Karen May, the Good Samaritan

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By Susan Palmes-Dennis

The “S” Factor

Sunday, August 10, 2014


FILIPINOS who left their native land to try their luck in a foreign country will somehow remember their fellow Filipinos or “kababayans” back home.

And more often than not, their thoughts revolve around how they can help them improve their lot in life.

One such Filipino transplant is Karen May Villanueva, now Mrs. Broek of Belgium, who has a beautiful heart to match her beautiful appearance.

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I met her once in Cagayan de Oro City and she really made an impression on me when she talked about helping others who are in need.

She told me that it is really her dream to help others; in fact her father calls her a Good Samaritan.

I think her time working in the office of former congressman and now Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno intensified her desire to help others.

She came to Belgium in 2008 and married her husband Mark Van Den Broek.

Having assimilated herself in Belgian life and culture, Karen met other Filipinos who helped her organize charity events in Belgium to raise funds for her fellow residents in Kinoguitan town, Misamis Oriental, northern Mindanao in the Philippines.

Karen’s first charity project was "Diwa ng Pasko 2012 (Spirit of Christmas)" in which the funds she raised went to pay for a Christmas party to indigent children and a feeding program to 250 families in barangay Calubo, Kinoguitan town.

“Donations to the chapel and to residents of barangay Calubo,” Karen said.

She said donations were also made to the Holy Child High School in Kinoguitan where she graduated from.

Her second charity project was “Charity Fun in the Summer Sun 2014 " where she distributed school supplies to children and also held a feeding program in barangay Salubsob, Kinoguitan town.

But her projects wouldn't have been made possible without the help of others.

“My full gratitude to all the sponsors and kind hearted people who've been supporting me. All the volunteers, the Belgian people and the Filipino community also,” Karen said.

I met Karen at Coco Bay Hotel where she, her husband and their baby were staying at six years ago. She's an exotic beauty, I tell you. Since then, we've been keeping tabs through Facebook.

She may not have realized her dreams of becoming a flight attendant, but Karen is now living her dream in Belgium and with it, her dream of helping others.

Born 34 years ago in Cebu City, Karen was raised in barangay Calubo, Kinoguitan town in Misamis Oriental, northern Mindanao, Philippines.

She studied at Xavier University and graduated Bachelor of Arts in International Studies in 2000. Karen May is a mother of two boys, Enrico Miguel and Rafael.

“I am a big fan of singing and listening to all genre of music. I also love travel and learning about other cultures,” she said.

Karen is working in a hospital's psychiatric ward. She also loves fashion, reading books, blog sites and many others. But her constant dream is to help her family.

The eldest daughter of Tito Fuentes Villanueva, a seaman by profession and Florencia Moreno Villanueva, a housewife and accountancy graduate at the University of San Carlos, Cebu City, Karen counts as her siblings Febe Marie Villanueva (an accountancy graduate of Liceo de Cagayan University working in Allied Bank Cebu), Cherry Blossom Villanueva (communication graduate of Lourdes College) and Desiree Villanueva (Education in BSU, Malaybalay, Bukidnon province).

With her drive in life, there's no telling how far Karen can go in helping her fellow residents in Kinoguitan town. And I laud her for her efforts in doing so.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on August 11, 2014.

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