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FLEA MARKET OF IDEAS

Generosity amid destitution

/ 05:19 AM September 02, 2019

A country plagued with a gaping disparity between rich and poor needs to cultivate a culture of empathy and generosity among its citizens who are blessed bountifully.

We read about the publicized benevolence of business tycoons donating buildings named after them to alma maters like the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University. These acts of altruism serve more to benefit the giver who reaps advertised goodwill perpetually etched in stone, but accomplish little in extending blessings to those who are in real need of a helping hand.

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The deserving recipients of these acts of beneficence are the many state colleges and universities, and public elementary and high school institutions, operating in our poverty-stricken provinces where every centavo donated for infrastructure, scholarship, teachers’ incentives, books and computers, will create the most impact for the poor.

I previously wrote about efforts of low-key industry taipans who have organized the Center for Community Transformation, which has provided seed money that has grown to a billion-peso fund used for microloans, health, education and livelihood assistance for the poorest of our poor.

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I have encountered another generous benefactor, Nordy Diploma, who is quietly giving back to his community. Diploma, now 84 years old, married to a gracious Japanese wife, Sineko, was born in Victorias City, Negros Occidental. He attended public schools in Negros before pursuing law at Ateneo de Manila University.

Diploma went on to reap the combined financial rewards of a successful law practice and an international shipping business. Diploma owned ocean-going cargo vessels and he held offices in Tokyo and Hong Kong in his heydays.

In 1997, Diploma bought a 60-hectare sugarcane plantation in his hometown. He donated three hectares for a provincial science school, transformed 40 hectares into a manmade forest, and devoted the rest for the housing and agricultural needs of his employees.

The Negros Occidental National Science High School, which now sits on the land Diploma donated, is the only public science high school in northern Negros. Diploma has put up a scholarship fund for students belonging to marginalized families and provides monthly incentives to teachers as his way of helping outstanding educators to stay in the school.

Diploma desires the school to become one of the country’s leading science high schools so that poor but talented students in his province will have access to excellent education. Students from the school have been garnering awards from national and international science competitions. In 2015, one student won the gold medal in the World Mathematics International Finals held in China.

Diploma established his 40-hectare forest because he foresaw that climate change would be a major problem for humanity. He wanted to contribute in the fight against global warming by transforming his own piece of the earth into what he calls an “oxygen park.”

It’s probably one of the very few man-made forest enclaves of its size in our country today. Diploma yearns to see the creation of oxygen parks in each of the 1,489 municipalities across the country.

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Diploma noticed that there’s always an eerie silence under nonindigenous trees in his forest. He realized that birds, insects and other creatures avoided them because they are alien species of flora unfamiliar to native fauna. This transformed him into a passionate advocate of planting indigenous trees like narra, molave, apitong, lauan and yakal. He harvests their seeds and wildlings and makes them available for propagation elsewhere.

There are various areas where the wealthy can reach out and extend help to needy neighbors. We only need to open our eyes to the destitution that surrounds us, and we will see that, apart from education and environmental projects, there are dire needs for assistance in health services, housing, barangay day care centers, livelihood trainings, microloans and many others.

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TAGS: Flea Market of Ideas, generosity, Negros Occidental National Science High School, Nordy Diploma
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