Archive for the ‘And Then A Hero Comes Along’ Category
So I’m hooked on The Newsroom, Aaron Sorkin‘s new drama series about modern-day journalism. Like the West Wing, it tells a highly idealized story of a group of crazy but intelligent and passionate people in their work environment – in this case, the newsroom.
What I like about this show is that the fictional characters deal with non-fictional news stories. Of course, Sorkin has the benefit of hindsight enabling his characters to appear smarter but at the very least, this gives us personas to aspire to be like. With hindsight, Sorkin’s characters have the chance to correct journalistic errors made in real-life. While some call this cheating, I’d like to call this creative license
Last Sunday’s episode was the best for me so far. It was set on the day Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in Arizona. I’m not sure if this made it to your news cycle but it was heartbreaking news here. I really want you to see this clip because I’m hoping this might reinvigorate your passion for the news and consequently, compel you to go back to giving viewers what they deserve: the truth. This is the last 7 minutes of the show and I really love how this team, fragmented as they are, manages to band together for a greater purpose when unforeseen situations call for it. I also love how Coldplay’s Fix You weaves so smoothly with this last scene. Check it out.
This probably doesn’t resonate with you emotionally (because you have a heart of stone) but would it surprise you if I told you that I was bawling when I saw this? Once again, Sorkin rocks!
I stumbled on this documentary on PBS last night. The Learning is the latest creation of Ramona Diaz (remember Imelda?). It documents the lives of 4 Filipino teachers and their journey to Baltimore, MD to teach inner city public school children. As each of their stories unfold, we are shown the very real and very painful costs of migrating. Apart from spending about $7k to come to the United States, there is the stressful cost of leaving young children and spouses behind – the cost of breaking an otherwise intact family unit for better financial opportunities in the U.S. Armed only with their staunch traditional Filipino values, their love for their craft and their fantasies of the American Dream, these 4 teachers learn that the only way to survive the harsh realities of Baltimore is to hold on to these same values, to their love for teaching and to each other. Check out the trailer below.
Apparently, the United States is aggressively recruiting teachers from the Philippines. I just find it ironic how they came to the Philippines more than 100 years ago to “evangelize” us with their English speaking education system and now they’re back in the Philippines recruiting. You can catch the interview of the filmmaker here.
If you can get hold of this documentary, I highly recommend you watch this. While I cannot imagine the humility and pain they feel shepherding American children when they left their own children that need shepherding themselves, I can connect with that feeling of motivation to keep going even if you really aren’t sure where this will lead you. I can connect with the loneliness and alienation, that feeling of not belonging. Yan ang buhay OFW! So let’s make these 4 teachers, Dorotea (love her!), Rhea, Grace and Angel (representing other teachers, nurses, caregivers, etc. that are abroad) Kiki and lala land’s heroes for this month.
On this day 100 years ago was the worst workplace fire in New York City. Known as the Triangle Fire, it abruptly took 146 lives of workers, mostly immigrant women and some as young as 14 years old! The Triangle Shirtwaist Company employed many immigrants to work in their garment factory located right off Washington Square Park (my school).
Apparently, these workers were subjected to working conditions we would consider unaccepatable today – low wages, no over time pay, bad working environment and un-trusting, suspicious employers. The fire broke out on the 8th floor and quickly spread trapping the workers. The staircase that they could have used to escape happened to be locked that day! The firemen were helpless because their ladders only reached the 6th floor. The only silver lining this devastating tragedy brought was that legislators were forced to evaluate the horrible working conditions of blue collar workers and revamp regulations on occupational safety and health. Here are some photos I grabbed from another blog (awesome blog on development, btw). So photo credits go to aidwatchers.com
A warning to all employees. Doesn’t this kind of management still resonate in the Philippines today?
NYU boys attempt to save the day.
Union Advocates wanting to be heard.
The Triangle building 100 years later.
In a way it’s sad that the lives of 146 workers had to be sacrificed to make this country one of the best places to work in. But it seems to be our nature to choose to learn the hard way. So how about we make these 146 “martyrs” heroes for the month of March?
A few weeks ago I caught this interesting documentary called Running the Sahara. It was produced by Matt Damon and directed by James Moll. Being snowed in (again!) today, I thought I’d watch it in its entirety. What inspiration! It documents the journey of 3 runners who made the commitment to run the entire Sahara Dessert to raise awareness for a continent we almost always easily forget.
By running through this dessert they wanted to get to know the people and shed some light on the alarming lack of potable water in Africa. What was projected to take 80 days stretched to 111 days. In those 111 days they ran 7,300 Km (4,500 m) starting in Senegal and ending at the Red Sea just below the Suez Canal. They ran an equivalent of 160 marathons! Here’s a trailer I found to give you an idea.
I’m pasting this video because I like the song in the background – Given to Fly by Pearl Jam
With the runners came a team of equally committed professionals – from doctors to explorers – that made sure that the runners were safe, nourished and motivated. They ran through Christmas and New Years and in those 111 days they did not skip a day running.
Those days were not short of drama. Egos clashed, emotions were high, friendships were tested and even safety was compromised just to achieve this lofty goal.
This whole documentary was riveting. And you know the kind of sucker I am for break-out-of-your-comfort-zone stories like this. What struck me most was how water, a commodity we take for granted, is so scarce and precious over there. Before watching this movie, my idea of low water supply was that drought one summer where we found Natasha, in a dark bathroom, tirelessly filling pails of water.
This is the continent’s only access to potable water.
While running, they found a 7 year old boy left for 2 days in the middle of the dessert to tend to the family’s cattle while his parents look for water. I’ve been trying to find pictures or an excerpt of this part of the movie and I only found this trailer below. At around 1:30, they will briefly feature the boy. Imagine having to leave Kim in the middle of nowhere so you can travel for 2 days for water!
I am well aware that you do not have an endurance bone in your body but I think you will appreciate the audacity, the courage and the insanity these runners possess to make a very important statement. Here’s to the Crazy Ones!
GET READY TO RUMBLE!!!!
Goosebumps!! You know that intense, proud feeling we had during EDSA ’86? Well it was kind of like that – that feeling of brother/sisterhood. The Cowboys Stadium was dominated by Margarito fans from nearby Mexico but we managed to make our presence felt in the most profound way possible, simply by being ourselves – united, patriotic, proud and respectful. Even before Manny came out and obliterated this poor guy’s face, I was already mighty proud to be Filipino! So proud its making me homesick!
I was so in awe of this event that I didn’t really take good pictures and I totally regret it because it was such a cool stadium and the dense energy that packed this place was really worth capturing. So please bear with these awful pictures.
Here’s a shot of the behemoth Cowboys Stadium filled with rabid fans. Apparently the top is like a hatch that opens up. Thank God it stayed close because it was way too chilly that night.
I think this was the Elorde fight. Awful shot, sorry!
And here I am after the fight, high with patriotism and feeling so proud of our humble fighter, Manny!
This was an awesome experience. I’ve never been to a sporting event that brought out the best in us Filipinos. Truly, truly a proud moment. I’m glad I went : )
All the buzz in last Sunday’s New York City Marathon was Edison Pena, the Chilean miner that ran three to six miles a day while trapped in a mine for almost 2 months. He was invited by the New York Road Runners when they heard about Mr. Pena’s courageous daily routine .
As spectators cheered on Edison Pena – their working class hero, few were watching the two runners escorting him through the 26.2 mile run. But by the end of the race everyone was wondering who these two men were?
Their names are Juan Jesus Lopez and Rene Cahuizo, two Mexican immigrants who have run the NYC marathon numerous times in the past. And here starts the story of 3 runners who started the marathon off as strangers and ended as a cohesive team with a bond so strong its as if it was formed in the risky mines of Chile.
Like Edison, Juan Jesus and Rene are blue collar workers working hourly wages. One works in a hamburger joint and the other a pizzeria. They are both regular runners of the marathon. This year however, they could not sign up because the $160 entrance fee was just too expensive for them. Until fate intervened.
When Edison Pena accepted the invitation to run in the marathon, the NYC Road Runners needed to find him 2 escorts tasked to shoo away spectators who might come too close to him and disrupt his run or worse, harm him. They chose Juan Jesus and Rene from their roster of Road Runners members. A choice they will never regret.
What started off as a run FOR the Chilean turned out to be a run WITH the Chilean. Mile after mile the Mexicans assisted Edison who was running with a busted knee. When he was hungry, when he was thirsty, they served him. And as they provided Edison with nourishment, they too were being nourished by Edison through raw inspiration. The Mexicans marveled at the strength and tenacity of Edison without realizing that what they were doing was equally as marvelous.
And after doing their job to support and protect Edison, they both had to rush to another job, their day jobs. No time for a press con, no time for fanfare they just gathered their things and quietly went back to flipping burgers and pizza dough.
I must say that it was so heart warming to hear about marathon stories that don’t revolve around the Garmin wrapped yuppies who trained with personal trainers. The beauty of marathons is that it turns a solitary sport like running into a communion of indomitable spirits from all social classes. Wanna do the marathon next year, Lala-flat-foot?
With your breast pump post comes my bike post! Although I think this particular bike post will appeal to your social conscience so you might appreciate it. Been meaning to tell you all about this but I haven’t had the time until now.
Its called World Bicycle Relief. While other organizations endeavor to feed the world, this organization has made it its mission to give the poor access to independence and livelihood through the Power of Bicycles.
Trek and SRAM (these are bike and component manufacturers) founded this organization. So how do bikes empower the poor? Unfortunately the poor do not have access to healthcare, education and job opportunities. In many developing countries, many people live in remote villages very far from their medical centers, their schools and their jobs. Children walk hours just to go to and from school. This pretty much takes away their time to rest, to study and to do regular things children should be doing like playing Wii – just kidding. When they are sick, these same people have to walk hours just to get to a doctor. So many decide to self-medicate instead of getting proper treatment. This is where bicycles come in. Compared to walking, bicycles boost their productivity and improve their access. How amazing is this! Such a simple idea whose positive results increase exponentially as more bikes are distributed.
World Bicycle relief doesn’t just provide bikes, they build communities. How? They acknowledge that each community is unique in culture, in terrain, in need so each community has a bike design that fits their need. They source their materials and labor locally improving the economic development capacity of each community. They also train locals to be mechanics for bike repairs and tune ups. Smart and simple!
This just appeals to me because bikes do not discriminate. Anybody can bike – except for my sister but let’s not get into that. According to Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times (who I absolutely love), they’ve distributed 70,000 bikes already and 70% went to women and girls. This year they project to distribute 20,000 more bikes. If that’s not a Yes We Can, I don’t what is.
It’s also the micro nature of this endeavor that makes it great. Theses guys didn’t have to look far for a solution. They took what they did best and shared. That’s it. Doesn’t take Bill Gates‘ billions to make a difference. Nor does anyone have to wait til they are retired to do something like this. Kind of reminds me of our very own teacher in a cariton, Efren Penaflorida. It’s little ingenious things like this that give me hope yet sort of corners me making me ask myself: What have you done lately? Ouch!
I recommend you read Kristof’s op-ed about a family in Zimbabwe and how a bike changed their life.
This was aired yesterday. Missed the airing so ended up watching it online just this afternoon.
It’s a candid, casual, sincere look at our nation’s leader. All biases aside, I think he puts his critics to shame with his informed answers couched in a disarming folksiness. None of that arrogance that so often accompanies political successes and egos.
I liked that he showed subtle but telling emotions when talking about his dad’s incarceration and assassination. And how he joked about what he would say to his folks if they were still around.
My hope is that he stays this grounded and accessible for his entire term.
* The video doesn’t seem to want to load. You can click on here.
This was emailed to me today. And it is simply too good, too true not to share. So reproduced here, without permission but with great humility, are the words of the very wise Tony Meleto.
The Challenge of a Hundred Days: Believing that Filipinos can End Poverty and Corruption in the Philippines
by Tony Meloto
Is it possible for Filipinos within my lifetime – I just turned sixty – to unite and raise a great President who can
make us believe that ours can be a strong nation?
I believe we can.
That leader can be President-elect Benigno C. Aquino III. The historic moment can be now.
Hopefully, we don’t squander this chance. Time is running out on my generation and I don’t want my children
to inherit a country that they cannot be proud of, that will not guaranty them safety and opportunity for a
The first 100 days after June 30 is not just for the new President to prove to us that he can lead but, more
importantly, for all of us to prove to ourselves that we love this country enough to set aside our differences and
interests to help him succeed and finally show the world that we are not too selfish and self-serving. .. and
downright stupid… in the practice of our faith and freedom.
The first 100 days is our test if we can do things differently given this new window of opportunity. We not only
need a good leader but we have to prove to ourselves that we are deserving of a good one.
The new President has feet of clay who has yet to end his nicotine addiction and he will most likely fail us if we
do not give him the strength he needs to overcome his weaknesses. He needs us as we need him to be strong as
a people. Let’s try our best not to fail one another. Now that elections are over it is time to come out and
express solidarity with our chosen leader for the good of all by being what we demand him to be.
I deliberately hid from sight in the last election to remain non-partisan and respect the choices of friends with
their multi-colored political loyalties. While I prayed for good leaders I personally knew to win, I kept my
silence… and peace, and waited for winners to be proclaimed, eager to get back to work with those who want to
work with us.
I saw no candidate as adversary or enemy. I engage those who respect our terms of engagement. Anyone
who is a friend of the poor is a friend. Anyone who loves my country is family. I regret the defeat of good
leaders I know, but look forward to working with the victors that I have yet to know. Leadership after all is not
about winning elections or staying in power but about going beyond self-interest and rising above rivalries for a
higher cause, even working with political opponents – call it balimbing or whatever name you like – for the
To build a strong nation, we must learn to engage everyone, bridge gaps that divide and leverage limited
resources by encouraging those who have, to give more to those who have less.
While we must engage every politician without judgment and without compromise, our cause of nation-building
must transcend politics. Politics is for politicians, nation-building is for everyone – from the highest leader of
the land to the weakest squatter in the poorest slum. It is for ordinary citizens like me to help provide
connectivity to the un-reached, build trust among the wary and give hope to those in despair.
In the first 100 days, let us be a people of faith.
First, it is good to start by having faith in our leader. We must accept him wholeheartedly as the President for
all Filipinos, including those who did not vote for him.
Given the circumstances of his miraculous ascendancy to power, reluctant in the beginning yet resolute with an
overwhelming mandate in the end, we must accept that it is his divine destiny to lead us. If he is God-sent then
we must treasure the gift and provide him all the support and encouragement to build a just and prosperous
Let us not trivialize the opportunity to start right with our petty politics nor be influenced by ugly cynics who do
not see anything good in this country or in this life. Let us be radical optimists and hope-weavers for a change,
to give our new leader and our country a chance.
It is imperative for those who worked hard for his victory to remain noble and true by not expecting any favors
in return for their efforts. Great leaders are often pulled down by followers who demand their share of power.
Great chances to do great good are spoiled when nobility is exchanged for the spoils of victory. On the other
hand if asked by their leader to do a crucial task, they must also be humble enough to accept.
From our new President, let us demand nothing but faith in himself that he can be faithful to his covenant to
govern with integrity, courage and justice.
From every Filipino, let us also demand nothing less than faith in ourselves that we can transform an entire
nation – slum after slum, barrio after barrio – by transforming ourselves first. Let us not simply depend on the
awesome power of the President and blame everything on him if he fails to deliver. Rather, let us harness the
awesome power of the people, united and committed to do good, to help the President deliver.
Concretely, what can we do?
Start by believing that every Filipino can help, even the poorest among them.
Like the poor in Payatas (Quezon City) who did not sell their votes but even contributed their meager resources
to his campaign or carried his yellow ribbon in their tricycle without getting paid. We must see the poor as a
blessing, not a burden… as assets, not liabilities.
The poor are starting to see him as hope. This was their statement in the last election when they chose
Noynoy. We must therefore help him champion the rising Filipino poor for their hope not to be dashed again.
Help him help them out of extreme poverty and give them middle-class aspirations. That will motivate them to
work and send their children to school. The rejected stones can be the foundation of a strong nation. A true
leader is one who will make this happen.
To usher in a season of hope, we can do many things in the next 100 days.
* Give unproductive land to the squatters.
* Build a home for the homeless.
* Start a business.
* Join a medical mission.
* Plant a tree.
* Send a poor child to school.
The list of good things to do is endless. The list of things to complain about is also endless. Better to walk the
talk than preach and bitch.
To start a period of grace for corruption to end, we can also do many honest things in the 100 days.
* Do not cheat the wife.
* Do not give or accept a bribe.
* Do not rob the poor of just wages.
* Do not pad the expense account.
* Do not cheat in exams.
Again, it is a long list but it always begins with me.
I cannot demand honesty from our government leaders if I cannot be honest myself.
As for me and my household, we will offer the 100 days in simple and sincere service to our poor countrymen.
We will pursue our drive to build sustainable and empowered communities in every barangay in
the country. The Gawad Kalinga People Power Over Poverty campaign we launched in 2004 with Tita Cory
will be a great legacy for the son to continue 6 years later. Continuity is key to development which does not
Many social initiatives that bloomed during the term of the mother may finally bear fruit and be ripe for harvest
during the term of the son. But they must be willing to work with one another to make things work for the good
of an entire nation.
This is key to the first 100 days. It must send the signal to everyone, starting at the top all the way to the ground,
that the interest of the country is first.
To have impact, it must be supported by those who placed him in the highest office of the land. Imagine the
power of the 14 million Filipinos who voted for Noynoy to lead in being good citizens – obeying traffic rules,
avoid polluting our waterways, staying away from drugs or simply not pissing in public.
We must be first in showing discipline and character in defining our own 100 days. An important statement needs to be made.
The Yellow Power is not just about waging a political campaign to win an election. It is about winning the campaign to build a nation.
This is also true for Filipinos abroad who gave Noynoy a big vote of confidence. They must have enough
confidence in him to match this with action. They can visit, volunteer, remit, donate or invest or whatever they
can do for the country’s benefit – things they have been doing before, but must now do so, more than ever. Most
importantly, they must herald the advent of hope for a beloved Mother-land and the emergence of the Global
Filipino who will no longer allow himself to be defined by poverty and corruption.
I’m writing this piece at 4 am in Washington DC on the third leg of an eight city tour to rally Filipinos in
America through GK USA to build our Filipino Dream in this new springtime of hope with our People Power
For this to happen, this must be clear to me. Noynoy is no longer just the son of a great mother and father; he is
now my President who deserves his shot at greatness with every Filipino’s support and prayers.
Pardon the musings of a senior citizen who is tired of waiting for the right leader to come. This time I cannot
afford to fail. I owe it to my six grandchildren and those who are still to come to give my all to make my new
President the right one, for them and every Filipino to have a future full of grace in this cherished Pearl of the
Before I sleep let me end this with a prayer.
Dear GOD, bless us with a leader who will be bold, able and true and grant us the faith to believe that the
Filipino’s time to shine has come, that the Philippines is finally treasured as a precious gift… from YOU. Amen.