Dear Xavier University,

Anonymous
January 30, 2012, 6:47 am

Let me tell you about Yuan. He is a small, stout tutee in my LTS area work. In the Balulang National Elementary School grounds, he would sit by himself and would only talk to me when he needed to. He loves Billionaire by Bruno. His small, Asian eyes make him look just like the little kid in Up. He is intelligent in Mathematics. He once drew me on his Grade II pad paper and gave it to me after class. He would ask me to accompany him during recess to the store nearby and he would buy a milk bar for himself. My classmates wanted him to be their tutee.

I do not know if he is still alive.

Don’t try to figure out who his tutor is because you might figure out who I am. My name is not relevant. In a sea of volunteers during the Sendong relief operation, it is not your name or the ID that carries it that defines who you are. It’s what you do.

For another. I was there on the 17th, when our world was suddenly in chaos and nobody could tell you what exactly happened because they did not know how.

I was there when Xavier sheltered its community. I saw them come in in increasingly huge families, dragging with them their belongings, or whatever is left of it. Under the rapidly depressing circumstances, it would hurt in that spot where feelings collide, to tell some of these people to seek refuge in another evacuation center.

I was there when we called student and staff survivors and listen to them sob and cry and plead. A lot of them would altruistically say their neighbors needed the relief goods more than they did. We would listen to them thank us when we got to their homes or relief areas and we would smile back and think it was enough.

It wasn’t.

I don’t know where Yuan is. Or if he was the kid who rode a pig to survive. He might be out there, homeless, naked, hungry, or worse–

I was named after a saint and the name meant freedom. But a name could not matter any less that time. If Yuan were named something else, it still would not matter to you.

It was the number of lives you tried to save, regardless of what they were called by their families or friends. It was the people you gave food or clothes or water to, even if you did not know them. It was the children who could no longer know the difference between an evacuation center and home. They don’t need names.

So long as it was a soul and its life, it did not matter what he or she was called.         

I will not listen to you if you blame another because he sucked at his job or he was out there partying when the flood swallowed our neighbors’ lives. I will not listen to you if all you have to say is we deserve a better mayor or a better president. I mean, what did you do?

It takes a tragedy to get us out of bed. Although the year ended in devastation, this one will begin with hope. And if hope were more than an intangible idea, it’s you. C

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