"You cannot imagine how far a little help will go in a poor country." Those were words of Brother Manuel Pajarillo, FSC, known as Brother Mawel, during a visit to Saint Mary's College in November. He came to California to learn about what he called a "culture of giving."
Brother Mawel was named president of De La Salle University, Lipa, near Manila, in May 2003, and he is a member of several boards of trustees of other Lasallian institutions in his country. Part of his visit was devoted to meeting with and thanking California-based alums and supporters of Filipino Lasallian universities, especially De La Salle, Lipa. They had contributed to a ministry serving street children and a center for minors awaiting trial in Bacalod. Another cash gift was used by Brother Mawel to establish an endowment fund for financial aid.
Brother Mawel sees a difference in perspectives on giving between the United States and the Philippines. A strong sense of the importance of giving exists in this country, he said, especially among alumni of college and universities. That outlook, Brother Mawel said, is less prevalent in the Philippines.
"Here, every [college] building is named in honor of a donor or friend. I guess we're a little shy about asking," he remarked.
While at Saint Mary's, Brother Mawel met with a wide variety of faculty, staff members and administrators, to learn as much as he could about the operations of the College, especially its fund-raising work. He also took the opportunity to share the needs of the Lasallian educational system in the Philippines with the College community. The cost of a high school education in his province, Batangas, Brother Mawel pointed out, is $55 a year. But there are many other ways, in addition to donations, for American supporters of the Lasallian mission to help, he explained, from volunteering, to studying at DSL-Lipa, and, possibly for academics, teaching at Lasallian schools or their research institutes.
A tradition of support and cooperation has flowered for many years between the Filipino De La Salle Brothers and the Brothers of the San Francisco District. Brother John O'Neill, FSC, for example, currently on the Saint Mary's faculty, worked for almost fifteen years in the Philippines, and he was Brother Mawel's principal at elementary school.
The value of shared ministry, for both lay people and Brothers, remarked Brother Mawel, is that both the giver and the receiver learn and benefit. "No one is so poor as not to be able to give, and no one is so rich as not to be able to receive," he said.
-- by Joseph Wakelee-Lynch