Often times, we hear a lot of negative news about Filipinos. As a matter of fact, I actually know some foreigners (and even some Filipinos living abroad) who have a lot of negative things to say about Filipinos… and they’re not wrong. Many times these “negative attitudes” of some Pinoys have left me somewhat jaded about our future as a nation.
Every so often, however, my countrymen surprise me with heroic acts that renew my faith in them. I’m not talking about grandiose acts of heroism; but rather, simple acts (like returning a wallet or giving an old man a seat on a jeepney or keeping cool under pressure) that prove that it isn’t in our DNA to be victims or failures.
Here are some true stories that have restored my faith in the Filipino:
1. The Crying Cop:
Let’s start with someone you’ve seen on the news recently… the Crying Cop, PO1 Joselito Sevilla. Hungry, tired and distraught after having been deployed to stop rallyists from disrupting the President’s SONA, PO1 Sevillia tried to maintain the peace in a situation that could have easily become violent. Above, you will see him raising a peace sign at the rallyists.
After being confronted by rallyists, particularly Mr. Thomas van Beersum (seen in the picture berating Sevilla), PO1 Sevilla began to cry. He would later tell reporters: "Sa gutom at pagod… walang tulog... walang pahinga. Dalawang araw na kami naka-deploy dito, tapos ganito? Nagkakagulo? (It was because of hunger and fatigue… no sleep… no rest. We’ve been deployed here for two days, and this is what I see? Chaos?)".
Then, something amazing happened. Some rallyists, who realized that PO1 Sevilla was actually crying, came over to comfort him. Some of them even hugged him. I guess that, no matter what side of the fence we’re on, in the end, we’re all just humans trying our best to live in this world.
2. The Boy Who Gave His Seat:
I saw this photo of this unnamed hero kid on a Facebook page entitled “Hayop Sa Galing” (moderated by Mico Jaypee La Torre and Reygie Rivera). If I’m not mistaken, this photo (and the story that coincides with it) is from a certain Jing Ko (but this still has to be confirmed).
As the author of this story was on his/her way home in a packed jeepney, he/she noticed many people literally fighting for a seat on the jeepney as the jeepney made its next stop. Among those who tried to get on board the jeepney was a man who was likely in his 70s; but, because he was too old, he wasn’t able to find a seat. So, he chose to hang on at the back of the jeepney (which is a dangerous act that a lot of Filipinos do when public transportation is scarce).
Suddenly, everyone was caught by surprise when a child’s voice broke the air. The child (the one in the picture) said (in Filipino): "Tay (short for itay, which means father), you can have my seat." He then got up and gave his seat to the old man. The child (a young student) actually had two bags filled with books and notebooks (which actually looked heavier than the child himself). He barely had a handle to hang on to as he stood precariously at the back of the jeepney.
The author offered to have him sit on his/her lap; but the child said: “it’s okay;” and respectfully refused the offer. The child was finally able to sit when a passenger finally alighted from the jeepney. It was at this point that the author took this stolen snap-shot.
3. The Wise Cabbie:
This is another picture from that “Hayop Sa Galing” Facebook page. Now, here’s the story behind this photo:
The author (who is most probably one of the page’s administrators) was riding a cab and having a lively conversation with the cab driver. Suddenly, a pedestrian came out of nowhere (trying to cross the road in a “no crossing” zone, which is a bad habit of a lot of Filipino pedestrians in Metro Manila). The cabbie stomped on the brakes and swerved to avoid the pedestrian. Though he was successful in avoiding the pedestrian, the car behind him nearly hit his cab. Thankfully, there was no damage to either property or person.
The driver of the other car, however, got out of his car and confronted the cabbie. He even hurled insults at the driver. To the surprise of the author, however, the driver remained calm and composed; finding every opportunity to even apologize to the other driver. When the other driver had calmed down, he even took the time to check if the pedestrian (who is actually to blame for the incident) was okay.
When everything had passed, the author asked the cabbie why he had acted in such a calm manner (which is not normal for drivers in Metro Manila). The cabbie replied: “Life’s too short to be sad or hold a grudge. We should be happy. Problems, sadness, jealousy, bitterness and rage are just GARBAGE we carry with us. Sometimes, we throw it at other people; but, do you know where garbage really belongs? In the garbage bin.” What a wise happy cabbie!
4. The Millionaire Garbage Collector:
Ms. Trining Climaco, a junkshop owner, who made her millions sorting through garbage, was recently featured on ABS-CBN's My Puhunan TV show. In that show, Ms. Climaco tearfully related to Karen Davila how she struggled with hardship and poverty. Her story of courage, determination and discipline is an inspiration to each and every Filipino. Her existence is a clear message of hope… hope that it is possible to crawl out of this hole we’re in and reach the stars. Here’s a YouTube video of her interview:
5. The OFW Who Gave Her Life:
Last June 10, 2011, Juanita Agustin Limbago, an OFW based in Hong Kong, gave her life to protect a Chinese child who was under her care. Without regard for her own safety, Juanita positioned herself between a speeding Hong Kong tour bus and the boy she was protecting; using her arms to protect the Chinese boy. Both were pinned down; however, the boy luckily got out from under the bus with only slight wounds.
The driver of the bus was later arrested; but, could be out on a HK$ 5000 bail. The Chinese family that employed Juanita was too distraught to comment on the tragedy; but, according to their consulate, they had a very good relationship with Juanita and know in their collective hearts that she was a very good person.
Juanita was a 31-year-old mother of one… and a hero!
With our country’s relationship with China growing sour, Juanita’s story and sacrifice serves as a reminder that being a hero isn’t about race or politics. It’s about heart.
6. The Driver with a Good Habit:
Our next story is about Daniel David, 33, an airport taxi driver, who returned a foreigner’s money and belongings last June 18. Now, you might react by saying: “But this isn’t something new. I hear this sort of thing all the time in the news.” Well, what’s unique about this case is that Mr. David had done this four times before! Amazing!
What’s even more amazing is that he’s never stayed long enough for anyone to take his picture.
7. The Flag Barer:
Finally, we come to our cover photo. Meet Jenela Lelis, a young girl from Malinao, Albay, who was photographed while "rescuing” the Philippine flag during the onslaught of typhoon Juaning that ravaged most of the Bicol region.
Like Janela, the Filipinos... heroes... mentioned in this article have bucked the stereotypical (negative) image of the Filipino. They have proven that it is possible... even in the midst of poverty and corruption, for us to be a beacon of hope and inspiration to all.
is the Managing Director of Our-Knowledge Asia and a Business Consultant for Local and Foreign Start-ups, SMEs and Organizations based in the Philippines.