Open Letter to Maryknoll Class of 1965
LEAVING THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE
SCENE: A rickety shack in an urban slum.
The shrieking drug addicts fighting outside in the
narrow alley block the frightened children’s
only path home from school. A sheet, draped on a string,
provides scant privacy around the inodoro. Family
member take turns emptying it into a plastic bag,
having mastered tight knots to prevent any leaks before
its jettisoned into the nearest creek. Every storm
threatens to blow away the roof, pieces of rusted
galvanized sheeting held together by wire and prayer,
while rain soaks the shivering family huddled under
a plastic sheet inside. Fear, anxiety, unending coughing
are intimate companion of in the slums where dignity
is a word without meaning.
THE SCENE: Around a posh restaurant, well
dressed females gather. A group of friends who went
to school together a long time ago have funds left
over from a project. Leadership emerges to rally a
call for the balance needed to finish a house in a
faith based development for the poor. Wallets fly
open. Precious time, caring effort, generous cash,
conspire to make it happen. For the fortunate, it
comes from excess yet for others on pension and women
alone, it means shrinking the monthly budget to participate
in completing the shortfall.
SCENE. The turnover ceremony in an orderly
low income subdivision. Eager-eyed, impatient kids
fidgeting, teenagers vibrating with excitement, their
parents’ faces absolutely glowing with joyful,
disbelieving expressions as the beneficiary family
becomes the owners of a HOUSE, titled to their name.
donors present at the turnover, sustain minor inconvenience
given the intense holiday traffic. Women with congested
schedules keep expectant families gathered together
waiting, some skipping celebrations in order to attend.
A wife steals precious minutes away from a recovering
husband, one refuses to concede to a brutal cough.
Another takes time off from post Ondoy clean up.
structure is 40 sqm, 2-story, solidly built of hollow
blocks and cement, colorfully painted, living space
for kitchen/dining/ sleeping, a real bathroom, swing
out steel and glass windows with locks, a solid front
door, and a patio for drying laundry. It was a fantasy,
too impossible to classify as a dream. Unbelievably,
their very own HOME is now…..reality.
Many fortunate graduates of our Maryknoll class, take
care of others individually. They employ many, adopt
orphans, educate prisoners, feed the poor, give money
for squatters’ rights, loan funds for emergencies,
fight corruption, write to raise consciousness despite
bleak times, build libraries, organize medical missions,
champion the environment, improve agri practices,
inspire spiritual journeys, donate to disaster victims,
vote with our conscience, bring treats to provincial
folks, expand horizons of the young, keep time with
the elderly, care for the sick and the grieving, assist
street children, help the addicts, comfort the dying,
uplift through original art work, are available 24/7
we and our schoolmates also make a huge difference
in some lives through pooling our class funds to build
houses so the less privileged can become home owners,
know the names of each individual responsible for
every act of compassion mentioned above. What a privilege
it is to know every one of you.
OUR LEGACY WILL OUTLIVE US! For surely the house will
last beyond our lifetimes into the next generation
and the next. What a humbling experience to see first
hand how little some have, compared to our myriad
blessings from God, so many that we run out of fingers
and toes when we count them. It was embarrassing to
be thanked with such abundance and repetition for
what may be loose change for some of us. For in that
single act, dear friends, is the critical lifeline
that actually saves both souls and lives. Mabuhay!
Maryknoll Class of 1965