(Moved from my old blog)
I was in a bus bound for Manila.
I received a call. He asked me if I’d be willing to be part of a team who produces a documentary-drama for TV5. I’d be a researcher.
I accepted the challenge because I thought I had no choice. I’d been looking for a job for a month and I thought I could settle into something less than what I wanted. I aspired to be a reporter but after being declined by a less known TV network, I felt disappointed, almost shattered.
Maybe it’s time to just let fate lead the way.
The guy asked me where I studied and if I’m willing to be trained. After a brief interview, he introduced me to a lady, who will be my segment producer. She is nice and accommodating. She told me about the show. It’s entitled Ako Mismo, a one-hour docu-drama hosted by 2009 CNN hero Efren Peñaflorida. We would need profiles like him, who are selfless and inspiring. Someone with dramatic story of struggle and heroism.
I reviewed the case studies initially featured and saw a pattern. Most of the recent profiles were founders of non-governmental organizations who have unique ways of helping their members.
I found out about Binhi ng Pag-asa, an organization of released prisoners who are striving for society’s re-acceptance. Ex-convicts experience being rejected on job applications, being stared at, being feared of. No difference from the shame and difficult life inside. They plead for a second chance, understanding and reconsideration. Because society is not ready for it, Binhi ng Pag-asa gives them hope by providing them with livelihood so they can be self-reliant. They make and sell sculptures, candles and souvenirs.
I went to Caritas in Manila to meet one of them. We talked for hours. He narrated how he got into jail and was sentenced life imprisonment. He told me how he atoned for the mistakes he was accused of. His father died of heart attack and his wife loved someone else. He seldom got visitors in prison so he would desperately send a letter to himself asking, “How are you doing?” to show his fellow inmates that he’s also remembered.
He almost gave up to life until he was involved in the religious teachings. He taught Catechism for years. He was granted a parole and was released. But life outside wasn’t as easy as he thought it would be.
He founded Binhi ng Pag-asa to create second chance, which at first, didn’t exist.
I never thought his story will be the first story I’d share and forever remember.