A story to inspire us

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By Fe San Juan Hidalgo

Citizen Fe

Monday, July 21, 2014


MY STUDENT in high school at a convent school for boys in Pasig way back 1954 told me about this story. He resides abroad with his family now. We have regular chats through the internet. He suggested that this inspiring story must have more media coverage to be read especially by the young Filipinos.

This is the story of Cris "Kesz" Valdez. This story starts when Cris was four years old in a slum area in Cavite. He lived with his cruel, good for nothing father who beat him black and blue when he would not earn money to buy his liquor and drugs. Cris did all menial jobs to earn the money to escape the beatings of his father. Cris could no longer bear this kind of life so he decided to run far away from their home. Like all homeless children in the streets, he ended up in a big dump site near a cemetery. He lived in an empty tomb and scavenged in the dump site for anything he could sell to the junk store. He gathered plastic, cardboard boxes, bottles, tin cans. There were also old shoes or slippers, clothes, and left-over food, still edible, from fast food joints. He did this for days on end. With the money he earned, the clothes and shoes or slippers and the food, he would gather all the small children to give them their needs. The little kids loved him for this.

At age four, he got his first moniker, the kid with a heart, which foretold what he would be in the future. He used to say that he may be poor with worldly things but he is rich with love. Again, this is to foretell what his future will be. He taught the kids how to clean their bodies, brush their teeth, eat the food he gave them, and cleaned their wounds. He had some 1,000 kids in this group.

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Some of these kids decided to stay with him to help in his work. They are all rehabilitated from their abject state. Then came the second stage of Cris' noble intentions in his life.

One day, while scavenging near a pile of flaming tires, he suffered burns on his body. He was brought to a clinic where he met a kind benefactor Mr. John. He brought him to his place and there started a friendship between the two. Mr. John knew of Cris' work with the homeless kids. By this time, he had thousands of kids getting regular help with the volunteers helping him.

About 10,000 kids even from Metro Manila had benefited from the group. It became known as the "Championing Community Children." With the help of his benefactor, they packed in colorful boxes all the necessities of street children and gave these out at regular times. These acts were so heartwarming and commendable.

Cris had grown to be a handsome, well-mannered 13-year-old boy. His message to all the kids he met are summed up here. Your wealth is your health. Be healthy and you are able to play, to study, to think clearly, to get up and go to school. Love the people around you in so many ways. So many children die of malnutrition and sickness because of their way of life. Let us help them. No street children will be left without help.

Cris "Kesz" Valdez got his reward for all his good works. His benefactor entered him in the search for outstanding children in an international search held in Netherlands. Cris got the award for this distinct honor. He was named as the winner of the International Children's Peace Prize in the Hague, Netherlands, winning the title and a prize of 130,000 dollars.

As I unfold this story, I am crying with joy and pride. All children must read the story of Cris, their role model and hero. With Cris, I also think of all corrupt politicians of today. Children like Cris do not deserve them. Why not have "a big heart full of love" to run this country. You are all a shame. Change while there is still time to mend your style of governance.

We will work this out from the root. We will rear and nurture children in the right way at an early age to be assured of God - loving upright citizens to deliver this beleaguered country from oblivion. Our children will grow up as the new breed of citizens this country deserves. This is inspired by Cris whose story we have read today. For comments text cp no. 09202112534.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 22, 2014.

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