Friday, December 28, 2007

Share-a-Gift Ride

This year, I had promised myself to celebrate Christmas more simply and meaningfully. So when the Firefly Brigade organized this Share-a-Gift ride, I was excited to join, and had to kulit Doy to join also. The event was about gift giving to the less fortunate, specifically those who live in "karitons", who are, like bikers, are mobile. It was truly a privilege to be part of this event, and gave more meaning to my pursuit of cycling.

I want to share with you what Doy had written about the event. Very touching...

First off I would like to congratulate the firefly brigade for organizing this very meaningful and heart-tugging ride. It makes me proud to be:

1. A part of this year's christmas share-a-gift ride,
2. Riding beside some of the best bikers in the country
3. A Filipino (there is hope yet for this country)
4. A cyclist
5. A mountain biker (PMTB rules)

For the others who were not able to make it, hope to see you next year and in other Firefly events.

Let me share with you guys a very unique experience i got in this ride. The world is indeed very small, so small in fact that the odds of serendipity are quite high.

When we rode last saturday, I saw a family I once stayed with in my college liberation theology class. It was in the second semester of my last school year in Ateneo, students under the theology 141 class of the late Fr. George Gorospe were required to undergo a 3 day immersion program some of the "extremely sheltered" students dreaded this as it meant really going way beyond their comfort zone specially for those destined for urban poor and fisherfolk communities. Having grown up in Tondo, I could fairly say that I had my share of exposure to poverty but being a spectator during your daily commute is a far cry from being immersed in the experience of people specially those living at the edge of their means.

Click to Enlarge

My groupmates as well as another group from another theology 141 class were sent to Nueva Ecija in an Aeta Resettlement site near Fort Magsaysay. We spent a weekend there living with the people in the community. Life was simple there, they had a beautiful tract of land complete with a river and a small waterfall just up stream. However the lack of arrable land and a stable source of livelihood meant that the community could not self-sustain. Unlike the time before Mt. Pinatubo, the Aeta communities of Zambales was able to live in a self-sufficient community and they rarely needed to wander into the busy metropolis as much of their needs were met within the community. Pinatubo changed all of that, coupled with the inability of government to provide a stable means of livelihood (even livelihood training) the Aetas would often travel to Manila in search of whatever they could ask for especially during the holidays. During my immersion, I had a long sunset conversation with my foster father in the community and he said to me that such was their fate, every Christmas they would try to hitch a ride all the way to Manila to solicit what they could in the streets.

I left Nueva Ecija back then with a heavier burden knowing that I would come back to Manila to live a comfortable life that my father has built up for me. Don't get me wrong, I love what my dad had strived for, he literally sacrificed half his life abroad on-board a lonely ship sailing port to port and missing many of his family's notable moments to ensure that my mom and myself could live comfortably. However one must realize that no all people have the same breaks in life as others and while it is the duty of every generation to build a better one for the next, not everyone is privy to the same opportunities.

I took home one very important reminder from that theology class immersion..."live simply, so others may simply live." Unfortunately the promise of a great career and the potential to have what you want in life has some how jaded me over the last couple of years. Seven years down the line, I am again reminded by a familiar face I meet in the Share-a-gift ride of the firefly brigade of what I took home from my immersion in Nueva Ecija.

pahiram ng photo gerard!!!

I guess, I am just as thankful as the families blessed by this year's ride. particularly because it made me realize the value of why I am riding my bike. To quote from H.G. Wells, "When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race." and Gerard's picture below says it all...


Mabuhay ang brigada, mabuhay ang reboluSSyon.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

No comments: