by Malu E. Gacuma
In the face of toughest economic times spoiled by technological advancement, not sparing this provincial city where I am, it is not a surprise to see more of our youth everywhere these days losing manners, decency and sensibilities in the old-school of thoughts.
I always believe that it is the old-school-way ,supposedly, which we had known to have been more effective in raising responsible adult
Generally-speaking, whether we blame it on unacceptable colonial or gross media influences, either way it causes a growing callousness among some members of the young generation nowadays that lead them to be insensitive to the plight of the less-privileged members of society and even the natural environment as a whole.
If there is one aspect of our society now threatened it is the youth –the ‘Hope of our Fatherland”`– specifically, those who must be laden with traditional Filipino values and strong volunteerism spirit.
In the course of organizing both environmental and humanitarian projects for almost a year now, it is of great relief to have witnessed the said values and spirit still alive among youth volunteers I had met, talked to and most became friends with.
They are members of the Bacolod City-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints‘ Young Men & Young Women groups, the International Order of deMolays ( Serafin V. Aguilar chapter ), and the indigent children and out-of-school youth of Barangays Fabrica and Pahanocoy, Negros Occidental.
Along with them are the hundreds-strong Gabaan Youth Lead and Ang Sandigan youth organizations of Dumaguete City.
To cap the list are my own three teen-age daughters who prop me up in every event organized for the Ecological Society of the Philippines.
These are young people,from all strata, still under their parents’ wings,who share their precious time and even resources, going out of their way to help plant trees and mangroves, to care for the sick and the poor, to uplift those who are downtrodden, to get their hands dirty to clean up coastlines,and who comfort the spiritually-indigent with their kindest words and prayers.
Personally, I have a learned a great deal from their own dreams,conviction, perseverance, creativity and zest for life and love for service as they lacked decent sleep, or braved through heavy downpour, or raced through the mud and brackish waters, or unminded the scorching sun,or breathe dust along the way.
No word of complaint. They even celebrated the ordeal as a highlight of each endeavor by taking the sweats and pains with sense of humor to ‘lighten their heavy load’,so to speak. Their actions speak louder and louder as their commitment to serve continuously grow.
On a higher ground, I must admit looking at these young volunteers beyond each event.It is seeing them through their parents’ eyes. Nothing can be more rewarding than witnessing future leaders in the making and they happen to be own your sons or daughters.
However, sometimes it crosses my mind: Will the enthusiasm to serve only be good as each event lasts?
On second thought, I guess not. Why? Judging by yesterday’s incident, of which I only learned today, I am certain about that.
Ysterday, my eldest daughter Chickie and her closest friends, namely: John Robert Chua , Luigi Solatorio, Eulibem Declaro, Jiafrances Chua, Sion Chua Salgado and Slevin J Chua Salgado went out to what I had thought was their usual routine of book-hunting,etc. They returned after about three hours and apparently tired.
This morning, as our usual routine to keep tabs with their activities, I asked her how their stroll was. I was surprised when she narrated that they had walked for a few kilometers and visited 4 areas, looking for deserving streetchildren whom they shared homemade sandwiches and Pancit Bihon ( stir-fried noodles), thanks to Slevin’s mother, Mrs. Juliet Salgado’s effort.
It was only then I learned this was their way of fostering their camaraderie – to do such volunteering act on their own and Chickie was their ‘newest’ friend/volunteer.
Here was a very quiet, unheralded and yet downright sincere act of volunteerism that truly moved me to tears of joy! These are young people with character. And I advised my daughter to keep them as lifetime friends, for they are worth keeping and emulating.
Is there any reason for me to doubt that volunteerism among our Filipino youth will be driven to extinction then?
Seeing it more of as a parent than as a project organizer, I am convinced that for as long as such simple volunteering acts do continue , even in the absence of any tribute or heraldry, I can rest my mind contentedly :
‘Hope among our youth still springs eternal’.