READ up on sociological, philosophical, and ordinary feature articles about the virtues and traits common to Filipinos. You will find that most anthropologists and other experts do not have compassion on their list.
Even Filipino writers and journalists who wish to make their Filipino readers proud of themselves say we are hospitable, pious, family-oriented, caring, generous and helpful, friendly and overly prone to camaraderie, respectful to elders and authority figures, pleasant and always seeking to be agreeable, creative, resilient, tenacious survivors and ceaselessly grateful to benefactors.
But seldom do serious authors say we Filipinos are compassionate–kind to the distressed and suffering stranger. That is what the highest form of compassion is. To have mercy not just to one’s own but to even to stranger.
Yes, maybe most Filipinos do not have the heart to turn away a beggar or someone unknown asking for a free meal. And it is true that Filipino doctors and nurses abroad are praised for being the warmest caregivers. But many are now asking if we are really hospitable, helpful, caring, generous, and compassionate.
Compassion is a fruit of charity–love of God and love of fellow man–which is one of the key virtues that make man wants to be closer to and more like God.
Most experts agree that compassion means being sensitive to the suffering of others, being moved by a desire to reduce the suffering of another or other persons, wishing to help and doing acts of kindness to the suffering and the needy.
Then, if we were really a compassionate people, why do we have so many countrymen who are dirt poor, hungry and homeless? Why are so there many virtually naked children beggars? Why do our consciences allow pedophiles to abuse these children?
Why have practically 90% of our congressmen and senators participate in the pork barrel and DAP scams that took away food from the mouth of the poor children of destitute families? Why is a part of the Department of Social Welfare’s more than P40 billion fund for the Conditional Cash Transfer program for the poorest of the poor going to other pockets?
Lack of compassion for the disabled
There’s a less miserable but equally convincing proof of our lack of compassion as a people: the absence of facilities for the disabled in most public buildings, the major entertainment houses–and even in some hospitals and churches. Obviously, the owners and managers did not spare a thought to disabled persons.
How can people in wheelchairs enter churches and buildings that have stoops at the entrances–but no ramps for wheelchairs?
Drills to survive the “big one” are being held in every community. No facilities or special provisions are being made for the blind, the people on crutches and in wheelchairs to make it possible for them to enter the amphitheaters and barangay halls in some of the Metro Manila places we surveyed where survival seminars are being held this week and next.
In honor of the Sublime Paralytic
Thank God for such things as the National Council on Disability Affairs.
Today, Friday, July 17, is the start of this year’s 37th National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week. The third week of July is when NDPR is observed. It was instituted on June 22, 1978. It honors Apolinario Mabini, the Sublime Paralytic, who contributed immensely to the Philippine Revolution despite his disability.
The theme of this week’s NPDR observance is “Health and Wellness Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities Toward an Inclusive Development for All.” It aims to promote quality health care and services for persons with disabilities (PWDs).
The NDPR week was institutionalized primarily to broaden public understanding of disability issues and also to mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also calls for the strong partnership and collaboration between and among different sectors of society to address problems related to persons with disabilities.
Many and different activities, starting with this morning’s opening ceremonies at the Department of Health compound in Manila, have been lined up for the weeklong celebration. There are developmental games for children with disabilities and Boccia sports tournaments, a forum on health and wellness for parents of children with disabilities, a seminar on how to handle PWDs in the tourism industry, an orientation on drug prevention and PWD empowerment through health and livelihood, a family day, a concert and wreath laying ceremony at the birthplace of Mabini, and many others.
Congratulations to the National Council on Disability Affairs and the National Working Committee chaired by the Department of Health.