The Good Samaritans

We all remember the Parable of the Good Samaritan in the Bible. It was also referred to as the story of The Good Neighbor. A man, who was robbed, was left half-dead on the side of the road. The priest and the Levite who passed him by did not even help him. The Samaritan, in spite of being detested during those times, was the one who unconditionally extended a helping hand. The parable’s intention is to remind us and exemplify the value of selfless kindness.

Last week was indeed a very heartwarming week. Out of the stormy and tragic September 26 came out several stories of heroic rescues and relief efforts from all sectors in our society wanting to extend help in any way they can. Those were times private individuals or groups voluntarily helped out, as government agencies do their duties as well.

The title to my column last week was “The True Spirit of Bayanihan”. Until yesterday, our covered basketball court in RFM was converted into a relief center, where in we had over six thousand volunteers in the past eight days who came in and helped pack and distribute to the different GK distribution sites. It was not the first time that Go Negosyo and Gawad Kalinga teamed up for a common cause.

Tony Meloto and I have known each other for many years, even before Go Negosyo started four years ago. Our friendship began when I came across his work in helping build homes for the homeless. Actually, it was my wife who first heard Gawad Kalinga’s story, which I first dismissed with the thought that it was just one of those groups. It all changed until I met Tony and the GK group. From there, we started our own Concepcion GK Village together with my cousins, the children of Raul Concepcion and Mely Hechanova. We helped build close to 500 homes along the Pasig River. In fact, seeing Tony’s work encouraged me to do something to help our country. That was the start of Go Negosyo. Since then, whenever we are able to collaborate in any project, we join forces.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan is actually the inspiration to advocacies like Gawad Kalinga, Go Negosyo, and even to the advocacies of Gina Lopez, my brother John’s GK Bayan-Anihan and many others out there helping Filipinos achieve their dreams.

Go Negosyo’s objective is poverty reduction and giving every Filipino the chance to beat poverty. Similarly, this is the vision of GK. Their advocacy’s objective is to change the values of the community, help them build a decent place to live and to call home, and to give hope and encouragement to fight poverty. Both advocacies of Go Negosyo and GK will not be sustained if not for the support of entrepreneurs and business organizations that share in their belief.

GK and Go Negosyo coming together to raise funds, to pack over 150 thousand packs of relief goods, and to round up six thousand volunteers was something not perfectly planned. It just happened. In our life, it’s hard to perfectly plan for everything, as we did not even expect Ondoy to be this treacherous. I am glad that countless of Filipinos are Good Samaritans in their own little ways. Imagine the story relayed by GK Executive Director Luis Oquinena about a group of small boys with plastic bags, who appeared at the registration table at the relief center. People thought they were there to ask for relief bags, but to their heartwarming surprise, the boys said they were there to donate their good clothes and slippers. My sister Marie, who almost slept in the RFM Relief Center working 24/7 and nonstop for the whole week for the relief operations, also told me a story. One of our volunteers handed a pack of spaghetti noodles and sauce to mother in one of the distribution sites. The mother was so teary-eyed and thankful because this was her daughter’s birthday wish.

I also mentioned in my last column that I find it quite remarkable how my wife rallied 54 women to use their kitchen and cook over 50 thousand packed meals. For the first time, I saw all my children packing (without being forced to come to the RFM relief center). The bigger kids with their cousins and friends were carrying the big sacks of rice. But, what I also found more encouraging were the photos taken when the packs of relief goods were being distributed. Many Filipinos were still smiling despite the loss of life and personal belongings. Is it only during tragedies when we bring out the Good Samaritan in us? I hope not.

Through advocacies like Gawad Kalinga, Bayan-Anihan, Go Negosyo, and the many others out there, we pursue a common objective – to help Filipinos fight poverty. We want to encourage and teach Filipinos on how to fight poverty. We want all Filipinos to have a decent home to live in. God did not make Filipinos to be live and die poor. But, definitely, it is the person himself who has that choice. Our advocacies are here to touch them and plant that seed that will give them the encouragement, know-how and the chance to fight poverty.

Thank you to all those who have donated. If not for your support, we would not been able to round up 150 thousand packs of relief goods. To the six thousand volunteers who worked in the RFM Relief Center, to the women who used their kitchens at home to cook food packs, and to the donors; you did play the role of the Good Samaritan. For the past week, you have shown the love of God in action. Thank you, once again, from Tony Meloto and myself.

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Today, Go Negosyo visits the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa to have a mini forum with 200 inmates who are learning entrepreneurship. GMA President and CEO Atty. Felipe Gozon and I will be sharing negosyo advice, together with two of our very inspiring women entrepreneurs Jennilyn Antonio and Merle Alferez.

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Thank you to those who opened their kitchens to those in need and cooked for almost 50 thousand people: Marie Young, Rianna Hechanova, Carrie Bautista, Aissa Cojuangco, Annie Lim Kawpeng, Baby Rojas, Bea Lhuillier, Bridgette Montero, Carmela Gozon, Carmela Ongsiako, Cristina Garcia, Debbie Sy, Dimpy Camara, Erdie Garcia, Genie Fernandez, Gina Ledesma Lim, Ines Reyes, Joy Concepcion, Katrina Tolentino, Kitkat Zobel, Liaa Bautista, Lizette Cojuangco, Lizzie Zobel, Lulie Jalandoni, Angie Jalandoni, Karin Igual, Margaret Garcia, Marily Orosa, Marisa Lopa, Marivic Limcaoco, Martha Uy, Mary De Leon, Mary Faye Garcia, Meca Prieto, Malou Lopez, Michelle Concepcion, Michelle Dayrit, Millet Garcia, Marivic Concepcion, Nelia Silverio Dee, Peachy Concepcion, Rina Llamas, Rhona Macasaet, Rica Araneta, Ruth Vera, Sabrina Panlilio, Sandra Jalbuena, Sandy Romualdez, Sharmela Hiranhan, Yena Concepcion, Vivian Ybanez Sy, Willen Ma, Susan Lafferty, Ricky & Lizzie Razon.