Our life’s destiny is what we make of what God gave us, which are the earth we live in, our environment, the country where we were born, the society in which we live, and our parents who gave us life. How we nurture these God-given resources to enrich our lives and enable us to empower and enrich other people’s lives is what I believe to be my destiny.
My organization, Kaisa Para Sa Kaunlaran (Kaisa), helps me to fulfill my destiny. Kaisa is a cause-oriented non-profit organization that continues to produce heroes, especially in times of adversity. We, at Kaisa, make our lives meaningful by doing good deeds and serving our country. This unique NGO has opened its doors to everyone who has the heart to serve our country and society. It has always been Kaisa’s mandate to encourage Tsinoys to be actively involved in nation building.
Kaisa draws strength from the trust and confidence of the Chinese-Filipino community, which has enthusiastically supported our causes, activities and projects.
A few days after Taal erupted and wreaked havoc in the areas surrounding it, our long-time friends and generous partners offered donations and financial support even without our asking.
How good our track record has been is highlighted by the fact that the Tsinoy community knows that Kaisa is always at the forefront when disaster strikes our beloved Philippines. No one wants a disaster to happen, no one is prepared for the magnitude of devastation wrought by acts of nature. But Kaisa has always been there, ready and prepared to respond to disaster relief operations.
The board of trustees of the Philippine Cultural College (PCC), with the participation of alumni, students and faculty, was the first to offer 1,000 relief packs to Kaisa at P500 per pack. This was followed by the KC Alumni Association, a long-time Kaisa partner, giving the same amount.
We canvassed for big plastic bags. The seller, hearing it’s for Kaisa relief, decided to just donate them. With initial support assured, the #BayanihanParaSaBayan campaign was launched to help our kababayans displaced by the eruption of Taal Volcano.
Kaisa members and volunteers immediately repacked 2,000 relief parcels containing pails, rice, canned goods, blankets, bath towel, alcohol, oral hygiene kits, t-shirts, underwear and other items. Volunteers coordinated with our partners, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) and the Southern Tagalog People’s Response Center (STPRC), to identify evacuation centers where we can distribute the relief goods. Initial groundwork, such as data gathering, coordinating with the local government of Batangas, and planning the logistics of delivering goods, was accomplished promptly.
On Feb. 3, we distributed relief goods in six parts of Laurel, Batangas which is one of the most affected areas near the volcano. It was tiring work, as we have to move from one place to another to make sure that our goods reached the hands of the evacuees directly and that they are definitely the ones in need. To personally interact with our kababayans is wonderful – the beauty of the Filipino people is that we still smile in the midst of suffering.
Four days later on Feb. 7, we went to Talisay, Batangas. While some are already back in their houses, many evacuees are still in evacuation centers or hosted by relatives and friends. The distribution effort this time was faster, as we needed to travel to only four places where the evacuees congregated.
BayanihanParaSaBayan transcends ethnicity, gender, race and social status. Tsinoy and Pinoy volunteers worked with our partners to ensure that the relief distribution was swift and effective.
Children learn to volunteer from their elders. With past president Ganny Tan always at the forefront of our volunteer operations, it is no wonder that his children participate as well. Cielbert, 15, is fast becoming an expert at these relief and distribution operations.
After our distribution efforts in Laurel, Batangas, PCC faculty member Jeric Callanta said, “Participating in outreach activities such as this makes me feel more complete as a person. During that time, I saw how people joined forces to help the victims of the Taal eruption. It was such a wonderful experience and opportunity to offer a helping hand to the needy. I have observed the willingness of the Chinese-Filipino people to help our kababayans without expecting anything in return, a true value to cherish forever.”
My staff, Michael Manalon, expressed his happiness at being given the opportunity to help. “Hindi ko kailangan maging mayaman para makatulong. Masaya ang makatulong. Hindi ko naramdaman yun pagod kasi madami tayo (We do not need to be rich to be able to help others. Helping brings happiness. I did not feel the tiredness because we have many volunteers), Pinoys and Tsinoys joining hands,” he said.
I feel fulfilled to be part of this relief distribution. Many hands make the burden lighter. We each did our best to contribute the little we could, and each contribution made the endeavor more meaningful, participative and rewarding.