Blow Against the Wind
By Conrad T. Lee (H4C), Metaphorsis Editor-in-Chief
Posted Thursday, 16-Dec-2004 12:52 PM
It is always difficult when calamities of any sort wreck havoc across our lands, such as the recent disasters brought about by the super-typhoon Yoyong. For two days, classes had to be suspended, and our lives as students seemed to be put on hold. It was one of those times when one would truly remember the immense and uncontrollable power of nature, wherein one could only sit back and helplessly witness the brewing storm. One could only feel the buffeting winds, and one could only watch the destruction being caused all around. But I'm tired of watching, just as the many volunteers of Sagip Pasko are as well.
It is unfortunate that though the festive season is fast approaching, many families throughout the country will not be able to feel the fullness of Christmas. With homes lost and lives endangered, how can our brothers celebrate Christmas? In an effort to help save Christmas, the major organizations of Xavier High School collaborated to collect donations in various supermarkets around Metro Manila. Being part of Metamorphosis, I joined my fellow clubmates and several volunteers at Rustan's Shangrila last Saturday.
Morning broke with the same rays of sunshine that we would expect on any other day. Tired as I was from a hectic week of school, I was excited to leave the house as fast as I could to make my way to Rustan's. I quickly grabbed all the supplies that I needed to set up the booth at the supermarket, and rushed out the door. When I reached Shangrila, I had to talk to the guard on duty to let me in even before the mall opened. I met up with Kevin after a few minutes, and we descended to the basement where the supermarket was located. It was still pretty dark, and there were steel dividers that enclosed the supermarket area. After a while, we heard voices on the other side of the divider, and found out that there were some Xaverians already waiting on the other side. Soon enough, the dividers were lifted, and I was amazed to see the great turnout of volunteers ready to contribute to our cause.
As I fixed the ID's for my fellow volunteers, I began to ask them what year level they belonged to. We had several third year students, but what truly impressed me was the considerable number of grade school volunteers. It was really a delightful eye-opener for me to discover how involved they were, especially since they were not even accompanied by any grade school teacher that early in the morning. It's funny how a mutual goal brings people together, as we easily made friends and set ourselves to work.
As soon as the shopping area opened, we decided to start it off by giving our own donations. After purchasing some canned goods, instant noodles and mineral water, we began to disperse to distribute flyers to inform shoppers of our drive. It was interesting to see how the different customers reacted to our approaches, some readily accepting our flyers, while others simply made their way through. After what felt like some time of lack of success, a man dressed in red suddenly put a bag of groceries into our collection cart, and walked on. We were all jolted and kept thanking and waving to him. We must have looked funny to have kids and adults alike cheering joyfully, and what followed was a series of generous donations. We received more bags of goods, boxes of noodles, and the like, and more and more people responded to our requests. Judging by their reactions, I can say that they generally found it pleasant for us to be involved in helping our less-fortunate brothers.
We had several deeply touching experiences that day, and I'm sure that I won't be forgetting them for quite a long time, if not forever. While we were distributing flyers, I noticed that there was an elderly woman, who seemed to be a yaya , who just stood some distance from us and watched us for quite some time. Then she approached us, and took out a hundred pesos from her bag. We were all shocked by the sudden situation, and she simply told us to buy goods for the victims with the money she gave us. There was a short pause of silence, and I saw how sincere her face was in her desire to help the poor victims. She was partially frowning, perhaps she knew that she too, needed the money, but decided to give it to people in more immediate need. We all thanked her graciously as she nodded and left. I stood there for quite some time, mentally offering a prayer of thanks for her great sacrifice. Time seemed to freeze for me back then, because it was really something that dug deep within my heart. As Perkin and Bliddy went to buy some instant noodles with the money, I rushed in after them and shelved out a hundred pesos too. I was just so touched! They also brought out a hundred pesos each, and we all smiled at each other. As they begin to count the packs of noodles to be bought with the four hundred pesos, I rushed back to the entrance to ask for more donations from more people passing by.
Later on that day, Mike and Luis approached another elderly woman, who was pretty frail, and wore glasses. From her appearance, we knew that she was not well off, but they asked her nonetheless if she could help us in our goods drive. She stopped walking, and seemed to think. She began to reach in her bag, and she searched for quite a long time. She kept rummaging through her stuff, until finally she brought out five pesos, which she gave them as a donation. It was yet another touching experience, because we knew that though she must also be experiencing tough times, she still spared some of her needed cash. I made me feel guilty about how I usually take five pesos for granted, and I remembered the bible passage wherein the one who gives less, yet has more need of it, actually gives much more.
There was also another time when Mike and Luis near the entrance of Shangrila, where they saw a woman come in and go down the escalator. After a while, she rode the escalator back up and asked where the booth was located. Finally, she went back down to proceed to donate her goods. It was heartwarming to witness her concern for others, as she was not absorbed in her own schedule that she had no more time to care for others.
There were surely times when we were unappreciated, but the gratitude we felt when we received donations was much more powerful than that. All in all, the experience at Rustan's was truly meaningful, as we felt true joy that lifted us off our feet. I have to say that I felt like I lost a few pounds back then, as the light feeling of being able to help the victims, as well as to provide the opportunity to the donors to share, was great enough in itself. It was an experience wherein you'd catch yourself smiling widely for no apparent reason. I believe that people are generally willing to give and to help the needy, however it can't be avoided that sometimes, they have to focus on their personal needs and forget about that of others, or they aren't sure where to go to extend a hand. By trying our best to inspire others, we were able to attain the trust of the donors that we would do our best to make this program a success – that we would do all in our abilities and more to help preserve the spirit of Christmas. With the love of the Lord, may this be an offering to Him, that we may continue these works of goodwill, as well as inspire more people to join our cause. Together, we pray that we may blow against the wind and rise above the floods, as He takes us to lush pastures, and leads us to refreshing waters (Ps 23:2). Merry Christmas and God bless all.
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