an act of random kindness

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This made me feel uncomfortable in the best possible way. I’m not sure if I can ever make that big of an impact on anyone but I sure could try. You can never really tell whose life you can change by one random act of kindness so make a habit of it.

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doing the right thing

A fellow blogger, who also happens to be a really good friend of mine, shared this on Facebook a few minutes ago. I thought it was a story worth telling so here I am on my blog, writing about it.

Photo from Brent Tzu’s facebook account

Meet 98 year old Dobri Dobrev, a man who lost his hearing in the second world war. Every day he walks 10 kilometers from his village in his homemade clothes and leather shoes to the city of Sofia, where he spends the day begging for money.

Though a well known fixture around several of the city’s churches, known for his prostrations of thanks to all donors, it was only recently discovered that he has donated every penny he has collected — over 40,000 euros — towards the restoration of decaying Bulgarian monasteries and the utility bills of orphanages, living instead off his monthly state pension of 80 euros.

Sometimes you just know you’re doing the right thing even when no one else affirms it.

Because we live in a world where meritocracy is the rule of thumb, we forget the greatest contributions that we make to society, to people we hardly know are the things we do out of selflessness and utter disregard for social image. Here is a man who may have little financially and in material possessions but he chose to live a life that still cares about others. I’m not encouraging the rest of the world to crowd the streets and beg for money they can donate rather I’m hoping I can convince you to care. 

Our gestures don’t have to be big. They don’t have to change the world. We at least have to care enough to move towards a gesture, an action, a vision that involves making other people’s lives easier than they are now. This has a very special place in my heart because I’ve done humanitarian work since I was 13 and I’ve loved every minute of it. Because I love it so much, I thought it would be fun to celebrate my birthday, the 18th of this month, with my dad on a gift giving mission. It will be my little contribution to world.

I hope one day helping others out will be a part of everyone’s habit, something they do not as a burden but a vocation even when there are no cameras snapping, no cover stories and no obvious reciprocity other than fulfillment.

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the root of my faith

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I ran.
I hid.
I screamed.
In anger, I renounced him.
In sorrow, I left him.
In pain, I blamed him.

For he who does great things, I choose to see the bad.
For he who gifts with love, I decide to focus on the hurt.
For he who never left me, I accuse indifference and cruelty.

I am a sinner and he is my God.
I am not perfect and my faith is far from that
but today I decide to surrender my life and my heart
to my Creator who dwells above.

(A. Relloso)

*This poem I wrote a few days back was featured in a friend’s photo blogging site yesterday. I thought I wanted to share it with my readers too.

Three Wishes

I refrain from posting depressing messages and pictures on my blog thinking this was originally my happiness haven but I just really had to post this one. It reminds me of why I love humanitarian work and why I do what I do. If I can help kids like these, foster them off the streets and into a more promising future then I will have exceeded my own expectations.

In Flow with Otto

The story of Sasha and Roma is heartbreaking. Two boys living on the streets of St. Petersburg. Sniffing glue the only comfort in their young life. This is a story Øystein brought back from a visit to Russia some years ago. Read the whole story on Øystein’s & Otto’s Blog

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you KNOW how YOU VOTED

While on the line earlier, waiting for my chance to vote, I overheard a conversation between two guys behind me.

Guy in a RED shirt: Pare, kuanon mo na sana tapos dai iboto. Pwede man baga. Alangan man maglaog sinda diyan tapos basahun ang balota mo.

Guy in a WHITE (almost cream) shirt: Iyo ano? Saen ngani sinda nagaabang?

Guy in a RED shirt: Diyan baga sa may luwas. Itong nagtatao ning sample ballot.

(English translation)

Guy in a RED shirt: Just get it then don’t vote for the candidate. It’s doable. They won’t go in and check who you shaded on your ballot anyway.

Guy in a WHITE (almost cream) shirt: That’s true. Where are they again?

Guy in a RED shirt: Outside, they’re   the ones giving away the sample ballots.

It’s frustrating because quite frankly this seldom happens in my city, most of the voters are learned and have high respect for the system. Compared to the rest of the country, we were as safe as a walk in the park. I was so close to coming up to them and telling them off; I was that pissed (partly due the heat too) but I decided against it. Today I’ll let them make that decision for themselves. I cannot keep coaxing people to do the right thing when they themselves are not convinced they should do it.

But just to get this off my chest, here’s what I would have said:

Yes, people will not know who you voted for. Those who paid you off will keep their fingers crossed that you stay true to your words and they get the votes they need. Those who process your vote will be oblivious to the fact that you sold out.

They won’t know but YOU WILL.

You will know at that very moment that you lied, you sold out and you gave in to a broken undignified system. While  a hard earning construction worker refuses for his vote to be bought despite his obvious need for money, here you are squandering your chances to make a difference. Granted, you may think, “What is one vote?” How is it going to affect your country? I can construe a dozen arguments why it does but that won’t matter as much as HOW YOUR VOTE CAN AFFECT YOU.

You have a chance to prove to yourself that you are worth more than a few hundred pesos. We don’t get chances like that very often.

If knowing that you just sold your vote isn’t torture enough, then you have a bigger problem. You are numb to people trampling on your dignity, callous to overglorified politicians walking all over you and treating you just like any other purchase he’s made- disposable and insignificant.

You’re better than that. WE are better than that. Once every 3 years we get to prove it. 

Love is without guarantees

Love is without guarantees.

They say that love is one of the many endeavors of man which isn’t calculated or rationalized. It’s more than a feeling; it’s an iniative fuelled by human will. Because it isn’t with reason that we love, we cannot justify why we have it or why we’ve lost it. It simply happens and when it does we say that it was never guaranteed to work or last anyway.

But then I ask, “What guarantee are you looking for anyway?”  

The security that he will not find another

A vow that you will live in eternal bliss

A promise that you’ll wake up everyday knowing it will never end

If that is what you believe guarantees in love are then you are right, there are none.

As for me, I find love provides a different guarantee, one which is more personal- more for the self than for the partner or your relationship with him. Love warrants humanity, that moment of absolute vulnerability you are willing to take to be with another. It assures you of an experience that transforms you or at the very least, reveals to you your deeper, more unguarded self.

When you are in the a happier stages of a relationship, one depicted in romcoms and chick flicks, you realize you can be happy and that you deserve it. Even when you lose him, you continue to find happiness for yourself because you’ve discovered how uplifting and empowering it is.

In the darker pre and post break up stages, you feel pain and learn to deal with it. It does not matter how, through beer, parties, writing, painting, eating or ranting, as long as you acquire that resilience we all need to get ahead in life.

You’ve won, not that it ever was a competition.

Love may not last. It may not be entirely of bliss or with one guy but it comes with a guarantee. You will learn and you will grow and you will have at least loved. Isn’t that takeaway enough?

here’s to GAY RIGHTS

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Ad by Stonewall, a gay rights campaign group

I am not shy nor reluctant about my stand on gay rights. I believe that respect is due to this sector as they pursue and demand for the rights they so rightfully deserve.

Most critics would say that destruction of traditional morals start when we accept changes that do not agree with the norm. I do think, however, that we, as rational human beings, should be capable of assessing which of these beliefs are worth keeping and which are fossilized errors worth reviewing. Once, women were accorded with much lesser rights than men. This fosters the then accepted patriarchal idealism. Men are better. Men rule. Men are important therefore we women have no say in matters that are as important as men. We can’t vote, have political inclinations, be sexually satisfied or be powerful in the workplace as these offend the rights and in my opinion the ego  of pre-gender equality men.

Gay rights are human rights.

Today, we support feminism and its consequences like affirmative action in the workplace and shared responsibilities at home. Society accepts that although men and women have different niches and functions in the society, they are to be considered equal and therefore, awarded the same rights and ability to pursue them. The errors of the past were corrected by a more progressive and open-minded community of individuals who are not afraid of deviating from a set of accepted norms to find better ways of looking at things, ones which are fairer and more respectful of our shared humanity.

The same principle applies to offering the same level of respect for the orientation of our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community. Beliefs and traditions are time-bound and should continue to progress as the humanity that abides by it also progresses. Although I do not wish to offend the traditional moral institutions and lobbyist groups which believe in eternal damnation for this sector, I hope that you recognize that the respect you require of us in terms of honoring tradition is the same respect required of you for the change in society that supports gay rights.

We have seen the effects of bullying gays into becoming something else, not respecting them and stripping them of their rights to be with their partners. It’s never going to get better. The mudslinging and hate will continue unless the we decide that it ends now, unless we promise to foster respect despite our opposing beliefs. We can agree to disagree, refuse each others belief without the hate and obvious disregard for the other’s dignity.

Some people are gay.Get over it. 

As for the population of this world who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and everything in between, hang in there. Change comes with opposing views, thesis and anti thesis. Sooner than later, more people will realize that you guys, like women, also deserve to be treated respectfully, equally and humanely. Until that time, know that you have at least one supporter right here who promises to press on and support you.

global piggy bank: saving smiles

I read a post this morning that made my heart drop a thousand miles below sea level. It’s not that it’s the first time I’m hearing of it, I actually hear it often considering it’s in my line of work but I realize how numb I’ve become since I started. This reminded me of my humanity and the humanity of what I do. Please read it and find it in your heart to reflect for today.

Filipino horror story

 By Korina Ada D. Tanyu

Philippine Daily Inquirer

Nena rises at 4 a.m. to cook a pack of instant noodles for her four children. Her live-in partner, Jojo, has gone to ply his tricycle route. He makes only about P300 a day and is still paying for the loan he took out (at 5-6 rates) to buy the tricycle.

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While cooking, Nena worries about her youngest, 5-year-old Jamjam. He has been losing weight, having recurring fever, and coughing incessantly for the past two months. Lagundi syrup is of no help. She took him to the health center, where he was given carbocisteine. Still, he continued to cough and lose weight. She also took him to the  hilot, thinking of  kulam. Nothing happened.

Three days ago, she noticed that Jamjam was having difficulty breathing and was relieved only by nebulizations at the center. She and Jojo decided to consult a physician, but they worried about how to get to a hospital. The nearest is privately owned, and the consultation fee is at least P500, aside from the costs of the lab tests. On the other hand, the nearest government hospital is in Manila. The fare from Cavite to Manila costs P100. They calculated that they needed P200 just for the fare. (Jamjam will sit on Nena’s lap so he can ride for free.)

Nena was so worried about her son that she borrowed P500 from the loan shark.

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At 6 a.m., mother and son are on their way to the government hospital in Manila. At 8 a.m., they are in a queue at the pediatrics clinic counter. But the nurses tell Nena that the quota of 60 new patients per day has been filled. Nena begs the nurses to include Jamjam in the quota. We’re sorry, say the nurses. Our patients also came from far places. Come back tomorrow.

Nena sobs. She has only P400 left. If she takes Jamjam home, she will have only P300 for tomorrow, unless she borrows money again. They can stay overnight at the hospital, but where will they get food? And her family will worry if they don’t come home. She can try the nurses again, but then again…

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In the waiting area, Nena notices an unguarded backpack.  Patawarin  sana  ako  ng  Diyos(May God forgive me), she tells herself. But she decides against taking it.

A news report is blasted from the TV set in the waiting area: Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile,  nagbigay  ng  pera  sa  mga  senador  nung  Pasko! The report says all senators, except four, got P1.6 million each for Christmas.

A doctor walks through the hallway of the clinic and surveys the row of patients in the waiting area. Her gaze falls upon Nena and Jamjam. She raises her eyebrows and quickly approaches them.

The dialogue, in Filipino, is quick:

“Ma’am, how many days has your son been having difficulty breathing?”

“Doktora, three days already.”

“No other symptoms like a cough?”

“It’s been two months since he began coughing and losing weight. He’s lost almost half of his weight. And there’s fever.”

The doctor examines Jamjam, then calls a nurse and asks for oxygen. She tells Nena that her son’s condition is worrisome and he has to be taken to the emergency room.

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Nena asks the doktora what will happen to Jamjam, and begins to cry.

Jamjam is hooked to oxygen support and put on a wheelchair. Another doctor takes mother and son to the emergency room, where several other doctors attend to the boy. One attaches an IV drip on Jamjam’s arm. His blood pressure is taken—several times. The mother senses that something’s wrong.

“Doktora, what’s happening?”

“Nanay, we can’t find your son’s blood pressure. His breathing is bad. We need to put a tube in his lungs so he can breathe. Do you have money for the respirator? If none, you will serve as the machine that will help him breathe.  Magbobomba kayo.”

To rent the machine, Nena needs at least P2,000. Jamjam also needs antibiotics. Some of the lab tests are free of charge, but the others are not. Nena thinks of the P400 she has left. She can’t call Jojo, she has no cell phone.

The doctors lead Nena to a social worker, who assists her. She manages to contact Jojo, who promises to bring the needed money before the day ends.

In Cavite, Jojo turns to his brother for help. But his brother, who has three children and another on the way, can lend him only P500. Jojo understands, and thanks his brother profusely. He looks at his watch, thinking that his prized possession will probably fetch another P500 from the loan shark. But the loan shark gives him P2,000: “Here. For your son. Pay me when he gets well.”

The father takes the money, knowing that this “generosity” comes with a stiff price. With P2,500 in his pocket, he heads to the hospital.

The doctors have inserted a tube in Jamjam’s mouth and down his trachea; one is helping him breathe with a bag. Blood extractions, as well as x-rays, have been done. Nena brings the blood samples to the lab and pays for the lab work with her P400. She still has to buy antibiotics and medication to raise Jamjam’s blood pressure, but her money has run out. She has to wait for Jojo to come. Unknown to her, the doctors have given Jamjam medication from donors.

The doctors tell Nena that Jamjam has tuberculosis complicated with severe pneumonia; the infection has spread through his blood. They ask her if anyone else in the family has TB. Nena has no idea. They tell her to have all the family members tested.

They also tell Nena that despite the medication, Jamjam still has very low blood pressure. They urge her to seek the help of local politicians. It’s the election period, after all.

But all these are a blur to Nena. Her mind is as chaotic as the emergency room. She is waiting for Jojo to come. Jojo will tell her what to do. Where is Jojo, anyway?

A doctor approaches Jamjam and listens to his chest and heart.

CODE! Doctors and nurses instantly surround Jamjam. A doctor pounds the child’s chest with a fist.

Another doctor tells Nena what is going on. Her son’s heart has stopped beating and they are trying to revive him. If his heart does not start beating again after 30 minutes, they will stop all efforts of resuscitation.

Nena suddenly feels that the weight of the world is upon her. She cries. She prays.  Diyos  ko!  Ang  anak  ko!  For the first time in her life, she shouts her prayers, hoping that from earth, her screams will be heard by God in heaven.

Thirty minutes pass. We’re sorry, the doctors say.

The nurses remove all the devices attached to Jamjam’s body. Nena embraces her child and shakes him, hoping he is just sleeping.

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Just then Jojo runs into the emergency room, looking for Nena. He sees her crying. He sees a lifeless Jamjam. He breaks down and weeps.

A week later, Nena and Jojo bury Jamjam in the public cemetery. Along with their son, they bury all their hopes and dreams for him. And then they face the future buried in debt.

Korina Ada D. Tanyu, MD, 27, is a pediatrics resident at the Philippine General Hospital where, she says, she and her colleagues encounter similar stories every day. She wishes that such situations will not happen to anyone, but realizes that with the way things are, these will only disappear in her dreams.

I started volunteering because I was an idealistic teenager who thought that there was value in pursuing goals outside of caprice and self wealth.

I thought I can change world but this story made me realize that for every 10 people I bend over backwards trying to help there are thousands more with even greater suffering. When all these is gonna end, I cannot say but what I am sure of is that the more people who are aware of these, the more people who are willing to help, the better it is for them.

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I believe so much in the good of humanity that I am sure when they see how difficult life is for their brothers and sister (maybe not of blood, race or social status but of heart and soul), they will do something about it. All it takes is a nudge in the right right direction. So this is me nudging you, hoping that in you own way you can reach out and help out.

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PS I am serious about this. I have been doing this for 4 years now and any help is welcome. Just contact me or my dad. 🙂

PSS The global piggy bank: saving smiles idea is that when one volunteers they add to the global piggy bank in the currency of smiles. By the time everyone is in on it, we’ll be able to accumulate all the smiles and the bank will be full of happiness. I got that from a bedtime story I read when I was younger so forgive the child like rhetoric. 🙂