“You must believe…

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Scholars having lunch in San Fernando

“You must believe in a cause to support it.” James Rebosado Olvidares, SAS Class 1951

The conversation went round and round. “All I am asking is for you to help us out,” Jing said.

“Help you with what? I still can’t see why you are helping these kids!” James Olvidares, Class 1951, a retired baker was getting weary, tired and irritable. He believes in self-sufficiency. “You know what you are doing? Handicapping these kids.” He answered his own question. “Listen, if they want to attend SAS high school bad enough they should do something to help themselves. Simple as that,” he continued.

Jing was speechless – but only momentarily. “Mr Olvidares, have you ever been helped by another person in your life? Are you handicapped as a result of the help you received? Please give to the scholarship fund. Help us send these kids to high school at SAS. These kids have nothing. Any amount you wish to give helps.”

Mr Olvidares replied. “Look, I don’t believe in scholarships and all that goody-goody stuff. I attended SAS on my own. Nobody paid for my tuition. My family was poor; we had nothing. I was shoeless until my senior year. I missed meals and I walked to school. I worked for everything I own. Go ask somebody else to help you… somebody who believes in your cause. And oh by the way, what are their parents doing for them?”

Jing knew when to end the conversation. “Well Sir, I tried. Thanks so much for hearing us out and if you ever change your mind, here’s my card. Please give me a call.” She waved goodbye, politely leaving Mr Olvidares.

Her heart throbbed with the hurt caused by the unequivocal rejection. She thought of the scholars. Jing felt Mr Olvidares delivered his frank pronouncements harshly.

In hindsight, not all folks believe in helping others specially those who are in need. These same folks who don’t have charity toward others believe that people are poor because they are lazy and too incompetent to help themselves. They work in absolutes and are hard to convince.

On the other hand there are folks who are decent, caring, and generous. They share with others whatever they have. These folks understand that no one wants poverty as a way of life. Not a single person would miss a meal if they have food to eat. They also believe that it is terrible to waste a brilliant mind. Finally, these generous people believe that Education is Freedom. They believe in SAS Ai’s cause and mission. They support SAS Ai.


That crucial first step…


A journey begins with the first step

Was it that wise Chinese philosopher who said, “A journey begins with the first step?” Or was it someone else who said it? Makes no difference who said it. It is more important that the saying makes sense.

A friend told me at our high school graduation, “I am going to Mindanao to homestead. I will plant an orchard of dorian, bananas, mangoes, rambutan, gooseberry, santol, mangosteen, chico, guayavano, and duhat. I will sell the fruit in the marketplace and be a successful establishment.”

I congratulated him for his forward thinking and on his unambiguous goal. That was 50 or so years ago.

For the first time in close to 50 years I caught a glimpse of my friend at the centennial celebration. He appeared gaunt, emaciated, and weary. His stomach appeared bloated and a far-away look resided in his sunken eyes. I hailed him, “Hello my good man, how’s the homestead plantation coming along? Are you the biggest exporter of exotic fruits by now?” extending my hand toward him for a handshake.

With trembling arms and a withered hand he feebly and tentatively tried to shake my hand. He looked down as if embarrassed to make eye contact with me. I sensed his discomfort. “Hey Rudy… are you okay?” I said calmly. “It’s good to see you again… my friend…”

I felt his hand unceremoniously slip away from mine. He made no sound, he did not speak and his blank stare remained unchanged. His wife quickly came to his rescue. She said, “Please, please forgive him. My husband is not well. It’s the leukemia.” He draped his left arm on her shoulder. They walked away.

Later on that day I found out from our other former classmates my friend Rudy couldn’t take the first step to begin his journey to Mindanao to homestead his dream orchard. He was unable to make the first move. His untreatable condition cut him off at the knees. Being sick rendered him unable to raise enough capital to finance his venture; he languished. Like a flat bottom barge moored by the pier he sat there on the water, rocking with the tide and gathering barnacles.

Taking that first step is crucial to any journey we make, to any venture we take, to any voyage we embark upon. That first step launches us forward.