Mentor Matt Basabe imparts hope one ripple at a time
By Fiona Patricia S. Escandor
HE starts his day at noontime. A part-time lecturer in a local university, he heads to class first thing in the afternoon and then rushes off to his job in a publishing company, while squeezing in between the occasional client meeting for his marketing stints and managing Bintana, a café he co-owns.
It’s a seemingly busy lifestyle but for Ramon Matthew Basabe, the word “busy” hardly belongs in his vocabulary. The 23-year-old chooses to accept opportunities with excitement and a positive outlook, and at the same time, finds the chance to also pursue his volunteer charity activities even if it means doing it at midnight.
In 2012, Matt made waves in social media when he started what he called his “online Good Samaritan” project, gathering donations from all over the world for a group of homeless kids loitering along M. Gotianuy St., whom he loosely organized into a mentoring group.
A chance encounter and chitchat with the kids – whom at that time he actually chastised for playing with a box of firecrackers – inspired Matt to start the project. Back then realizing that aside from material donations, what the kids need are attention and guidance. “Being with them made me realize how lucky I am to have a home, a family, and so I started putting them in my planner with the label, ‘the kids.’”
Matt visits and gathers the kids regularly to teach them the alphabet and arithmetic, or sometimes just to talk to them about their dreams and aspirations – a fitting role since he used to stand as speaker for student conventions such as the Youth for Environment Summer Camp and the National Leadership Training for Supreme Student Government.
“They are good with numbers now, which they are starting to use when selling candles or flowers,” Matt shared. “This success may mean small to us but for them, being able to count up to a 100 or write the Alphabet are big ripples of hope that actually give them a new perspective in life. Their aspirations have grown from wanting to become vendors, to becoming doctors, nurses, or running for office.”
This year, Matt is taking his sense of volunteerism to a higher level through an event he is heading in partnership with JCI Cebu and iLearners, Hyper Cebu. A rave party, music fest and bazaar rolled into one, it is a 36-hour festivity that will celebrate five aspects of Cebuano lifestyle: music, fashion, food, gadgets and travel.
Yet underneath the exuberance of the event, Matt said it is for a good cause, as they tie up with iLearners, an organization that helps rural school children across Cebu. “I have been a volunteer all my life and that’s the reason we also made sure the event should be powered by volunteers,” said Matt.
Quite the achiever, Matt has always been was active in organizations such as his school’s student council and the Sangguinang Kabataan. A youth spokesperson for AFS Intercultural Programs Philippines since 2011, he was also hailed as a regional awardee and national finalist in the Top Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines in 2012.
So how does Matt manage all these seemingly daunting day-to-day tasks? “The secret to doing multiple things in a day is to master time management and prioritization,” Matt said, “And the weapon? My hand-dandy planner. All my meetings, tasks, plans, and even failures and successes are logged in there. I go over it the moment I wake up, the moment I finish an appointment and just before I go to bed.”
The word “busy” is not in his vocabulary, Matt added. “I have been born and raised by my parents to be thankful for opportunities, big and small — and ‘no’ is never an answer. I consistently tell people that life has full of surprises, and by accepting and embracing them is embracing life as well.”
Photography: Alfred Gregory E. Bartolome
Assistants: Chelzee Salera and Abby Kionisala, UP Cebu Interns