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.
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“Want to keep Christ on Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.” – Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience
They may be wealthy and famous but it doesn’t mean they don’t care about other people. In fact, they lend their names and even share their time and talent to help the needy and those who need compassion.
That is what martial arts actor Jet Li has been doing since his near-death experience during the devastating tsunami in 2004. “Up to then, I had spent the first 41 years of my life thinking of Jet Li: Jet Li number one. But now I thought, ‘However powerful, however famous, in that moment it cannot help you’,” he told Reader’s Digest, which has chosen him as its Asian of the Year 2009.
Li, if you care to know, got his screen name in 1982 in the Philippines when a publicity company thought his real name (Li Lianjie) was too hard to pronounce and people may not remember it.
Three years after the harrowing tsunami incident in Maldives, the actor launched his own non-profit foundation called The One Foundation. And it was for this reason why the prestigious international magazine handpicked him over several other contenders.
“The One Foundation supports international disaster relief efforts in conjunction with the Red Cross as well as other efforts, including mental health awareness and suicide prevention,” Wikipedia stated. It has been involved with recovery efforts in seven disasters, including the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and Typhoon Morakot in Taiwan.
“We have always strived to put out ordinary people on a pedestal and pull celebrities back down to earth,” wrote Jim Plouffe, who was then the editor-in-chief. “Recognizing Li as our Asian of the Year lets us do both.”
Another Chinese actor who is doing the same thing is Jackie Chan, one of the most recognizable and influential cinematic personalities in the world. In fact, the Forbes magazine named his as one of the top 10 most charitable celebrities.
When he was born in Hong Kong, hisrefugee parents from the Chinese Civil War couldn’t afford the hospital bill or food for him. In fact, he was almost sold to a British doctor for US$200
“I was born into a poor family, and I stayed at an opera martial arts school for ten years,” he recalls. “Every month, the Red Cross would come, and we would wait in line for clothes, shoes or milk powder.”
One day, a priest gave him some milk. He thanked the priest, who replied with these words: “Don’t thank me. When you’re grown up, you will help other people.”
In 1988, Chan founded the Jackie Chan Charitable Foundation which offers scholarship to young people of Hong Kong and provides aid to victims of natural disasters or having health problems. In 2005, he created the Dragon Heart Foundation to help children and the elderly in remote areas of China by building schools, providing books, fees, and uniforms for children. It also provides for the elderly with donations of warm clothing, wheelchairs and other items.
Wikipedia shares this information: “(Jackie Chan) has championed charitable works and causes. He has campaigned for conservation, against animal abuse and has promoted disaster relief efforts for floods in mainland China and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.”
In the United States, one of Hollywood actors who launched his own foundation is Oscar-winning Leonardo DiCaprio. “Clean air, water and a livable climate are inalienable human rights,” said the environmentalist actor who’s a vegetarian. “And solving this crisis is not a question of politics, it is a question of our own survival.”
Perhaps not too many knew that the American actor worked with 24 orphaned children from the SOS Children’s Village in Maputo, Mozambique during the filming of Blood Diamond. In 2010, he donated US$1 million to relief efforts in Haiti after the earthquake. He also donated US$1 million to the United Way Harvey Recovery Fund through his foundation after Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
Another environmental activist who also happens to be an actor is Harrison Ford as he is the vice-chairman of Conservation International (CI). Its intent is to protect nature. In 2002, the famed entomologist Edward O. Wilson named a new ant species Pheidole harrisonfordi in recognition of the actor’s work as vice-chair of CI.
“Since 1992, Ford has lent his voice to a series of public service messages promoting environmental involvement for EarthShare, an American federation of environmental and conservation charities,” Wikipedia reports. “He has acted as a spokesperson for Restore Hetch Hetchy, a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring Yosemite National Park’s Hetch Hetchy Valley to its original condition.”
Multi-awarded Meryl Streep, who received 21 Academy Award nominations and winning three Oscar trophies, is involved in various charities and foundations. Just to name a few: American Foundation for AIDS Research, Artists for Peace and Justice, Equality Now, Girl Up, Healthy Child Healthy World, Heifer International, Stand Up to Cancer, The Rainforest Foundation, and Women in the World Foundation.
Among the causes Streep fully support include abuse, cancer, children, creative arts, disaster relief, education, environment, health, human rights, hunger, literacy, poverty, rape/sexual abuse, slavery and human trafficking.
“I try not to buy plastic bottles anymore,” she told OnEarth Magazine. “When I do, I look at the bottom to see if it’s recyclable.”
Let’s go back in time when Abraham Lincoln was still alive. One incident happened during one of his frequent visits to a hospital for soldiers. He would walk from ward to ward and cheer and sympathize with the patients. He came to the bedside of a young soldier who was dying and he asked, “Well, my boy, what can I do for you?”
The lad looked up and expressed a wish: “Will you write to my mother for me?” “That I will,” Lincoln agreed and called for paper and pen. He sat down beside the cot and wrote what the boy dictated. Finished, he turned to the boy and said, “I’ll mail this from my office as soon as I get back. And now, is there anything else I can do?” The boy looked up, hesitated, and finally blurted out, “Could you stay with me? I want you to hold my hand.”
Lincoln did until he died some hours later.
Nathan C. Schaefer said it well: “At the close of life, the question will be: not how much have you got but how much have you given? Not how much you have 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?”