No to Self and Yes to those Suffering: True Bayanihan the Harris Way

Amid Lockdown & Covid-19 Crisis

When you yourself are affected by artificial confinement wrought by a deadly contagion, thinking of your own welfare is but normal, and your neighbors maybe the last thing you worry about.

Not true for a lot of Filipinos, and definitely NOT applicable in the case of Harris Memorial College.

After realizing that near the vicinity of the school lived poorer families, Harris faculty, teachers, staff and school administrators, without any hesitation, agreed to forget about rest and recreation (R&R) slated this summer 2020. This R&R is part of the benefits of full time employees, something they deserve after dealing with the demands and challenges of the academe for the entire school year.

Thanks to technology, particularly through a group chat created by Mary Jane Andes, employees signified their desire to reach out to the most affected by the lockdown.

And the response was quick and unanimous. No qualms to give up a much-needed rest.

So the funds, totaling P137,800.00, were set aside for this timely bayanihan, a reflection of true Christian witness that is reminiscent of a similar act of compassion demonstrated by Jesus when faced with the hungry and destitute men, women, and who had come to listen to him. Additionally, some employees gave personal donations.

Packing of goods for the beneficiaries – a total of 185 food packs – was done by the Harris Bayanihan Team on March 28.

A very organized distribution took place the following day from 6:00 am to 10:30am through Harris’ own front-liners led by Pastor Binuya, Sheila, Dr. Ruby Leah, Lovelyn, Gina, Rachelle, Xerxes, Juliet, Virgie and Rommel and with the help of PTF officers Sarah Llagas  and Jenny Manabat and Harris’ guards, under the leadership of Dr. Cristina N. Manabat, President of Harris Memorial College. The recipients were reached with the assistance of Barangay Dolores officials.

There were 145 indigent families, residing in Pinesville and Melendres Creekside, who received two big ecobags of rice and groceries. Likewise, the families of guards, maintenance personnel and drivers of Harris were given similar food packs. The remaining food packs are reserved as food supply for the guards who stay on campus during the lockdown, and to others who are in great need.

Carrying bags of goods enough for one week, the grateful residents also had with them a reminder of the great love of God for humanity via the bookmarks containing verses about hope and the school’s logo and the reminder “Jesus Cares, Harris Cares.” It was designed by Princess Urbina, and put into bookmark form by Gina Caleja, with the help of Rachelle Labasan and Dr. Ruby Leah Lising.

Gerwin Magana, a resident of Creekside, said, “Thank you po sa relief goods na binigay nyo sa mga taga Creekside. Malakeng tulong po ito para sa ameng lahat. Lalo na po ngayong crisis. Nawa po pagpalain po kayo ng Diyos at madame pa po kayong matulungan. Maraming salamat po ulet.” (Thank you for the relief goods that were given to the residents of Creekside. It’s a big help especially during this time of crisis. May God bless you and enable you to help more. Thank you once again.)

Another recipient, Kevin Brazal, said, “Maraming salamat po sa tulong na iibinigay nyo. Nadagdag po ito sa araw-araw na pagkain namen. Sana po maraming blessings pa po ang dumating sa Harris at sa mga nasasakupan nito. God bless po.” (Thank you so much for the help that you have extended. It’s an addition to what we need for daily consumption. We wish more blessings on the part of Harris and its staff.)

For the institution, bringing excellent education to the people of Taytay and its environs is just one side of the coin called “educating the whole person for Christlikeness”, not forgetting the equally important act of educating through Christian witness. As if hearing Jesus repeating Himself in telling the disciples to “give them something to eat” (Matt. 14: 16, NIV), the entire Harris family did not say, Lord, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”(John 6: 7, NIV), but perhaps remembered Jehovah Jireh’s reminder to Moses to use whatever was in his hand – his staff.

Thus, the little that Harris employees had, the Lord multiplied to benefit the less fortunate, who during and after the distribution of five (5) kilos of rice, some canned goods, and other supplies, were all beaming and kept repeating their heart-felt “Salamat po” and “Maraming salamat po sa inyo.” Those words were meant well, especially coming from fathers and mothers who would not know where to get the next meal at this time of enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.

“Literally, they are our neighbors who need God’s care and love, put into concrete action,” said Dr. Manabat. “It is our way of witnessing, of doing mission and service to the least, the last and the lost. May God bless and use this humble effort to touch and transform the lives of the recipients of these food packs.”

According to Dr. Manabat, the outreach was Harris’ “love offering to God for sending to us His greatest offering – our Lord Jesus Christ – who freely and willingly offered his life for all peoples to have a better quality of life on earth as it is in heaven. All for God’s glory.”

The bayanihan outreach was in itself an act of worship, and as Paul aptly said, true religion is caring for the widows and orphans – people who are helpless and defenseless, and serving “these little ones”, in Harris’ own little way, is no doubt serving Christ.