Friday, May 14, 2010


While the human race was all glued – passively -- like Joshua Clottey on just another Manny Pacquiao's WBO welterweight title defense, we were in Chater Garden in Hongkong two Sundays ago.
Actively, of course.
With Fr. Robert Reyes, we ought to be on our toes!
The said Running Priest baptized his own baby -- Lakbay Dangal – expected to bring out the tour guides in every Filipino domestic helper, or D.H., as in Dangal Habilin.
Women's Month was celebrated there by 30 female-dominated godparents, reminiscent of Lamma Island where we immersed ourselves in the Nocedo family's unica hija's bedroom and in the Order of St. Clare Portiuncula Monastery with its all-Mary nuns guided by Sr. Mary Anne Sevilla!
Around 10 a.m., we witnessed the launch of Airyn Lentija's Poems from the Heart published by the Hongkong-born British writer – J.S.Sloan -- who was threatening to print Tales of the Visayas for over 10 years.
Airyn -- a D.H. whose mom left her when she was six to work in Singapore and, later, in Hongkong -- has written almost 500 poems since 2008 when she arrived there!
Here is her After 365 Days of Writing Poetry to speak of her first chapbook that caught the eye of Women's United Nations Reporting Network's Lois Herman who is into gender issues related to occupation, finances, religion, violence, and health matters through reports, dialogues, artwork, and, yes, poetry:
in flickers of speed
of complete revolution of days,
splinter wounds hurt still
and my writings are crap as ever.
still, i don't belong here.
Sounds like a mantra of Overseas Filipino Workers like Rizal in the entire planet.
Last March 14, Lakbay Dangal took off with Gregoria “Oryang” de Jesus's 67th death anniversary in our mind, but it was Jose “Pepe” Rizal in our heart.
Like the Sun Yat Sen Trail, the so-called PhilTrail Project -- as proposed by editor Rex Aguado -- was totally Rizal:
All roads led to Rizal's clinic near the lamppost in Duddel Street (after auctioneer George Duddell) with granite steps reportedly built between 1875 and 1889.
After praying and pledging with Panatang Makabayan, we proceeded to the ever- busy D'Aguilar Street (in honor of Major General and Lieutenant Governor George Charles D'Aguilar) where we saw the first historical landmark made in Hongkong in 1997 at the former site of Rizal’s clinic occupied now by Century Square.
Finally, after taking the “travelevator” -- the longest outdoor covered elevator in the world -- along Shelley Street (for their first director of audit, Adolphus Shelley, after the colony became British in 1840), we stopped at Rednaxela (or Alexander spelled backwards made by Chinese streetsign painter who could not read English) where we found what they inaugurated in 2004 for Rizal's residence he shared from December 1891 to June 1892 with his most favorite patient -- Teodora Alonso!
For its second leg, we are planning to be back in May to flock to the second marker unveiled in 1998 at 535 Morrison Hill Road in Wanchai where the first Philippine flag was sewn by hand by Doña Marcela de Agoncillo with her daughter Lorenza and Delfina Herbosa Natividad, Rizal's niece.
Or investigate both St. Michael's Catholic Cemetery and English Cemetery where Josephine Bracken's remains were believed to be buried.
Every two months, we will visit Hongkong, courtesy of two presidents: Paz Alberto of the Philippine Travel Agencies Association and Rex Aguado of the University of the Philippines Alumni Association (Hongkong Chapter).
Our target: to professionalize our volunteers -- Gie Abuloc, Arleen Belen, Marilyn Banaga, Florence Belenario, Marjorie Bonilla, Leilani Campos, Novie Cheng, Grace Deloso, Marivic Domasig, Zenaida Dyogi, Maria Garma, Erma Geolamin, Jovy Giron, Alicia Layog, Rosennie Lentija, Melina Lugabre Balotte Mirefuente, Mary Jean Moquete, Lorna Morales, Amie Oncala, Liza Paje, Lorenzo Pendre, Lydia Ponce, Maribel Prudente, Babylin Ramos, Carina Roncesvalles, Ronalyn Sagun, Purita Selda, Julie Tabang, Junny Tang, Rose Taotao, Viola Ton, Marilyn Villasfer, Delia Yu, among others -- until the most qualified graduate on December 30, Rizal's 114th death anniversary.
Indeed, Lakbay Dangal had gone a long way since 2007.
Its seed, called Lakbay Lingap, was sowed in the streets with a handful of OFWs who walked around Central Hong Kong and Choi Hung and talked about a more productive alternative to trading cardboards and chismis during their day-off.
After a year, everything grew into acts of support, compassion, and solidarity.
Voila, Buhay Ka, a cancer support group for OFWs in Hong Kong, came to life!
Today, it has reaped a twin in Lakbay Dangal.
This journey towards respect was an offshoot of their weekly walks and talks with OFWs, Philippine Consulate's Vice Consul Joy Banagodos, and concerned citizens like Fr. Robert, sculptor Dudley Diaz, and the Rizal course professors from U.P. like Dr. Ruby Gamboa Alcantara and us.
Buhay Ka members asserted their existence when we had lunch with them at the Canossa School, where Lorie Caňeza, one of its pioneers, was honored.
Eventually, we went straight to the Philippine Consulate for our lecture entitled Have No Fear, Rizal Was Here before an attentive audience that included Pinoy Abroad's columnist Isabel Taylor Escoda.
Surprisingly, we discovered that even those over-staying in Hongkong were clueless about Rizal's stay there!
Rizal had his reasons why: (a) because Hongkong is near; (b) because his friend Jose Basa was there; (c ) because of "a group of enthusiastic young men not yet contaminated by these miserable passions that divide us in Europe.”
Hongkong was where on 20 November 1891, the 30-year old Rizal, in between his oculist job, imagined a Filipino agricultural colony in British North Borneo.
On 21 February 1887, at the age of 26, he was through with his novel Noli Me Tangere in Berlin and between February and July of 1890, at 29, he was wrapping up El Filibusterismo in Belgium and Holland.
A been-there-done-that Rizal felt it was high time for him to go East!
However, since then, Rizal became more persecuted than his mother.
But, come what may, what he successfully kept intact was his dignity, honor, integrity, nobility, principle, and self-respect.
And this is what Fr.Robert has been dreaming of.
OFWs or otherwise, we should bring along with us anytime anywhere such Rizal's Dangalangin as: “Everyone ends up as he or she deserves.”
TEXT SUPPORT: Butterflies taste with their feet.
If people say something bad about you, judge you as if they know you, do not get affected. Just think do not bark if they know the person.

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