By PERCY A OSTONAL
I'VE BEEN a long-time friend to husband and wife Ron and Emma Casquejo of Riverview, Michigan, dating back since the early 90s.
We were fellow members and officers of the Brownstown Lions Club.
And just like them, I have been associated with Downriver Filipino-American Association of Michigan for quite sometime.
Through the years, both these civic and social clubs have held fundraisings of sort -- from Lions Club's annual "white cane" corner streets money solicitation and generating financial resources thru special occasions like summer, pre-winter, Valentine, Halloween to Christmas and induction of officers and new members parties.
Downriver Filipino-American Association of Michigan (DFAA of Michigan) likewise staged yuletide house caroling for "well-off" friends and relatives to boost its charity money reserves for humanitarian, community and civic-oriented projects.
In so many countless times and occasions, the Casquejos have been part of these fundraising events and in 2009, together with the US-based medical volunteers and DFAA of Michigan delegation, held medical missions in Cordova, Cebu City.
They were also part of the large group of medical professionals in Floridablanca, Pampanga in February of 2013 .
Requoting Ron's Facebook timeline on July 2009, this was what he said: “This video, although depicting an event that occurred six months ago, is as as current as today's headlines … Michael Jackson's "Heal the World" aptly express the essence of a medical mission, just one way to make their world a better place to live in." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUuv6sm7x2k
At this mercy medical mission, their son Rob accompanied them and had his first hand experience of "what's like" extending a helping hand to the sick children and adults.
"We knew, it was awakening moments for him,” said Ron.
Then, in November 8, 2013 came the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record "Haiyan" (Yolanda in the Philippines), claiming some 6,201 lives and inflicting massive damage to properties as well as catastrophic destruction affecting some 11 million people; many have been left homeless per UN officials statement.
Foreign aids and assistance came in sizeable volume and humanitarian support and solidarity across the globe was something unheard of before.
The CNN website reported: "With sustained winds of 315kph (195 mph) and gusts as strong as 380kph (235 mph), Haiyan was probably the strongest tropical cyclone to hit land anywhere in the world in recorded history.
“The storm plowed across the cluster of islands in the heart of the country and brought tremendously power winds roaring ashore as it made landfall in the Eastern Visayas disrupting communications with a major city in its path".
The island provinces of Samar and Leyte were directly hit hard by this exceptionally powerful tropical cyclone and the irony about it is that the Philippine government’s best effort to handle the situation was severely described as "not good enough” specially from its own people.
On January 11, 2014, Ron on his Facebook Timeline wrote:
Dear friends and relatives:
Rob Casquejo ... following in his parents' footsteps
Though it was ACIM and the Society of St Paul’s eighth mission in the Philippines, it was their first in a disaster zone ever.
Of the many nationalities that volunteered (mostly Europeans, French-speaking and Australians) Rob Casquejo, a Filipino-American formerly of the state of Michigan and currently based in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA, joined them, took a 26 hours trip to Manila via Taipei and on January 18, 2014 around 4pm, with 100lbs of medicine he personally bought and transported (several forms of antibiotics specific to dermatology care-in fungal, bacterial viral and anti-infestations) small amount of personal provisions and his professional training, skills and job orientation as Physician Assistant, arrived in Tacloban City.
"Rob did it by himself, he just asked us here in Michigan for donations from anyone else who wished extending help to our "kababayans" back in Tacloban City .
“Emma and myself are so proud of our son, it's really just like saying "piety and charity begins a home" and undoubtedly, though born, raised and educated in America, we, his parents and our country of origin the Philippines, seemingly his home as well, are proud of his unequivocal compassionate heart for the victims,” Ron said in parting.
(Sources of information courtesy of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, CNN -. Super typhoon Haiyan, one of strongest storms ever, hits Central Philippines, by Jethro Mullen , CNN updated 3:44 AM EST. Friday, November 8, 2013, courtesy of CNN. Aliza Kassim, Karen Smith, Elwyn lopez, Judy won, Taylor Ward, Brandon Miller, Ivan Cabrera and Mari Ramos contributed to this report )