RECENTLY, I shared a social media post by one Francis Leo Marcos. In it, he was shedding tears while lauding Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, whose sincerity in wanting to be of help to his needy constituents in these times of crisis, according to him, really touched him so much so that he said he would be cocky with the famous mayor and send him a truckload of rice to help him feed his constituency.
So many friends warned me about ever associating with him. Some even sent me all sorts of adverse information supposedly about his alleged checkered character and all.
Well, I told them I don’t know the guy from Adam and unless I have personal knowledge about these accusations being circulated here and there against him, I will give him the benefit of the doubt---that he would keep what he had promised.
And indeed, he did. He sent to the office of Mayor Kois a truckload of rice, totalling 250 sacks in all. That was good and worth the benefit of the doubt I afforded him.
However, recently after that, he came up with a video he called, ‘Mayaman Challenge’ where he dares ‘mayayaman' (like him, according to him) to also extend help like he did. He would name someone he perceives to be rich and then dare that person to also donate to the poor and then challenge someone else to follow suit.
The challenge would have been alright but he directed it at the wrong person. He named ‘NPDC Director’ Penelope Belmonte in that challenge. First of all, Penny, an old friend of mine, is no longer the executive director of the National Parks Development Committee or NPDC. She is now deputy director-general of the National Anti-Poverty Commission or NAPC, working closely with Secretary Noel Felongco on addressing the needs of the country’s poor sector. She was given that position largely due to her selfless dedication and unhailed actions in the past to help the poor.
Secondly, Penny is not rich as he probably thinks she is. Indeed, she had always lived a comfortable life even way before she entered public service, but she is not filthy rich or someone who can spare a million, since she never stole any money from government coffers or engaged in any get-rich-quick schemes while in office.
In fact, while at the NPDC, she earned the ire of many unscrupulous individuals and even had death threats for breakfast, even endangering her very own family, when she chose to dismantle a multi-million anomaly that had been entrenched in that office for the longest time and turned down a very tempting offer just for her to turn a blind eye.
Thirdly, Penny need not be challenged to help the poor. She had done this for the longest time without any fanfare or publicity because she is more comfortable helping behind, not in front of cameras.
This is probably why Mr. Marcos never heard or learned of how Penny had used her office to benefit the poor. Among her worthwhile projects were the establishment of the ‘We Care, Daycare Center’ which teaches and takes care of homeless children loitering in the vicinity of the Rizal Park. In times of calamity, a specific area is designated to serve as temporary shelter for the less-privileged taken from various parts of Manila, complete with restrooms and food.
She also launched a project called, ‘The Soup Kitchen’ which provides free hot porridge for vagrants and homeless people who have nothing to eat and removed the admission fees in Luneta’s gated facilities so that the poor can also enter them.
In addition, Penny also had a multi-purpose center and livelihood space built within the NPDC premises for poor persons with disabilities (PWDs).
These days, she organized a group that would provide milk for children from poor families amid the coronavirus situation.
Amid all these, I asked her why she never contacted the media to cover her activities and she told me that she is not comfortable with publicity because it strips the deed of its sincerity.
Indeed, here’s a quote from John Wooden: If you want to feed the homeless, then feed the homeless. But the moment you post it on social media, you’re only feeding your ego. The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.’
It is alright for Marcos to hurl the challenge but he better pick someone who is really filthy rich and who has not given any help amid the COVID-19 crisis.
There are many others out there whom he can prod into giving to the poor. I hope he would instead target those who are known to have successfully stolen vast amounts of money from government in the past. Or those publicity-starved politicians who will take the challenge for the sake of exposure.
This is the time to somehow give back to the people what they have stolen from the people and in this country, we all know who these thieves are. It’s common knowledge.
I’m almost certain Mr. Marcos will have the balls to challenge them instead. Is Mr. Marcos up to that challenge? We’ll see.
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Jokjok (from Karlo Mendoza of Makati City)---Tatay (naghihingalo): Mga anak, kapag ako’y namatay, huwag na huwag ninyo ibebenta `yung lupa sa likod ng bahay ha. /Anak: Eh `tay, hindi naman po sa atin ang lupang iyon eh./Tatay: Kaya nga! Huwag ninyo ibebenta dahil di nga `yun atin. Ay, tanga!
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