Sunday, 15 May 2011 16:10
Last October 30, 2010, I had the great opportunity to discuss the role of New Media in Nation-Building to almost 100 bloggers from all over Mindanao for the 4th Mindanao Blogging Summit. Little did I know then that I was about to become part of the solution to one problem in Zamboanga City.
During the sidelines of the summit, I met with some of our campaign volunteers in the city and one volunteer, Juljimar Gonzales, told me of a story that during the presidential campaign last 2010 their group came across a group of children who were swimming just to be able to go to school. The story really moved me. I have heard of stories about elementary students having to walk 4, 5 or even 8 kilometers daily just to be able to go to school. But have never heard of children braving the waters just to go to school.
I couldn’t sleep that night. The next day, I went back to Manila and I felt the need to post the story as an update on my Facebook status. I know the story will move people but I didn’t realize it will open their pockets. My good friend, Marketing guru, Josiah Go, saw my status update and immediately started an online fundraising campaign among his friends (myself included). I was surprised and I excitedly re-posted his call for donations. In less than 7 days, the Zamboanga Funds for Little Kids (as the fundraising campaign came to be known) raised almost Php70,000. During this period, I asked Anton Lim, an active supporter of the President in Zamboanga City, to check the story.
In the middle of November 2010, I called up Anton if we can already look for a boat. We had a hard time finding the right boat for the children so we decided to build it. Anton, in behalf of the Tzu Chi Foundation, agreed to accept the funds we have raised and also raise additional funds from local donors.
It was a difficult journey though. At first, we couldn’t find any boat-maker. We found one but he lived in a far-away community; until finally Anton Lim through Kagawad Jesse Jamolod found a boat-maker (Abraham Mawadi) who came from the Layag-Layag community itself in Baranggay Talon-Talon in Zamboanga City where the children lived. I thought the boat-building would start already but again we hit another challenge – finding the log to be used.
Fortunately, DENR was listening and CENRO IX donated the logs to the project through Tito Gadon. In January 2011, the boat-building started.
And last Sunday, March 27, 2011, I joined Tzu Chi Zamboanga during the turn-over of the boat in Layag-Layag, Brgy. Talon-Talon, Zamboanga City. It took us 5 months to finish the project but nothing can be compared to the joy you feel in your heart when you realize you’ve helped make a difference in people’s lives, no matter how small. I slept well that night – it was as if I saw God smile back at me.
My job includes receiving most of the email messages addressed to the Office of the President and monitoring the public discussions on the President’s Facebook Page and there are many times I feel so burdened with the country’s problems and I realize that I cannot possibly help all of them.
And that’s when I realize, after doing this project, that the role of New Media in Nation-Building is really to empower people not only with tools and information but more importantly with stories that inspire them to act on the problems they are facing themselves.
The boat we turned over was christened ‘Bagong Pag-asa’ (New Hope)– it is a symbol of change as we have a new President, a new government. But more importantly, it is also a symbol of people power in action. People helping other people solve their problems. Nation-Building is truly about ordinary people helping other ordinary people.
You can be part of the solutions to the problems our country is facing.
And I know you also have dreams for the country. I believe it is time we extend the meaning of People Power, one that not only changes governments and leaders, but one that also truly empowers our people – a people power that calls on every Filipino to become an active nation-builder.
I am sharing this story now because it is my belief that you can start your own versions of The ‘Little’ Fund among your family members, among your relatives, among your friends and among your colleagues to start creating solutions in the communities where you live or work.
I believe we can build our Dream Philippines even just by sharing our time, resources and know-how.
I believe this is at the core of the President’s Public-Private Partnerships, if you can see beyond the technicalities, PPP is nation-building at its core, where everyone is holding each other’s hand – no different from the dots forming a circle. PPP is ‘Bayanihan’ – people helping their neighbors.
It is my fervent hope that this story has touched you in one way or another and that you won’t stop at just reading this – I hope you will tell yourself ‘I am part of the solution’ everyday and that you will start your own version of The ‘Little’ Fund today.
By Jay Jaboneta
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