POSTSCRIPT / August 10, 2014 / Sunday


Opinion Columnist

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An act of charity begets another

REACTIONS: Our Postscript on how Filipino hospitality saved 1,300 Jews from the Holocaust struck a chord among many readers who sent their own capsule stories of how one act of charity begets another. (See:

A reader from Australia who asked that his name not be published said:

The last portion of your article cited the legendary Filipino hospitality and mentioned the Vietnamese refugees who were settled in Morong, Bataan.

“I am attaching two photos I took (maybe late November or early December 2013) when I accompanied my wife to a Vietnamese market in a place called Inala in Brisbane, Australia. Note in the photos that they were raising funds for victims of typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) since there were signs in English.

“What caught my attention was an old gentleman speaking through a loudspeaker not in English but in Vietnamese. After he spoke, someone translated to English what he said. He was saying that when their people were fleeing Vietnam on rickety boats, one of the countries that opened their border to them was the Philippines.

“He even mentioned the processing center in Morong where many Vietnamese had temporary homes prior to their eventual settlement to other countries like Australia. He said that while in Morong, they were treated kindly whenever they encountered Filipinos.

“He exhorted the stallholders and market goers who were mostly Vietnamese that an opportunity has come to ‘give back’ to a country that welcomed and hosted them in their time of need.” (But I insist that our correspondent be recognized even by just his nickname Nel. – fdp)

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CHINESE MIGRANTS: As other readers commented on our readiness to help other peoples in distress, including some Russians for example, we are reminded of the thousands of Chinese who fled the mainland after the communists overran it in 1949.

While a great number went to Taiwan, which the retreating Kuomintang established as the new seat of Republic of China, many of them took up residence in nearby Manila. In our usual hospitality, we opened the door to these neighbors on the run.

Many Chinese who settled in Manila, especially those bringing with them capital and business acumen, later made it big in their adopted home. Some of them are now taipans with global investments, even in mainland China.

One happy angle is that their children, while retaining their basic Chinese culture, have embraced their adopted country enough to think and act like Filipinos.

The sad part is that China, the communist dragon running amuck in the waters between us, has been aggressively gobbling up islets and resource-rich areas in the fringes of sovereign Philippine territory.

That is not fair of Beijing. That is not neighborly.

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MORE FEEDBACK: Among the other readers who wrote in —

• Ricky Castillo: “I read your column about how Filipinos helped Jewish refugees in WWII and a movie that will be shown to showcase this historical fact that very few people are aware of, so just wanted to ask if this will be shown to the larger public? (The story will be retold soon in the upcoming film “Manilaners”. – fdp)

“Reason for my interest is that I was raised in Israel and the Holocaust was something that was consistently imbedded in our minds. To learn that Filipinos had a hand in saving so many lives is something that I find pride in as a Filipino.”

• Chuchayjv: “Your article strikes a chord in current events. If the Philippines was able to offer hospitality to the Jews who were persecuted then, maybe the Philippines can once again offer hospitality/asylum to the Christians who have been driven out of Mosul (in northern Iraq) and have nowhere to go.

“As we are a predominantly Christian/Catholic country, it would be a welcome gesture and a nice present for Pope Francis when he visits the Philippines next year.”

• Ed Tirona: “Wonderful story on the Jewish and Indochinese refugees. But there was another not so well known group of European refugees the Philippine government accepted back in 1945.

“These were the Russians from Shanghai who fled to China after the Bolshevik Revolution, but many of them were businessmen from Vladivostok as well. After they fled Shanghai, the Philippine government settled the group of over 3,000 on an island off Guiuan, Eastern Samar, where they stayed for about three years before moving on to America and other western countries.”

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HASSLES OF THE TRADE: One other feedback was about some embarrassing misspelling in my Aug. 3 Postscript on rumors in Manila about coups and such.

Bert de Guzman politely pretended not to know when he asked if the “kaffeklatschs” in my column was right. Of course it was wrong, but what can I do after it saw print for the whole world to gawk at?

I emailed Bert back: “The correct word is ‘kaffeeklatsches’ (plural). But as I said in my followup column, it was my first rough draft that was inadvertently published with the misspellings and shoddy construction. The slips were corrected and some awkward sentences smoothed out in the final copy. See at:

When I travel I usually dash off drafts to the office ahead of deadline to make sure that if anything untoward happens they have some ready materials from me. These first drafts are rough, so I later find time (if I still can) to do a fast rewrite and email them wherever I can find a wi-fi area.

“This routine is fraught with risks, like when the name of the US ambassador and the German-derived word kaffeeklatsch were initially misspelled.

“This is one difference between print and broadcast media. Print journalists are nailed forever to whatever comes out on the printed page. But on radio-tv, if for instance a diplomat’s name is misspelled, nobody notices once the announcer pronounces it correctly. Neither is it a catastrophe if ‘kaffeeklatsch’ is incorrectly spelled in the script as long as the news reader pronounces it right.”

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of August 10, 2014)

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