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Echoing Virtues, Prolifirating Benevolence: A Narrative Of Experience And Philanthropy

Triumph in life can seem uncertain, but hope remains a tangible idea. One can only drift with life’s movements, uncertain of its destination unless they defy social norms and create their own vision, as possibility becomes survival in a world where impossibility is normal.

Ma. Geneviva Nazarene Sespeñe Tumbokon Montalvo, known as ‘Zarah’, is a resilient Ibajaynon who has faced numerous challenges in her life. Born and raised in a family of 14 children, she was a symbol of dedication and hope. She was the 12th child of Mr. Nicanor Pelayo Tumbokon and Rosario Sevilla Sespeñe, who won Parents of the Year in the 80’s in Toronto, Canada.

Zarah is an erudite individual who graduated with honors from elementary and secondary education. She pursued a Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology from Centro Escolar University, initially pursuing Chemistry. However, her family from Canada influenced her to pursue BSMT due to the demand for Medical Technologists. Zarah migrated to the US in 1984, demonstrating independence and pursuing professional degrees.

At a young age, Zarah showed her prowess in public relations and connecting with people, being the Queen of Naisud and being the Miss Melchor Memorial School in 1971. Her being an Ibajaynon is a glory to her existence, she even brought prestige to the culture and tradition of the Ati culture when she formed the Ibajay Ati-ati and Aklan Atiatihan group in Chicago, Illinois. From then on, her love for public relations was never tarnished as she becomes an active member of her fraternity organization ALPHA PHI OMEGA and achieving the feat of becoming the first Lady President of the APO Midwest Chicago AA #39, Furthermore, she is responsible for organizing the APO Sorority of Aklan (ASA). Moreover, she is a chartered member of APO Southern Ontario Canada AA (APO SON ALAS), APO Hollywood AA, APO Arizona AA, Central Valley of California AA and also a member of Lions in Chicago and Santo Niño de Agusto in Chicago.

Since 1986, Zarah has been a Medical Technologist, forming connections with prestigious hospitals like Mercy Medical Center, St. Francis Hospital, Condell Hospital, Lutheran General Hospital, and Rush North Shore Hospital. She later became a microbiologist at Vista Medical Center and became a member of the Illinois Society of Microbiologists. She has also provided philanthropic activities, including a birthday feeding program and a dental mission in Lanao Del Sur, Davao, and Tagum City. She currently has three nursing students enrolled in their colleges.

During the pandemic, Zarah donated cash to Quiapo Church and conducted a feeding program for the poor. She organized a Birthday Mission, spreading joy and sustenance to the forgotten. Also, she extended their compassion to the homeless and senior citizens in Sta. Cruz and visited a home for the aged and disabled children in Tayuman, where smiles bloomed in gratitude for their simple act of nourishment and companionship. Their generosity left a trail of warmth and hope in their wake.

The narrative of Zarah, a woman who achieved immense success through dedication and hard work, serves as an inspiration for others. She uses her triumph to instill hope and provides services to those in need, transcending the boundaries of compassion and gratitude. This story highlights the power of going beyond what can be seen and done.


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