Our happiness barometer in world surveys is always one of the highest, if not the highest.
Altruistic Filipinos in small groups, such as columnist Mon Tulfo’s staff, who work for “Isumbong Mo Kay Tulfo,” are driven by kindness and generosity in assisting victims of injustices get fair treatment before the law.
Our huge manpower in the care-giving and home management, health and hospitality professions are the most preferred anywhere in the world. Reason: Filipino tender loving care plus that winsome smile.
Filipino altruism does not have room for grudge-keeping or sour-graping. We are happy people. We’ve got that winsome attitude. Optimism is in our culture.
There are big mirrors in our national life that reflect how beautiful we are as a people. Just try to remember and feel the ideas, images, sentiments and nobility demonstrated by our people in the following mirrors in our national life.
Ninoy Aquino’s martyrdom
We love our heroes. We know them intimately. They fought and died for our freedom. Ninoy’s death made us one people. We mourned massively. Ninoy’s martyrdom aroused our emotional and cerebral outrage. Ninoy personified our hope and dignity. We know Ninoy loves us. (“The Filipino is worth dying for,” he famously said.)
In return, we experienced our palpable love for Ninoy with one plaintive cry, “Hindi Ka Nag-iisa.” We tied yellow ribbons all over the place. We trooped by the thousands to Sto. Domingo Church to see Ninoy’s lifeless body and prayed on our knees to bless his heroism. We prayed for his wife Cory and her orphaned children. We created the most humongous crowd at Ninoy’s funeral.
During the long march, we prayed that Ninoy’s death would not be in vain. As we buried Ninoy, we also buried Marcos’ dictatorship. We laid Ninoy to rest without violence, without bloodshed. We laid him to rest with all our love, with all our hopes, and with all our prayers for our people’s deliverance.
In our darkest hours, we behaved with Christian religiosity and charity. We did not riot. We did not kill. We did not throw Molotov cocktails at Malacañang. We are a beautiful people.
People Power at Edsa I
This was supposed to be a bloodbath, a gory firefight between Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile, Gen. Fidel Ramos and the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) soldiers who defected from President Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship.
But our prince of the Catholic Church, Jaime Cardinal Sin, would have none of the bloodbaths and hatred. He called the people to go to Camp Aguinaldo to form a human shield around Enrile and Ramos’ rebel group. The people came by the dozens, by the hundreds, by the thousands. Pretty soon, Edsa had millions assembled.
They all came kapit-bisig. Nuns, priests, husbands, wives, sons and daughters prayed the rosary as they marched. Neighborhood toughies, blue- and white-collared workers came carrying statues of Our Lady of Fatima or Sto. Niño, or holding a crucifix aloft. People stopped tanks with their bare hands.
Marcos’ army stood immobilized surrounded by a mammoth crowd. They wouldn’t shoot their kapwa Filipinos. Women gave them sandwiches and pretty girls put roses at the tip of their Armalite rifles. People in cities and towns took to the streets to make one statement: Tama na, sobra na. Air Force generals defected and landed their helicopters at the rebels’ camp. US officers landed in Malacañang to ferry Marcos and his family to Hawaii, where Marcos, who was terribly sick, died in exile years later.
Edsa I was the first People Power revolution that was a huge success. It was witnessed by the whole world. No killings. No violence. No bloodshed. Just millions of people out in the streets praying, singing, loving one another, protecting lives, celebrating their oneness for peace and freedom. That’s us. Beautiful people.
Ondoy typhoon and big floods
This looked like it was the end of the world. When Mother Nature gets real mad and destructive, she can stupefy and render the people paralyzed. But no. We acted quickly to mobilize, as citizens, as neighbors, as kapwa-tao.
With the help of TV, radio, print, Internet and cell phones, we took charge of communicating the overall and specific extent of damages, to pinpoint the crises in both government and civic rescue work, to mobilize donations of food, goods and money, and to direct distribution of relief goods and identify all evacuation centers.
The nonstop communication between flood victims, social workers, rescue workers, AM radio and TV stations kept volunteerism and government services on their toes, 24 hours a day. There was order in chaos. Lives were saved. The hungry were fed. The naked were clothed and the sick were given medicines.
Our tragedies and bad days made us love one another. An American soldier who was on a rescue mission was dumbfounded and puzzled why the little girl he rescued from the flood gave him a big smile and greeted him a good morning despite the fact that she was drenched wet and shivering cold, burning with fever. Our Christian culture is a culture of deliverance. We never lose hope. Our true grit makes us a beautiful people.
Jesse Robredo’s love for the people
Jesse Robredo’s love for Filipinos was manifested by serving the people with integrity, honesty, simplicity and hard work. He was one-of-a-kind, like Ninoy. We learned ideology from both. Ninoy taught us the ideology of freedom. Jesse demonstrated to all of us the ideology of a servant-leader culture.
For days, when Jesse was lifeless, his life unraveled before all of us, as told by the people whose lives he touched, as witnessed by the communities he transformed from blight to dynamism, as told by the people he taught about the virtue of work excellence in everything they do, the effectiveness of participative management in local and national government.
Jesse was visibly humble in the way he looked, in the way he talked. Jesse demonstrated to government officials never to overrate themselves and never to underrate their constituents. Jesse’s big virtue was excellent service to his constituents in Naga City, and to his coworkers and constituents in the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
Most of all, his excellent service extended all the way to his family, to his wife and children, whom he loved and served with top priority. He taught everyone the virtue of humility and sincerity in public service.
In our darkest moments, we Filipinos display our virtues of generosity and compassion to help us cope.
We band together by working together and praying together.
In our celebratory culture, we eat, sing and pray together. We truly are a beautiful people.