Saturday, March 8, 2008

'Queen' enthroned for helping Maranao poor

The inquirer report details the story of this Muslim lady who devotes her life to looking after thousands of poor in Lanao, and the victims of war that flared up in the region and other neighboring provinces eight years ago. Now she is being honored by those she has helped by being “queened” in her province.

36-year-old Baicon Macaraya set aside the glitter of the law profession in favor of a life of service to her war-weary province in Mindanao. She became the founding chair of the youth organization, Bangsamoro Youth-Ranao Center for Peace and Development. She oversaw the daily needs of thousands of evacuees staying in schools. Her group handled the reconstruction of about 500 houses, six mosques and five schools destroyed by the fighting in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur. She helped launch the advocacy group, Mothers for Peace, to push for an end to the conflict in Mindanao because women and children are the greatest casualties of war. Macaraya is now involved with the United Nations World Food Program, touring schools to distribute rice, to make sure children stay in school and to address the food security needs of people living in conflict-affected areas.

Towards the end of the story we get a glimpse of how this remarkable lady developed a golden heart for the poor and oppressed. She simply learned from her parents the value of charity and compassion. She vividly recalls an incident when one night her father returned home from work with a bag of rotten tomatoes he had bought from an old vendor. "I asked him why he did not buy the good ones. He told me that if he did not buy them, the old man would have stayed longer out on the streets selling tomatoes," she said. Her mother, on the other hand, believes in simple acts of charity. Her mother would always cook extra food for unexpected visitors. "She would also always eat last to make sure everybody has enough. Those simple things really instilled in us the value of helping others," she said.

This is a refreshing story amidst all the depressing news nowadays. Today’s Filipino Christians should learn a thing or two here, most especially the lasting mark of parents - the very thing that struck me most in this moving story.

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