Tanglaw Newsletter



By Tony Mateo


During the last Induction and Scholarship Awards Night at Lantana, where Ambassador Ernesto M. Maceda was the Induction Officer and Keynote Speaker, he orchestrated a spontaneous, yet very productive fundraiser from among those in attendance that had me thinking. Up to this time, I'm still trying to ascertain from what I witnessed that evening, as to whether Filipinos are inherently charitable or in reality . . . tightwads. Galante ba o' kuripot?!

The evening of the Induction, at the slightest coaxing from the Ambassador, our Pinoy friends outpoured generosity like water gushing forth from an eternal spring! A welcome scene I've never seen here before. It did not take more than a few minutes for Ambassador Maceda to raise $1,000.00, which he matched with another $1,000.00 from his own pocket. (The following morning, at breakfast, he raised another $1,000.00 in pledges for the PAMAS Scholarship Fund.). Now, I don't want to sound like I am totally surprised that a man of the Ambassador's stature was capable of raising a quick thousand or two. I do not want to demean the man cause he certainly proved he can, but just for purposes of conversation, I'd like to find out what prompts Pinoys, many of whom I have not seen pull out their wallets for many a moon, to spontaneously have a change of heart and become altruistic all of a sudden. If I can find the answer to this, then perhaps I can get the PAMAS Building sooner than 5 years! (Speaking about ulterior motives!).

For comparison purposes though, let me be so brash as to use myself as an example, lest I use somebody else and get sued for libel, or frowned upon for eternity. Although, I know other community leaders can sympathize with me. Why is it that whenever I solicit for the PAMAS Building Fund, or other worthwhile causes, many friends and foes alike seemed to have turned deaf ears to the cause. Yet, that was exactly the same cause Ambassador Maceda harped for, and he got the desired results! It is therefore not the cause. Could he have generated such a rush of donations because he is the Philippine Ambassador to the United States and was a senior Senator in the Philippines before that? How can he trigger such a flow of instantaneous generosity and I couldn't? Was it the Filipinos' predilection to public recognition, associated with the manner with which the Ambassador did his? Soliciting in public as oppose to the personal letters I do mine with, which is probably easier to ignore cause nobody would ever know whether they gave a cent or not! Are Pinoys simply "Mayabang" in nature that they cannot say "no" when prodded upon to donate publicly? Or is there an absence of nationalism in the Filipino culture that preclude many of us from buying into a cause, no matter how clearly beneficial it would be to the Filipino-American community?

Going back to stature, do we find it fashionable to give when the solicitor is such a made man or woman? If so, how come? Do we naively believe that the appearance of closeness to power as empowerment itself?! Such that in San Francisco, the former mayor of the city, Diane Feinsten, who, as the city's highest elected official, had to constantly deal with all of the city's various ethnic communities and minority groups, once said that she preferred the Filipinos among

all her constituents because all other groups who met with her would come with an agenda and a list of demands they insisted she act upon, while the Filipinos would meekly file in and request to have their pictures taken with her and have it authographed with a personal dedication. So they can later name-drop the mayor's name in social conversation then show the picture as proof. That's not such a very flattering reason to be preferred upon over other groups, don't you think?

At any rate, I think being altruistic or charitable in this world is not a monopoly of any given race of people. To desire to help a good cause comes from the heart before it comes from the pocket. I think we the likes of the Belangers, the Servinos and others that prove that. However, no amount of persuasion can convince anybody to part with their hard earned dollars unless they convince themselves first. Perhaps to have somebody like Ambassador Maceda to rub elbows with in the process of making a decision, whether to give or not to give, makes decision-making easily rationalized. Again, I do not intend to belittle what the Ambassador has done, and as President of PAMAS, I am eternally grateful. I am just thinking out loud. Should I run for the Senate first then seek for Ambassadorship before I make my next appeal for charity? Or, maybe I should stage a scenario where losing face in public becomes the only other option to giving!

It simply bugs me when I hear somebody brags about having blown a couple of thousand dollars in half an hour at Foxwood, and yet could not find it in his heart to give a saw buck to a worthwhile cause. Or, when I hear some people say they could raise $30Ks in a month for a Philippine Community Center if they really want to, or that they can do better that what PAMAS is doing, if they put their minds to it. My friends, give us all a break, why can't you want to?

So tell me, are Pinoys Galante or Kuripot?

Return to Headlines...