Fil-Am Observer February 2010 Issue
THEIR names are a clue to what we can uncover. For the twenty one years of their married life, they are exactly what they are.
Efren, in Hebrew and Spanish, says a lot about having borne fruits, lots of it, and if he were a tree, he could have been a robust one, a sturdy mango giving off all those sweet golden and luscious fruits year-round.
And his wife is what you have got: joyful, filled with good tidings, gladness all around her, enveloping her.
And whoever said that this capacity to bear fruits and joyfully doing so comes off, unendingly, from a fountain, even if it is not the biggest one, but its giving--this 'fontanilla'--relentless, continual, forever?
For the years that they tied the knot, they remained steadfast in that love that they have allowed to sprout from the ‘fontanilla’—the small fountain of their heart, mind, and soul.
Asked what they mean by the love they have gifted with each other and they can only say: “It is self-defining, it is there, indivisibly whole, entire. We do not know; we just love each other.”
It is a common story: the love that is sincere, faith, genuine, real. It is devoid of the masks as it nurtures both the beloved and the lover—their loving one of a covenant, a witnessing, a testament. They say that if one loves truly, there is no damming that love as it reaches out to its logical end, seeking others, giving itself to others.
Some have a term for this: the overflowing nature of love that is true.
That is the case of the love of Efren and Joy for each other: their love overflows into each other even as it overflows into the community and finds concretion in their service for others. It is this giving themselves off to the community that has marked their love that has assumed a communal, collective, committed character.
“In all sincerity, we are committed to serve the Filipino community from the heart by making ourselves available in giving a hand for events and projects without any recognition or without expecting something in return,” the couple said, completing each other’s thoughts and sentences in that intimacy known only to people who have lots to share.
“The community has been very generous to us,” Joy reiterated. “It is just proper to reciprocate it.”
Joy was crowned Mrs. Maui Filipina in 2002 with the unselfish support of a few Filipino organizations, businesses, relatives, and friends.
Her winning the crown jumpstarted her commitment to serve the community in a more productive and meaningful way even she has been serving her community for some time already.
Efren and Joy have served, in various positions, the Maui Filipino Community Council and Binhi at Ani.
“I’m very much involved in making a difference in the lives of students by helping them realize their dream through raising scholarship funds for them in conjunction with some organizations,” Joy said.
For his part, Efren said, “Living in the diaspora in a multi-ethnic community, I’m proud of my cultural heritage and I would like the other nationalities to see and experience our rich culture.”
Efren and Joy dream of a community in Maui that is more cohesive, more attune to conversation, unity, care, and concern for the members.
“I would like the community to be united again. The past is past and let’s move on,” Joy declared.
They speak of their passion and love for the community—and that passion and that love are for real.
But the same love and passion are also for their two precious daughters, Amber Lynn and Audrey Leigh.
Amber graduated cum laude from Maui High School. She had finished her Culinary and Petisserie degree from Kapiolani Community College, with honors. As a student, she was awarded the Rafael Acoba Scholarship; that scholarship was for the entire duration of her schooling. She has been dancing hula and Tahitian under the tutelage of Iola Balubar. Currently, she works at Fairmont Kealani as pastry cook.
Audrey also graduated from Maui High School and currently enrolled at the Art Institute of California with emphasis on Video & Digital Film Production. She was about to graduate last December but had to battle her cancer.
“I was devastated and emotionally drained when I heard of the bad news,” Joy exclaimed. “However, what happened to our daughter was a blessing to our family. We became closer to each other. In these difficult times, we find comfort in each other,” Joy said, her eyes tearing up.
Despite their situation, they have the moral support of relatives, friends, and even from strangers.
“One time, at the golf course where I work, one of the golfers noticed something unusual in me. He was kind enough to ask what was happening and I told him about my daughter. He visited us at home and prayed for us,” Efren narrated. “Our faith in God kept us going.”
Joy shared with us the news that Audrey has returned to California and is finishing her studies. Her daughter hopes to graduate this year.
Efren is currently working at Wailea Golf Course as guest service attendant and at the same time busy tending their family business, A&A Video Productions while Joy just put up her own A&A Cleaning Service. She sings for the D'Legend Band, her own Joy's Karaoke, and at St. Theresa Life Teen Choir.
Recently, Joy started sharing her dancing skills to a group who call themselves, “The Ladies of Leisure.”
The love that binds Efren and Joy is beyond measure. They have been together ever since and they have weathered the storms of their life.
Love of family, love of community, and love of God—all these have been the ingredients of their fruitful, joyful, fountain-filled service to others.
Indeed, theirs is a service from the heart.