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Start 2014 by paying it forward

Winter Wonderland, Korea, Manila Bulletin

Winter Wonderland in Korea! I can’t feel my legs!

The movie “Pay It Forward” shown 14 years ago drastically changed the way I think about things. It’s about a 12-year-old boy who was given an assignment by his Social Studies teacher to think of something to change the world and put it into action. The boy decides that if he can do three good deeds to someone and they, in turn, can “pay it forward” and so on, positive changes can occur. He pays a favor not back, but forward – repaying good deeds not with payback, but with new good deeds. The boy’s efforts to make good on his idea revolutionized not only his and his mother’s life, but those of an ever-widening circle of people completely unknown to him.

I was invited by my friend Marnie Gelacio Han to do a benefit concert for the “Yolanda” survivors in Iloilo which she helped organize with a brilliant Filipino scholar in Seoul, Joel Closa. Air Asia which flies daily Incheon-Manila-Incheon was so kind to sponsor our tickets so we were able to raise money for three fishing lifeboats, thus helping build the livelihood of three families in Iloilo. It was not much compared to the P8 million Resorts World Manila earned in our concert for the “Yolanda” survivors but it was a good start for the year 2014.

Filipinos in Seoul, Marnie Gelacio Han, Manila Bulletin

I would like to thank the Filipinos in Seoul, Korea especially Marnie Gelacio Han, the black-haired lady to my right and Joel Closa, the tanned tall Filipino behind me for helping me pay it forward this 2014

It was negative 5 degrees in Seoul but the cold winter air did not stop the Filipinos from filling the seats and enjoying my comedy and songs. Marnie Han was so inspired with the turnout that she produced an additional show in the Songdo International District. She added on the marquee the names of Korean celebrity performers Makkoli Men, a group of international expats with a huge following in Korea; and the Chosen Few, a K-pop boy band; and her loving celebrity Korean Saxophonist Seongman “Dave” Han. The performers agreed to perform for free as well with proceeds of the concert going to the reconstruction of some homes in Siempreviva, Iloilo which was greatly affected by the “Yolanda” storm. It was an honor performing with big name celebs in Korea. It was a good trip and my kids totally enjoyed sleding at Incheon Grand Park and watching the fireworks on New Year’s Day in Everland. I was content hugging my husband in the winter cold and helping families in Iloilo build their lives again.

I now challenge my readers to pay it forward, too. Give food to a beggar or help your household help’s family have a small business in their province or sponsor a child to go to school (a 500 peso donation in Unicef can send a child to school already).

Even an act of kindness without any money involved is paying it forward. Start 2014 right and good karma will come back to you, believe me!