This is not a piece for the suffering Visayan people; it will take long before their power supply is restored. This isn’t meant to criticize the government for its sluggish operation; I doubt this will reach its officials’ eyes and ears, or help in any way. Neither is this for those who are so quick to insult the government; they probably have contributed far more than I, and to pick on them would be very hypocritical and heartless of me. Rather, this is for those of us who want to help, but don’t have the practical means to do so. This is also for those of us who don’t have much to do at this given moment. That’s why you’ve taken the chance of reading this—to kill time.
A few years back, a number of musicians (13, if my memory is still my ally) were invited to fly to Singapore, pro bono. In other words, all expenses not paid. Nonetheless, they had this profound desire to go—not to visit the Esplanade, or to view the mythical Merlion, but to attend a yearly conference of an international missionary-sending organization.
This organization is composed of people with an insatiable desire to make God known to the unreached by providing schools, hospitals, etc. that would cater to the natives’ health, education, and financial needs. Underpaid and in constant threat of getting hanged for being Christians, they still wouldn’t be stopped from proclaiming God’s love to all.
Most of the missionaries were experiencing burnout and disorientation—a result of their daily sacrifices and of being away from their families. The young musicians knew they were being called upon to minister to the missionaries. But they also knew that the plane fare plus the cost of a 6-day hotel stay were too much to be handled by mere students and employees.
The musicians met one night. Two of them expressed an ardent desire to push through with the mission, but also disclosed an inability to produce the minimal amount needed. They said they had to say goodbye.
The others were disheartened. They loved their two comrades, and wanted so badly for all of them to travel to Singapore! They cried. The night was still and chilly, and only the gasps for air and the weeping could be heard. Suddenly, someone said they should raise funds for the two. They simply could not get on the plane if the group were incomplete. But each one was reluctant to grab his/her wallet, for each had barely enough to make the quota.
And then, someone produced a P1 coin and put it on the table. The rest didn’t know what to make of it. There was a general exchange of perplexed glances, and a scratching of suddenly itchy heads. Then the unthinkable happened: Everyone started putting money on the table! In that moment, they truly lived the words of Jesus Christ: Live for today and let tomorrow worry about itself.
Now let me tell you that all 13 members of the group were able to travel to Singapore and return home safely, and with joy in their hearts. Someone even filled her luggage with chocolates.
I told this story because it closely resembles a familiar scene in the Bible: a mob of hungry Israelites huddled toward Jesus on a mountainside, with nothing to eat. And then a child—a child!—gave away his lunch composed of two pieces of fish and five loaves of bread in the innocent hope of feeding 5,000 men, plus women and children. Had not that child offered whatever he had in his lunchbox, there wouldn’t have been a miracle so mind-blowing that all the four Gospel writers wrote about it. They must’ve been profoundly touched—and changed—by it.
There is something you can do about a given situation. It is not true that you are incapable of relieving someone else’s pain, discomfort and dismay. It’s true that not everyone can offer money to anybody who’s in financial need, but who said it’s only money one needs? As long as you believe you can help, you can. Two hands and two feet are not even requisite for you to help—just look at Nick Vujicic. What you need is a heart that will not be content with just sitting at the sidelines, spectating, hoping for someone else to stand up when you yourself can. It begins with a heart that’s pierced with sterling compassion: No matter how humble your offer is, still you are willing to give whatever you can, because you will not be able to sleep soundly at night if you won’t.
Friends, let us help others. Let’s all be the agents of change and the hands of healing. Most of all, let’s be the heralds of a Kingdom that’s coming soon: where there’s no calamity to befall anyone, and where no one needs to evacuate to a safe place because we will all be home at long last.
Sometimes we laugh at people who do away with the stereotypes. What we have so foolishly forgotten is that this world has never been quite the same ever since individuals believed in the power of one soul brimming with passion and enthusiasm, and attempting to defy the norms. And risking a lot by doing what they had decided in their hearts to fulfill at the expense of being called fools.
This I dedicate to them.
I wrote this because I believe that everyone can do something. Don’t ever call yourself worthless because God gave you worth; don’t undermine your innate talents and skills because there’s no one else in the whole world who can do the things you do in the exact same fashion and intensity. And so I write this to tell you that you need to help because you can, and you have to, because you are needed.
I wrote this to remind myself that even if I cannot go to Leyte right now, or produce P1 million worth of relief goods, still I can write. Of course, this cannot feed one soul even one meal. Still I do hope, like that child at the feeding of the 5,000 and that gentleman at the fundraising for the two members of the music team, that this humble deed will cause ripples that will eventually reach the Visayas. God showed me that He can use anyone, and that He can move through anything, given that the vessel is willing to submit to His will and to dream of a brighter day.
I believe this should not just be a ningas-cogon revolution meant to address the needs of those who survived “Yolanda.” The incredible generosity going on should not just be a momentary virtue to develop and uphold. We should permanently be healed of indifference and show the world that we Filipinos know how to love another, despite all the signs that we don’t. We should show ourselves that our heroes didn’t shed blood and tears in vain.
So I dream, that even if I’m only one feeble soul, I can do something for my brethren. That one day, we Filipinos will be one in vision and in identity. That we will awake from the bitter delusion that we are pitted against one another because of our contrasting beliefs, and begin to value others more than our pride. That one day, we will be one in spirit: to love, not hate; to be concerned, not indifferent.
Maybe, just maybe, this may outlast the corrupt and the unloving.
So get the P1 stone and make ripples. Gandhi once said: Be the change that you wish to see in the world. Let’s be the difference. Let’s act. Now.
Jesus L. Dawal Jr., 23, is taking a course in communication at Aquinas University of Legazpi, where he is also a staff writer of the official student publication.
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