Modern Day Heroes
Dear Taste <3 Company Reader,
Happy Independence Day!
This article is about modern day Filipino heroes.
THANK YOU for being a hero. In one way or another, each person is a hero to someone or to something… a parent to his or her child, a doctor to a patient, a policeman in a crime, our modern day heroes who serve day in and day out as Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) all around the world. Let us together be reminded and be grateful for the little acts of heroism that teach us to constantly let kindness shine.
Everywhere I go, I hear exemplary stories of heroism and I strongly believe that it is in the blood of every Filipino.
Individuals do not normally become heroes overnight but through consistent, daily service over time.
Here is my list of 8 Filipino heroes, all dedicated to fight for the well-being of fellow citizens, for freedom and peace in our country.
1. SGT ELMER MACLIING ANNO
August 27, 1984 – May 27, 2017
We salute all our soldiers and security personnel who bravely serve to maintain our freedom and peace, especially those who have lost their lives in safeguarding our people and country.
We pray for the people of Marawi and the Filipino army and police who protect them and us from violence and disorder. We remember especially our heroes who have offered their lives for our country and people. One of them is CPL Elmer Macliing Anno who, at the age of 32, died in service for his country in Marawi on May 27, 2017 serving us all, a true Filipino hero. Jolly and generous, he was loved by his family and friends by his simple and endearing ways.
SGT Anno always served whole heartedly. He was also part of those who responded with the army in the Ampatuan Massacre and the Zamboanga Seige. He studied as a medic and was later assigned to the 4th light reaction company, the lead counter terrorist unit of the army. May God bless you, your wife, and two daughters, one of whom was born on the same day as you – and one of which who’s natal day was on the day you passed away. (stories of SGT Elmer is Credited from Prince Billy Napenas Libed who was Elmers classmate in grade school.)
2. “ATE VERON”
When I was in second year high school (almost 15 years ago), we visited Lourdes Handicapped Center, a special care home committed to help around 20-25 children with special needs. This was how I first met “Ate Veron,” their dedicated carer.
What particularly surprised me was that she not only took care of the children during the day, but also lived with them as their full time carer with her own daughter. Seventeen years later, while visiting the home of these children again, I still see the same kind, motherly face of “Ate Veron” continuing to love and serve.
Complete and unconditional love is what I have learned from Ate Veron, a true heroine.
3. “TEACHER RESTY”
Teacher Resty on the way to his classroom for the week
Mahatma Gandhi said, “Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world,” recognizing the value and importance of teachers.
During an “outward bound” trek with my friend, Ann Marie Cunanan, we met a very special teacher, Resty, in a remote area called Upper San Andrés. The place can be reached through a 3-hour hike and climb, along and through rivers, from the main province of Boronggan, Samar.
Because of the lack of teachers in the area, Resty teaches together with two other teachers Milot and Flor across all grades and all subjects for kindergarten to grade 7. I can’t imagine the learning, preparation and administrative work that is involved in such an undertaking!
The photograph below shows the limited space where teachers, like Resty, prepare their classes and where they have their sleeping quarters.
Imagine all his teaching work and preparation being done in this tiny space
There are many teachers across the Philippines who give up their time and make all kinds of sacrifices to educate and serve students, which is truly exemplary. Their service and commitment to remote, rural communities makes them true heroes.
4. “KUYA JASPER”
A YAPAK LEADER and scholar, Jasper is now attending 4th year college. Last month, a 9 year old child from Maisan, Sampaloc said to Jasper,“Nakakasawa mabuhay diba, Kuya Jas?” (Isn’t it so tiring to live, big brother Jas?)
Jasper was very shocked to hear this comment from a young girl and replied “kung alam mo ang rason mo kung bakit ka nandito sa mundo, kailanman hinding hindi ka magsasawang mabuhay.” (If you know the reason why you are here in this world you will never ever get tired of living.) He resolved to do what he could to help these kids experience more hope and joy in their lives.
Jasper with a group of Kapatid kids
For his birthday, Jasper managed to raise sufficient funds to establish a feeding program for the whole Maisan, Sampaloc community and to give school supplies for children most in need.
Jasper is committed to serve the Tulong Sa Kapwa Kapatid Foundation charity and their Kapatid learning program, which embraces the love of God and family. Young Jasper can teach us that there is no age requirement to become a hero.
5. “NANAY UNANG”
Most of us would say that our mother is our hero. Mothers are always there to love, help and support us. Nanay Unang is a mother of four and has been foster caring for 26 years with the Parenting Foundation of the Philippines. She loves foster caring because of the joy it gives to help others who need motherly love and care in their lives. Fourteen foster kids have come into her life, some of whom she has adopted while others have lived with her for more than 11 years.
With her generosity to do so much for others, again and again, she has the heart of a true heroine.
6. “MISS EBBEY”
I work side by side this heroine Miss Ebbey at the NASSA/Caritas Philippines Miss Ebbey graduated from college in 1978 with a degree in Accountancy. After graduation, she knew in her heart that she was called for service. Forty years since, she has worked with various NGOs and charities concerned with development work and protection of human rights of farmers, urban poor and workers. Lately she was also involved in humanitarian work with victims of natural disasters like typhoon Pablo and Yolanda. Making use of her community organizing skills and accountancy and financial experience.
Miss Ebbey is committed to help poor communities and empower people around her whenever she can. In the late 70’s, she actively participated in the movements for freedom against martial law and the protection of human rights. She did all this while bringing up a family of three children, one of whom has special needs.
Although Miss Ebbey may be critical in matters of organization work her wisdom and experience through the years has shown that we should never compromise in the service we give to the poor. Miss ebbey shows us that whatever field you are in you have an opportunity to serve; We all need each other to thrive and succeed.
Billie operates in a wheelchair and nothing stops his capacity for loving and caring about other people. I met Billie through the facebook page Ryders with Disabilities where I also met James Asero an amputee, volunteering in a medical mission serving and organizing patients in a triage.
Billie is a life coach to many, a freelance graphic artist, a photo and video blogger, an inspirational speaker, and a humble friend to everyone. His simple advice is to remind people of their blessings and bring them closer to God. Be thankful for all the blessings you receive, no matter how small they may be, and always be a blessing to everyone you meet.
My eighth modern day hero would be someone I lived with my whole life. I think many can relate to this kind of heroism. This is in honor of all our kasambahays. Landa or Nanay Landa has been with our family for the past 50 years. Despite being a senior citizen, she is the most energetic being in our home. It is her saintly ways that is most edifying about her. I have never seen her take anything for herself without sharing it with others…even strangers on the street. She once told me “kapag may nakita akong nakakaawa sa kalsada, kahit ano gagawin ko para lang may maitulong sa kanila.” (“whenever I see people on the streets, I would do anything just to give them help.”)
Nanay Landa to her family is a hero; her mom, siblings, her late husband and her two very loved adopted children. For our family she has been the same, just by her mere example of constant giving, serving and loving unconditionally. I once asked her “why do you continue to serve here in our home even if you had the chance to leave when you turned 60?” She said something that I would never forget…”When you grow up with children (speaking of us 5 siblings who are all now giants beside her), even when they are all grown up you can never take away the love you have for them, you consider them to be a part of you and like your very own children, that you would never want to leave them. These days Landa is a living saint and still very young at heart and is passing it on to our two year old foster baby Cielo.
These are just examples of seven heroes, all committed to live their lives in love by helping others, no matter what their own life brings them. Their witness and lives have been examples for many. May Independence Day continue to ignite our hearts so that each and everyone can be a hero in our own little ways.
And just as Mitch Albom says, “Each affects the other, and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories, but the stories are all one.”
How about you? I invite you to share about your hero. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!