Tacloban City is located on the island of Leyte, in the North East of the Philippines. In this city lives Placido Maga, known by everyone with the name of “Plas”, who, since 1991, has lived the ideal of unity, striving to put into action this commitment in everyday life.
In 1996, Plas started working as a guitar teacher, giving instruction to children in different primary schools. Teaching became for him an opportunity to love and to serve others through his musical talent.
In the year 2000, as he was walking along the streets of Ormoc, a city in the province, Plas noticed some children sleeping on the sidewalk using cardboards and newspapers for warmth and shelter. There were other children who lacked warm clothing. He decided to approach them and learnt that they didn’t even have anything to eat, and, almost always, went to sleep with an empty stomach.
Plas was quite troubled by this situation and he took the children some food. They felt his love and opened up their hearts to him. They, the most forgotten and the most defenseless in the city, had found a true friend, and were abuzz with happiness.
Plash remembered the words that Chiara Lubich had said in a meeting: “When we give something of ourselves, putting love into every action, life grows within us”. And the happiness he experienced that evening, because of the contact he’d had with those children, was the proof.
The day after Plas was back on the scene, keeping his promise to spend some “quality time” with his little friends. At the same time he felt he had to do something more, to take care of them and to look for somewhere for them to stay.
The ideal of unity that for years he had been trying live, was giving him the opportunity to do something concrete for those on the margins of the society, those who become the “last” of the city, but who in effect needed to become the most privileged.
Plash presented the issue to the local council; he contacted the Non-Governmental Organizations operating in the area, to draw their attention to the problem. Without any fear of being laughed at or misunderstood, ready to face all negative consequences that his actions would bring, he continued to seek a solution in the interest of others, in this case the children.
He succeeded in his plan to involve other people, who, like him, lived for the same purpose. He realized that when Gospel love becomes the “rule” of our lives, we all become more creative, more courageous and sometimes even heroic.
Plas was not satisfied in having an emergency situation fixed up; he felt compelled to place the children in a position so that they themselves could give something, to have them experience the same joy he had felt when he had opened his heart to his neighbour. He started to teach the children how to play the ukulele, creating a small repertoire which the young ones performed in two shows, receiving applause from the people.
Now the children live in Lingap Centre, a former rehabilitation house converted into a dormitory by the Department of Social Health. Plas continues to visit and to support the children, teaching them not only to play, but also to pray.