|Marie Rose Abad|
Marie Rose through her beloved Philippine-born American husband, Rudy Abad transformed the once-notorious Manila slum into an orderly village that now bears the name of her wife.
The 50 one-story houses were built in her memory in 2004, after 3 years of Twin Tower tragedy as a tribute to their 26 years of marriage and her unfulfilled benevolent gesture to help the poor in the Philippines.
The community which is used to be a shantytown rife with garbage, human waste and crime was converted into a decent place of refuge. For the residents now see Marie Rose Abad Village as a bright spot spun out of the disaster thousands of miles away at ground zero.
Marie Rose Abad, 49, is a New York-born daughter from an Italian immigrant family is not only benevolent, but she has also a generous heart for children and the underprivileged.
An incident was told while they were out jogging near a cathedral one day, some street children aged 4 and 5 sold them lottery tickets. No money cash on hand, they were remorse for they couldn't help the kids.
"That was the first time she felt the pain," Rudy told. Marie Rose asked him to take her to a bank, where she got about $12 worth of Philippine coins. Then they got back to the church and her wife bought all the kid's tickets. The kids were all smiles.
"I don't know when, where and how but some day, I'm going to come back and I'm going to do more than this." Rudy overheard his wife saying this.
Marie Rose met her fateful day on September 11, 2001 where her 89th floor office at the World Trade Center at the twin towers, was slammed by the second plane. She was one of those 2,800 fatalities in terrorist attacks at the said WTC.
Grievously Rudy saw her tower collapse to the ground.
Rudy thought the only means which he can immortalize her beloved wife, Marie Rose is to fulfill his wife's promise to help the poor Filipino especially those in Manila's Tondo slum. Therefore he donated more than $60,000 for the construction of a village for those destitute families through Gawad Kalinga charity which seeks to transform slums across the country into decent, productive communities through volunteer work and donations.
Gawad Kalinga volunteer Jun Valbuena expressed, "It's the good side of 9/11."
Rudy Abad, who has retired and now shuttles between homes in Las Vegas and Manila, has become an advocate of philanthropy, urging rich Filipinos to help the poor beyond giving alms. He says Sept. 11 transformed him, teaching him about suffering.
Rudy has learned from such tragic experience. He said the tragedy that opened up his eyes, that made him want to do something far and beyond.
And for the Tondo residents, Marie Rose is their hero who converted their place into a peaceful one - "no more fighting, no more stabbings, no more drinking on the street."
Marie Rose's tragedy is a legacy to the Filipinos in ameliorating their standard of living. The black-and-white image of Marie Rose is on the side of a framed, rectangular sign welcoming visitors to the community is reverentially wiped by the resident each day with cloth. For them she is a part of their family, though she is a stranger to some.