Wednesday, July 9, 2014

            Thoughts for July 8, 2014 

Some of us experienced one way or the other opportunities or privileges, to experience the "Ivory Tower". My ivory tower started early in life. A beneficiary of my father's hard work, and determination, and "tutelage" - I was a privileged child and my other siblings. 

I worked on weekend's as a cashier/manager in one of my father's stores in the city, and was paid "good money". A few people work under my supervision. I was in grade school, and my first ivory tower. (It was in the 60's and early 70's before Martial Law was declared on September 21, 1972 in the Philippines.)

 I was named after my father's best friend from college. My namesake godfather was a lawyer, and a successful Philippine senator, and more than 3 times mayor of the city, where I was born, and raised. 

I still remember the year before Martial Law was declared, when my godfather was ambushed near the city hall of the city, the perpetrators were his political enemies. 
It was brutal. Ten of his personal bodyguards were killed on the spot, and ten others survived. All the occupants of my godfather's car were killed, but him. (I will not describe to you  the aftermath of the ambush, I was in grade four) We were one of the first to visit my godfather in the hospital, after my class ended that day my parents took me to visit my godfather. He sustained injuries, not lethal enough. He was wearing a bullet proof vest, and the grenade thrown near his seat, did not explode. His driver was not that lucky and two bodyguards on the back seat. Four hand grenades were thrown, three exploded. My godfather has a bullet proof car but anti-armor bullets penetrated it. I was a child, and it was like in the movies. The rest were history. 

I might consider myself lucky because immediately after my undergaduate years, I was employed by a prestigious private college in the city, I became a college teacher at 22 (I graduated in March, 1982 and was offered a job in May, 1982) My second "Ivory Tower". It was  brief though, because I decided to work for Plan International (Foster Parents Plan), a USA based nonprofit. My first nonprofit experience.
Working with the poor in one of the outskirts municipalities of the province where I was born, was my first hand experiences with the dire consequences of material poverty. On on my first week on the job, a client (mother) literally died in my arms while on the way to the hospital, forty minutes away from their home. According to witnesses she gave birth at 2:00 a.m and started bleeding after that. I went to their home at around 7 a.m. because I was told by her neighbor about the bleeding after birth (I am not a nurse or medical doctor). As their community worker (social worker), I went to check on her that day. I immediately took her to the hospital upon seeing her condition.

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