By Donna T. Darantinao
HAPI Youth Ambassador
An epitome of strength, that’s what she is. Overcoming various struggles through the course of her life was never easy especially because she lives in a society where women are expected to commit no mistakes and to appear with unblemished faces. At first glance, you will see a passionate and empathetic woman who cares about humanity but the truth is, she has been shattered by the journey we call life.
“Two years ago, I [made] the biggest decision in my life. Would I rather live in misery with a partner or try to find some kind of happiness on my own? It was tough. I chose to raise my daughter alone as I couldn’t stand the idea of her growing up in a household where her parents hated each other,” she said. Yes, a single mother, that’s what she is! But did she let the responsibility stop her from reaching her full potential as a leader? No.
The responsibility of caring and providing for another life on her own sometimes scared her. The underlying fear that she will fail miserably and the stigma of single parenthood haunt her every day.
“But you know, I’m doing the best I can, trying to raise her with morals and values I believe in, trying to balance a job and home life,” she added.
Having her daughter in her life only made her stronger and fueled her desire to care about the world and the people that live in it. As a woman, she seized the opportunity of leading by being her best example.
In 2014, she launched a passion project as part of her journey in photography, giving joy and sharing the love for the less fortunate kids in Manila and documenting their lives through the lens inspired by her former boss, Mark Kooijman. She called it, “A Story of Hundred Slippers,” where she gave out hundreds of slippers to the kids, fed them, introduced and engaged them into the art of photography. In 2016, she launched a Whiz Theater in Abucay Pilar, Sorsogon to provide a safe place for the kids where they can be themselves and improve their talents in the arts. From performing, singing, dancing, painting to acting, seventy kids from ages 6 to 12 participated.
In 2018, she was the lead convenor of HAPI-Metro Manila and led the Clean Drive in LPPCHEA as her first HAPI project. LPPCHEA is the first critical habitat to be declared in the country. Covering around 175 hectares of wetland ecosystem, it consists of two islands — Freedom Island and Long Island. Also, it plays a critical role in the survival of 41 threatened, restricted-range, and congregator bird species from China, Japan, and Siberia. In 2020, she led a HAPI relief goods drive in Bicol helping 60 families that were hit by typhoons Rolly and Quinta.
Earlier this year, she concluded the HAPI Youth Camp, her first project as HAPI-Bicol Lead Convenor. It is an e-learning and e-training program, focused on critical thinking, humanism, volunteerism, secularism, human rights, and environmental conservation. The youth camp is the first educational program of HAPI-Bicol that teaches youth and empowers them to think and act for the benefit of society. Like its project head, it aims to inspire the youth to become valuable advocates for humanity, tolerance, peace and to engage them into becoming environmental citizens.
When one aspires to be more, she becomes more. That’s Janice Buenaventura for you!
This feature is a part of a trilogy called, “Celebrating the HAPI Woman” in recognition of women all over the world regardless of color, race, nationality, or beliefs. We are all one for humanity.