By Marecar Joanne Chan
Growing up in the Western society, I have inherited some of my values and traditions from the culture of my mother. My mother was born in the Philippines in the capital city of Manila, however was raised on an island in the province of Southern Leyte. Born into a family the youngest of 5, my grandmother did not have the sufficient funds to support my mother through her education. A tradition within in my family includes providing support through establishing an agreement to pay for a student’s school tuition fees and in return, the student would live and work for the person or family supporting them.
My mother and her siblings are the product of this cultural form of giving. As a young girl, my mother moved to Southern Leyte to live with a family that would be able to afford to fund her education and in return, she lived with the family and assisted them with household chores. These household chores would include cooking, cleaning, babysitting, and assisting with general house work.
This is a form of giving in a sense that the family that supported my mother did not necessarily need the outside assistance to complete everyday tasks. The family created work for my mother at a very young age, which allowed her to receive an education that would not have been available to her due to her lack of resources. Instead of simply giving her the money to fund her education, through taking her in, they have relieved her family from the expenses of raising her and created an honest way to earn money. In this way, this is a diverse form of giving that empowers the people of the community. Rather than seeing the money as a handout or welfare, creating a job allows people to work and feel the satisfaction of earning a living.
Today, my aunt and her husband live in the same province. With no children of their own to support, they have taken in a little girl from their community to fund her education in the same way it was done for my mother. In a household of two, my aunt and her husband do not require the extra assistance with cooking and cleaning, however being able to afford her education provides her with greater opportunities in life. Opening their home to this little girl, allows her the chance to receive an education, pursue her dreams, and later support her own family.
Philanthropy in this form includes members of the community supporting their community to provide a better quality of life. Through funding a community member’s education, they are creating sustainable development that benefits the person, their family, and their future. The people with the available funds are donating to sustain and improve the human resources in an area, which is a different practice than investing in only physical resources. Through this philanthropic tradition, people with greater means are able to support their community and empower the people that live within it.
J, Chan, personal communication, September 27, 2013.