ROTARY CLUB NEWS: Much more work to be done in Southeast Asia

Chelsea’s Gary Kennedy at the Knight of Rizal Biennial Assembly in Manila, Philippines, in 2018.

by Gary Kennedy

For most of our readers this article will have very little meaning, but for me and the many Filipinos that live here in Maine it will have a lot of meaning. The Filipino population here in Maine and maybe the entire country has been the largest minority population. If you check out our military as well as our VA system you will find many Asian appearing people holding positions there. They are a wonderful people with good educations, especially in the medical field. They have blessed us with their presence, especially with their eagerness to work and show appreciation for the opportunity given them. Also it would be good to mention that they applied for entry into the USA and tested and paid all expected fees for the privilege to live and work here.

I have been writing for this paper for many years now and have tried very hard to supply diversity and keep our readers up to date in regards to current events and general items of interest regarding my travels as well as many other subjects.

As most of you know I try to champion educational conditions both domestic and foreign. For years now I have traveled S.E. Asia trying to help the disadvantaged, especially the young who are struggling to receive an education with most everything stacked against them.

This past year I was unable to visit other countries as I have been struggling with spinal stenosis and other medical issues, which have left me without my legs. I am struggling with physical therapy and would like to thank the Veterans Adminis­tration, as well as the doctors, who have stood by me through my heart breaking times. What would a disabled veteran do without the medical support given by this great and wonderful organization? Most of the veterans know me as an advocate and I try my best to stand by them in their hour of need.

Recently, I received information from Northern Luzon, Philippines that one of the areas that I, with all your help, service regarding health and education. You will see that I occasionally ask for help with different projects in this area of the world. An area in particular is known as “Peñablanca” which is located in the far Northern Regions of Luzon Philippines. This place is mostly known by the near city of Tuguegarao. The area I have been working with is the mountainous area of Peñablanca. To go there you need to cross the Tawi Bridge which transcends the waters of the Tawi River. During flood season this bridge is either destroyed or under water. This area is the typhoon capital of the Philippine Islands. It gets extremely hot and wet in this area and many people have died trying to cross this bridge.

Dr. Jose Rizal

Because of my military connected back condition I was unable to deliver the supplies that I have always been able to do in the past. This year, howeve,r I will attempt the journey once again. I started writing articles for The Town Line many years ago because of my Rotary affiliation. Now I am also writing for veterans and have a veteran’s blog. In 2003 I was asked to join an organization which I have grown to love and to be very proud of, “The Knights of Rizal.” This organization, through the Martyrdom of Dr. Jose Rizal, physician, patriot and a man of letters inspired the Philippines Nationalist Movement.

Dr. Jose Rizal was born in 1861 in Calamba Laguna Philippines and died December 30, 1896 by a Spanish firing squad. He could have avoided his death but chose to be remembered by the people for what he believed. He was an Optometrist, a brilliant young surgeon who spoke many languages and loved his country and its people. He just sought God given rights and freedom for the people with a right to grow, and become equals with the people of the world; especially the Spanish. You can research his life on your own computer and it will give you some very interesting reading. I mention Dr. Jose Rizal as I find him, as well as Paul Harris, common denominators in the quest for freedom, education and a chance to grow within the purview of one’s abilities. Like Rotary, the Knights of Rizal have now spread throughout the world. However, the Knights of Rizal are the only government legislated group of its kind. So now when I do projects in Asia the assistance of both, Rotary and The Knights of Rizal are mentioned.

This all came to mind because of information that I recently received. The afore mentioned Tawi Bridge has recently gone under construction through the efforts of Governor Manuel Mamba, 3rd District of Cagayan. The money originated for this long overdue project from the caring oversight of President Rodrigo R. Duterte (KGCR) for those of you who don’t know, President Rodrigo is a high ranking member of the Knights. Both organizations are believers in “Service to Mankind”.

Remember it’s not what you take with you but what you leave behind. Remember also the foot print we leave in this world is how others will view us. Always be willing to give a hand if you can.


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