Speech of  RD Leonardo R. Sibbaluca, CESO III

Recognition and Awarding Ceremony of Blood Donors

Ritz Tower de Leyte, Tacloban City

 July 29, 2016

First, I would like to thank the Philippine Red Cross for the honor of giving me the chance to be your keynote speaker. I consider this as an honor because, I too am an ardent advocate in the voluntary and regular donation of blood. It is my modest contribution in the noble effort to accumulate and store blood to meet its need during certain emergencies to save lives. At the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), I always encourage my employees to donate blood as an act of charity and as our shared responsibility for the well-being of mankind. In fact, I regularly request the Philippine Red Cross to conduct a blood-letting activity at our office.

Last month, we celebrated the Philippine Environment Month with the theme, “Go Wild for Life. Combat Biodiversity Loss”. The focus was on instilling in the hearts and minds of each and every one the need to protect our environment if we are to sustain our lives and our very own existence. It is also but fitting that for the month of July we are celebrating, the Blood Donors Month as it also relates to sustaining and saving lives. The loss of our environment, just like the loss of blood would eventually lead to our demise.

Your theme, “Share Life, Give Life”, aptly lays down the challenge to us. We are now living in a period of commercialization, individualism, selfishness, greed and even apathy. To ask people to share and to give may be a daunting call, but not impossible. When we ask people to donate blood, and when they actually do, it is always a sign of hope. People are still able to reach out to others – your blood gives life to others, and consequently, you share your life to others.

It is when we learn to give, to share and embrace our interconnectedness with others that we concretize the humanity in us. We no longer are simply human beings, instead, we are being human – one capable of empathy and of looking after the needs of others. 

Kahlil Gibran, a Lebanese-American artist, poet and writer wrote in his novel, The Prophet, “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” That is why, when we donate blood, we are not simply letting go of just any possession, we are literally giving out something of ourselves. And in doing so, we save lives.

To all our blood donors, especially those that we are honoring today, congratulations. You have my highest respect. Your act of generosity will forever be carved in the souls of the lives you save. You are a hero to that person whom you shared your gift of life. Continue donating blood while at the same time we encourage others to do the same. When more people donate blood, less people will be tormented of the difficulty of finding one. Just imagine the anguish of a parent watching their dying child simply because no blood is available. Nothing can be more difficult than that. As a slogan that I have read somewhere says, “the tears of a mother cannot save her child, but your blood can.” True enough, each one us has the power not to make that anguish happen by donating blood now. In fact, it is our responsibility because we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper – it is our social responsibility.

May I just emphasize that blood donation is a voluntary act of sharing our blood to others. It is an act of charity incomparable to any other form of charity. Why? You give something that only the human being can produce and no technology in the world can replicate it.  It is in that context that the crusade for more voluntary blood donations should be strengthened. An important component is always an aggressive information campaign to the widest possible sectors of our society through public and private initiatives. The indomitable “bayanihan” spirit in us must be harnessed so that we continue to care for one another and see ourselves as one family.     

True enough, while blood donation benefits us for it allows our body to produce new blood cells and refreshes the system, the idea that the blood we donate can save a life is an exhilarating reward in itself. The oft-repeated remark that the life you save may be your own lingers in my mind. Meaning, you as a donor today may actually be a recipient tomorrow. So, our possible need for that life-saving blood will only be met if there is always a ready supply. 

To end, I reiterate my point that there is always an increasing demand for blood and while we, here, have answered that call, much more is needed. Hence, we continue to reach out to others for them to come forward and donate blood. Make them understand that a pint of their blood will not harm them. Instead, it will be enough to save the lives of many. Sharing your blood may forfeit at most an hour of your day but it will add years to the life of the recipient. Always be generous. As Mother Teresa once said, “it is not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”  

Remember that we are blessed to have been given the gift of life. Nothing is more fitting than by giving back by helping sustain the life of others.  We owe it to our Creator that we partake of His redeeming power by helping save lives. And there is no better way than to donate blood as our gift of life. Together and never letting up in our effort to convince others, more lives will be saved. Give blood and be part of the lives of others.

Maraming salamat at Mabuhay kayong lahat!