HE did not falter after his work place for 13 years was burned while his home in Lower Madapo Hills, Bankerohan, was flooded last December.

Roel “Roy” Gimarino, 40, worked as a regular maintenance crew of NCCC Mall B3 Center Lanes which was engulfed by flames on December 23, 2017.

“Sabay sa baha pa jud ang pagka-sunog sa akoang trabahuan ug hangtod karon naningkamot kay hugaw ug daghan gamit ang nawala. Malipayon gihapon kay buhi pa sa mga giagiang kalamidad (The flood and the fire came together. Until now we're cleaning up our house. We lost a lot of our possession but we're happy because we survived the calamities),” Gimarino said.

His positivity cannot be questioned.

He grew up in Lapareas in Sulop, Davao del Sur, when it was still a war zone between armies and rebels.

“Nag sugod ang istorya sa akoang kinabuhi atong naa na dayon koy buot. Gihimo ug tambayan ang amoang balay sa rebelde kay nagaayos ug baril akoang papa (Rebels would hang out at our house because my father knows how to fix guns),” he narrated.

It was Martial Law and his father and two older brothers were arrested when guns were recovered from their house. They were tortured, Gimarino recalled.

They were jailed for three years, accused of being rebels.

“Nakagawas sila tungod sa amnesty sa tabang sa Task Force Detainees (TFD Philippines),” he added.

His father and brothers' incarceration forced them to live in dire straits, he recalled.

“Luoy kaayo among kahimtang atong panahuna kay mokaon lang mi ug saging ug kamote kay gagmay pa akoang mga magulang ug ang akoang mama lang ang among masandigan (We led a pitiful life. Our daily fare was made of bananas and sweet potato because my elder siblings were still very young and we only had our mother to rely on),” pertaining to his mother who was a farmer then.

They had to move from one place to another and even temporarily changed their surname to Antipuesto.

“Nag ilis mi ug apelyido kay init sa otoridad ang amoang Gimarino (We changed our surnames because Gimarino has become notorious to authorities),” he said.

When they settled in Tulunan, North Cotabato, they didn't fare any better as it was also a conflict area.

“Sa maong pagbalhin namo, mikuyog pud ang kagubot kay naa pud mga rebelde sa maong lugar. 1986 tong panahuna ug naa ko yata sa edad na 10 years old. Bakwit diri, bakwit didto kay sige ug gera (Conflict followed us. I think it was in 1986 and I was around 10 years old when we'd always evacuate because of gunbattles),” he recalled.

In 1990, the war between the Moro rebels and soldiers worsened they had to move to an evacuation center. That was a blessing in disguise.

“Niabot ang Department of Social Welfare and Development ug TFD sa maong evacuation center, nanguha sila ug mga bata nga gusto pa eskwelahon (The DSWD and TFD arrived and sought out children who wanted to continue schooling),” he said. He was among those chosen.

Through the help of TFD, they were housed in a private orphanage founded by lawyer Solema Jubilan. The orphanage was then funded by a German organization, Stiftung Fur Kinder Germany.

Gimarino was able to finish elementary and high school.

From Cotabato, Gimarino was instructed by Jubilan to move to Davao City.

“Nangita ug sponsor ang orphanage sa akoa. Surprising kaayo. Time na nako na magpa-Davao ug mohawa sa orphanage kay graduate na lagi (The orphanage looked for sponsors for me. I had to leave the orphanage and head off to Davao City because I already graduated high school),” he said.

He did everything just to get a scholarship.

He dedicated everything to his studies and finished a Bachelor of Science Marine Engineering in Agro Industrial Foundation College of the Philippines (AIFCP).

He worked in a ship afterward, but was discouraged by the loose culture there, which he described as “naa tanan kabuang”.

He opted to be a construction worker for SM City Davao in 2001 before moving to Cagayan de Oro City to become a maintenance crew of SM there.

He transferred to NCCC Mall B3 Center Lanes and worked as an electrician after that. That was where he felt he fitted right in.

The Christmas fire, thus, near crushed his spirit. But he stayed positive knowing that it's the best option.