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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Celebration of Life

Last 28 December, Monday, a most-loved woman gave her last goodbye. Mrs Carmen Casas-Manabat, Anihan Patrons President for the last ten years, passed away while lovingly surrounded by her children and grandchildren.

Tita Mameng being greeted by Anihan students on her birthday last 13 August 2009.
As everyone who knew her would agree, hers was a celebration of life. Widowed twenty-three years ago, when the youngest of her seven children was only thirteen, Tita Mameng joyfully embraced what life gave her and moved on to raising her children alone.

Her heart was so wonderfully big that she managed to still open it to many, many more people: she formed part of the Patrons Association of Anihan, the group of ladies who assist the school in looking for donations and in selling Anihan Goodies year after year; she supported the education of several priests in her diocese; she assisted micro-entrepreneurs by patronizing their products; she did whatever she possibly could to help others that the overflow of gratitude and love for her especially at her wake and funeral was edifying.

Here we publish parts of an article she wrote before 1997 wherein she shares the reasons for the joy she found in helping:

A PATRON'S WORK IS NEVER DONE
by Carmen Casas-Manabat

"Why do you keep doing this?"

"Aren't you ashamed of constantly going around like a beggar asking for money when you are already comfortably well-off?"

"What do your children have to say about this?"

It is true that I still feel embarrassment in my heart whenever I approach people for contribution and the feeling hasn't waned over time. Over and above the embarrassment, however, the conviction and faith in the ultimate goal of my task has grown ever stronger.

As an almost full-time patron of the Anihan Technical School, it is my job to knock on the doors of friends, associates, acquaintances, and even complete strangers to ask for donations and contributions to fund Anihan's subsistence, it being a non-profit, non-stock, non-governmental organization.

It takes a lot of nerve to do this, as I have learned over the years. Indeed, I've had more than my share of doors being slammed in my face. I've had the experience of being the butt of teasing and jokes. Friends tell me to my face that whenever they encounter me, they always expect to lose some money to some charitable project. My children do not say anything but I know they feel irritated and resentful when they hear these things being said about me or done to me. However, it is through these humbling experiences that I have developed the virtue of humility and have learned to be strong and resolute in my work in the service of God.

L-R: Grandchildren Francis and Emem Manabat, youngest son Tom Manabat,
Kayang Javier (Anihan Director), Tita Mameng Manabat,
Armine Pulgado (
Anihan Registrar), and Tita Mameng's daughter-in-law Jazzy (Tom's wife).
Photo taken at Anihan's 20th Anniversary fund-raising concert in 2006

This vocation became even more ingrained in my heart when I realized that my work helps improve the lives of financially disadvantaged young women. The donations that I and others solicit help Anihan continue to impart livelihood skills and spiritual guidance to those girls so they can develop into productive and morally upright citizens, proud of themselves and strengthened by their unbounded faith in God...

So am I ashamed to keep asking for money day in and day out even from people I don't know? I can only answer with a smile because in exchange for the embarrassment I go through, I receive rewards which are worth much, much more that money can buy. Words cannot describe the wonderful way I feel about my task. And with these thoughts firmly in my mind, I face people with confidence and boldness knowing that God is with me in my work.

With other dedicated and hardworking Anihan Patrons (1997)
Tita Mameng is standing at the right end of the middle row.
Thank you, Tita Mameng, for making us all a part of your shining life! We know that from where you are now, you continue as our patron, inspiring even more people to find the same joy and fulfillment in helping and serving others.

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