Like It Is

It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others

/ 12:07 AM April 17, 2014

But isn’t it always time to think of others?

In 2009, I was moved when I read of a soldier who, while rescuing the 30th person he found stranded by Tropical Storm “Ondoy” (Ketsana), was swept away by a huge wave. His body was found the next day. So I founded an organization, together with the Management Association of the Philippines, called A Life for Others Foundation Inc. Its purpose is to help the families of soldiers who die in the course of saving the lives of civilians get their lives back together.


Soldiers in this country earn little, and when they’re gone the young families left get even less. They need somewhere to live, children to feed and and put through school, a life to recover. The least we can do is help them.

During Ondoy and Typhoon “Pepeng” (Parma), seven soldiers died in rescue attempts. We provided houses for five of the bereaved families, rebuilt one that was existing for the sixth, and provided scholarships for the children of the seventh.


During Typhoon “Pablo” (Bopha) in December 2012, again seven soldiers lost their lives, and we wish to extend support to their families. We are raising funds for them by holding a golf tournament on Tuesday (April 22). We will be flying the widows and one of their kids to Manila from Mindanao, courtesy of Philippine Airlines. And at the end of the tournament we will present each of them with a check for P100,000 to help them get their lives back together.

The widows had to present to us how they’d use the money. What I liked was that all of them want to start a small business, something that would give them a continuing income to support their children.

Three of the widows will start a small boarding house. As two of them said, although it will be small—only three or four rooms—it will be properly set up. And although P100,000 wouldn’t fully cover costs, it would go a long way to getting established. So I hope some kind bank will give them an easy loan or, better, another donor will come forward to provide the rest.

One plan that I particularly liked involves a small school in one widow’s village.

But I must wonder: Where is the government in this one? Isn’t that its role? Another widow is going into the transport business with a tricycle. Much as I hate tricycles, the reality is that the countryside needs them, so she’s got a business.

Then there’s cattle-raising: Buy three cows and fatten them up. The widow would then tie this into a sari-sari store to supply her local neighbors.

The seventh will build and start a sari-sari store, with much of the P100,000 used to build it. Then she has to stock it.


The implementation of all of these plans will be assisted and monitored by our friends at Children’s Hour led by Geenette Garcia, to help them do it properly.

Former President Fidel Ramos will kick off (do you kick off in golf?) the tournament.

We’ve had good support, with major donations from Meralco, First Gen, Philippine Associated Smelting and Refining, Forth & Tay, Colliers Int’l, Indophil Resources, Philex Mining, Nestle, Bryant Concepts, 3M, Gardenia Bakeries, Shangri-La Hotel Makati, Marco Polo, Fast Logistics, Victoria Court, and Alex Escaño, Steven Rood and Roberto de Ocampo in their personal capacities.

But we need more to keep the foundation going for the inevitable catastrophes in the future, including the sad deaths of soldiers giving us back our lives. And we need players in the tournament. We’ve had a reasonable turnout but, frankly, not enough. We need more players to make this a truly fun game for what I think is a very worthwhile thing to do: helping people who want to help themselves.

So I’d like to ask for your help. Can you support us by just buying a ticket, even if you don’t play? Or as a major sponsor at some level? Even raffle prizes to make the game more fun would be welcome. If you can help, call Maricel Camacho (8109606) or send her a text message (0917-7240872).

It is the foundation’s long-term commitment to run these rehabilitation programs nationwide for the benefit of the orphaned families of soldiers who lose their lives in rescue operations during calamities. Please help us.

* * *

Congratulations to Manny Pacquiao for another impressive win. What an incredible fighter. But he should stick to that, at least for the next few years.

National politics is not in his area of expertise; his life has been devoted to being the world’s best boxer. If he insists that politics is his role after retirement, then start at the local level and learn first before venturing into the national level. If he wants to be as brilliant in politics as he’s been in boxing, then he should do what he has done in boxing: become totally absorbed in it, study, learn, gain experience in upward steps.

* * *

Public office is a public trust—the 1987 Constitution says so (Article XI, Section 1). This seems to have escaped some senators in their claim of innocence. It doesn’t matter if the signatures were forged, or not. It doesn’t matter if their staff did it without their knowledge, or not. They were entrusted with P200 million (annually) of our money, to be used with discretion. They had the social, if not legal, responsibility to ensure it was properly used. At the end of each year they should have asked for an audit of that money. They should have ensured that the money was properly spent. From all I’ve read they didn’t; that’s an abrogation of their responsibility to us, the public they serve. For that alone they should resign in mortification. That they won’t and don’t even recognize this responsibility indicate the type of people they are.

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TAGS: `pepeng’, A Life for Others Foundation Inc., Disaster, holy week, Lent, Like It Is, Ondoy, opinion, Pablo, Peter Wallace, Soldier
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