ALL her life, Eden Josephine Larano-David has been a prudent planner.
“I am used to plans A, B, and up to C. Funny as this may sound, but I really go to that extent,” says the former Department of Tourism assistant secretary.
“I am an extrovert and a people person, so I knew early that I was into communication and marketing as concepts on product development and promotions were second nature to me,” the 44-year-old mom says.
Her admirable leadership skills and unparalleled work ethic made her the best choice for the position of the first provincial tourism and information officer of then Compostela Valley now Davao de Oro Province.
She eventually worked at the Department of Tourism regional office as the division chief handling planning and marketing and moved on to the national office as ASEC for farm tourism, BIMP-EAGA, and Halal tourism.
One after the other
The birth of her first child with husband Engr. Kenneth David, an overseas Filipino worker, was both a joyous but difficult moment as their son JB had an open heart condition which made him vulnerable. Being in and out of the hospital for six months, the journey taught Eden that no amount of planning could have prepared her to have a medically challenged baby.
On JB’s ninth month, their second son BJ was born. “We were still managing our resources then with JB’s medical condition when I became pregnant again. Our youngest was different from his older brother. He has a stronger personality and was antisocial. Back then, he cried a lot when we brought him to malls and parties. Having firsthand experience with JB, I suspected that something was different with BJ,” Eden recounts.
In 2013, the developmental doctor told Eden of her two sons' conditions. Both had developmental challenges. Her eldest was diagnosed with global developmental delay and mental retardation. On the other hand, the second child had a hearing impairment and global developmental delay and was later diagnosed with oppositional defiant behavior.
“We researched and interviewed people with family members with special needs. How will they manage themselves as they grow old?” the planner in Eden struck again.
Through the fire
Sadly, Eden never got to help JB way beyond his nine years.
On November 26, 2016, at past midnight, a deadly fire broke out in her husband’s ancestral home due to electrical problems triggered by lightning. This tragedy took away the precious lives of JB and their two house assistants.
BJ was taken and cared for by their concerned neighbors and Eden was able to see him only after a week of hospitalization. She had second-degree burns on her arms and back. Her soles needed skin grafting, too, as her foot was scarred from the fire.
“I never felt the pain of stepping on fire until I was admitted and operated on. I used to say that the excruciating pain is an understatement to describe the agony of going in and out of the operating room around eight times during my month-long admission,” Eden reveals.
The former law student had to learn to walk again. With the help of her physical therapist, she was able to walk a month after the operation and run nearly two months after.
“My strong resolve to survive and be mobile again was the memory of my son JB whom I will forever miss,” she divulges.
Getting back on her feet
The day Eden got her two sons' diagnoses in 2013, she drove around the city crying and resigning herself to God, pleading that she could not handle two children with special needs. She fervently prayed, “God, please just have one be normal even if I am tasked to take care of the other one.”
“Little did I know that He, with all His infinite wisdom, has given JB a beautiful life in heaven now, and I continue to fulfill my promise for BJ. I may have lost my firstborn, but I still have one left,” the Mango Radio Davao host reflects.
In 2018, God answered Eden’s desire for early retirement from government work. She was ready then. “How we survived the financial woes brought by the fire such as the loss of our house and properties, including the huge medical bills, were all because of the generosity of people whom God used to bless us,” she discloses.
After her retirement, Eden put up EJLD Tourism Consultancy Firm. She and her team were given the opportunity to help the cities of Samal and Panabo; the towns of Governor Generoso and Maragusan; the province of Maguindanao; ComVal; SP Davao de Oro, DTI Davao Oriental; and two multi-million private resorts and a hotel.
“There are on-going contracts which we are grateful for as we can practice what we love and passionately help the tourism industry. It also gave me the chance to be with my remaining son more often to supervise his development closely while pursuing my doctoral studies in Public Administration at the Ateneo de Davao University,” the multi-tasker shares.
Rising from the ashes
Being a mother has taught Eden a myriad of life lessons. She says that not everyone is blessed to have a child, more so with special needs.
Twelve-year-old BJ is now more engaging and does well in school than expected. Sometimes, Eden is even caught off guard with him having his own YouTube channel.
“Is there a sense in planning one's life after all? Oh yes, it is necessary, but do not do it blindly. Let God handle that for you by seeking Him. If I tell you how I arrived at the decisions I made in life, you will be amazed at how He reveals the choices and affirms those decisions. The greatest take away is trust Him with your life’s journey,” she says.
In celebration of National Women's Month, Eden stresses that women’s empowerment does not come from being accomplished professionally. It is also essentially about turning the negatives into positives in life.
What sage advice from this phenomenal woman who has literally risen from the ashes!
E-mail the author at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit http://momabouttowndavao.blogspot.com/.