Estremera: Gentle people I see

IT'S been a noisy year in 2017. Social media has made a major traction in our society, just about anyone who can string words together were out there picking up fights.

Sad to say, leading the pack are Filipinos of all convictions and colors. But then, let them be.

It's not as if the noise is new. You only need to settle in at the pre-departure area of some foreign country where there are many Filipinos and you will hear the distinctively loud voices. That is us. Social media just amplified it for us.

But then, I've seen the Filipinos too in their quiet resolve to better their straits, and so I just swipe away the posts that trigger vexation and no longer engage those baiting for a fight. That is because I have seen the good in the Filipinos and would rather see them in that way.

Yes, we are easily triggered, but... the same is with Americans. They're worse, by the way. You just go to the comments section of news and even baby posts and see how they pick on just about anything, refusing to see the good in the news or the beauty in the post. That's the burden they choose to carry. Let them be.

As 2018 moves into its third week, I look back to 2017 and remember my best encounters with the farmers with the lumads who work the soil and work collectively, and celebrate with them their small successes.

My favorite remains to be those from sitio Upian in barangay Marilog where residents organized themselves to manage their own water system, and Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries set up a cooperative bakery.

While as expected, very few joined the water system when it started, what with the Filipino penchant to see the cost instead of the benefits. Like, why should they pay P20 a month when they have been enjoying their water for free since time immemorial? But seeing how water is getting scarce and the efforts of the community leaders to provide clean water, soon more and more residents were joining the water system, and it was just a pretty sight to see them gather in a meeting and discuss their accomplishments.

The cooperative bakery was just as lonely, with just four working. Around 20 attended the training brought to their sitio by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the lady in the bakery said. But very few joined when the bakery operations were set up. And yet, they were selling out just about everything they bake -- the Spanish bread and the butter cake. Albeit not gourmet level, the products were selling like hotcakes, and there was satisfaction in seeing how the small group were counting their money and separating the "capital".

Over in Arakan Valley is a bitter-sweet victory as their municipal agriculturist, who has been staunchly against illegal logging and the rape of the environment around their most precious Mt. Sinaka was killed in the last quarter of the year. The municipality of Arakan has a high awareness on environment protection, their mountain folks are active in protecting the forests of Mt. Sinaka, spurred on by their leaders. I'm sure the death of Edgar Araña, who was shot dead by unknown assailants, left dread in the hearts of the village leaders. It was also in Arakan when missionary priest Fr. Pops Tentorio, himself a staunch anti-illegal logging and mining advocate, was shot dead. Some dark force is working over there who regard those who stand for the environment as enemies, and that is sad.

But like the village folks of Upian, I've seen the Arakan people around Mt. Sinaka and appreciated how they have stood up for the mountain that is their sole source of clean, potable water.

This job has granted me ringside view of how good our people are, and so I am able to swipe away from my consciousness those who only see the bad in everything that is done and is happening, many of whom have not lifted a hand in nation-building and whose only role in society is to tap hate on their mobile phones and spread hate through their thoughts.
Definitely, not worth my time. saestremera@yahoo.com
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