By Ricardo Carlos Castro Yan

I used to consider myself a very "un-touchy" person. By that, I meant that I was not used to being physically malambing with anyone, except for my dog. But my dog died about 6 years ago, thereby making me very "un-touchy" for quite sometime. But about a year back, I learned something very important from a very good friend. He taught me the power of a hug. Prior to that, I used to think hugging people was for sissies. Now, when I look back at the way I thought, I think I should call myself the sissy, because I failed to recognize what might probably be the most powerful weapon that the human spirit can ever posses.

Did you know that a hug could express more words than a Webster dictionary? Did you know that a hug has the ability to melt a heart of stone? Did you know that a hug could break any barrier of hatred? Or any ill feelings? Or even a feeling of depression?

These are just some of the millions of descriptions that can attest to the powers of hugging. Ever since my friend exposed me to this new world of hugging, I can safely say that I've become a better person afterwards. Almost instantaneously, my "un-touchy" self became a very malambing and carinoso person. Even I couldn't believe the sudden transformation. From that point on, I knew the power of a hug was definitely a force to reckon with.

It's been over a year now since I started my "hugging frenzy," so to speak. Those who are in the same frenzy would know what I mean when I say that hugging is both addicting and euphoric. The feeling that one gets when he or she hugs people and shows them they are loved could be so oceanic and indescribable, that he/she would want to keep the feeling within him/her forever. And the only way to do that is to keep on hugging people. Honestly, it's quite cool once you get the hang of it. Personally, I think it's a convenient way of telling a girl you love her without having to cringe and gather enough guts to actually say it. (Torpe kasi ako, eh.)

Allow me to share with you one of my recent "hugging" experiences with a kid who, by the way is the reason for my writing this article. It happened on the morning of December 11, 1999, somewhere inside Robinson's Galleria. There was an orphan's day that was scheduled, and the PINOY YAN foundation (the foundation which I am presently part of), was invited to conduct a program for kids. Now these kids are very, very special children, currently under the care and supervison of Bantay Bata of the ABS-CBN Foundation. The program included singing, dancing, storytelling, fun and games, and even a gift giving session at the end of everything.

Somewhere in the middle of the program, just when lunch was about to be served, I had to make my humble exit due to another commitment. But before leaving, I helped other members of the foundation in distributing the lunch. It was in the course of handing the food that I came across Danilo, a battered11-year old child. As I gave the packed lunch to him, he complemented the the gesture with a very meek "thank you" without looking at me. Well, I said a hearty "you're welcome!" and then kneeled down to ask his name, plus a couple of questions more. But I noticed that, no matter how many questions I asked, I couldn't seem to get through him. Maybe it was because of the memoirs of a dark past, or the disparity of age, or maybe because he did not know that people loved him.

Somehow, my "hugging frenzy" went to work again and I gave 11-year old Danilo a long hug, just to let him know that someone loves him. Well, do you want to know what happened next? Man, this will really knock you off your seats. I was the one who felt loved!! Of course I hope and pray that 11-year old Danilo felt the love that I showed him, and I would gladly show that again. But while I was hugging him, I felt this woozy feeling. You know, the kind that you get when you think of someone and end up smiling. That one! I felt that! And after that, all I could say was, "Man, God sure does work in mysterious ways!" I never thought that the feeling of being loved could actually come from the person that you least expect. All the while, I thought, that I was trying to reach out to my young friend. But in turn, it was he that reached out to me.

I thank God for bringing Danilo to my life. They say that in the heart of every kid, is a portrait of Jesus. Well I found a masterpiece of our God, and I found it in a poor little rich boy... an orphan named Danilo. And if ever this friend of mine is reading this article, right now, may I say, "Thank you my friend, for taking time out to set aside your broken heart, and fill mine with the love that could have been yours. Thank you, for showing me the power of a hug."


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