Have a Little Faith in Me

Despite the Philippine government not meeting the peoples' expectations in providing relief to the Yolanda survivors, despite criticisms and complaints raging in online and offline circles, despite lots of agitating things happening inside and outside my country, I must say this week still left me with my faith in humanity intact and even restored.

I prepared a small* donation box where people could drop off goods at my office because I had heard the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur was accepting donations in kind. There were a lot of stuff in my house that I could give away. And I really wanted to help out as well. So why not invite my colleagues to do the same? I was hesitant about the idea at first, though. I mean, would they really give?

I should really say sorry right now for having such little faith in humanity, for having such little faith in the people I interact with daily.

The number of people who gave surprised me. Not only that, the people who gave surprised me as well. Surprised me more, I should say. I'm going to repent for being judgmental. Those people who I thought would care nothing for a cause such as this? They were the ones who gave the most, the ones who showed more concern than I could ever give them credit for.

They gave clothes, biscuits, canned goods, and bottles of mineral water. Some even gave medical supplies, toiletries, and other gifts. Blankets, bed sheets, and pillowcases just came pouring in. Their response was overwhelming and it's not like I'm part of a really big department.

Round one.

I also had stuff inside the boot.

What's wonderful is that help and support came from people from different countries, from different walks of life. Friends from Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Iran, Germany, and Cambodia just... gave. To the point that I had to go the the Philippine Embassy two times. My car had an overflowing backseat during each batch and it was hard not to get overwhelmed by their hearts, by their generosity. Oh, and I had an awesome spokesperson from Lesotho, too.

So I'm sending out my deepest thanks. Thank you guys for being with us through these trying times. Thank you guys for responding to the call to give. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

And thank you for restoring my faith in humanity once again.

Maraming salamat sa inyong lahat.

*yes, that's how big my faith was

Ang Bayan Ko

"Ang bayan ko'y tanging ikaw... Pilipinas kong mahal. Ang puso ko at buhay man... sa iyo'y ibibigay. Tungkulin ko'y gagampanan. Na lagi kang paglingkuran. Ang laya mo'y babantayan, Pilipinas kong hirang..."

We used to sing that song every morning. We sang it after the Philippine National Anthem during our elementary school flag ceremony. I'm not sure if I really understood what it truly meant to love my country, though, back when I was a child. "Pilipinas kong Mahal" (My Beloved Philippines) was one of my favorite songs. I liked the melody. It was nice to sing because it had that nice melancholy tune.

But, right now, what with everything going on in my country, I want it to become more than just a song. You see, my beloved homeland has been going through some serious shaking lately. I know no country is perfect. We all have our issues. Yet most of our current state of events will leave the hearts of most people shattered, crumbled like weathered down debris.

Yolanda (internationally known as Haiyan) entered our territory and took several thousands of lives along with her. I'm not sure what the latest count is right now. 10,000? It seems to get higher with each passing news update. And we've only just been recovering from a heart-rending earthquake which also took place in the Visayas region prior to this super typhoon, too.

And then there's the political landscape to consider. Citizens this year have been in uproar because of the uncovering and the unfolding of the controversial "Pork Barrel Scam". Government officials are apparently given "pork" which they are supposed to channel to development projects. Apparently, several (if not a lot of) officials have directed large - very large - sums into their pockets instead. They have been rumored to do this through the services of the *ehem* amnesiac "Pork Barrel Queen" who in turn have gained her own profits in billions.


These are some of my country's biggest issues. And yet there are many more lesser known ones, ones which, if we would poke and ponder, could possibly make our hearts ache all the more.

Thank God the Philippine spirit is resilient. Thank God we have learned to smile in spite of everything. But we need to make a change. Drastic changes, I believe. I do not have a formal proposition nor a ten-step action plan. I only have the words "Bangon" and "Wake up."

Wake up while magnifying the good - the resilience, the bayanihan, the loyalty, the ingenuity. Wake up while killing the ungood - the bitterness, the corruption, the ningas kugon, the bahala na, the crab mentality, the maƱana. Bangon. That's all I can say. Bangon.

Rise up, dear Philippines. God has greater plans for you. I love you with all my heart.

Photo taken from The Matchbox Sessions

If you'd like to extend a helping hand to the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda, here is a list of organizations accepting donations: 

You can also check this link out for those outside the country:

Aussie Throwback

18 October 2013

Oh Best Beloved,

We dropped by Mom and Dad's office today. By we, I mean QY and I. They were having a celebration for the October babies. Mom thought it would be fun if bro and I would also take part in the festivities.

Since there was a lot of stuff on top of Mom's table, Dad, QY, and I ate in the office pantry area. Mom was out buying cake and ice cream. But, when she came back with the sweet treats (and when she cleared her table clutter up), we eventually took our places at her desk. There I found a whole collage of throwback pics:

A postcard Dad sent. Armidale.
This would become our home for two years.

When then 70-plus-year-old Lola paid us a visit.
We went to Sydney, seven hours away from Armidale.

The customary family portrait. With bro playing with a helicopter.

Sandon Schoolkids.

The pictures above, Oh Best Beloved, are snapshots of our life in The Land Down Under. We stayed there for two years, while Dad went through PhD. We would have stayed longer, had it not been for some unforeseen circumstances.

We lived in Armidale. 5/54 O'dell Street. Who lives there now, I wonder? Our neighborhood had one Indonesian family, one from Fiji, and another from Papua New Guinea. The kids - Aresha, Terri, Priscilla, Michaela (I'm not sure if it's spelled correctly), Judy, and Anua were our regular playmates. I wonder what's become of them now?

Armidale is a quaint town with a small city center, a look out point, and a big university (where Dad studied in). And they had an awesome town library! At first I thought Armidale would be like the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) because of the deceptive rootword "Armi" but I'm glad it was nothing like a military school. The town had plenty of parks where Dad would "toss another shrimp on the barbie" (i.e. grill food) while us kids would fly on flying foxes and Mom would take photos and home videos.

Life there was simple. I'm not sure if I had any concept of homesickness then. I wrote some of my best friends letters and postcards though - there was no Skype, no Facebook, and only Dad had access to the Internet with the nostalgic dial up tone.

One day I might go back to Armidale again. Maybe I'll take you with me. That would be nice, wouldn't it? And we could tour through other places in Australia, too.

Oh, I can't wait for that one day to come.

Till then,