FED up with all the household chores and feeling very much like a bored housewife, Darlene (not her real name), turned to illegal drugs a year ago in Barangay Poblacion, San Remigio, northern Cebu.
At 52 years old, shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) energized her on her first try.
And so it became a monthly habit for her, as she took the prohibited drug once a month for almost a year.
In June 2016, Darlene was shocked to learn that her 15-year old son Justin (not his real name) and 64-year old husband Carlito (not his real name) voluntarily surrendered at the height of PNP’s Oplan Tokhang.
She did not have an inkling that they too were into drugs.
“I was so ashamed with what happened to my family. I was shocked that my son and husband were also involved,” she told Cebu Daily News in Cebuano.
‘How it started’
According to Darlene, she bought a small pack of shabu which cost P250 from a neighbor.
Without a job to sustain her habit, she asked money from her husband who worked as a security guard in Cebu City.
“Grabe mawala gyud akong kapoy og maka-take ko. Naay one time nga nanglaba ko, mora ra og wala,” Darlene said.
(Every time I took drugs, I would have a boost of energy. There was one time when I was washing clothes and yet it felt like nothing.)
For Carlito, drugs sustained him during his 24-hour duty; while Justin, their youngest of five children, was influenced by his friends to pick up the habit.
“Dili ra man pud mailhan na naka-take sila. Wala pa sad me naabot sa point nag-away me pamilya,” Darlene said.
(I could not tell that they were also taking drugs. We have also not reached a point where our family fought.)
The big change
Wanting to change their ways, Darlene, Carlito and Justin all underwent the San Remigio Municipal Anti-Drug Council Drug Rehabilitation Program organized by the local government unit (LGU), Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Health, and the National Auxiliary Chaplaincy Philippines (NACPHIL), a religious group.
They were among the 821 drug reformers from 27 barangays of San Remigio recognized at the town’s covered court yesterday afternoon.
“I am just very happy that we are free. I just want a better life. It is not yet too late to change,” Darlene told CDN.
“I don’t want my future grandchildren to hate me. I don’t want them to think that their grandmother was like that (drug user),” she added.
Like Justin, 18-year-old Miguel also started to use illegal drugs due to influence from his so-called friends.
“Usahay sugoon ko sa akong barkada nga mopalit, maong mahatagan ko usahay nila,” he told CDN.
(Sometimes, my friends would ask me to buy for them that’s why they gave me the stuff for free.)
But when Oplan Tokhang was launched last year, Miguel said he stopped from taking illegal drugs out of fear for his life.
“I wanted to continue with my studies and help my family,” he said in Cebuano.
Miguel plans to learn welding as soon as he completes high school next year.
Bertel Aballe, drug rehabilitation consultant for San Remigio, said the town’s program started last October.
Aballe told reporters that the reformers underwent a 3-month program which included activities like Zumba and basketball every Sunday.
Of the 821 reformers, 406 were given certificates from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) so that they can proceed to the second phase of the program which involves skills training for nine months.
According to Aballe, the third phase of the rehabilitation program would be the “after care” where reformers can help incoming drug surrenderers undergo the same program.
“I am just happy that we have come to this point,” San Remigio Mayor Mariano Martinez said in a speech.