Thursday, November 27, 2008
As we celebrate the 25th death anniversary of Sen. Benigno ``Ninoy’’ Aquino Jr., many people find themselves asking whether Ninoy’s faith in the Filipino was worth his sacrifice. Is the Filipino really worth dying for?
In the past, I too found myself increasingly losing faith in the Filipino. But since me and my Muslim wife launched our A-Book-Saya Group book-donation project, we found ourselves recovering faith on the Filipino people, both giants or the most lowly among us.
Yes, friends, as we said before, the generosity of the Filipino spirit remains high – at least for us Filipinos who live our lives away from the limelight and who silently work to make this work a better place one day at a time.
So, from here on, I would proceed to thank the generous souls who have been helping us so far. I would start thanking former Sen. Jovito Salonga for whom we wrote a press release last month.
Former Sen. Salonga Donates Books to Abu Sayyaf Kids
Zamboanga City – Former Senate President Jovito Salonga has donated books to the A-Book-Saya Group (ASG) book-donation project to show in a “concrete and demonstrable way’’ his deep concern for the education of Muslims in Mindanao.
Salonga turned over 15 books he recently written to the ASG project which is primarily aimed at flooding Mindanao with books to stop the rise of child soldiers and warriors in the ranks of the Abu Sayyaf Group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF); and the New People’s Army (NPA).
“The building of a better nation is a challenge not only to the Christians but also to the Muslim students and probably with a bigger impact. I want to help in a concrete and demonstrable way,’’ Salonga said of his support to the ASG project.
The books Salonga donated to ASG are titled “The Task of Building a Better Nation,” “Presidential Plunder: The Quest for the Marcos Wealth;” and “The Intangibles that Make a Nation.”
A study conducted by the USAID-Growth with Equity in Mindanao show that the survival rate of pupils in Mindanao areas is so low that only 10 out of 100 school age children actually complete secondary education on time. Only six out of 10 school children are capable of understanding what they read to help them become self-sufficient and productive.
This was blamed on the lack of basic learning tools, poverty, corruption; and shortage of competent teachers and sporadic armed conflicts.
Salonga recalls getting overwhelming support from Muslims down South when he ran for the Senate in 1965. “When I first ran for public office in the Senate, I got the highest vote from Mindanao as author of the Sabah claim. The Muslim congressmen were all out in supporting me. I was number-one in Mindanao,’’ he said.
Salonga, who recently received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for government service, continues to work for the cause of nation-building through citizens’ groups he founded, including Kilosbayan, Bantayog ng mga Bayani; and Bantay Katarungan.
Christian Muslim couple Armand and Annora Nocum, who started the ASG book-donation project, is now in Zamboanga City to distribute the first set of books to Muslim children living in Manicahan, a barrio believed to have a sizable number of Abu Sayyaf members. Manicahan, located 24-kilometers east of the city proper, is said to be the jump-off point to Sacol Island where the Abu Sayyaf is known to keep their kidnap victims.
Those who wish to support the ASG book-donation project could drop off their books at the Satti Grill House outlets at SM-Fairview Food Court, Quezon City; and at M.H. del Pilar Corner Padre Faura, Manila. Donors may call the Nocums at Contact Nos. 3393732, 7992745, 09195897879 and 09175208013. Donors may also log in at www.sattisfaction.blogspot.com.
Armand/ Ann Nocum
Oct. 26, 2008
Former Senate President Salonga turns over books to Armand Nocum of the A-Book-Saya Group (ASG) book-donation project. Looking on are lawyer Emilio Capulong Jr. (front left) and Lincoln Remolona (back left), executive director and executive assistant of Bantay Katarungan, respectively.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Assalamu Alaykum (Peace be with you)
We did it! We turned ``trash’’ of unused, discarded books into a treasure trove of goodwill and knowledge for hundreds of poor, war-shocked Muslim kids in Zamboanga City .
And we owe it all to you, dear friends, for writing about the A-Book-Saya Group (ASG) book-donation project in your columns, blogs;and as well as in helping us disseminate our message to your e-groups here and all over the world.
Some 400 students of the all-Muslim Manicahan Poblacion Elementary
School, Zamboanga City, received last Oct. 28 a total of 593 books, magazines and a set of encyclopedia which were donated by people in Metro Manila and Zamboanga City.
Apart from enlightening their minds, our gift of books touched their hearts. As pointed out by Masabiha Jumaani – a Muslim teacher – our book donation initiative has shown them that Christians in Metro Manila do have the heart for them.
“We’ve thought all along that our brethren in Metro Manila have forgotten us. These books have dispelled that wrong perception. Thank you for bridging the distance to tell us that our brothers and sisters in Metro Manila do care for Muslims in far Zamboanga,” Mrs. Jumaani said after receiving the books.
And for a group of neglected Filipinos who are reared to think that non-Muslims here in Metro Manila are monster and thus deserving of their bombs and bullets, Mrs. Jumaani’s words mean a lot.
So with our small, albeit insignificant gesture, we have not only planted the seed of knowledge for these kids to consider choosing books over guns; but we have also pricked their hearts a bit to see that people here in Metro Manila have hearts too.
That positive feeling is significant in the crucial moments when one of them do get to be recruited to join terrorist or rebel groups and is entrusted the task of bombing our buses and trains here. That positive feeling from their childhood may still stop them from detonating that bomb.
This was the reason we chose to distribute books to Manicahan because the area is believed to be the place where the Abu Sayyaf keeps kidnap victims. Manicahan, a barrio located 24 kilometers east of the city proper is also the ASG’s jump-off point to their lair in nearby Sacol Island . Unfortunately, security concerns prevented us from reaching the island itself.
But much remains to be done because Muslim kids were clamoring for more books. But let’s do more than that, let’s give them other discarded stuff like toys, used clothing, school supplies etc.
Let’s give more as the Christmas Season approaches. They will be happy and grateful for anything we could give them. Again, we thank you for helping us to disseminate this message.
As usual, donors may bring their stuff at the Satti Grill House outlets at SM-Fairview Food Court , Quezon City ; and at M.H. del Pilar Corner Padre Faura, Manila . Donors may call the Nocums at Contact Nos. 3393732, 7992745, 09195897879, 09175208013 or log on at www.sattisfaction.blogspot.com for more details.
Concerned Christian-Muslim Couple,
Armand & Annora Nocum
(This was the message we sent out to friends and ASG project supporters after coming from Zamboanga City)
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Here's the press release I wrote after distributing our first set of books in Zamboanga City. It feels great to bring smile to children whose fathers we always condemn but seldom understand. Read on and please open up your hearts to peace and understanding. I would like to thank our friends at the Malaya newspaper who published the story today.
Abu Sayyaf Kids Happy to Receive 593 Books from Metro Manila Folks
Some 400 Muslim elementary school students – many believed to be children of the Abu Sayyaf Group – received 593 books, magazines and a set of encyclopedias donated by people in Metro Manila through the A-Book-Saya Group (ASG) book-donation project last October 28.
Masabiha Jumaani – a Muslim teacher at the all-Muslim Manicahan Poblacion Elementary School – thanked the book-donors in Metro Manila for having the heart to look into the plight of the mostly poor students.
“We’ve thought all along that our brethren in Metro Manila have forgotten us. These books dispel that wrong perception. Thank you for bridging the distance to tell us that our brothers and sisters in Metro Manila do care for Muslims in far Zamboanga,” said Jumaani during a short program.
Annora Sahi Nocum, who led the book-giving, told the parents of the students that the ASG project is primarily aimed at showing Muslims that there is a peaceful way out of poverty and that their fellow Filipinos all over the country are willing to help them take the path of peace.
“Like many in Metro Manila, we used to merely complain and roll up our eyes when we hear the Abu Sayyaf and the MILF making trouble again. But we realized that the feeling of neglect is partly fuelling discontent among us Muslims; so we have tapped the generosity of good-hearted Christians in Metro Manila to show that we are here for you if you choose to pick books over guns,” said Annora, a Tausug Muslim.
Annora, who started the ASG project with Christian husband Armand, said they have decided to take the initiative of “flooding” Mindanao with books since merely complaining about the insurgency and terrorism problem in Mindanao will not solve it.
The Christian-Muslim couple chose the Manicahan Poblacion School because the area is fast becoming notorious as the place where the Abu Sayyaf keeps kidnap victims. Manicahan, which is located 24 kilometers east of the city proper, is also the ASG’s jump-off point to their lair in nearby Sacol Island.
While thankful for the books, School Principal Juliet M. Besas said that she hopes that people here would also help them get new schoolrooms, toilets, desks and chairs and help fill up the library they don’t have.
The Nocums promised to return soon with more books, used clothes, school supplies, medicines and other stuff to make the Muslim folks of Manicahan feel less detached and neglected by the government and the people in Metro Manila.
Those wishing to support the ASG book-donation project could drop off their books and other donations at the Satti Grill House outlets at SM-Fairview Food Court, Quezon City; and at M.H. del Pilar Corner Padre Faura, Manila. Donors may call the Nocums at Contact Nos. 3393732, 7992745, 09195897879 and 09175208013. Donors may also log in at www.sattisfaction.blogspot.com.