It's October -- Let's Celebrate Filipino American History Month
Celebrate Filipino American History Month w/ the Foundation for Philippine for Progress for a Full Life for Every Filipino
Register for our FAHM events at www.linktr.ee/philippineprogress
“…We make game of the lives and liberties of their inhabitants; we promised civilization and we begrudged it, fearing that the natives aspire to a fuller life…” (Philippine National Hero, José Rizál, from his novel, El Filibusterismo)
“Life is not measured by moments, by months, not even years. It is measured by decades, by centuries. If at this hour and place there is one man like you, in a few years there will be five or ten. And when you are gone, the five or ten will be twenty or thirty. And it goes on like that, forever. In a hundred years, maybe two, you will have become millions. And then it will be a different world, entirely different, I can assure you.” (Filipino American Author of America is in the Heart, Carlos Bulosan)
One only has to look into the eyes of an elderly fisherman’s blank stare. Looking over piles of debris, of grim suffering, in hopeless resignation… ever watchful over the fate of his starving family, and a grief-stricken barrio; crouched under a narrow make-shift awning, all these from a devastating typhoon.
Yet again, another typhoon.
When once upon a time, the rain would bring everyone out for the planting season; rice farmers across their seaside hut would anticipate and engage in merry planting. These chores would easily turn into humble festivities, they longingly remember… those planting seasons.
In recent years, yearly monsoons have become deadly; it now brings fear among many who devote their day-to-day existence from the bounties of the earth and the sea. Now, it is a matter of survival. For even if they, their family and the barrio endured an actual storm, it is in the weeks of anxious waiting for relief help that seem never to arrive. Many in their remote village literally starve to death. In fact, a few already have.
This is the reality that has become only too familiar among the poor and vulnerable of the world, the Philippines being one with a population of mostly hardy farmers and fisherfolks. For the past four years, the Foundation for Philippine Progress has set its focus and attention upon these hamlets that hardly get immediate relief when calamities fall upon their fragile existence.
The Foundation’s vision of providing education, health, and human services, we knew, will be a long journey that can only be driven by a collective spirit of commitment, compassion, and perseverance. We have been afforded, so far, with bright and ready faces of volunteers and supporters on both sides of the Pacific. And lately on our side, they have been very active: organizing fundraising events and education programs; seeking out willing donors and supporters, talking to other organizations, or doing speaking engagements in conferences, churches, or community gatherings.
On the side of the Philippines, the Foundation for Philippine Progress has established the main conduit for extending relief operations: the Citizen’s Disaster Relief Center (CDRC), Consortium for People’s Development & Disaster Relief (CPD-DR), Council for Health & Development, and Leyte Council for Development. And through them, regional partners like the Cordillera Disaster Response and Development Services, Inc. on the ground attends to the aftermath of the recent earthquake in Northern Philippines. There are still communities which they haven't served yet. The Foundation also just concluded Community-Based Disaster Management Training in Barrio Lisondra, an island barangay in Surigao City in Southern Philippines, which was one of the areas severely hit by Super Typhoon Odette (Rai) in December 2021. This training is under FPP’s Livelihood and Recovery Project in the said area. Our early recovery project team in Leyte, an island province in Central Philippines, has also delivered the first tranche of support (backpacks) to elementary and to senior high school students in Barrio Kantagnos, Baybay City, Leyte. In the coming weeks, another team will go to the area for the commodity voucher (school uniforms) distribution. These activities are under our Early Recovery Project in Super Typhoon Agaton (Megi) that hit Leyte in April of this year. Aside from our response activities, CDRC is also busy organizing forums on Sexual & Reproductive Health Rights of Girls and Women in Emergencies.
Responses in the past included providing fishing boats to a village that lost theirs in the storm; setting up a water pump for clean water source and to provide an irrigation system for a remote farm that had water supply problems; sending medical missions amidst the pandemic crisis for remote barrios; responses to the Taal Volcano eruption that denuded fishing villages in its perimeter; vegetable seeds for 4 mountain barangays (Agsaman, Recare, Cagmanaba, and Dorillo) benefitting at least 350 families; a total of 12 swine were distributed to the 4 barangays, an additional income source for the farmer beneficiaries… and the list continues in the four years the Foundation has existed. Indeed, there will be more to attend to in the future, for we know that these calamities will now become the norm for a people who are already poor.
Climate change has been hardest on countries whose mass base depend mainly on agriculture and fishing. The Philippines is situated geographically within the storm belt of the Asian-Pacific Rim in southeast Asia. Infrastructure destruction and economic impacts through loss of livelihood can be debilitating.
Finally, we acknowledge that these are economically trying times for many of us. For this helping out to be sustainable in the long run, we simply ask sharing the Foundation’s existence for as many as we possibly can. We appeal to the community to engage in our programs; learn more about the Philippines, its people or its rich history… and, perhaps in time, there will be a good number of us. A dollar multiplied in great number, instead of just from a few, can become a substantial amount. For in the Philippines, and in any poor nation, for that matter, no amount is ever small.
And as Carlos Bulosan reminds us, once we achieve reaching out to the millions of Filipinos and friends, only then can we provide a full life for every Filipino… only then can we realize that we have changed the world for the people who most long for it.