FULFILLING THE PROMISE.  Leah Dinglasan, 41, fulfills the dream and her promise to husband Marine Technical Sergeant Aldrin Cadiz Dinglasan to grow the business the soldier has started.
LIPA, BATANGAS – Leah Dinglasan stares blankly in the distance, wondering what happened to her husband, Marine Technical Sergeant Aldrin Cadiz Dinglasan, and if he is ever coming back.

This has been her routine ever since she lost her husband during the five-month siege in Marawi City after an ISIS-affiliated group from Mindanao took over the city.

While Leah keeps herself busy in managing the business her husband has left her, the widow is still coping with her loss.

“Mahirap, siyempre iniisip ko parin siya. Pero tuloy lang ang buhay,” Leah said, adding that she was left to care for their three children.

Tech. Sgt. Dinglasan, 41, was already three days into the siege after a sniper bullet struck his cheek on May 31, 2018. Moments before his death, he called Leah that once he returns from his tour of duty, they would manage together the small sari-sari store business they had started.

The soldier was set to retire after his Marawi duty.

After receiving a call and hearing the news of the soldier’s demise from his commander, Leah was at first in disbelief. She argued that he just called moments before.

Leah narrated how Tech. Sgt. Dinglasan’s body can’t be recovered due to heavy firing from enemy snipers. His body was recovered three days after his death.

Sari-sari store

Back in March 2017, the couple started a small variety store business for their family’s upkeep and finance their children’s studies.

With P20,000 in hand, Tech. Sgt. Dinglasan bankrolled the variety store and started the business before leaving for his tour of duty.

Leah was left to manage the business, while her husband is in Marawi City.

The couple hoped that soon, once he retires, they would grow the business into a mini-grocery store.

Government assistance

After her husband’s death, Leah received assistance from the government in various forms and from the private sector.

Leah in March 2018 received a P100,000 loan assistance from the Small Business Corporation (SB Corp.) under its special program, Wounded-and-Killed in Action (WIA-KIA), an offshoot program to help soldiers and police who were either killed or wounded during the Marawi conflict, from the Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3) micro loan program.

“Mayroon ding pension from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine Veterans Affairs Office, Employees Compensation Commission, financial and educational assistance para sa mga anak namin, at mayroon din galing sa private sector,” Leah added.

With the livelihood assistance she received, Leah made a few changes in the store, enlarging it and adding more supplies.

Five months after she received the financial assistance, the store is now worth P150,000, a 50% increase in capital.

On casual days, Leah could earn P8,000 while the minimum she could earn is P3,000 on Mondays.

“Minsan kumikita ako ng P8,000, yun na ang pinakamalaki. Pero kapag Monday, kumikita lang ako ng P3,000,” she offered.

Leah explained that it was Tech. Sgt. Dinglasan’s dream for the business to grow.

“Ang sabi niya sakin ‘Ma, gusto ko yung tindahan natin magsimula sa maliit. Gusto ko palalakihin natin. Hindi yung tulad noong dati na kaunti lang yung laman ng tindahan natin,’” she said, holding back tears.

She also hopes that after she completes the payment for the P100,000 loan from SB Corp., she can borrow money from the P3 program to expand her business.

While she understands that her husband is gone, Leah is still grateful to Tech. Sgt. Dinglasan that despite knowing that she won’t share the accomplishment with him, he had left her and their children something that they will treasure.

“Gusto kong magpasalamat sa nasa ‘Itaas’ at sa asawa ko, dahil hindi niya kami pinabayaan,”  Leah said.♦