Fe Mantuhac Barino, 59, could not remember a time when her life was not affected by illegal drugs.
The chief executive officer of Duros Group of Companies, a highly successful Cebu-based construction and real estate firm, has been challenged by relatives who are drug pushers and users, and she is helping them live drug-free lives.
Born and raised in Toledo City, Barino recalled moving her entire family from their birthplace to rescue her brothers from drug abuse.
Her father worked as a mechanic for a mining company, while her mother sold different goods to support her husband.
In the early 1980s, she relocated the family to Barangay San Vicente, Liloan, where her parents lived before they moved to Toledo for work.
“But the evil of drugs followed us, and I still found family members addicted to it. I felt like God is crying, looking down on what His children have been doing to their lives,” she said.
The mission to create a significant program that will impact the community was strengthened when President Rodrigo Duterte announced an all-out war against illegal drugs.
“In July 2016, I was watching the news on television and I saw the numbers … there were so many drug addicts who surrendered. There were many news items of drug users and pushers who were killed. There was a yearning in my heart to help. I felt that what was happening to our country was a cry for help,” she told Cebu Daily News during an interview at her home in Liloan town, three days before Christmas.
Barino is no professional in dealing with drug addicts; but she is active in the Love of God (LOG) Community, a charismatic group she co-founded with her husband, Rafaelito. She is also the Archdiocese of Cebu coordinator of charismatic communities. Her company, Duros Development Corporation, was responsible for the construction of the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) Pavilion in Barangay Mabolo, Cebu City.
The pavilion, a 2,600-square-meter facility, was the main venue of the IEC sessions in January 2016.
Over time, as the business prospered, she employed relatives and family members.
But drug dependency and substance abuse remained the societal problems which bothered her, as they bring about other crimes such as theft, rape and even road accidents.
Her initial plan was to conduct drug tests among all her employees.
During the first set of tests, almost 300 employees in their four project sites were simultaneously tested. Forty-six were found positive for drug use, many of them her close family members and relatives.
The result was an eye-opener for Barino which led her to initiate a program for drug dependents to realize the evil of drug abuse and how they can save themselves and their families from throwing away their lives.
Barino decided to contact her childhood friend, Rene Francisco, who runs It Works Chemical Dependency Treatment Center in Ozamis and Balay Kahayag Farm located in Baclayon, Bohol, to help develop a program.