I try to keep my blog fairly light hearted and fun. but today I have to turn a little more serious. This is a great story – not just about a man who is working to help himself through adversity, but also about a police officer who has gone above and beyond the call of duty. My wife showed me a Facebook post last week about a man in Pandan, Antique, here on Panay island. A PNP officer (Philippine National Police) posted about a man they found while preparing for Typhoon Ruby. The man is a 59 year old blind man named Manong Blas Lomugdang. He spends his day collected bags of sand from the beach and carrying them about 1/2 kilometer to sell for p10 each (about $0.25 USD). Yeah, about a quarter a bag! And did you notice I said he is blind? He has to work to take care of his mother – she is 87 years old. He also has a 67 year old sister.
Here is the post made by officer Alamo on Facebook (his page is https://www.facebook.com/alamoaturserbis).
AMAZING OLD BLIND MAN. While we are patrolling and conducting information drive regarding Typhon Ruby at Brgy. San Andres, Pandan, Antique this afternoon, this man catches our attention while he was walking along the highway pulling his cart loaded with sacks of sand. His name is Manong Blas Lomugdang (locally known as Toto Balas), a senior citizen. What is amazing about him is that he is a blind man but he is still working hard to earn a small amount for living and to support his sick mother. You can see in pictures a pile of sacks of sand which this old blind man hauled fom the seashores, about half kilometer away, for ten pesos per sack. He is doing this everyday to survive. We are really amazed and inspired by this man’s dedication and priciple in life. We hope that this Christmas we can share something for him. He is truly an inspiration to all of us. Despite of his condition he still manage to work and support his mother. He said, “Nakakahiya naman kung ako ay mamalimos. Ang mahirap kung mamalimos ako buti na lang kung rerespetuhin ka ng paglilimusan mo, e paano kung iniisnob ka ng pupuntahan mo para paglimusan, sasakit lang ang kalooban mo. Mas marangal kung ako ang naghahanap buhay at nagpapawis at tumanggap ng bayad malaking karangalan sa akin yun.” (It would be a shame if I beg. It would be great if the people you’re begging from would respect you, but what if they ignore you? It will just hurt my feelings. It’s much better if I work and earn money for myself. It would bring me honor.) PLEASE SHARE his story to serve as an inspiration to others
~Edit~ I just made a GoFundMe page, after it was suggested. Great suggestion.
~Another Edit~ Link removed – GoFundMe is closed – but made $500!)
Officer Alamo was very touched when he saw this man and decided to help him. They have taken Toto Balas and his mother to the health clinic for a checkup. Unfortunately Manong has been blind since he was 3 years old and there is nothing they can do for him. They are still awaiting the results of the blood work. After the results come back they can determine if there are any medications they need.
The story has been on TV, last year, on GMA news. Unfortunately even with being on the news and getting lots of public sympathy Toto Balas is still working to carry bags of sand from the beach. The video is in Tagalog but has some great scenes of his house and family. Even if you cannot understand the words – the message comes through.
In a comment Officer Alamo also said the man climbs coconut trees for vinegar to sell.
This week they set up a Facebook page for him at https://www.facebook.com/manongblas. Hopefully we can get some steady support for this man and his family. I spoke to the president of my Rotary club and she is forwarding the information to a local club on the other side of the island. Hopefully they can set up some help for this man and his family.
The Philippines is a very poor country and I am sure there are hundreds of similar stories – maybe they are not all blind – but many people here work very hard in horrible conditions. I cannot help them all, but I would like to see if maybe I can help in this case. You can’t look at the big picture all the time. Sometimes you need to find an individual and do what you can.
And as I said this also a great story of a police officer going way above the call of duty to do what he can to help this man. So many people like to talk about the corruption and focus on the negatives of the Philippines. Why not? They do it in other countries too. I am sure there are some corrupt public officials here (and everywhere else), but I don’t like to concentrate on the negatives. Here we have a police officer that found a man truly in need. And now he is doing something about it. Officer Alamo is doing a great service and deserves all the praise we can give him. He is a great example of what police work is all about. Not just enforcing laws, but truly serving the needs of the people and the community!
And my wife inspired me to try to help as well. So now I am asking for your help. Share this story with everyone you know. You can donate money to Officer Alamo (again his FB page is https://www.facebook.com/alamoaturserbis). Or you can send me any donations and I will make a video of me and my wife delivering money, groceries, and maybe some household goods to the family personally. We will try to take any donations to the family for christmas. I have been talking to Officer Alamo and will be finding out what they need most (cash, groceries, medication etc)
I really don’t like to ask for money but this is not for me, it is for a blind senior citizen taking care of his mother. Try and think about that for a minute… blind senior citizen taking care of his mother…
“It’s much better if I work and earn money for myself. It would bring me honor.” ~ Manong Blas Lomugdang
So, since he does not want to beg for himself I will do it for him. There is no shame in accepting help, and it will bring you honor to offer help. Let’s try to give this family a Merry Christmas!