Charity from A Distance
(…story of Perla Buhay-Howard)
By Apolinario Villalobos
Charity knows no distance. That is how I understood it, and did more so, when I met Perla Buhay-Howard via the internet. She lives in California, USA, and a follower of my blogs.
The initial link between us was her comment about my blogs in one of my sites about the random sharing that my group was doing in Baseco Compound, a depressed area n Tondo. I considered her comment as just one of those that are posted to tell bloggers that they are being viewed. Until, one of her comments said about books for the kids and perhaps, a school. The intention was appreciated but it gave me a problem because my group does not “record” our deeds by taking photos while extending help to others, so there would be no way to tell her about our using her donations. We do not even give our real names to the recipients. It took some time before I frankly told her about the way we are doing our own kind of sharing. As a compromise, I suggested that small reading materials would be for the kids, aside from other things, but the “bigger” reading materials- encyclopedia, dictionary, and others should go to the National Library of the Philippines which could officially acknowledge receipt of everything she would be sending. I was glad that she readily appreciated the idea.
The first batch came – a big box that contained encyclopedia, dictionaries, reading materials for children, and other items. While the rest of the items were shared among the “friends” at Baseco and those who live in pushcarts along Recto near Divisoria, the books went to the National Library of the Philippines.
I thought that the box I received was the first and the last. I was surprised when her subsequent messages mentioned about more boxes for shipment. She also expressed how she enjoyed picking up books from friends and an outlet which she herself, packs. One time as she was driving to her friend’s place to pick up books, she figured in an accident that smashed her car, while she suffered contusions. I was further touched when she told me that she sets aside money for materials that needed to be purchased.
As she began to develop trust in me, she confided that her advocacy to reach out to others, especially, on the aspect of education, resulted from her own experience as a young girl who could barely afford an education. She hails from Nueva Ecija. She practically had to toil her way up to the last year of a college education. When she made it to America, she strived to help her siblings and relatives left in the Philippines. She did not waver in her effort even until she found herself a lifetime partner who showed her not only love, but gave her full support and understanding of her advocacy. In California, she is also a member of a group that extends help to the needy.
She sends me photos of her potted cherry tomatoes, kulitis or amaranth, even sweet potatoes, young leaves of which she regularly cook. She has not forgotten that she is a Filipina, from a country where live many countrymen who need help, to which she looks back always, and share in a way she could best afford. She personifies charity…extended from a distance.