Beautiful, helpful Karen May

Karen with her family

SIX years ago I met Karen May Moreno Villanueva in Cagayan de Oro and she really made an impression on me.

An exotic beauty with black hair, shiny brown complexion and a killer smile. That was only one meeting but we have been in touch the past years through the Internet of course.

I've been reading about the charity events that she's been hosting in Belgium where she is now based with her husband Mark Van Den Broek and their family.

Her coming to Belgium only cemented what her father Tito Fuentes Villanueva used to call her, namely a “Good Samaritan.”

I just happened to know that the beautiful Karen is also beautiful at heart. She organized charity events in Belgium in order to raise money for feeding and helping her school in her native Calubo, Kinoguitan town in Misamis Oriental.

The town's parish priest and the school principal were so thankful for the assistance extended by Karen and her Belgian friends. Trust me, I would talk about the charity events and the beneficiaries soon.

I knew at that time that she worked as a staffer in the office of then congressman and now Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno and since we have common friends we have continued with our correspondence.



Aside from being a hardworking beauty, Karen is also a woman full of dreams. She dreamed of being a flight attendant and traveling to other countries around the world.

Karen didn't become a flight attendant but she did live in Belgium, a wonderful country across the ocean in Europe. She also dreams of helping others fulfill their dreams.

Karen was born 34 years ago in Cebu City and raised in barangay Calubo, Kinoguitan town in Misamis Oriental, northern Mindanao, Philippines.

Karen attended Calubo Elementary School in 1992 and went to Holy Child High School also in Kinoguitan town. She studied in Xavier University and graduated Bachelor of Arts in International Studies in 2000.

Karen May is a mother of two boys Enrico Miguel and Rafael. “I am a big fan of singing and listening to all genre of music. I also love travel and learning about other cultures,” she said.

She told me that she learned the language and eventually adjusted to the climate and culture of Belgium. “I came to Belgium in January of 2008 and married my husband Mark. After all the struggles here in Belgium, I was able to adapt slowly to their life here,” she said.

Karen is working in a hospital's psychiatric ward. She also loves fashion, reading books, blog sites and many others. But her constant dream is to help her family.

“That is why I love the challenges I encountered here in my second home,” Karen said. Her stint as part of the political staff of then congressman Moreno in 2004 to 2005 in Congress in Quezon City, Metro Manila was also good, she said.

“I also worked with Moreno during his stint as governor of Misamis Oriental from 2005 to 2006,” she said. Karen said her exposure in the province only intensified her desire to help people in need.

But what impressed me more about this woman is when she requested me to mention her family in the Philippines.

“My parents name is Tito Fuentes Villanueva (seaman by profession ) and Florencia Moreno Villanueva (housewife and accountancy graduate at the University of San Carlos, Cebu City),” she said.

Being the eldest in the family, Karen counts as her siblings Febe Marie Villanueva (an accountancy graduate of Liceo de Cagayan University working in Allied Bank Cebu), Cherry Blossom Villanueva (communication graduate of Lourdes College) and Desiree Villanueva (Education in BSU, Malaybalay, Bukidnon province).

More about Karen in my next blog.

(Susan Palmes-Dennis is a veteran journalist from Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental, Northern Mindanao in the Philippines who works as a nanny in North Carolina. This page will serve as a venue for news and discussion on Filipino communities in the Carolinas.

Read her blogs on susanpalmesstraightfrom the These and other articles also appear at

You can also connect with her through her Pinterest account at and


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