Generosity Killer


“When we do a random act of kindness, we do it without seeking recompense.”

Hatred kills generosity.

Hateful words deriding another person for their acts of charity, only serve to diminish the sympathy for others felt by the recipient of such unkind commentary.

In the end, the once charitable person, mocked and ridiculed for their acts of kindness becomes unwilling to give. Their once kind hearts, numbed by the senseless verbal attacks leveled at them, turn to stone.

Who suffers? The needy person; the intended recipient of the charity.

Such a story circulates in social media today, about a very bitter person’s reaction to another person’s charitable contributions to some needy kids.

“I can’t believe she actually gave money to this cause,” the poster wrote, reacting to a story posted in social media about a woman who donated to a charitable cause. The poster claimed familiarity with this generous person described in the story. Seems they were married at one time.

“She yelled at me whenever I put money in the collection plate on Sunday,” his commentary continued.

“She never allowed me to give money to my ailing parents either. Or give me money to bet at the cockfights. She was so tightfisted she squeaked when she walked. And now she gives to charitable causes? Hypocrite! How bogus. How fake. Making herself look good outside. Rotten inside. Can you believe it?” The poster continued with his unkind commentary.

A firestorm of posts erupted. Commenters from all corners dove in to the fray. The scene turned ugly.

“Hoy, you better stop posting… your comments are not true. You lying,” one poster wrote.

Someone who apparently knew them when they were a couple left this post: “If you do not stop commenting I will reveal all your stinky secrets. And the whole world will know just how rotten you were as a husband. Lazy and dumb. No work because no one will hire you. You are nothing but a freeloader.”

Still, another poster wrote, “Please think twice before you post. You are embarrassing yourself. Big time.”

Whoa. Time out. Let’s come up for air. What about the generous person described in the story – the original object of the disgruntled poster’s ire? How was she impacted by all this trash talk?


When hateful words kill a person’s generosity, the recipient of the charity suffers.

Sadly, the unkind posts impacted her negatively. She regretted ever having given to the cause of the needy kids. She vowed never to donate to such charitable causes. She faded into social networking obscurity. Vanished – never to be heard from again.

Ultimately, who lost in this brew-ha-ha? The disgruntled ex-husband you think? Not hardly.

The ex-wife? Nope.

The needy kids? You bet.



Charity Begins at Home


Juzel Ann Macanas (right) with her Mom upon receiving her award certificate

“Dear Sir,” her email message to me began.

“I will not be able to attend the scheduled scholar’s meeting with Mr Bunoan because…”

I paused reading her email message. For a long moment my mind painted the word “Excusitis.” This can’t be.

“I have a scheduling conflict,” the email message continued.

And why is this young lady sending me this email message? I am chair of the scholarship committee and I work closely with Mr Albert Bunoan, VP Fld Ops, taking care of our scholars’ needs. It was a courtesy email message.

It turns out that our scholar-email-message-writer and 10th grade honor student, Ms Juzel Ann Macanas from Barangay Libtong, was scheduled to work with Libtong’s Local Community Charity organization that same day. She was slated to help distribute food to the homeless and hungry on that same day as our scheduled scholar’s meeting.

the face of poverty

Father and his child try to sleep away their hunger

My answer was simple and immediate:  “Juzel Ann – Go distribute food. Attend the next meeting. Let Mr Bunoan know.”

How impressive is that?

Juzel Ann Macanas, SAS Ai scholar actively involved in community volunteer charity work for the needy.

How many young people would bother to do such thankless volunteer work, much less surrender their precious leisure time? Not many I’d venture to speculate.

What Juzel Ann is doing with her free time, helping feed the poor, is noteworthy. It bodes well for her future. This same act of charity serves as a testament to the effectiveness of the financial aid program wherein she is a beneficiary.

Charity begins at home.

SAS Ai’s Christmas Angel


Imelda visiting the Tagudin Plaza and Municipal Hall

Ms Imelda Villanueva attended Saint Augustine School (SAS), graduated (Batch 81) and went on out into the world of work to make a name for herself. She and her family currently live in New York where she works.

She is one, among the many friends of SAS Alumni International, who takes quite seriously, our mission of outreach to bright kids from poor families in their quest to finish high school at SAS.


“Daklis” or dragnet fishing involves the entire community. Imelda joined the fishing effort.

Currently vacationing in the Philippines, she’s enjoying the company of family and friends from the old country in Tampugo, while taking care of personal business in metro Manila and Makati city.

Home in Tagudin, Ilocos Sur, she’s seen participating in the community tradition of “dragnet” fishing, or daklis in the Ilocano vernacular. At Tampugo Beach, Imelda tasted fresh “Aryaw-yaw” – or silverfish fry caught by the daklis and salloy.


Albert receiving the Christmas gifts for the students from Imelda

More importantly – and this is what Imelda takes the most pride – she brought home Christmas presents for the kids in the financial aid program. She did this act of kindness in addition to financially supporting the cause.

Now, how thoughtful and kind is that?

She got together with Mr Albert Bunoan, our SAS Ai VP of Field Operations and presented the gifts for the kids before leaving for Manila. Time constraints prevented her from personally meeting with the kids. Maybe next time.

Indeed we are grateful and deeply touched by Ms Imelda’s generosity to the kids. In turn, the kids will treasure their presents and thank Ms Imelda Villanueva by successfully graduating high school!

Letter to our Current Scholars in the Program


“College and High School are totally different. They have only one thing in common:  that you need to study hard to make it.”

Dear Co-scholars,

Hi! How are you guys? Are you enjoying high school? Are you working hard on your studies? I hope you are. Don’t be “easy-go-lucky”. College is so different from high school. College and High School have only one requirement in common: that you should really study hard.

Some disciplines we are learning in college were also taught in high school. If you are already in the habit of studying hard, you will NOT be left out. Here in college, knowledge and skills are mostly self-learned. Instructors are not going to explain everything. They are not going to do all the talking. They are not going to chase you and beg you to listen to their lecture. No Ma’am. No Sir. It is your responsibility to help yourself.

By the way, you should expose yourselves to doing different activities, such as, speaking in front of a large audience. It will help you with your self-confidence. You should also talk more using the English language because they are not going to let you speak in Tagalog, not unless you are in a subject, such as, “Filipino”.


“Studying Hard is a good Habit to Form.”

You should take time to rest when you can. Do not get used to the idea of “mañana habit,” otherwise known as procrastination. Do not be a slacker – forget the “bahala na” attitude. Time flies fast; you need to use your time wisely. Have a mature outlook, be serious and focused. Be independent but ask for help if you need it.

Anyways, enjoy while you still can. I hope you all the best guys. God bless and Good luck.

Signed/ Kristine Joy Cardenas



Quality Deck Craftsmanship


When a contractor begins to heap the promises of the perfect deck, lookout!

One of our projects last year was to replace the wooden deck that extended out from the den and sun room. Just like everything else, when the money for home repairs became  tight, the deck project was the perfect candidate to be moved back and rescheduled.

Meantime and while waiting for a financial break, the once mighty redwood deck planks and rails fell into disrepair, victims of humidity, oppressive heat and the monsoon rain.

We had a break at year’s end when we received some money back from our taxes. We searched online for deck building companies, checked with friends for referrals, checked bulletin board postings at the local laundromat and shopping centers. We even checked with our parish church bulletin for advertisements.

A family-owned construction company based in nearby Santa Rosa county submitted a bid of $1800.00. For a small 15′ x 20′ deck that included railings and a four step stairs, the bid seemed reasonable. The job began with a targeted work duration of four days.

“You’ll be barbecuing on your deck in four days,” declared the contractor’s wife. She beamed as she promised the railings to be all plumb and straight, the planks spaced evenly and secured with aluminum screws.

We took all the promises in stride neither doubting nor rejoicing.

After the first day of work we received a phone call. It was the contractor. “Hey listen,” he said. “I have another job on the other side of town and unfortunately the owner changed his job schedule on us. I have to go and complete that job or I won’t get paid.”


Small, simple deck but built right.

My wife and I looked at each other in disbelief. My wife’s face registered puzzlement. Her arm gestures began to resemble airplane propellers in motion. I signaled to her to remain calm.

“How about the deck job you’ve contracted to do for us? When do we expect you back?” I asked.

“I don’t rightfully know. But I will get it done as soon as I can.” The contractor hung up.

We looked up the other company that submitted a bid for $2100.00, called them up to determine if they were still interested in doing the deck job. To cut a long story short, this second company did excellent work. Quality craftsmanship is their signature. We learned a valuable lesson. Saving a few dollars to get a job done often compromises quality of the finished product. When going over job bids, it is best to go with the average price bid, somewhere between the highest bid and the lowest bid.

Of course the company’s references are a great help specially if they don’t mind you taking a look at the finished product done for them.

String Tied to a Door Knob


“See this here string?” Manuel said. “This is how to pull out a loose tooth.”

One day my cousin Manuel showed me how to pull a loose tooth. He was groaning in pain as he pointed at one of his lower front teeth.

“This one,” he said, “hurts like heck and it’s loose. Got to pull it out.” His face showed some swelling around his lower lip.

We were just poor kids growing up in the barrio. He was eight and I was five. It was a given that older kids had more smarts than younger kids. He was only three years older than me but the rule is the rule.

“Go get a string from your Mom’s sewing room,” he commanded.

“What for?” I asked.

“Don’t question. Just do it.” His tone became more authoritative. He was bigger and stronger than me. I complied.

“Okay,” I managed to utter as I ran upstairs to my mother’s sewing room. “Let’s see, bobbins, thimbles, sewing needles, where are the spools of thread…” I was talking to myself.

“Hurry…” Manuel yelled.

I slid down the stair rail and leaped to where Manuel stood, close to the front door, landing perfectly on my feet. I handed him a spool of white nylon thread. Grabbing the spool from my hand, he pulled an arm’s length of string, and tied one end of it to the door knob. Slowly he tied the other end around his loose tooth.

Everything went slow motion – surreal – starting with Manuel slamming the front door shut, his head following the closing door, his chin pulled forward by the taut string extending farther than the rest of his face, culminating in a tooth flying in the air with some blood splattering. I thought I heard Manuel scream obscenities.

“Lord help me,” I managed to utter as I swallowed hard. “If this is the way to pull a loose tooth, I’d have to keep all mine – firm or loose.” You see, I am allergic to pain.

That was ancient history.

Today we don’t have to improvise and treat our dental needs with such primitive ways. We can go to highly specialized dental treatment places like and expect nothing less than the best, most modern dental treatment approaches. If you lose a tooth you can have it replaced, or if you lose all your teeth and want dentures, they can accommodate you as well.

My cousin Manuel and I both wear dentures now. I may have to look into this dental group for better fitting dentures.

Winding Driveway Project

windingdriveway3Our neighbor, two doors down the road got busy clearing his driveway. Overgrown weeds and meandering vines had practically taken over certain patches and sections of the gravel surface. The deepening ruts, courtesy of his Ford F-350 monster truck, now brimming with rain water from the unprecedented downpour over the last couple of days practically converted the driveway into a military obstacle course.

Rumor has it that his wife filed a grievance and since her tiny Mini Cooper cannot negotiate the current driveway terrain my neighbor had to do something about it or else. You know how those grievances turned into orders from above go. There’s no known recourse, or a chance for appeal.

I saw him early Monday morning driving stakes to the ground, walking behind a measuring tape on rollers, taking notes on his pocket spiral notebook. I was on my way to the tractor supply place.

“Howdy Mr T – looks like a big project’s about to be launched…” I stopped my truck momentarily to engage my neighbor in conversation.

“Yup,” he said without looking up. He appeared to be preoccupied with numbers. “Heading somewhere?” he continued still not looking up.

“I’m going to the tractor supply place. Anything I can get you while I’m there?” I offered.

windingdriveway4“Nah… I think I’m set.” He finally looked up.

“Looks like you are going to do it. Finally.” I said to him, extending my hand for a handshake. For a while and off and on he and I have talked about him fixing his driveway.

“Well, we’ve had too much dang rain,” he began. “And the Missus, you know, she drives that there foreign-made golf cart they call a car.” He shook his head. He wanted to say more but he stopped – as if afraid to continue, for fear word might get back to his wife and he would then be in more trouble.

“Them things sit way low on the ground,” I commiserated with him. I drive a Toyota Tundra myself so I know about Mini Cooper vehicles. The ones we have locally swish, swerve and weave all over the country roads just because they are small and can squeeze themselves in-between bigger cars. “I think Mini Coopers are a nuisance, don’t you?” I asked him rhetorically.

“So I have to finally cement the driveway – completely,” he said resignedly.

“Who’s doing the job?” I inquired.

windingdriveway2“Oh I looked at Craigslist and contacted this starving students group. They charge the cheapest rates,” he said with a certain air of pride in his negotiating skills.

I shuddered at the thought.

“I see you’ve got this site all planned out,” I continued, craning my neck to look at a spot where the driveway jogs around a water oak tree. “And what are you going to do with that site there?” I pointed at the curb by the water oak.

“Oh that… well, I’ll have reinforced concrete poured there.” He was off to his project.

I drove off feeling a little sad for my neighbor. Crafts people who list on Craigslist often have been known to exaggerate their credentials, their licenses, and sometimes aren’t too reliable to finish the job before they bail.

Maybe my neighbor will be lucky.