An Inspiring Example

23 May

Just back from escorting a friend to an extended vacation in the Philippines, I heard of a deed being accomplished by a group of surfers well worth mentioning. My information on current events in this 7,000 island archipelago comes in snatches, via television and newspaper coverage; scarcely authoritative or supported by barrages of facts.

Antonio Jose, usually called Tonet and a dual citizen, is retired from Kodak and a frequent surfer. On my 2010 visit to Manila, he mentioned that he drives to San Juan, north of the provincial capital of La Union, where the ocean surf is considered some of the world’s best. I know zilch about surfing technicalities, except that when the moon is nearly full is when the tides are highest, and that’s when Tonet drives the six-hour drive north from Manila spending six hours a day plying his passion. Seeing him early this May, his tan and fitness testified to the physical well being it promotes.

Always busy, this time Tonet seemed unusually occupied; I heard snatches about shipments and deadlines; one day when his schedule precluded my catching a ride into Manila from Quezon City. Over the dinner table, Teresita, his mother, enlightened me in her matter-of-fact way.

A surfing association exists in the Philippines and Tonet is a member. Samar was the first island to be hit by Typhoon Yolanda. The surfing association gathered funds following Yolanda, hired an architect to design a shelter against future typhoons. “Made of concrete, it contains a kitchen, full bathroom and sleeping facilities for fifty families. It has its own generator and solar panels on the roof. Tonet is making arrangements for the solar panels to be shipped to Samar. Samar is also noted for its excellent surfing conditions.”

Who would have guessed that men, often dismissed as “beach boys”, would rise to such a practical, effective response to that devastating crisis. That I was impressed is demonstrated by this note.

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