Tuesday, December 22, 2009

When People who succeed Give back

by Marciano "m-16" A. Paroy Jr.

Success stories evoke only two reactions: genuine admiration or absurd envy. The former is felt by those who are truly appreciative of inspiring experiences undergone by fellow human beings – thus pushing them to emulate the feats and actions of those who succeeded, hoping that they too would end up reaping similar attainment. The latter reaction, however, is expressed by those who feel that the achievement of other people is something which was unrightfully deprived from them – never considering that such success was reached through hard and honest work. And since they cannot possibly duplicate such feat – simply because they do not want to – they scoff at the otherwise object of their admiration.
Not fair at all, for those who arrived at their present status through determination to rise above what they were originally dealt with, earlier in life. But let us not talk about people who can only see the negative side of things (to the extent of creating negative sides when they are simply non-existent). These are people who only see black and grey, while others see red.
Instead, let us shift attention to people who were given a prod into the right direction and, realizing that they were indeed being pushed into the right path, never stopped pursuing that road.
For instance, the children of Filemon and Rosario Peralta – whose Filrose Foundation has been the subject of this column some issues back. As I was going through the raw data that would serve as background material for that first article I did about the foundation, I was struck by this one detail about the siblings: there are twelve of them. One dozen. One hell of a brood to raise, certainly – add to that that they all had to be fed well, clothed appropriately, taught manners on a daily basis, and sent to school. It must have been a real challenge – to send them to college, one after the other.
Think: if they were evenly spaced, Filemon and Rosario would be attending a graduation ceremony in March, then accompanying a freshman entrant the following June; but meanwhile, there would be someone else in mid-college. Back home, a number of them had to be guided and inspired well, so that their elementary and high school grades would stay within the standards set earlier. This is quality time. Compared to parents these days (normally with two to four children) who whine about finding it hard to squeeze-in that much-needed element of bonding and “monitoring” stance, Filemon and Rosario sure knew the ins and outs of effective parenting: always with 12 as the common denominator.
And what success-driven siblings had been produced by such parenting! The list is impressive, if one visits the Filrose website and read the summary of the children’s current whereabouts. Given our culture’s propensity to give heavier evaluation points to the first child (whom we always see as the pace-setter, the leader of the pack, the premier showcase – so to speak), I learned that Ludivico is working in San Jose, California. Then, from that reference point, it’s a register of impressive prĂ©cis down to the last child – Rosafe. She’s about two years older than I, thus I’ve had the chance to move in the same circles as she did. I would always remember her veiled in black, eyes blazing as she menacingly cried out “Woman, do you know who you are?” during an awesome performance of the declamation piece titled The Long Vigil – under the training of Madam Gertrude Lastimoza.
The last time I saw Rosafe was when she got married – in style. I was still accepting make-up jobs then, and along with Jerry Ladrido (of Jerry and Jinky’s Salon, Poblacion West), Dong Bustamante (of Pine’s Salon, Bulanao) and Jessie Marallag (who is now in Italy), we were ferried to the big city – and up the Shangri-la Plaza – where we did the beauty and grooming treatment for Rosafe and husband Roland’s entourage.
I was baffled at that time – why Rosafe opted to hire Tabuk-based beauticians and bring them over to Manila for a task that would have been more conveniently carried out – had she decided to hire Manila-based experts. Wedding coordinator Letty June Lugtu-Bides of Caleb’s provided me the simple answer later when I finally voiced out my curiosity: “It was Rosafe’s choice that Tabuk-based beauticians should be hired. Tabuk will forever be in her heart, and she does hold a high regard for the expertise of beauticians here.”
From the sidelines (from the preparations the day before and up to the reception at the Plaza), I observed how Rosafe moved with precision – but with grace. She had needs but they did not come out as demands when uttered; more like non-verbally reminding you that this or that detail is supposed to be part of her deal with you – and so, because she did it all with refinement, we were more than happy to oblige. A trait which is somewhat reversed by her sister Rosalia – more known in Tabuk circles as simply Sally – but not to the point of being brash or ill-mannered. Sally, gauging from the instances I brushed elbows with her in different instances, is the outspoken member of the family. Perhaps, if there would be a “galawgaw” in the brood, she will be it. The Maricel Soriano in the family, minus the tactless and ear-shattering “palahaw.” Usto met ketdi, since Sally and husband John are key players in this town’s communications industry. But take note, given her degree in civil engineering, she still wanted to earn a diploma in Nursing, and was one of the pioneering enrollees at St. Tonis here. A passing whim which she soon gave up when she simply cut the waiting period and flew to California where she now works.
I once asked her the motivations behind her enrollment at St. Tonis – along with my batch mates Melanie, Lea and Pinky – and she laughed out the words “Awan lang.” Sallyng-sally.
I remember that a few days after Rosafe’s posh wedding in Manila, the golden wedding anniversary of Filemon and Rosario took place right here in Tabuk – and this time, it was Sally who was moving this way and that way, for the proceedings – the rough side, that is. With wedding planner Letty June on her side, equally matching her commander-in-chief mode, barking orders. Then when everybody else had gone to the church, trailing behind the Spanish-themed calesa conveyance in which the golden couple rode, Sally suddenly realized she was still un-made up. She then turned to us and politely asked “Papintasen dak met ah please.” As if she needed that much touch-up. Jerry did her hair and make-up – in a jiffy. And quick as a lightning, she was soon zipped up in her gown and before she bolted for the door, she made a quick stopover at the kitchen where she yelled “Pakanen yo dagitoy make-up artists wen?” Then rushed to the church where she resumed her role with Letty June.
One other member of the family whom I’ve had the chance to meet is Mario. I was still a freshman at SLU in Baguio City then – and was an occupant of the same apartment that I shared with Connielyn Badi and Annalyn Pullis (UB students then). Mario, Sally and John (Sally’s husband) dropped by one time (they were all Manila-based then) and while there, Mario and John started mapping out the nerve center of Tabuk (Poblacion Centro, Pob. West, Casigayan, Laya, up to Bulanao). They were planning to wire these places and come up with the first-ever cable network of the community. It did materialize. From that initial planning stage, we now have the Northern Star Cable Network – which has grown big enough to take in other partners.
Mario recently visited Tabuk for the distribution of tsinelas to the pupils of Pacak primary school (located some distance from its mother school – the Agbannawag Elementary School) and, with my triggered predisposition towards the rural communities, I went along with our photographer Elizabeth Busacay in response to the invitation of Filrose Peralta’s representative Annalyn Pullis. The Pacak activity is part of the Foundation’s on-going aspiration to extend a helping hand to the less fortunate. Pacak farmers have earlier benefited from the Foundation’s distribution of crops seeds – as well as the provision of funding for initial inputs prior to the current cropping season – so the delivery of free slippers to schoolchildren was sort of a sidelight to the bigger endeavor already being pursued there.
The farm lands are indeed robust with the crops planted – but what made my day was the lit-up faces of the schoolchildren when the slippers were handed out to them. It’s like actually seeing what our parents used to remind us about – you know, walking to school, barefoot. Only, the situation is taking place at the present time.
As I gleaned from my conversations with Mario, one of the Foundation’s flagship programs is education and to further realize their educational vision, members of the family have decided to put up their first school for children – mostly catering to children of the Foundation’s beneficiaries (Details of that endeavor shall be featured once it has materialized).
As for the other members of the family, I have not had any opportunity to really come into any face-to-face encounter with them. However, following the publication of this article’s predecessor (Filrose Foundation: A Different Blend of Business and Benevolence; Nov. 9, 2009 issue), I received a number of e-mails from them – reiterating their family’s desire to simply reach out to those who have the spirit to do something out of the help being extended by the Foundation.
Following the Pacak activity, I finally got to talk online with the eldest offspring – Ludivico, along with the youngest, Rosafe. To verbally hear them express their commitment held me in awe. Here is a family – thousands of miles away, living secure and comfortable lives – but whose mind and heart are also aimed at a community known as Tabuk. I can prattle on and on about what they are trying to accomplish but my words shall never fully capture the magnitude of their concern. For while it is true that they are starting out small, the direction ahead paints a bigger picture – and while it is true that the support may not be so big yet when quantified, the more important thing is that, at the end of the day, we see in practice the Chinese proverb of teaching a man how to fish and we feed him for a lifetime.
And then cap it all with not expecting monetary gains in return. And as it is a rare occurrence these days, we remain impressed.

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