My Altruistic Classmate
(…story of Dominador Barnachea/NDTCBoys’70)
By Apolinario Villalobos
Nowadays, the humanity drifts in the ocean of survival. The human instinct is dictated by self-preservation. However, unusual circumstances can cause the “hidden” trait in man that directs him to extend a hand to somebody in times of dire need. These circumstances make man forget his own interests which are overwhelmed by the needs of others.
Altruism is unselfishness. This is an endowment from God, albeit, manifested or put into practice by only a few as it entails a lot of sacrifice for the sake of others. It is embedded in our heart. On the other hand, its opposite, egotism, is embedded in the mind, swathed by reason. While altruism is instinctively manifested in times of need, egotism dawdles with hesitance due to choices provided by reason.
The current and so-called “people’s pope”, Francis has repeatedly made a call to practice this virtue, but uses “compassion” in sending across his message. Simply, he is calling for care, kindness, concern, sympathy, consideration for others. His call is timely, as it is only by being compassionate that we can have that utmost desire to share without hesitance – the real need of mankind at this time. In this regard, sharing can be done directly or indirectly, and also comes in different kinds or forms, such as money, food, clothing, or time.
When I was in high school, a classmate would conspicuously just sit in a corner during our breaks, read or do his assignments, while the rest of us wet our shirts with sweat doing shenanigans to the consternation even of our principal. The guy was bright and I even expected him to receive a medal during our graduation, but he did not. He excelled in Pilipino, Mathematics and History. He was also among the topnotch achievers in our NDEA evaluation tests. After graduation, I did not hear anything about him, while I struggled my way through college. During high school reunions, his name would be mentioned, and since nobody knew where he was and how he fared, he soon faded from our mind.
While checking my blogs one day, I was surprised to see a familiar name that preceded a comment on one of my blogs posted in our school’s alumni site. I found out that the guy was the one we had been looking for….Dominador Barnachea. The reason why we failed to trace him was that he used “Ming” as his first name, while we knew him during our high school days as “Ador” or “Dor”
He shared through private messages that after graduating from high school, he “rested” for two years, so that his younger siblings can have the chance to make use of their meager family finances through their high school studies. It also gave him the opportunity to take care of their ailing mother, adding that he also tended their farm until he was able to earn enough for his first year in college in Davao City. He seized the job opportunities offered by the city, so that in no time, he was able to land one, to further his college studies. He practically missed meals most of the time when short of cash, and walked his way to school, scrimping on his hard earned and meager wage until he was able to finally earn a degree in accountancy.
Steeled by challenges that he was able to hurdle, he was able to land a job that fitted his course. His mind was set on helping his family, and this determination cost him his love life as his long- time girlfriend left him. It was a devastating emotional experience according to him, but his family has been foremost in his mind.
After gaining experience, he applied for a job in the Middle East. While earning a much bigger wage that time, his hard work was still coupled with sacrifice, as he was sending practically all his wage to his family back home, leaving just enough for his Spartan subsistence. His sacrifice paid off as he was able to send several nephews and nieces through college, bought a simple condo and a house, and developed their farm.
He was not yet through his sacrifice, however, for today, he spends most of his time giving solace to distressed countrymen in the Middle East. He is their financial and spiritual counselor. His help is not limited in counsels, though, as most often he would shell out cash. He speaks in gatherings to share inspiring messages based mostly on his experience and also untiringly represents them as necessary in government consular offices.
His habit of walking his way to the office until today makes him fit, although, he confided that foremost in his mind is to save the fare, so that the stashed extra cash can be shared if problems may unexpectedly crop up in the homes of his extended family.
Evidently, Ming’s altruistic trait has become part of his system that he thinks and acts it…. practically, breathing it!