A Little Paradise on Earth

A single person can change the landscape of society by having grit, determination and courage to pursue a vision and inspire others to follow his path.  Let me share a true story.

There was a young man not too long ago who lost his English wife and baby during childbirth.  Her parents owned a big rubber plantation and she was their only heir.  Broken-hearted, the couple wanted to hand over the company to their son-in-law.  The young man refused.  He said that he didn’t deserve a penny over something he didn’t build.  He said it was better to walk away with a few pennies in his pocket, work hard and start life over than lay a stake on something he didn’t earn. His name was Ping.  He was a forester.  He left the city and approached a politician with a proposal.  “I have the know-how, you have the dough.  Let’s build a logging company and a community for the people.”

Deep in the forest of Mindanao, he started the company with a handful of hired help.  He trained them and showed them how to build the community one house at a time. From 1930’s to 1970’s. the remote village grew from a few to over 500 families.  The senator visited them often using the very first helicopter in the Philippines.  The community was paradise according to individuals who lived there.  They had everything they needed. Every home they built had their own vegetable garden and several families grew livestock. They had an elementary school, a church, a bowling alley, an auditorium, a guesthouse, a water system, a bus system, basketball court, an electric generator, a clinic, a master chef, community inspectors for their cleanliness program, and a local security detail.  Laughter, cheers and music echoed at night when the families gather together for shows, pageantry, sports tournament and games.  At times they gathered at the plaza to just to share fun stories and adventures of the day.

I was a toddler when we lived there.  It was our little paradise on earth.  However, in the early 1970’s the political climate changed. Someone tipped Ping that he was first on the rebels’ hit list.  On the other hand, government forces thought he was on the protection list of the rebels.  So he was caught in the middle of two opposing forces.  Not wasting a minute, he moved the locals to leave under the cover of darkness. Most escaped by the skin of their teeth.  A few who decided to stay were sadly killed.

More than 40 years after we left, my brother returned to the forested village for a job-related government inspection.  He broke down and cried when he saw our old home.  He was around 5 when we left our little paradise.  It is now a military outpost.  Our home is still there, providing shelter to the military.

Ping was a man who envisioned a self-sustaining community where love, camaraderie, hard-work and joy lived.  Out of pain, he immersed himself in work to fulfill his vision and in the process found love and a new family.  He enriched the lives of many others and showed us all that we can have a little paradise on earth. Ping left a bigger legacy after his death.  US ~ his family, and now in pursuit of a greater vision through the iCovest Global Initiative and build our own paradise on earth to enjoy within our own lifetime.