Domoguen: Overcoming the tough times together with friends

Mountain Light

I Argued with my wife this morning about the winner of America Got Talent, The Champions Season 2.

My wife was for the winner, V. Unbeatable. I was for Marcelito Pomoy winning it. He had a two-voice talent and he performed well with it.

I said a lot, against the results, like “rigged and fake result” the way some guys label the news being fake if they do not like it, among others that I would not want to be printed here.

That is fine because you watched only the video clips of Marcelito’s performances, my wife shot back. She asked me to watch the performances of the other top talented performers to agree that the winners deserve their recognition.

The other top performers are dance groups Boogie Storm, The Silhouettes, Sandou Trio Russian Bar, violinist Tyler Butler-Figueroa, Alexa Lauenburger, and roller skaters Duo Transcend, singer-dancer Hans and singer Angelina Jordan.

I gave in to the challenge but I did not watch all of the AGT’s Season 2 top performers. I just wanted to compare V. Unbeatable’s performances with that of Marcelito Pomoy to find out if my candidate was beaten fair and square.

Towards the end when the winner was about to be announced on stage between V. Unbeatable and the rollerskaters Duo Transcend Drops Acrobats, the tears falling on the closed eyes of the V. Unbeatable youngsters had me imagining and loving the show. It got me rolling back the video all the way to India where the champions came from.

The V. Unbeatable’s 28 dancers range in age from 12 to 27, and many of them live in the slums of Mumbai. They truly deserve their $25,000 payout and the title of America’s chosen “World Champion.”

The stories of these kids make you think about the people you come across in Asia, India, and anywhere else where living is really challenging. They make you think about the mysterious places where people live in “extreme environments,” defying all challenges.

Yet they survive, and that tells you why the tears flowing down from a child’s closed eyes, breaks a dam in the hearts of the people watching. If their performance was some kind of a miracle, they really deserved to win this year’s AGT Champions crown. Sorry Marcelito, you may get your crown some other time.

Cooperation, teamwork, was the name of the game for the children. Each of them performed difficult tasks on stage that needed focus, coordination, and mastery.

And they did so many different acts in so many different performances that defy the imagination.

And to think that they mastered their performances in the slums of Mumbai is really something. Where they came from, life was not for them. Electricity did not work well in their homes. And there were periods, sometimes unbearable ones when you worry about the lack of water, food, sleep, and yes sunlight where there is too much rain. Have you experienced sharing your life with 10 or more people in one small room beside the river? You despair how can life be so cruel, hard, and impossible?

I exaggerate that part of living an unbearable life but it was what drove them to work together. The difficult life taught the leaders, the older ones, to coach and to mentor the team, not to rule like a mafia boss, or like a Stalin and his proletariat mob, take it as an opportunity to control and sip the people’s sweat and blood that sustains their power and lust for the perks of their positions.

Last year, I saw how cooperation and good leadership bring development and progress to many people living in extreme environments. I am referring to people’s organizations who took the opportunity to make the agroforestry project and a livelihood assistance fund (LAF) provided to them by the CHARMP2 Scale-Up work in running their group businesses on livestock, fruits, and vegetable production, agricultural trading, and furniture crafts making.

The leaders of these POs did not lord it over their members but led them in the spirit of collective service, where most went back to extolling the Bayanihan cultural practices of their ancestors like the aduyon among the Ibalois of Benguet, Ogogbo in western Bontoc, Ugfo in Bontoc, and Ubfo in Ifugao.

Through cooperation, members and their families sacrificed to participate in a season-long training (about six months) to learn the technologies and skills needed to succeed in their chosen livelihood and businesses. Together, the farmers learn to consolidate their products and market it together. Many are also seeking to find profit in every aspect of the value-chain, which is the right, if they must profit from their labor, not the middlemen, the usurers and compradors, seed and fertilizer dealers, and suppliers of food for the farmers.

Cooperativism or cooperation is how have we forgotten its importance to our well-being as communities? The early Igorots cooperated with each other to build homes, rice terraces and irrigation, and their communities as a whole. It is how we settled and survived the harsh terrains and living conditions in these mountains.

Some writers say that Communist China employed this human orientation to make its citizens work together for a common cause, particularly in making their nation a strong global economic and military force.

Whatever, through cooperativism and cooperation, people suffering under an extreme environment need not despair but can yet make life better. That is what the Mumbai guys teach us. If life is both good and bad and all sentient beings suffer, there is an answer to the cloud covered downs. Find the sun-filled-ups, and it is a lot easier, more fun, and rewarding doing it together with good leaders and friends.

By the way, I never got to understand why Marcelito brought his wife to the stage during every performance, simply to say hi.


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