Gay people are stereotypically labeled by society to have a lesser chance of having their own family because of their gender identity. Homophobia still exists even up to this generation. But gays are more than those they are labeled with. Al Cabesa is a testament that gay people can be parents too. He stands as a mother and a father to his 15-year-old biological son, Red. His son makes Al’s colorful and bright world even brighter. As a parent, Al also has a dream for his child. “Isa lamang po ang aking pangarap – ang makapagtapos ang aking anak sa pag-aaral para maganda ang kaniyang kinabukasan (I only have one dream – this is for my son to finish his studies, for his better future),” these are the words that motivate Al to work harder every day.
For seven years, Al has been running his salon business in Barangay Poblacion 1, Pagudpud, llocos Norte. In 2020, he established a boutique and named it Verde L’amour which means hope for him and his child to survive the challenges brought by the pandemic.
Al’s salon was restricted to operate during the community quarantines, but because of his determination, he figured out a way to still make a living. “Hindi kami puwedeng magbukas ng shop noon pero naghanap ako ng paraan para kumita pa rin ng pera para sa aming dalawa ng anak ko. Halos isang taon din akong nag-live selling ng aking mga produkto mula sa aking shop para lang masurvive ko ang pandemic noon (We could not open our shop then, but I looked for a way to earn money for us. For almost a year, I sold my products through live selling just to survive the pandemic),” Al shared.
In 2021, Al received Livelihood Assistance Grant from DSWD Field Office 1 – Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) and used it to revive the operation of his salon. He bought hair products, machines, and other salon supplies. “Maraming salamat sa SLP sa pagkakataong buhayin muli ang salon kong natigil nang higit isang taon. (Thank you to SLP for this opportunity of reviving my salon that has been stopped operating for more than a year),” said Al with immense gratefulness.
Al’s enterprises are now fully operational. This also gave opportunity to his fellow members in the community to work and earn for their dreams to thrive as well. “Utang na loob ko ang tagumpay ng negosyong ito sa Diyos. Sa pamamagitan ng pagtulong sa mga katulad ko ay isa lamang sa paraan ko na makabawi (I owe the success of this business to God. Helping my fellows is one of my ways to give back),” Al humbly uttered.
Because of his persistence and assistance from the DSWD FO 1 – SLP, Al proved that gender is never a tool to measure a person’s success, build a dream for your family, help other people, and give back to the community. (by: John Chris B. Zureta, Social Marketing Officer, Sustainable Livelihood Program)