Reconnecting with Rolando

Reconnecting with Rolando

Remembering Rolando

During her speech when she accepted the Parangal Lingkod Sambayanan on behalf of NVC Foundation, NVC President Millie Kilayko mentioned Rolando Pamplona. He is one of the fishermen we met after Typhoon Yolanda. Not only had he lost his boat to the ravages of the storm, but he also lost his wife and infant child.

After living in a makeshift tent for many months, some good fortune came his way. Rolando he received NVC Foundation’s 1,000th Peter Project boat in March 2014. In addition to that, another foundation built him a house. Unfortunately, though he finally had the means to earn a living and a new home, he had to part with some of his children.

This was not the first time we had spoken of or written about Rolando but many were touched by the story told anew. After listening to the speech, many kind souls reached out to us to ask what had become of Rolando.

Rolando and his children posed for a photo after he received his fishing boat from the kind people in the village of Piansano, Italy (above).

A Family Torn Apart

By all accounts, Rolando has always been a good father. After he lost his wife and their infant daughter to the storm, he tried his best to carry on for their remaining children. However, things were tough because he had to juggle fishing with caring for his young brood. And sadly, he had no one in Leyte to help him. His in-laws in Mindanao decided to help him out. However, the most practical solution was for them to take some of the children in order to raise them in Butuan. Though his in-laws meant well, Rolando was heartbroken.

In June 2014, just a few months after Rolando received his boat, some of the children moved to Butuan. They were Renz, Rodrigo, and the two youngest children: 4-year-old Russel and 2-year-old Maria Luisa. Ricardo and Ivan remained in Leyte with Rolando.

On the day that the children were going to leave for Mindanao, NVC treated the family to merienda (a snack). Rolando took the time to feed the two youngest children one last time (left). Although he tried to be strong, he burst into tears when it was time for the children to leave (right).
Even years after three of his children moved to Mindanao, Rolando (far right) would pine after them. He lamented that he could not hug his whole family.


Rolando Makes Headlines

In 2015, Alyne Batano, NVC’s Field Officer, shared the news of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Nepal with our Peter Project fishermen. Rolando was so moved by their plight that he stepped forward and shyly offered P20 to help them. The amount may seem small to some but it was a big portion of his earnings. After that, other fishermen followed suit. In the coming weeks, more Peter Project and Project Joseph beneficiaries gave what they could. Plastic bottles were filled with coins and P20 and P50 bills. After just a couple of weeks, the fund grew to nearly P75,000. Eventually, others heard of the fund and contributed to it as well. In the end, the fund reached over P100,000, an amount most of the contributors could have ever imagined. 

Ripple Effect: Rolando’s generosity kicked off a movement. Others who had been affected by Typhoon Yoladna like Jinky Linde and her husband (left) of Palo Leyte also contributed to the fund. The two make a living selling food using cooking equipment they received through NVC’s Project Joseph.

Accidental Hero: Without meaning to, Rolando had started a movement which eventually raised more than P100,000 for the earthquake survivors and also caught the attention of the media (above).
Letters from Leyte: In addition to cash, people contributed words of encouragement (center) to send to the Nepal earthquake survivors.

Checking Up on Rolando

Distance and the pandemic made it difficult to keep regular tabs on Rolando’s family. However, since many people had been asking after him, we asked our Field Officer on assignment in Samar to make a detour to check on him in Palo, Leyte. This is the same field officer who found Rolando on his knees one day crying like it was the end of the world when his children were taken away. 

Recent Updates

How is the family doing now?


Sadly, Rolando lost his Peter Project boat when Typhoon Odette hit in December 2021 and had to go back to being a fisherman’s helper. Perhaps it was by God’s grace that he was no longer an independent fisherman because in August 2022, he suffered a mild stroke which kept him in the hospital a few days and has slightly impaired his speech. Thankfully, his employer helped him with his hospitalization and Rolando continues to work as a fisherman’s helper.


The eldest, Renz, 22, worked his way through school as a butcher’s helper in Mindanao, and is now working in Manila. We recently discovered that Rolando is not actually Renz’s biological father but Rolando’s wife’s son from a former relationship. However, Renz considers Rolando as his father and invited him to his high school graduation three years ago. Rolando, Renz, Ricardo, Russel John and Maria Luisa were finally able to gather together for that happy occasion and Rolando treasures the family photos taken by a professional photographer at the school that day. The other photos taken of previous reunions with his children in Mindanao are gone as the phone that had them broke down.


Ricardo, now 21 and working as a mechanic was out working when the Field Officer visited. He lives in Leyte with Rolando.


Rodrigo still lives in Butuan. He’s 18 years old. After graduating from senior high, he got a job as a laborer.


Ivan is 15 and in the 9th Grade. He lives with Rolando and Ricado in Leyte. He was the only one home with Rolando when our Field Officer dropped by for a visit. Ivan dreams of becoming a policeman.

Russel John

Russel John is now 13 and in Grade 7. He lives in Butuan.

Maria Luisa

Maria Luisa also lives in Butuan. She is 11 years old and in the 5th Grade.

Fading Memories

The bright and happy demeanor of the younger children in Mindanao is a good sign that they’ve been able to put the trauma of the past behind them. In fact, Maria Luisa does not even recognize herself in the old photos we showed her. She seems very content with her life in Butuan so perhaps it was good Rolando’s in-laws took some of the children in even if it meant splitting up the family. The older children however haven’t lost their strong bond with Rolando, especially Renz who is not even Rolando’s biological son.

Especially for the younger ones, the memories of the past have mostly faded away. Alas, Rolando still remembers the pain of loss and separation. Those memories and feelings are etched in his heart and mind but even those have been dulled somewhat by the recent stroke. We hope those who read this story will remember the tale of this loving father even as those in the family forget as time goes by.

Parting Shots

Rolando fed his two youngest children before they left for Mindanao (top left). The same children, Russel John and Maria Luisa, as happy students today. Renz posed next to his father on his graduation day (bottom left). Rolando proudly shows off photos taken during Renz’s graduation.

March 2014 – Rolando received his boat. June 2014 – the last family photo before some children moved to Mindanao. December 2022 – Rolando poses with Ivan outside their home.

On the day Rolando received his boat, he took it back home by sea while his children traveled home by land. Two-year-old Maria Luisa cried as Rolando and his boat disappeared over the horizon (top left). NVC President comforted her (top right). The incident inspired Ms. Kilayko to create mosaic tile artwork which was sold to raise funds to help Typhoon Yolanda survivors.

    +63 (34) 432 9407



    St. Vincent’s Village, Brgy. Tangub
    Bacolod City, Philippines