Jeselle Santiago, Bayanihan Foundation NEXTGEN Fellow writes the following personal essay on how young Filipino Americans like her could make a difference in people’s lives at home and abroad:
I cannot say enough how transformative the Bayanihan Foundation Worldwide has been on my life. I’ve said before how it is helping me bring together the shattered pieces of my identity and bring me at peace with myself. One of the most influential lessons the Bayanihan Foundation Worldwide has taught me is that I can truly make a difference. I have adopted Bayanihan’s mission of Filipinos abroad helping Filipinos at home into my heart, and since my trip with them to the Philippines this past summer 2015, I’ve learned to think globally and act locally. I now identify myself not just as an American citizen, but as a Philippine daughter who can send love to both my homes.
Upon acceptance into the NEXTGEN program, I kept wondering how in the world I can make a difference, but working with Bayanihan has made a world of difference for and in me. Before going to the Philippines, I had no idea how I could possibly give back. I figured the least I could do was help fund raise, but I had no previous experience in that realm. However, the foundation’s founder and Executive Director, Mr. Dale Asis, has graciously taken me under his wing. He gave me a crash course in fundraising 101 and has even let me take initiative in planning a few of our events. I was ecstatic after our first successful completed project of sending a balikbayan box of books to the schools we visited in Iligan, and I am brimming with excitement as we approach our next tribute effort of our upcoming Divisoria Day: Garage Sale fundraiser on March 5, 2016 at St. Wenceslaus Parish Hall, 3400 N. Monticello Ave. Chicago, in honor of our friends at Carbon Market, Cebu.
You see, the Bayanihan Foundation Worldwide introduced me to many faces of the Philippines, and those faces continually come to my mind as I try to think of how I can do deeds in the diaspora and share the seeds I’ve sown. For every place we visited, I want to do at least one event or effort to show them that they are in my thoughts and plans. While the balikbayan box of books project started as an idea in an Iligan high school library, Dale has shown me how I can turn those ideas into direct action.
With the upcoming Divisoria Day: Garage Sale, the idea is not only to raise funds for the sake of raising funds, but to do so in a thoughtful way that also raises awareness for how our Philippine brothers and sisters earn their livelihood. In this case, what for some may seem like a fun occasion to contribute through spring cleaning or browsing for bargains, for others such as the women vendors of Carbon Market, setting up shop and selling for cheap is a way of life that has its obvious challenges. Through this event on March 5th, I hope that people would recognize their privilege and be willing to share their resources to help those women vendors of Carbon Market as they try to recover from the recent tragedy of being displaced from their homes due to a widespread fire in 2014.
If you are reading this now, please let me say, “THANK YOU” for taking the time to read my thoughts! I hope you found it worthwhile, and dare I say even inspiring or at least empowering for you to engage yourself to act towards a kinder world. Whether we think about it consciously or not, we are constantly impacting the world—I challenge you to thoughtfully act to create a positive change for yourself and others, locally and globally! What do you say, challenge accepted?
On March 5, 2016 – 9 AM till 3 PM, join us for the Bayanihan Foundation’s Garage Sale (Yard Sale) at St. Wenceslaus Church Parish Hall, 3400 N. Monticello Ave. Chicago. Come hunt for bargains from over 5,000 items and enjoy homemade pancit (Filipino noodles). Cannot join the Garage Sale? Consider donating to the Bayanihan Foundation and support its NEXTGEN Fellowship Program: bit.ly/1LAOeBQ