Brother Franz Liam Arabia, age 25, of Cupang Ward, Balanga stake finds joy in serving his fellowmen. His friends and acquaintances have always admired his cheerfulness and positivity in life. But what most people do not know about him is that he came from a broken family and a challenging childhood.
Franz's parents separated when he was only nine years old. When that happened, his mother got depressed and almost committed suicide. On the other hand, Franz struggled with low self-esteem and had endured many years of bullying at school. 'Amid my trials, I was so glad to be reunited with my primary friends in the church who studied in the same school I attended. When I became less active in the church, these friends of mine became more supportive and encouraging. I remember those precious days when I attended my seminary class and read the scriptures. It brought back my eagerness and the feeling of joy to be active again in the church.'
Anxiously Engaged in Good Causes
Going to Seminary and Institute classes further strengthened Franz's decision to come back to a full church activity. What added more meaning to his membership was when he started to get involved in the church's humanitarian efforts. He marveled at the foreign senior couples' dedication to giving up their other pursuits in life to serve a full-time mission. When it was time to go, Franz also served a full-time mission in San Pablo Mission in the Philippines.
The Church Worker
When the Self-Reliance Initiatives was launched in the Philippines in February 2014, Franz was among the first leaders involved in the work. He was only 18 years old that year, but he served as a facilitator for SR classes and a specialist. Seven years later, he is still heavily involved, and this time as a service missionary of the Family Services of the Welfare and Self-Reliance Services department. He has been instrumental in the transformation of his province as a drug-free province. Through the Addiction Recovery Program (ARP) of the Church, the City Government of Balanga, Balanga, and Bataan Philippine National Police Office signed a memorandum of agreement with Dinalupihan, Balanga to fight against illegal drugs. It also led to the implementation of the LDS Family Services Addiction Recovery Program to support the Bahay Pagbabago graduates.
Today, the humanitarian efforts of Latter-Day Saints Charities in Bataan continue to prosper. There are now 300 beneficiaries of church-designed wheelchairs, ongoing blood donation drives, medical missions, and relief operations.
Franz may have gone far and wide in rendering his service to people, but it is his small acts of kindness that leave a lasting impression. When his friend and former church leader, Brother Robert Querido, met an accident that led to his demise, he drove from Bataan to Tarlac to bring the latter to the hospital. At that time, strict quarantine measures in the country were enforced, and Franz was not particularly in the right circumstances to travel. Nonetheless, he was there for his friend until the last minute of departure.
The Student Leader
In 2011, back when he was in college, Franz sought other opportunities to serve; and from school leadership, he went on to help his province. As the federated vice president of the Association of College Scholars of Balanga city for three years, Franz knew that he could use his influence to motivate other students to commit to finishing their college education. Therefore, he provided a dependable service that promoted the academic excellence and advancement of his fellow scholars. He supported the different programs, activities, and projects of Balanga and the Provincial Government of Bataan. He also initiated and implemented the Youth Empowerment Seminars that benefited the scholars and this project with the help of the BPSU Research and Extension Office.
'As I continue to step forward with faith in Christ, I find more joy in serving my fellow youth, both in and out of the church. My bishop called me to serve as a counselor to our ward Young Men presidency while I was elected to serve in the school governing body. Serving others took away the pains and remorse that I felt when my father left my mother and me,' Franz expressed.
Franz was elected twice as the president of the student body governing the Asia Pacific College of Advanced Studies. Through his leadership, he established a peaceful relationship between the academe and the students of his alma mater. From 2014-2016, he spearheaded the 'One Three One House Project of APCAS, a housing project that has blessed more than 3000 households from the Municipality of Orani and more than 3000 families in Pilar, Balanga. Furthermore, gathering support from his student team, he organized fund-raising activities, which enabled them to acquire and install a total of 35 CCTV cameras within the premises of their school. This project aided in the protection and safety of his fellow students.
The Community Advocate
In the middle of the pandemic, Franz was not deterred in his zeal to contribute to the community. On June 19, 2020 at Camp Olivas, San Fernando, Pampanga, he successfully organized the first KKDAT Virtual Youth Congress 'A Public Hearing on Anti-Terror Bill' National Virtual Summit joined by different Presidents and Regional Police Offices in the Philippines of the said organization. He also conceptualized and formed the KKDAT Youth Assistance Network (KKDAT YAN) as one of the priority support systems for the community's members and youth. KKDAT YAN is a one-stop-shop service effort for the youth who wish to avail of services of the Government such as TESDA, DAR, DENR and DOST.
Armed with the correct business principles he learned from Starting and Growing my Business Self-Reliance class; he launched the KKDAT GO Negosyo as a vital tool in response to the entrepreneurial challenges being faced by young entrepreneurs. The KKDAT GO Negosyo aids the youth who are involved in e-commerce businesses. It is also a platform for availing of free online business coaching and seminars and accessing the latest trends in business opportunities.
As a Regional Vice President and National Spokesperson of Kabataan Kontra Droga at Terorismo (NTF ELCAC), Police Regional Office 3, he is often seen in the thick of community activities. He joined a team that helped 10000 families affected by the fire in Brgy. Capunitan Orion, Bataan, and spearheaded the KKDAT and SK Morale Recovery Program. He was also part of the KKDAT Taal Relief Operation of Bataan that benefitted 500 families in Tagaytay City, Calatagan, and Balayan Batangas. He conducted symposium to 250 Academic Institutions in Bataan and joined the Bataan Philippine National Police.
'As an advocate of sustainable peace and youth development, I must fight against illegal drugs and terrorism. I will defend the youth against the deception of the terrorist groups in our country. It is my strong commitment to serving our nation by going down to the grassroots level,' Franz said.
Recently, he supported and joined the PNP's Food Bank project and commitment of delivering relentless outstanding service during the 'Rektang Bayanihan adopt a Family Program' by donating essential goods to the Bataan and Balanga PNP. Collectively, they donated diapers to 400 infants, milk to 500 children, vegetables to 150 families, and turned over 1,500 kilos of mixed vegetables to neighboring towns in Bataan. Still, under the same project, Franz's team distributed 200 kilos of fresh tilapia (a local fish), awarded wheelchairs to elderly and ill senior citizens, provided 200 food packs to 200 front liners, and handed out fresh milk to aged people in the province.
The Public Servant
Franz won the Sangguniang Kabataan Chairmanship in his province in 2018. Since then, he has been performing his legal duties and responsibilities as mandated by the Republic of the Philippines' constitution concerning nation-building and legislative duties as an ex-officio member of the Sangguniang Barangay of Central. He aids families and supports the children who are currently in the custody of DSWD and living in their regional centers amid the pandemic.
He serves as the link to Rise and Rebuild International Foundation in donating projects to the youth sector of Bataan such as the support in building Nutrition Centers and comfort rooms in different public elementary and secondary school, as well as the support to the DEPED Feeding Program Beneficiaries in terms of providing fresh vegetables, fresh milk and vitamins. He served as the key to linking the City Government of Balanga and Latter-Day Saints Charities that resulted to the donation of 70 Icor3 Dell Computers as support to Balanga City's Barangay Learning Hub, a priority project of Mayor Francis Garcia. This project has given numerous students access to free computer and internet use to research and print documents. Furthermore, he played a vital role in implementing 'Barangay Based Bahay Pagbabago' and handled the addiction recovery program for a total of 100 reformists, which also contributed to the drug-free status of his city and province, under the resolution of DDB, PDEA, and PNP.
True to his advocacy of empowering the youth, Franz sponsored the first 'Binata na si Tutoy Project Tuli' (circumcision project) that benefitted 150 young men in Balanga City. He also organized and conducted a series of symposiums and seminars that focus on Sustainable Development Goals, Out of School Youth, and Abandoned Children. He also organized onsite jobs fair and assistance in filling out the scholarship application and financial aid.
'I have witnessed, on many occasions, that this world is filled with joy and sorrow. Just like the olden days in The Book of Mormon, we see the battle of good and evil raging today. With God as our foundation, we can overcome everything. We should allow Heavenly Father to lead our lives. We bear the light of Christ when we choose to walk the path of righteousness. Like me who got lost before, I found my way back to the fold because those followers of Christ have shown me how through their selfless acts of service,' Franz said. ◼︎