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Filipinos’ innate humanity shining through on world stage

/ 02:12 AM January 23, 2014

The innate humanity, in its compassionate essence, of the Filipino—man or woman—has once again been resoundingly validated on world stage through a revelation in a book titled “Empty Mansions” by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell Jr. The book is about a deceased copper-mining heiress, childless Huguette Clark, who bequeathed $60 million to her friend and loyal companion by the name of Hadashi Peri. As a result of his investigative research, author Dedman found out that Hadashi Peri is actually a Filipino woman by the name of Gicela Oloroso, a registered nurse, born in the town of Sapian in Capiz.

According to the book, Oloroso, raised as a Roman Catholic, converted to Orthodox Judaism when she married Israeli immigrant and New York taxi driver Daniel Peri. She was assigned to care for the childless Clark by an agency in 1991 and served the heiress for more than 20 years or until the latter’s death in 2011. Through those two decades of service to Clark, Oloroso hardly took a day off.

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No less than US President Barack Obama, during his State of the Union Address on Feb. 12, 2013, lauded a Filipino nurse for helping save infants in a hospital at the height of Hurricane “Sandy,” which hit the United States the previous year. Said President Obama: “We should follow the example of a New York City nurse named Menchu Sanchez. When Hurricane  ‘Sandy’ plunged the hospital under darkness, she wasn’t thinking about how her own home was faring. Her mind was on the precious newborns in her care and the rescue plan she devised that kept them all safe.”

A couple of years ago, a Filipino cab driver, Nestor Sulpico, in New York City, returned a $1 million worth of jewelry left behind by an American passenger. New York City Mayor Michael Rubens Bloomberg summoned Sulpico to the City Hall and honored him with a plaque and scholarship to a nursing course at New York University. Unfortunately, midway in his studies, Sulpico was diagnosed with colon cancer, and he promptly returned to Iloilo City to await his death. The Philippine Senate cited him for this feat. At that time, Rene Saguisag commented that Sulpico was the last remaining honest UP Sigma Rhoan.

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Almost a decade ago, there was also a Filipino couple who inherited the equivalent of P20 million from a spinster they had loyally served.

Of course, there have been numerous instances worldwide wherein Filipinos have been cited for remarkable, outstanding feats. Indeed, with this character, Filipinos are destined to a great fate.

And yet in their own country, most Filipinos remain victims of the tyranny and violence of poverty arising from an unjust socioeconomic political structure. In this sense, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines is correct in calling the pork barrel scam as an act of terror against the Filipino people.

—EDWARD B. CONTRERAS,

Pryce Hotel, Cagayan de Oro City

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TAGS: “Empty Mansions”, Bill Dedman, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, Paul Clark Newell Jr., pork scam, Pulitzer Prize, Roman Catholic
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