‘The Adorables’ Demonstrate The Bayanihan Spirit is Alive and Well


“As a familiar story goes, one can leave a basket full of crabs and not worry that a single one of them can ever climb out of it and escape the cooking pan.  The moment one succeeds in pulling itself up an inch, there will be a dozen claws that will make sure it doesn’t make it to the top.” (Mejorada: The Filipino Express, 1996)

Filipino crab mentality

Crab mentality is the desire to outdo, outshine or surpass another (often of one’s same ethnic group) at the other’s expense.

I would like to share my personal story on how I evolved from pessimism to optimism, on how Filipinos could overcome deep fragmentation and distrust among each other called ‘crab mentality’. This story renewed my hope on the Filipino community spirit of giving.  The Bayanihan spirit is alive and well.  Four Filipinas, they nicknamed themselves the ‘Adorables’, bonded and worked hard to put together a terrific fundraising party, to raise funds to build a hospital lobby in Calamba, Laguna, Philippines in memory of the late Peter Aldeza. They are a living testament that Filipinos could overcome the cultural challenge of ‘crab mentality’ and worked together in Bayanihan, for the common good.

(left to right): Dr. Dorothy Anoina, Eva Torres, Aurora Gagni, Carminda Aldeza and Dale Asis

Filipina women working together in Bayanihan spirit (left to right): Dr. Dorothy Anoina, Eva Torres, Aurora Gagni, and Carminda Aldeza, with Dale Asis

In 2010, I was confronted with intense cultural challenges that I did not expect in my endeavors to raise funds for community projects for the Philippines. These cultural challenges include intense competition among Filipinos and the pervasive ‘crab mentality’ (Nadal: Filipino Psychology, 2009).  Crab mentality is the desire to outdo, outshine or surpass another (often of one’s same ethnic group) at the other’s expense.  These challenges include fragmentation and distrust and intense competition. I’ve realized that these cultural challenges run deep and might be the main reason Filipinos are not unified to face together larger community challenges including combating poverty in the Philippines, the big gap in income between the rich and the poor and increasing out-migration. Without any solution in mind, I began to accept the crab mentality thinking and just soldier on.

However, in Sept 2014, four Filipinas (Carminda Aldeza, Dr. Dorothy Anoina, Aurora Gagni and Eva Torres) changed my perception from pessimism to optimism. These women gave me hope that Filipinos after all could overcome crab mentality challenge. They recruited 20 other women to help – Ate (older sister) Sally, Ate Chit, Ate Aurora, Ate Aurora, Ate Sionie, Ruth Banatin, Christine Krogmann and countless others, including my mother.  They put together the best party of the year – a Hawaiian ‘luau’ theme party replete with grass skirts, leis, tiki torches, a roast pig ‘lechon’ and the Aloha spirit.

Hawaiian theme 'luau' food buffet

Hawaiian theme ‘luau’ food buffet

Ate Sally managed to post next to the Aloha sign. She volunteered for hours to cook and serve the food for 150 people.

Ate Sally managed to post next to the Aloha sign. She volunteered for hours to prepare and helped serve food for 150 people.

However, this luau was not just any party.  These women put together a party in honor of my late cousin, Peter Aldeza, who died suddenly of a heart attack. Peter left behind a legacy of goodwill, generosity and kindness in all the people that he touched including me. His wife, Carminda Aldeza, found a folder in his files with his plans to build a charity hospital in his hometown in Calamba, Laguna, Philippines. My name was written on top of the folder. For the past year, I have contemplated on what to do to fulfill my late cousin’s wishes. In 2013, I went to visit Pete’s hometown, Calamba, Laguna and found out that the only charity hospital in town did not even have a proper hospital lobby. All indigent patients have to wait out in a makeshift shed with a few corrugated metal sheets attached together as a roof and a few slabs of wood as benches. I’m glad that it was a nice sunny day when I visited. I wondered what happens when it rains and you have to wait out in the open?

Makeshift hospital lobby of the Calamba Municipal Hospital

Makeshift hospital lobby of the Calamba Municipal Hospital

Woman waiting in Calamba hospital

Woman carrying her infant in her arms while waiting in the makeshift hospital lobby of the Calamba Municipal Hospital

So I shared this project idea with Carminda Aldeza. She liked it and immediately got to work and recruited other Filipinas to help her. It all happened so fast. I thought that the party was going to be a small get together honoring my late cousin Peter but it turned out to be the best of the year honoring his memory, his goodwill and his legacy. But most of all, Carminda and the legion of volunteer Filipinas called ‘Adorables’ were the highlight of the party. They demonstrated the four golden Filipino values of:

  • Tiwala’ (trust)
  • Kabalikat’ (interdependence, sharing responsibilities)
  • Pagkakaisa’ (mutuality, helping each other)
  • Tradisyon’ (traditional values of helping ‘bayanihan’)
The family of the late Peter Aldeza (left to right): Jeff Krogmann, Christine Krogmann with baby Penelope, Carminda Aldeza, Carminda's father, Brian Aldeza

The family of the late Peter Aldeza (left to right): Jeff Krogmann, Christine Krogmann with baby Penelope, Carminda Aldeza, Carminda’s father, Brian Aldeza

Honoring Peter Aldeza (left to right): Dale Asis and Carminda Aldeza

Honoring Peter Aldeza (left to right): Dale Asis and Carminda Aldeza

This fundraising party was a success maybe because of the goodwill that Peter left behind. It was successful maybe because of the wonderful food, decorations and ambience of a fun Hawaiian feast. It was successful maybe because four Filipinas, the ‘Adorables’ bonded, worked hard together and recruited other women to show the wonderful spirit of Bayanihan, helping each other. In the end, the indigent patients of Calamba, Philippines will benefit with an upcoming new hospital lobby where they could wait in comfort and not out in the open.  I have indeed renewed my spirit that the Bayanihan spirit of community giving is alive and well.

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About daleasis

President of the Bayanihan Foundation Worldwide
This entry was posted in Diaspora Giving, Philippines, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to ‘The Adorables’ Demonstrate The Bayanihan Spirit is Alive and Well

  1. kiana149 says:

    Thank  you,  I have asked before in reference to Clark AB, and Subic Bay/San Miguel.. estimated Philippine people who have shown serious health issues, possibly due to the proximity to the U.S. Military bases ??   Just estimated numbers… and what if any help has the U.S. given to these people ??       Appreciate your time.. Thank  You,      Respectfully,  Mike 

    • daleasis says:

      Hello Mike,

      You might want to refer to the Philippine Statistics Authority that gives out regular health community surveys by geographic area: http://census.gov.ph/survey/demographic-and-health. The local government units would also have up-to-date information about serious health issues as well. Although I’m not a health expert, I think it might be difficult to tease out which serious health issues were caused by the proximity to the US military bases and those health issues caused by the lack of basic health care in the Philippines. Unfortunately, the Philippines does not offer universal health insurance to its citizens nor any semblance of the US Affordable Care Act (ACA), so health disparities vary widely between the rich and the poor. I hope this is info is helpful and thank you for reading my blog.

      Sincerely,
      Dale Asis

  2. Will Dix says:

    What a wonderful and inspiring story! Thank you for sharing it. I also know that the party raised over twice what was expected!

    • daleasis says:

      Hello Will,

      Thank you for all your support and commitment to help the Bayanihan Foundation. Thank you also for donating those laptop computers for the Giporlos Elementary School in Samar, Philippines.

      MK,
      Dale Asis

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