By Alvin John Ballares, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Who’s excited for this year to end?
What a year it has been- many think it’s best forgotten as it was a year riddled with natural calamities, financial struggles, and of course this vicious virus that affected us all, the COVID-19 pandemic. So I had to go through a major rummaging of my thoughts and put them in a briefest way possible. Just a two-pointer outline will do.
Year of Exclamation Marks
If I were to write 2020 with punctuation marks, it should justifiably be written in lots of exclamation points. There’s just no better way to put it. That, I guess, need not any further explanation why it should be, it’s just rightly so. Because this year has challenged us in all possible ways and angles!
This year challenged our economies, challenged our weak government structures, and even challenged our immune system. This year from the onset suddenly placed us in an Orwellian world with the government telling us what to do and what not to do, more like playing the role of the celestial sky daddy.
This year reminded us once again that Science is more relevant than religion. Most of us probably have developed a new taste or appreciation of technology. HAPI meetings and online activities were coursed through zoom. Science=1, Religion=0
The years 50’s and 60’s brought us the Space Race. This year has brought us the Vaccine Race. Science=2, Religion=0.
Let’s put another exclamation point for this year as this pushed us to be more innovative. HAPI Scholars got another feather on the cap, a Café Humaniste grant, and did E-Numan: A Café Humaniste Amid Crisis. (The event header spells Creativity already). This is a virtual discussion on secular parenting and coming out is an event series with the Humanists International to virtually bring people together to discuss secular humanist issues. So it seemed that this current pandemic couldn’t force us out from our virtual gathering hall. Our HAPI people can always innovate. Speaking of gathering, just so you know that we have a new HAPI headquarters in Malolos, Bulacan. This new HQ is much more conducive to productivity.
Another high note for HAPI was the recent event with HAPI Kids Alabang year-end party. These children were given a short talk on proper hygiene and were fed with chicken macaroni soup and steamed rice cakes. They were also given school supplies, towels and toys. Sure this adds another exclamation point for HAPI this year. Oh by the way I forgot to mention that all these events were in December alone. You can check our website for the whole list of our events, check out our annual summary report:
We also have some unwanted exclamation points this year as well, just so you know. We have had leaders whose greed had taken their last shred of integrity. We have had gas-lighters and power trippers that ‘tried and failed’ to control our HAPI helm. But they didn’t succeed. All these adversaries didn’t break us. HAPI has gone incredible lengths to overcome all challenges. We have seen people who are stable mentally and emotionally in HAPI who jumped in to fix the mess. We have random HAPI members coming up with humanitarian projects. We have previous BOTs coming back to our fold.
We’re not done with 2020 yet, a few hours from now until it’s over. Horrible things are still piling up as I write- it’s exhausting, I know. A breath of fresh air is just needed.
Now this leads us to my second point.
“Let no one despise your youth’, says one fictitious writer, Paul, in his personal letter to Timothy, another fictitious character. Minus the spirituality strand, as you all know how atheist I am, let’s look at it as a practical advice to a young person not fall victim to age discrimination. It was an encouragement not to be intimidated by old dogs incessantly barking and can’t learn new tricks anymore. To me it should be taken as a beseeching to be more mature than your age, to be more forward thinking with greater wisdom. So I guess the message is simple, never shun young people because they’re young. They always welcome new ideas. They bring a lot of energy with them ready to roll up their sleeves any time at any given day.
We have all these qualities in our new breed of young humanists in Javan Lev Poblador, the new HAPI Chief Executive Officer, Sherwin Dane Haro, Donna Darantinao, Johnny Denden, Angelo Tabada, Jon Nicole Tinoy, Junelie Anthony Velonta, Eldemar Sabete, Glemir Sordilla, Joshua Villalobos, Junius Dale Capus, Shawn Evans Quiming and the rest of the members of HAPI Scholars, HAPI Youth, HAPI Juniors and of HAPI Kids. These people have the youthful energy to challenge one’s boomer sensibilities and contest the status quo to bring about change.
Check this out: https://www.facebook.com/hapi.scholars/videos/176471407476348
We now have a website teeming with articles!
Also check this out:
You cannot carry on with the discussion over the amazing recent changes in HAPI without mentioning the trinity: Angelica Driskell, Mary Jane Quiming, and Steven Cross who share the same youthful vigor in their never-ending love for humanism and coffee. Again I must stress the part – their never-ending love for coffee. Well I guess I know why they don’t seem to get tired. They now form the executive council, the secretariat and the new financial team making sure that everything is in order and according to our organizational outline. These are the needed changes we have to put in place so we continue to thrive.
What are your year-ender takeaways?
I hope we’re not stuck at “to upset the relidiots”
In HAPI, we will continue to create opportunities for positive change, that’s for sure. We will continue to put exclamation marks!
For so many people, 2020 has been a memorable year for lots of dismal reasons, yet there are lots of good things to hold on to. We’ve made it through one helluva year. So I say ‘cheers’ to everyone.
PS. Happiest birthday to our HAPI Chairman, Michael Sherman.