Lovely comes from an island community that is part of a major tourist destination in the Philippines. Her father is a fisherman and her mother is employed as a laundry woman for a major resort on the island. The family consists of four other siblings with Lovely being second to the youngest.
In 2004, when she was only 9 years old, Lovely’s family was introduced to a foreign man, a tourist staying at a nearby resort. The foreign man contacted the community to announce that he wanted to offer scholarships to all elementary-aged children to support their education. The man rented an apartment where he provided young children private computer lessons. Lovely’s parents were excited about this opportunity and sent all their young children to have private tutoring with the foreign man.
After some months, the man requested that all young children be able to sleep in his home overnight. The community trusted this man as he had offered to financially assist their children and so entrusted them in his care. However, it was during these overnight visits that the man molested 24 children from the same community over a year-long period; this included the 9-year-old Lovely and her siblings.
Lovely informed a teacher at their school of what has been happening during the private lessons. The parents and community were informed and acted to apprehend the man but when they reached the apartment, the foreign man, together with his Filipina wife, managed to escape and flee the country. In a police raid in the foreign man’s apartment, many home videos and photographs were found on his computer featuring girls and boys from the community.
ECPAT has been referred to assist the individual victims and their families during this time as ECPAT has been working against child sex tourism in the area. With the assistance provided by ECPAT, Lovely and her siblings, together with the rest of the 24 victims, were supported to resume schooling. ECPAT supported Lovely with educational assistance so that she remained in school until she had completed high school. Despite all that she had experienced, she was able to focus and study hard and become a successful student. ECPAT provided continued support to her family and community through the years.
In partnership with ECPAT and a highly reputable university in Manila, Lovely is now enrolled in a scholarship program taking up Human Resources Management although her first course is Social Work since she says she is inspired by those who assisted her throughout her ordeal and she wishes to return the same support and assistance to other young children who fall victims of sexual exploitation.
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