our simple roots.”
The Caminero family home is simple, as seen in one of his videos. Though the place has much space, the furniture is simple and there are no chandeliers. There’s an area near the living room, however, that’s for the family passion: tuning up the band.
Yes, the house is far from neighboring houses, Denver explains, “so we can rock and roll all night long.”
And Candido’s and Elizabeth’s successes are seen in six picture frames: pictures of some of their kids in their college academic attires. The pictures overlook the
Caminero patriarch and four sons —making up the Caminero Family Band— rendering Wonderful Tonight. The family band even offers a simple lesson that, Candido beams, is the major family trait: “Tulungan lang” (We just help each other out).
He holds on to that belief, organizing fellow town mates of Argao. He formed a nonprofit group, Hagpong sa Pagtinabangay, to help 200 lumad families improve their living conditions through livelihood activities. Caminero said. “I know what being poor feels like.” Now Caminero has logically let its beneficiaries choose the group’s leaders since he’s still seafaring.
In his few remaining years at sea, this year’s OWWA Model OFW seafarer of the year has all the reasons to remain sturdy while playing up the band and buoying up his family’s entrepreneurial labor: Candido Caminero’s big family is as sturdy as he is.
OFW Journalism Consortium, in partnership with The Philippine Star