The Philippine Daily Inquirer taught me something new today – the Philippines gave visas to Jews escaping Nazi Germany in WWII. Read about it here. Kudos to our Filipino artist, Junyee, whose monument at the Holocaust Memorial Park in Tel Aviv I take my blog title from.
Here’s the story of Ralph Preiss, who spent a part of his childhood in wartime Manila, by PDI’s Volt Contreras.
When we were in college they never taught us this in Philippine History. Or maybe they did, we just didn’t remember. Schindler’s List wasn’t a movie yet, so our consciousness of the Holocaust was limited to the diary of Anne Frank.
The lesson here is one of compassion – something everyone around the world is in need of these days, since we seem to be not at war with other nations, but with concepts. “War Against Terror.” “War Against Global Warming.” “War Against Poverty.” “War Against Greed and Corruption.” I guess they make good sound bites, but it’s difficult to wrap one’s head around it. The question of “when will it ever end?” worries us all.
The Open Door Policy was a good move on President Quezon’s part. Times were simpler then, and it was easier to do things right in the name of humanity, that now seem pretty heroic in scale.
It’s hard to feel compassion when you’re faced with an abstract concept. It’s easier when you think about fellow human beings, one at a time. To learn more, you might enjoy reading An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life by one of my personal heroes, the Dalai Lama. No, I’m not Buddhist, but there are things to learn from every major belief system if you also try to keep an open mind.