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Saturday, 22 December 2012

Simple Acts of Kindness

     I am grateful to have known many unheralded people who have committed themselves to working  for marginalized groups in our country. They are advocates and co-journeyers, dedicated to a life of service to the people.  They are the teachers, companions, community organizers  who would  exemplify magis, giving more of themselves in the service of others.

     I am thankful to fellow human rights defenders who have worked tirelessly for the plight of the survivors of human rights violations including the families of the desaparecidos.

     I am likewise grateful for having worked with different groups and organizations who have supported survivors of calamities and difficult life experiences.

      Patnubayan kayo ng Panginoon sa inyong mga gawain.

                                               ***

     There are still many others, who may not be members of groups working with the marginalized but continue to help others  in simple acts of kindness.

     They are brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts from all walks of life who gently touch the lives of others with their kind words and deeds. 

     I remember the many kind people who volunteered their time, rendered financial and material support to the survivors of critical situations and disasters in our country. Some even cooked food and delivered them to flood survivors in various  communities. Others would journey with farmers and indigenous people coming  all the way from remote communities in the provinces to seek audience with responsible leaders on their plight. Many others would provide a gentle and compassionate ear to many who have experienced a loss too painful to bear. A great number provided caring activities for children in evacuation centers, providing them a safe place to be able to express themselves through play and art.

     I am humbled yet strengthened by their compassion and kindness.
     
     This Christmas season, I came across many more of the people  who have displayed the true essence of the season through their simple acts of kindness, generosity, compassion and love.  

    I was able to reconnect with a kind-hearted person, my sibling Minx, who supports committed artists and students. I got to know Filipino artists like Boholanon Lola Nene Lungay through her. Lola Nene,  at 83 years,  still creates beautiful oil and watercolor paintings depicting authentic Filipino culture and tradition. Salamat, kapatid ko sa pagkakataong makilala si Lola Nene at lalong makilala ang kabutihan ng iyong puso.

                               
I learned about the 1000 Bear Hugs project from journalist and fellow mother Cathy Babao. Cathy  has been involved with several projects for the children and the grieving.

This project aims to collect teddy bears and other stuffed toys for the children survivors of the disaster in Davao Oriental.

 Thank you Black Pencil Project and Cathy Babao for your kind hearts. 

   One compassionate couple I am co-journeying with, E and K   have also expressed their plan to support this project as part of their 10th year wedding anniversary. Aside from this project, they plan to hold a soup kitchen for indigents this Christmas. What a beautiful way to celebrate an anniversary!


    Thank you to the  people of Balsa Mindanao and the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines who have dedicated themselves to help those in need in Mindanao, specially the survivors in the typhoon stricken areas of Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley.

                                                   ***

    I am a counselor and a co-journeyer for many others who have experienced and are undergoing difficult life situations. I am also a mother of two wonderful daughters who I hope would remain compassionate and kind-hearted as they are now. I am  elated with projects like  the 26 Acts of Kindness where one will be inspired to do more for others.


     This simple yet inspiring project commits one to do 26 Acts of kindness done with love in memory of the people who were killed in a heartbreaking tragedy last week in Newtown, Connecticut.  I hope people will not stop with 26; I believe this project shall create ripples in the hearts and minds of many to do more, share more and love more.


From NBC News: http://storify.com/nbcnews/26acts-of-kindness


      
                 

     
      






                           


     
                     

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Pasko ng Pagsubok, Pasko ng Pag-asa

    Ilang araw na lang, Pasko na. Ramdam na ito sa komunidad namin - sa mga bahay na pinapalamutian ng iba't ibang dekorasyon, sa mga poste ng ilaw na sinasabitan ng  makulay na mga parol at sa mga Christmas carols na maririnig sa radyo at telebisyon. Sunod-sunod na rin ang mga pagtitipon ng mga magkakaibigan, magkasama at magkapamilya. Nagbabalik-bayan, nagbabalik tahanan ang mga taong matagal nang nanirahan sa ibang bayan para makasama ang mga mahal nila sa buhay. Siyempre pa, nariyan ang mga pagtitipon sa mga simbahan bilang paghahanda sa simbolikong pagsilang ng ating Panginoon sa Disyembre 25.

    Sa aming pamilya, simple lang ang paghahandang ginagawa namin tuwing Pasko.  Sentro ng handa namin sa hapag-kaninan ang tsokolate at masarap na puto maya na niluluto ng aking asawa. May ispesyal siyang "recipe" na pinasarap ng pagmamahal, ayon sa kanya. 


Photograph by Lex Muga
     Tradisyon na rin na maituturing sa amin ang  panonood ng mga piling pelikula na kalahok sa  Metro Manila Film Festival. Sana na nga lang maraming makabuluhang pelikulang maaring panoorin maging ng mga anak ko. Ngayong taon, plano naming mag-anak na manood ng mga pelikulang  pagbibidahan ng paborito kong si  Nora Aunor, ang natatanging artista ng bayan na sinubaybayan ko mula pa sa aking pagkabata.  

    Tulad namin ang marami ring mag-anak tuwing Pasko.  Nagsasalo sa  simpleng mga pagkain sa hapag-kainan. Ang hindi mawawala marahil ay ang kuwentuhan at hagikgikan. Hindi na baleng kaunti ang handang pagsasaluhan basta makasama ang mga mahal sa buhay sa pagkakataong yun.

   Nakakalungkot lang na sa Paskong darating, maraming pamilya ang makakaranas ng kawalan bunga ng mga trahedyang nangyari sa kanilang mga komunidad.

  Kahapon, isang nakakalungkot na pangyayari ang bumalot sa isang tahimik na komunidad sa isang bayan ng Estados Unidos. Dalawampung bata, karamihan ay nasa edad anim hanggang pito, kasama ang ilang nanunungkulan sa paaralan ang walang awang pinaslang ng isang beinte anyos na lalaki gamit ang isang semi-automatic rifle. Naluha ako sa mga kuha ng mga magulang na nag-aalala at nagdadalamhati kasama na ang mga batang namulat bigla sa reyalidad ng buhay sa pagpaslang sa kanilang mga kapamilya at kamag-aral. Sa social network sites, mababasa  ang pakikiisa at pagpapabot ng pakikiramay ng marami  sa mga kapamilya at kasamahan sa komunidad ng mga nasawi.

                                                  
    Ganitong pag-aalala at pagmamalasakit ang mababasa rin mula sa ating mga kababayan noong kasagsagan ng mga kalamidad na dumaan sa ating bayan.  

  Noong nakaraang linggo lang, nanalasa ang bagyong Pablo  sa mga probinsiya ng Compostela Valley at Davao Oriental. Maraming nasawi doon, kasama na ang mga batang natabunan ng  gumuhong putik. Di lamang mga tirahan ang nasira kundi mga pananim na ikinabubuhay nila. Halos walang makain at maayos na inumin ang karamihan. 

    Bagama't maraming nasagip at nabigyang pangunang lunas ang mga nakaligtas sa trahedya, napakalaking bilang ang hindi naabutan ng tulong dahil na rin putol  ang linya ng komunikasyon sa kanilang mga lugar.  Marami ang nagpaabot ng  mga donasyon kaya lang di kaagad nakarating ang mga ito sa mga nangangailangan bunga ng mga suliraning lohistikal. Mabuti na lamang at nabibigyang kasagutan  na ang mga suliraning ito ng mga ahensiyang kinauukulan.

  Sana bago mag-Pasko magkaroon sila ng maayos na tirahan  na maaring masilungan laban sa ulan at lamig ng panahon kasama na ang sapat na pagkaing magpapainit at magpapalakas sa kanilang mga katawan. 

    Iba pang usapin ang pangangailangan maisakatuparan ang isang komprehensibong planong tutugon sa pangangailangan ng mga nasalanta tungo sa kanilang pagbangon.


    P.S.

   Gawain ko ang paggabay sa mga taong dumaraan sa mahirap na mga karanasan sa buhay.  Kahapon may masayang binalita sa akin ang isa mga mga mag-asawang ginabayan ko.

  Dahil raw sa payo ko na isang mabuting paraan sa paghilom mula sa mabigat na karanasan sa buhay ang pagtulong sa kapwa, nagpasiya silang mag-asawa na tumulong sa iba't ibang proyekto para sa maralita.  Isa ang Black Pencil Project  sa balak nilang tulungan. Meron rin silang mga proyektong   pangungunahan ngayong Pasko para sa mga batang lansangan at mga matatanda. 

    Ang Black Pencil Project ay isang samahang nangunguna sa proyektong 1000 Bear Hugs kung saan mangangalap sila ng mga laruang ibibigay sa mga batang naapektuhan ng bagyo sa Davao Oriental.  Isang napakagandang proyekto ito.   
http://www.blackpencilproject.org
   
     

      



    

    



      

        


      

    

      






     


    

    
     

     




 

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Towards a Healing Presence

This article is part of the talk I gave to the "Ako Para sa Bata" 2012 Manila Conference held on Dec. 5, 2012 at the SMX Convention Center Roxas Blvd. Quezon City. The conference was sponsored by the Child Protection Network Foundation Inc.


     There was little girl who lived along one of the busy streets  at  the outskirts of Quezon City. Not yet five, she longed for  a pet she could care for. Since her elder brother had asthma, pets are not allowed in their home, until that day when someone gave her a duckling.  She named it KOY.


Artwork by eleven year old Gina Muga


     As in any other duckling, KOY was a cute, round, bundle of joy. She followed it around, gently placing it in a small cardboard box with its food and water when she's not around. The little girl was very happy that she had KOY to care for.


     One day, tired from playing with her toys, she took a nap in their sofa. She placed Koy in her tummy and watched it close its eyes too before going to sleep.  When she woke up, KOY was not there. Where could it be? She looked and looked for it everywhere but she could  not find it.  She asked one of their househelpers who told her that the duckling died because she rolled over it while she was asleep . "Nadaganan mo siya."

     She was heartbroken upon learning this. She was afraid to tell her parents that she may have accidentally killed her pet. Tears fell from her eyes. 

    The child who grieved over the loss of KOY was me.  That was my first experience with grief over something I deeply cared for.
Artwork of Gina Muga

     Years later, I would experience the death of three people in my family- my father and two brothers. I missed them until now.

     In my work, I have co-journeyed with individuals who have lost their loved ones, some in the most tragic of circumstances.  I have likewise  had a the opportunity to care for children and adolescents who have lost their loved ones.

  One of the most important thing to remember is that we adults are there to provide the healing presence to children and adolescents.  The care, the empathy, the kindness, the gentleness, the presence that would mean, I am here for you, I will be here for you. You are safe in my care.  I will stay with you now.

    This is expressed in how we speak, how we explain to them what happened if we are the relative of the deceased, how we patiently listen and let them tell their own story. 

  Even if they do not tell their story at once.

  I was able to talk to a social  worker in a non-governmental organization helping children survivors in armed conflict who related to me  that they have a a child who was a witness to a politically motivated massacre of her father and her siblings.  The child had to be transferred to Manila from their hometown in the province.  She finally got to tell her story to them after a number of months.  A very bright child, she also was able to go back to school after that.

Hindi kailangang madaliin ang mga bagay-bagay  lalo kapag kausap natin ang mga bata.

    I remember a seven year old boy  whose twin brother died from a lingering sickness.  His mother, herself grieving after the incident, told me that her son refused to go to school because the parents of his classmates were badgering him to provide details over and over again. Since he did not like to talk about what happened, the parents brought these to the attention of his mother. “Sobra na ang anak mo, ayaw magkwento."  The mother would ask them to understand her child who has just lost someone very dear to them.

    Now even the grieving child is burdened by expectations of people who are not even direct relatives of the deceased.

    Nakakalungkot. It is in this situation that the parents of the child decided to transfer him to another school.

    Even parents of children who are grieving may be disturbed by the changes they see in their child.  A couple was having difficulty in relating to their 12 year old son, their eldest, who was grieving the death of a cousin who was very close to him.  The cousin, who is based in the Australia committed suicide.  The parents were complaining that he would spend larger chunk of time in Facebook instead of helping in household chores.

    They may need to give their son and their own selves more understanding and compassion now more than ever.

   The son confided that he was having difficulties with reprimands and words spoken to him which he felt judged and unloved. 

    Children grieve differently from each other. How soon they will get over their grief over the loss of something or someone dear to them is dependent on their developmental level, their temperament,  the caring given by their primary care providers be it their parents or some other significant adults,  their  community’s support system.

Ako Para sa Bata Manila Conference, with fellow speaker Lyra Versoza, organiser Dr. Sandra Hernandez
delegates Jingle Mira and Michelle Balce

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