On His Majesty’s Service

Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol of the Department of Agriculture

LIFE’S LESSONS

Henrylito D. Tacio

Mr. Tacio, who hails from Davao, is a correspondent of the Asian edition of Reader’s Digest. He is the first and only Filipino journalist to have been elevated to the Hall of Fame in science reporting by the Philippine Press Institute. In 1999, the Rotary Club of Manila bestowed him the Journalist of the Year award. He is also East Asia’s contributing editor of the People & the Planet based in London.

For comments, henrytacio@gmail.com


Recently, Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol of the Department of Agriculture was buying some durian fruits in a stall located in a highway. When the vendor saw him, she inquired: “How do I call you, sir: Gov. or Sec?”

In his Facebook wall, Piñol wrote: “Obviously, (she was) referring to the title of Governor which I held in North Cotabato for nine years and my current position.” He went on: “The vendor knows me personally because she reminded me that as Governor, I worked for the safe surrender of her brother, a former Communist cadre.”

Piñol told her: “Don’t be so concerned with my titles. These are temporary. Call me by my name because that’s how you have known me.”

The agriculture secretary shared this thought: “Indeed, why should we be so arrogant about our titles when on the day we return to the ground, our tombstones will be so small that it could not possibly list down our achievements, our titles or academic degrees.

Piñol said titles are earthly and temporary. “That slab of marble will only tell our names, the dates of our birth and death and three more letters: RIP. So be quiet about who you are…” he pointed out.

Several people commented. But of those that struck me most was this: “I used to work for Philippine Air Lines and when I issued an airline ticket many will tell me to write their titles like Ex-Mayor or Ex-Governor or Atty. (It’s very) seldom that a doctor will demand a title before their names.”

Titles, I believe, are given to people in order for them to be identified immediately. Take the case of doctors. On my way from the United States to the Philippines, the pilot announced if there was a doctor in the plane. The reason: one of the passengers was having a stroke and he needed immediate attention.

Lawyers are given the title attorney because they are supposed to prove that their clients are not guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Hollywood movies like “And Justice for All” and “A Few Good Men” gave us some ideas that there are good and bad lawyers, indeed.

Politicians are chosen by their constituents in order to serve the people who have chosen them. The title “honorable” doesn’t mean that they are to be served by their constituents but rather to serve those who selected them in the first place. But unfortunately, instead of doing their jobs, some of them even exploit those who elected them and even rob the money that should have been given to those who have less in life.

We are born into this world because of one reason – and that is to serve humanity, our fellow beings. “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,” said Mahatma Gandhi, the preeminent leader of Indian nationalism in British-ruled India. “The successful man doesn’t use others, other people use the successful man, for above all the success is of service,” noted American writer Mark Caine.

American poet Emily Dickinson has penned some lines about service: “If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain,” she wrote. “If I can ease one life the aching, or cool one pain, or help one fainting robin unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain.”

In 1908, Eugene V. Debs delivered one of the most eloquent speeches. “Now my friends,” he said, “I am opposed to the system of society in which we live today, not because I lack the natural equipment to do for myself but because I am not satisfied to make myself comfortable knowing that there are thousands of my fellow men who suffer for the barest necessities of life.

“We were taught under the old ethic that man’s business on this earth was to look out for himself. That was the ethic of the jungle; the ethic of the wild beast. Take care of yourself, no matter what may become of your fellow man.

“Thousands of years ago the question was asked; ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ That question has never yet been answered in a way that is satisfactory to civilized society.”

The American union leader, one of the founding members of the Industrial Workers of the World, continued his speech: “Yes, I am my brother’s keeper. I am under a moral obligation to him that is inspired, not by any maudlin sentimentality but by the higher duty I owe myself. What would you think me if I were capable of seating myself at a table and gorging myself with food and saw about me the children of my fellow beings starving to death.”

“Giving kids clothes and food is one thing but it’s much more important to teach them that other people besides themselves are important, and that the best thing they can do with their lives is to use them in the service of other people,” said Dolores Huerta, a labor leader and civil rights activist.

Hannah More, an English religious writer and philanthropist, says that even a smallest act you do is a great service to the person who receives it. “One kernel is felt in a hogshead; one drop of water helps to swell the ocean; a spark of fire help to give light to the world. None are too small, too feeble, too poor to be of service. Think of this and act,” she points out.

When you serve others, do it with open heart and gladness. A businesswoman stopped at a coffee shop and ordered a cup of coffee. The waitress grudgingly delivered it and asked, “Anything else?”

“Yes,” said the businesswoman. “I’d like some sugar, cream, a spoon, a napkin, and a saucer for the cup.”

“Well, aren’t you the demanding one,” snapped the waitress.

“Look at it from my point of view,” said the businesswoman. “You served a cup of coffee and made five mistakes.”

Just want kind of service did the waitress render? Your answer is as good as mine.

But remember the words of Nathan C. Scheaffer. He wrote: “At the close of life, the question will be not how much have you got but how much have you given? Not how much have you won but how much have you done? Not how much have you saved but how much have you sacrificed? It will be how much have you loved and served, not how much were you honored?”

That is the kind of service our Majesty – that Someone Up There – requires us to do!

May 2018 Health and Lifestyle

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