The Joey I Know

By Suzette Rosales Cody

Beautiful singing voice and a pulsing heart for the poor — those are the two attributes of Joey that I always admire. An encounter with Joey means a bit OF singing and loads of stories about the struggles of the poor and how to help them.

I won’t mention her soprano voice again, but know that if you ask her to sing, she will not disappoint. When I learned that Joey was putting up the Foundation for the Poor, I immediately signed up as volunteer. I trust her. Joey has no disconnect between her heart and brain in terms of kindness and giving to the poor with clarity and passion.

Joey grew up in Cebu, Philippines, watching and helping her parents actively provide counsel, food, money for medicine and general needs to people in their town. Her parents taught her joy in giving very early. In school from elementary to university, Joey was active in many charity projects from helping orphans in St. Anthony’s Boys Village Foundation in Cavite, Silang, Philippines to providing educational support to the underprivileged and victims of natural disasters.

She never stopped. As a young medical representative, Joey did not hesitate to help provide for educational needs of children when approached by distant relatives and strangers. Life-changing was her decision to adopt a sickly baby girl, whose young siblings and their grandmother lived in a “kariton”, a large wooden pushcart, on the streets of Paco, Manila, Philippines. The grandmother met Joey in a government hospital a few times and was moved by Joey’s care for the baby’s well-being that she pleaded with Joey to adopt her. Joey’s parents, siblings and friends were quite surprised that she would take on a mother’s responsibility at an age when she should just be thinking of career and social life. For Joey, baby “Jeremy” was God’s way of showing her how to truly care and love someone beyond one’s comfort on a daily basis.

Joey never skipped a beat in her charity work after marriage to an equally kindhearted person, Michael and IN having children of their own, Francis and Bernadette, with their adoptive sister Jeremy Angela del Prado, a successful entrepreneur in Bangkok, Thailand. Jeremy is now married to Ken Tuason with one lovely daughter, Amanda.

Prior to moving to the US, Joey and family lived in the Philippines, Thailand, UK and Singapore. Wherever she went, she gave her time and resources to charities, among them, Gawad Kalinga (building houses), to medical missions in the Philippines and Singapore and in most community building activities initiated by the Philippine Embassies in said countries. Joey also organized yearly weddings for underprivileged couples in the Philippines who would rather not spend their meagre means for a legal marriage and church wedding. Many of these couples have been living together and with children. Joey took care of all logistics using her own money or with generous assistance from sponsors to turn these couples’ “Dream Church Wedding” to reality.

Now living in the US with her family, Joey continues her charity work with the Foundation for the Poor. She donated her 4 hectare family land inheritance in Alegria, Bohol, Philippines to Tuloy Foundation and contributes to its service expansion in the Visayas region, with street children as beneficiaries.

After a full recovery from a near fatal brain aneurysm three years ago, Joey is grateful to God’s providence and believes her calling to help the poor requires her full time attention. Her indomitable spirit will shine for those she serves. Knowing her, this foundation will not be a cookie-cutter operation, but truly devoted to individualized service. Knowing her, the foundation will be hands-on, and full of hope that lives – and livelihoods will be improved and the nomenclature “poor” would be temporary. She has offered the rest of her life to help the poor, whatever it takes, to help bring dignity back to their lives.

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