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Home Op-Ed Columns Opinion on Page One The ungrateful Mindoro fishermen

The ungrateful Mindoro fishermen

 

RAMON T. TULFO

POVERTY plus ignorance is really a curse.

Some poor people blame others for their wretched condition instead of themselves; they relish playing the victim.

I’ve been helping the poor and oppressed for as long as I can remember through my program, “Isumbong Mo Kay Tulfo,” and my foundation, Ramon Tulfo Good Samaritan Foundation.

My desire to help is perhaps genetic — look at my brothers Raffy, Erwin and, well, even Ben.


We got it from our mother who would feed the poor who knocked on our door even if we, her young children, were also practically bereft of food.

I’ve noticed that some wretchedly poor individuals you help think that you are obligated to do so because of their dismal state; and so they demand more from you.

One such group of people are the fishermen of Mindoro Occidental who lost their boat after it was rammed by a bigger boat — whom they suspected to be Chinese — at the Recto Bank in the South China Sea.

They are a bunch of ingrates and I’ll tell you why.

A billionaire in Shanghai, who wants to set up a big factory in the country, asked me how he could help the fishermen who lost their boat, the Gen-Ver.

Xue Chengbiao, the chairman of the Jucheng group of companies, asked me that question when I visited Shanghai months ago as part of my job as our country’s special envoy to China for public diplomacy.

I suggested that Xue might want to replace the boat that was sunk to which he cheerfully agreed.

Xue’s representatives in the country looked for a replacement, found one in Batangas, and had it repainted and refurbished and christened F/B Pengyou (Chinese word for friendship).

A ceremony attended the turnover of the Pengyou to the fishermen, with Xue Chengbiao sending his company officials to witness it.

Energy Secretary Al Cusi, chairman of the Cabinet cluster on Mimaropa (acronym for Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) and officials of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) also witnessed the turnover.

During the ceremony, Secretary Cusi whispered to me if Xue Chengbiao could add fishing gear, like nets.

“Lubos-lubusin na natin ang pagtulong, Mon (Let’s go all the way in helping),” he told me.

I told Xue’s representative, Mina Hong, about Cusi’s concern in behalf of the fishermen and she said yes.

Weeks later, I received a request from the fishermen, sent through BFAR, for the following:

– 25 non-motorized bancas
– 50 pieces of bamboo poles for outrigger
– 20 plastic drums for potable water container
– Two rolls of No. 32 rope
– 4,000 liters of diesel in 20 drums
– Cooking stove and Gasul tank
– 20 sacks of rice.

And, hear this: P230,000 in cash, or P10,000 for each of them!

All the things and money that they requested would total P1 million.

“Oh, my God!” was all I could say to myself when I got hold of the list of their demands.

You help these sonsofb*****s out of the milk of human kindness and they demand more!

You give them your hand and they take your whole arm!

And so, I ignored the fishermen’s request.

Besides, how could I tell the Chinese billionaire philanthropist about their additional demands and not become embarrassed?

And probably because of their ingratitude and karma (the law of cause and effect), the fishermen lost the boat that was given to them.

Giant waves generated by Typhoon “Quiel” struck the shores of Paluan, Mindoro Occidental, where the Pengyou was moored.

The boat was cut in half by the giant waves, apparently because it was not well secured.

Now, those wretched sonsofb*****s want to return the boat to me!

They said that if I do not take back the ill-fated boat, they would go to my brother, Raffy Tulfo, who has a public service program at TV5, to complain.

Those sonsofb*****s blame me for their ill luck!

They should also blame God for their wretched condition.

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