Parish helps expats reach out to Pasay’s poor

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PASAY City, Feb. 10, 2014—Since 2011, a group of expatriate business owners in Pasay has been playing “Santa Claus” to the city’s indigent residents.

What surprises the beneficiaries is that their benefactors are not even Christians — they are Chinese Buddhists.

Most recently on February 8 and 9, the donors handed over a total of 6,600 packs of goods, each including three kilos of rice and three canned foods.

This number is a considerable increase from the 1,550 packs given in 2013, said social worker Roselane Maala.

These foreign entrepreneurs, who wish to remain anonymous, had partnered with the Our Lady of Sorrows Outreach, Inc. Foundation (OLSOFI) on F. B. Harrison St., Brgy. 126 to assist them in their gift-giving effort.

But OLSOFI president and executive director Rev. Fr. Socrates C. Montealto of the Society of St. Paul (Latin: Societas Sancti Pauli, or SSP) believes these “mysterious” philanthropists are the same Chinese businessmen who keep shops in Cartimar, a popular commercial center in Pasay City’s Taft Avenue side.

Montealto explained that for the last three years the charitable expats have been reaching out to their Parish as part of a post-Chinese Lunar New Year tradition.

To ensure that the donations benefit only deserving families, Montealto said the Foundation regularly conducts surveys in the 26 barangays within the Parish’s jurisdiction from M. Santos to P. Campos (formerly Vito Cruz).

These surveys give them an idea who among their parishioners could qualify for a donation.

Montealto added that it is in keeping with a Buddhist custom which enjoins these Chinese “Santa Clauses” to help those “who have less in life”.

“Nakatutuwa talaga na bukas ang puso nila sa pagtulong kahit pa sa mga hindi nila kapanalig o kalahi… Labis-labis ang pasasalamat ko sa kanila,” the priest told the CBCP News in Filipino. (It really moves me that their generosity extends beyond the confines of their country and religion to help those who do not even share their beliefs and race… I cannot thank them enough.) (Raymond A. Sebastián)

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