Legacy smile

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

As many of us approach the final quarter of life, the term “Legacy” often comes into our conversations. “Legacy” is an attractive topic because having a legacy means you did something good for others or for society or that your intentional choices and contributions became life-changing for others.

The problem people have when talking about “Legacy” is that they get stuck in the details, such as when to work on a legacy, the size or price/value of the legacy and if people will really appreciate it. As a result, most people smile and leave the table and leave the discussion hanging as if it was just something to pass the time away with.

For others, leaving a legacy is also a luxury. Many Filipinos don’t have the time or the money to reflect on goodwill activities and programs because they don’t have the money and they don’t have the time. At least that’s what they think or imagine.

The fact is we Filipinos are generous, charitable and compassionate. Even foreigners are amazed by such positive character that it has become an actual selling point for Philippine tourism. Where we get bogged down is in our idea of how much and how big is needed in order to leave a legitimate or valid legacy. Most people think you need to have millions and millions of pesos or dollars in order to leave a respectable legacy.

I blame this on the American and Filipino-Chinese philanthropists and their PR people who paraded and heralded the buildings, halls, schools, universities, scholarship programs costing millions of pesos “donated” as part of a legacy. There was even a point when Filipino-Chinese businessmen turned philanthropy into a competition. Ironically, the name of malls have more name recall than the halls or buildings in universities.

Sadly, the same thing happened in the academe, sciences, politics, etc. Programs eventually had peso signs and decimals attached to them, or became a source of income or bragging rights. Legacies of excellence became marketing tools instead of blessings for people. Eventually, people and companies disqualified themselves from the contest that never had any rules, just a lot of misimpressions.

Allow me to share a story about the legacy of smile. There is this young man named Jon in the province of Batangas who had spent many years working as a farmhand. He was earning above minimum, had his own room, free food, medical coverage, etc. His employer actually encouraged him to enroll in the Distance Learning program of the DepEd and just before graduation, he told his employer that he was planning to go back home to Panay and find work on Boracay Island.

His employer felt sad but glad that Jon aspired to find greener pastures closer to home and agreed that he should give it a shot. Before letting him go, the employer offered to send him to a dentist to have his teeth looked at and perhaps fixed, to make him more presentable to tourists and guests. Jon went for the check-up and the dentist said that eight teeth had to be pulled out over a period of three weeks, 10 teeth filled with dentures to be fit by the 3rd month. The entire cost would be P50,000.

This meant that Jon would have to delay his departure by three weeks, will not be allowed to do heavy work during the teeth extraction period and return to the dentist sometime August. While P50,000 was a chunk of cash, Jon’s employers believed that it would increase his self-confidence and increase his employability. It would certainly be a costly “going away present” but in their mind, they could only imagine the smile Jon would make every time he saw the new him in the mirror wherever he was.

The question was, if the young man would be willing to postpone his plans since he was so set on going to Boracay, not to mention that he may be too embarrassed to let his employers foot the bill. The story has a happy ending, of course.

Jon was so shocked and thrilled that his employers were going to spend so much money even when he already told them he was leaving. He went to the dentist for the first half of extractions, has agreed to stay for the remainder of the procedures and was so overwhelmed that he decided not to leave his employers.

Whether it’s P50,000 for dental work and dentures, P500,000 spread over four years divided into quarterly payments to finance the nursing education of an indigent student or setting up “food gardens” or distributing a pair of comb and scissors, what makes it a legacy is not the money but the changed lives.

During the pandemic, many young people and students benefitted from Legacy makers who gave free data or load on small phones. Others gave out electronic tablets, phones and others set-up Free WiFi stations. It was never about the technology but about investing in the future of strangers who could not pay it back.

Legacy thinking and planning need not be complicated or expensive. Like we say in Victory Christian Fellowship church, “You can either be a giver, a goer or a sender.” Many teachers and doctors are leaving legacies in changed lives and the same can be said for missionaries, pastors and church workers. Whatever your faith or religion may be, if the church or organization you belong to benefits or blesses you or transformed you, then you are now their legacy.

Strangers introduced me to the Lord Jesus Christ. That in turn has transformed me to help strangers just like me. Start there.

*      *      *

E-mail: [email protected]


  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with