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Fifty San Mateos in Mindanao

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THE author enjoys the greenery in pleasant San Mateo City, California, USA in 2016. PHOTOGRAPH BY LOUISE ABEZA FOR THE DAILY TRIBUNE

The 21st of September is the feast day of St. Matthew or San Mateo. He is mentioned in books of the New Testament of the Holy Scriptures as one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ. One scene in the Bible said Matthew was sitting in a tax collector’s place when Jesus chanced upon him. The encounter led Matthew to be a follower of Jesus.

With information technology, it would be great if people from all walks of life and from different cultures and religions would take an interest in St. Matthew and his deeds.

In 2016, I was blessed to have been invited by my high school best friend to stay with her and her family in San Mateo City, San Mateo County in California, USA. I had the opportunity to work for two months as math and reading teacher in Serramonte Kumon Math and Reading Center in Daly City, San Mateo County (south of San Francisco).

San Mateo is the third smallest county in California. Its hilly terrain makes the place so charming, as varieties of plants and flowers deck the upside and downside of the residential areas, as well as the commercial districts.

Since the county forms part of the San Francisco Bay area, the climate in San Mateo is very pleasant from March to June, which happened to be the months I was there.

Flying back to Manila on 5 June, I thought about the newly elected Philippine President who hails from Mindanao. I had cast my vote for the May 2016 elections via the Philippine consulate in San Francisco.

Mindanao has a land area of 97,530 square kilometers.

San Mateo County in California — where I had an enriching experience (notwithstanding the nitty gritty of daily novel challenges – has a land area of 1,927 square kilometers.

If taxes are properly used in government projects that will really benefit Filipinos, the Philippines, in the future, can have 50 San Mateos in Mindanao.

I now think of my former Filipino primary students in Serramonte Kumon Math and Reading Center. They might one day decide to be engineers and help build the infrastructures in a peaceful and progressive Mindanao.

As we celebrate St. Matthew’s feast day, let us not forget that governments in any corner of the world rely on taxes to provide for the needs of their people. Taxes, however, become an unpleasant, unwelcome burden if they go to the pockets of unscrupulous public officials or are wasted on projects of poor standards or on superfluous ones.

Through the intercession of St. Matthew, may the taxpayers, tax collectors, tax users and tax beneficiaries be inspired to be patriotic enough to give their honest share in making the Philippines a haven of peace and prosperity.

May the dream of 50 San Mateos in Mindanao be a reachable star.

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