One More Reason to Heart This Place: Finding Apalit in New York – Day 2

News, Events and Second Glances

It’s safe to say that if there’s one place in the world I so terribly miss, it’s the Ang Dating Daan Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga.

Believers from the Add Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga wake up to a special day -- Day 2 of MCGI's International Thanksgiving. Photo Credit: Rovic Balunsay, PVI

Believers from the Add Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga wake up to a special day — Day 2 of MCGI’s International Thanksgiving. Photo Credit: Rovic Balunsay, PVI

Every so often, I would regale myself with memories of ADD Con – traveling by bus very early in the morning from Baclaran to get to Apalit, smelling the freshly cooked arroz caldo and champorado from nearby vendors, walking the aisles of the convention center to find the perfect seat, singing at the wide stage with the rest of the brethren, the jamming sessions after the international thanksgiving celebrations.

And of course, the people I share those memories with.

By fate, it seems, I’ve found myself living in America. And though I am thousands of miles away from that special place in Apalit, somehow, I have stumbled upon Apalit here in New York. This is a realization that came to me during the second day of the Members Church of God International’s (MCGI) International Thanksgiving to God celebration.

To get to Apalit before 7 a.m., I used to have to make it to Baclaran at around 4:30 a.m. with my family and friends. Here in NY for the second day of the ITG, I travel with friends from New York, Connecticut and Canada to our ITG venue a little over four in the afternoon.

On our way to the ITG venue!

On our way to the ITG venue!

Arriving early at Apalit years ago, I always see choir members practicing before the congregational singing commences. In NY, choir members do the same, making sure that they perform their best because God deserves the best — a bit of wisdom we have learned from our preachers Bro. Eliseo Soriano and Bro. Daniel Razon.

Choir members practicing their opening song number in NYC. Pauline Arellano, PVI NY

Choir members practicing their opening song number in NYC. Pauline Arellano, PVI NY

The beautiful and colorful presentation of choir members and the Teatro Kristiano never failed to astound me as I sat in one of the ADD Con’s white monobloc chairs. I may be sitting on a different kind of chair in NY, but the feeling upon watching these talented individuals remains the same.

Starting day two with music. East Coast USA & Canada Choir members together with the Teatro Kristiano on MCGI's International Thanksgiving to God on July 5, 2013. Pauline Arellano, PVI NY

Starting day two with music. East Coast USA & Canada Choir members together with the Teatro Kristiano on MCGI’s International Thanksgiving to God on July 5, 2013. Pauline Arellano, PVI NY

With the bountiful wisdom being unfolded with each topic delivered by Bro. Eliseo Soriano and Bro. Daniel Razon, rejoicing is inevitable. I have experienced it seemingly endless times in Apalit, and I, together with the believers in America, feel it still, even from afar; simply thankful to God for His wisdom and kindness.

Rejoicing in New York for the many biblical knowledge learned. Photo courtesy of Members Church of God International official Facebook fan page.

Rejoicing in New York for the many biblical knowledge learned. Photo courtesy of Members Church of God International official Facebook fan page.

And the same way as it when I was in Apalit, I am blessed to enjoy hearing such biblical brilliance with God-given friends.

Time will come, in His will, that I will get to walk in ADD Con’s aisles once more and sing, listen, and praise with the rest of the brethren in Apalit. But for now, I am truly grateful for having found a version of Apalit right here in NYC.

Time flies when you’re learning spiritual wisdom! Day 3, up next, God willing!

Something NY Cab Drivers Should Learn: UNTV’s Tulong Muna Bago Pasada

News, Events and Second Glances
A driver is trained to help motorists in need in UNTV's Tulong Muna Bago Pasada

A driver is trained to help motorists in need in UNTV’s Tulong Muna Bago Pasada. Photo Credit: Screenshot from UNTVweb’s Youtube Account

New York is famous for its yellow taxicabs running circles in Manhattan. All 13,237 of them are ready to bring Yankees and tourists to their destinations, except of course when it’s raining, when it’s almost next to impossible to hail a taxi. Now, what I, as a glorified commuter in this great state, wish would be impossible is to be a witness (or be part of) a road accident in the beautiful streets of the Empire State. So imagine if the estimated 42,000 New York City cab drivers took part in a program like UNTV’s Tulong Muna Bago Pasada, another revolutionary public service effort from the Philippines’ prime Public Service network – UNTV 37, we would have lesser road accidents. We would have thousands of real-life superheroes. We would have more people on the side of good and justice and all things great and in vivid Technicolor.

Now wouldn’t New York be a safer place to live in if this happened?

UNTV’s Tulong Muna Bago Pasada is a mouthful for those who aren’t Filipinos, and that’s fine and understandable. But what it translates to, in essence, is “Help First, Tansport Later.” Basically, this puts a greater deal of importance on human life than a cab fare. By learning to become more disciplined drivers and become certified first aid rescuers to give aid to those who need it in emergency situations, cab drivers are now the extension of our healthcare practitioners on the streets — where the action happens.

This public service endeavor has recently started in the Philippines, spearheaded by Kuya (That’s the Filipino term for “big brother”) Daniel Razon.  Tulong Muna Bago Pasada aims to educate cab drivers with first aid and BLS techniques. They are also trained based on real-life scenarios – they learn what to do first and who to call in case they witness a hit-and-run, a head-on collision, and other street emergencies requiring fast thinking and helping.  After they become well equipped with enough life-saving knowledge, they become certified. The intensive training that lasts for several days, like most of what UNTV’s projects, is absolutely free of charge for Filipino cab drivers.

Kuya Daniel Razon has concocted this one-of-a-kind public service project with the goal of hitting two public service goals with one unique project: making the streets safer for motorists, commuters, and pedestrians and increasing the number of Filipino public servants. The Tulong Muna Bago Pasada is an off-shoot to the Tulong Muna Bago Balita project of UNTV – which is the first of its kind in Philippine media, where reporters, cameramen, and drivers put helping first, before reporting; they are on-field rescuers primarily, valuing the lives of others than news reporting, and consequently, high ratings. Pure, unadulterated public service.

Kuya Daniel Razon spearheads another public service project - Tulong Muna Bago Pasada. Photo Credit: Screenshot from UNTVweb's Youtube Account

Kuya Daniel Razon spearheads another public service project – Tulong Muna Bago Pasada. Photo Credit: Screenshot from UNTVweb’s Youtube Account

Bringing this project in New York would be amazing and ideal. Not only will there be more public servants driving around the city, but since taxicabs are usually around at any given hour all year round, there will be trained cab drivers will be roaming the streets, ready to pull over and help out anyone in need. There will be a rebranding if you will, of our cab drivers’ reputation. They will become street superheroes.

Wouldn’t end-of-the-world movies find another place to sink rather than poor old Lady Liberty by Ellis Island? Instead of superheroes wreaking (unintentional, I guess) havoc in Manhattan, real ones would be driving all around it. Instead of a large lizard stomping all over the city, cab drivers will be actively on the look out for people in distress that they can help.  Once Tulong Muna Bago Pasada pushes through, I can’t guarantee that it will be easier to hail a taxicab, but hey, you’ll feel safer that the cab driver bringing you to your friend’s place can help you or other motorists in times of emergencies. So sit back, relax, and tip your cabbie well.

Sources:

http://www.statisticbrain.com/taxi-cab-statistics/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=exINwpNNuRQ#!