Looking back at 2019
THE long holiday season is practically over although, traditionally, it ends here for us after ‘Three Kings’.
I wrote this column on the second day of the new year but before anything else, I would like to look back at the year that was in 2019 highlighted, of course, by the Philippines winning the overall championship in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
The money we spent hosting the SEA Games was, I believe, worth it. It was an advanced Christmas present for all Filipinos and the medalist athletes, themselves, received a cash windfall, giving them thousands if not millions of reasons to be merry last Christmas.
But since it was Christmas time, I would like to look back only to that month.
For me, Christmas has stopped being on the receiving end of the matter. It has long been a realization for me that it is the time for those more blessed to share with the less fortunate in life in whatever way we can. For many years now, I have been doing something that I share with you readers not to get praised but more to acknowledge all those people who have been lending a hand throughout these past years that made me continue doing it year after year.
You see 17 years ago, I started a small gift giving with my own family for the indigent kids in Mt. Banahaw. It was my way of giving back to this mystical mountain that I have learned to love for opening my mind a thousand fold and making me a better person. The number kept on growing that I started asking friends, particularly in the world of sports, to extend a helping hand, and with more people at my back, the kids have grown to over a hundred, and hopefully I can continue for the next three years to make it a 20 year legacy.
For 2019, I did it on December 14.
Around ten years ago, I started too an annual gift giving to street kids and families, believing that Christmas is really more for kids and making them feel loved even if only for a day, from a small family event, just like Mt. Banahaw, it has grown over the years as I am joined by my former Y-JAM students then and now as I go around Makati and Roxas Boulevard to distribute small gifts, used clothes, toys, some foodstuffs, and I like the fact that these former students now all working, are also giving from their own pockets, aside from giving their time.
This year, I made the rounds on December 22 together with Y-JAMer Kim Lanto who helped me and my wife repack goods in my house, with my Paco Catholic School batchmate Celia Dulay Orbeta, making the rounds with us.
The following day, it was the turn of the Missionaries of the Poor, a shelter for 23 special kids, mentally and physically afflicted ones, and 17 male seniors who have no homes anymore, to feel the blessing shared by those whom I tapped. But this was extra special for me as I was joined by our blind paratriathlete twins, Joshua and Jerome Nelmida with mom Annette in San Andres. We brought groceries and gifts for all the residents, plus snacks and the twins even sang a couple of songs, much appreciated by the kids and seniors.
It was like seeing people with their own problems taking time to share whatever they have with those even more unfortunate than them that the mother told me she now feels she is luckier after seeing those special kids in the shelter. I promised the staff that before Valentine’s Day this year, I will be back with friends again to see them. Everyone is welcome to join.
The fourth and last sharing activity for me came on December 31, this one only with my wife and apo joining me as we packed a lunch plus gifts and a new blanket for 20 street families, just seeing my 4-year-old apo happily giving out small toys to kids made me happy too as she learns the value of sharing at an early age.
And now, I would like to acknowledge the people both from the world of sports and non-sports who made all these gift-giving events possible, Cebuana Lhuillier’s Jean-Henri Lhuillier whose student scholars and Foundation staff always join me in Banahaw, equestrian’s Carissa Coscoluella, ex-Crispa amateur player in the ’70s Vito Orcullo, former national archer and Ginebra trainer Nino Sinco, ex-Ginebra player Mike Advani and his sister Maya, football event organizer Albert Almendralejo, my PCS classmates and friends Celia, Boy Samsin, Janet Resurreccion, Sari Razon, Mila Garcia, Betchay Luces and family who also joined me in Banahaw, William Tan, Perly Margallo and her staff, Y-Jam’s Esme, Kim, Norman, and Melody, my son JM and daughter Janis, of course my wife Marissa, and for others that I may have failed to remember, charge it to my senior moments.
Next piece, back to pure sports, promise, a Happy New Year to all.
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