The desire to serve her people and correct those things that are wrong with our society has set this woman to the path of journalism. Chita Heap, 59, was once tagged by Panay News as a “lady of modesty and tenderness.” Colleagues call her “Fighter of the Year.”
There are good and bad politicians according to her.
“The good politicians are those who act only for the good of the people without any thought for personal benefit or reward. There are those too who seek to use their position to benefit themselves. But the same can also be said with other groups in our society, be they policemen, or be they tricycle drivers,” she said.
“To improve our society, we need to improve ourselves as individuals and so for each of us this becomes a personal mission. This world is how we have made it. It is a reflection of how we are. If we want to live in a world that is filled with love, then we must discover that love within ourselves. As human beings, we are made of love, by love to love. This is our true purpose, and the same is no less true for politicians. Bad politician takes office because we put them there. We should perhaps be more discerning in who we elect,” she further said.
When asked to describe the world she revolves in, she jokingly said, “It is the world that revolves not me. But joking aside, I would say that we see the world not as it is. We see the world as we are. The world is a mirror. When I am feeling good inside, I see a beautiful world.”
“When I am feeling bad, the world becomes ugly. As individuals, each of us has a choice whether to look into our own shadow, or to turn around and look at the sun. We cannot look in both directions at the same time.”
Even early in life, Chita believes her main responsibility is to herself. While studying, she had the chance to win an Essay Writing Contest. This opened her eyes to the wonderful world of journalism. Young and determined, she worked as a police beat reporter for the period 1967 to 1973. She contributes articles to Taliba, Manila Times,Chronicle and Daily Express.
In 1973, she was introduced to an Englishman, John Alan Heap, a son of a UN diplomat, and who later became her partner for life. It was through him that she was introduced to the message of Peace and Hope of Prem Rawat.
Their first daughter Julie Christine, fourth runner up in the Mutya ng Pilipinas in 1999, was born in Manila. She is now married with one child and works as Editor ofDestination, the in flight magazine for American Airlines. Their second daughter, Amelia Wendy works in the Ministry of Paintball in UK and is engaged to an Englishman who works for a law firm.
“My family are all very talented, and are able to excel in numerous areas. They are willing to take on challenges and attempt things which other people are hesitant to do. My husband recently bought a dictionary, and the first thing he did was to cross out the word ‘IMPOSSIBLE’, explaining that in an infinite universe, all things are possible.
Her eldest daughter has a personal motto which goes, “If you are not on the edge, then you are taking up too much space” while her youngest daughter is mindful that “we only have one life, so we had better make it count.”
LEARNING FROM CHILDREN
Although it is necessary to give a certain amount of guidance to one’s children, it is necessary for them to learn from their own experience, so she believes, “we must allow our children to do this, and to determine for themselves the values that are important to them. “ Yes, many Filipino children live with their parents well into their adulthood.
Chita’s children both left home at the age of 16, so excited were they to explore the world, and to be self supporting and fully independent.
Over the years, her main obligation has been to support her husband and to bring up her children. “Now that my children are grown, I am free to pursue my own interests once more. My husband is fully supportive of this, having his own interest which he pursues with vigour. At times we seem like ships that pass in the nights, but our relationship has a solid foundation, and there is friendship and humour.”
Chita’s husband is not only an artist; he is also an architect, an engineer, a painter, a writer, a philosopher, an entertainer and a musician. In her own language, she describes him as a partner who “has a lust for life which I greatly admire, and does not hesitate to turn his hand to whatever needs attention.”
While abroad, she worked for various charities. At one time, she was named chairperson for Horsmonden Branch of the National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).
All through the years, Chita never forgot her roots. “My family are all free thinkers and given to expressing their views regardless of who might oppose them. Truth is the banner that I choose, and what banner is more fitting to lead an army?”
Chita likewise never forgets her first love – journalism. She is now Feature Editor of Western Visayas Explorer, columnist of theAklan Reporter and Hala Birada newsweekly in her home province. Her task as a journalist is firstly to report on local events that are of interest. “As an investigative journalist I endeavour to identify what is going on behind the scenes, and to understand the mechanics of a situation. I express my own personal views about issues which affect our society, and try to stimulate debate.”
But Chita does not regard journalism as an occupation but rather as a means of meeting people and of helping her country. “What I would like to see is people thinking for themselves and taking the initiative. As individuals, we all need to wake up and smell the coffee. As individuals, we all have so much potential but we constantly need to be reminded of this.”
To be a journalist in the Philippines takes courage, according to her. “Many have already given their lives, or rather have had their lives taken from them in their attempt to expose corruption, injustice and wrong doing. The “we” as journalists may sometimes beg to differ on minor issues, when it comes to important matters we speak with one voice. I cannot therefore claim that any one person is the greatest Filipino journalist. Whenever a journalist reports a story and puts his or her own safety at risk, then at that moment he or she is the greatest journalist.”
She cannot name the greatest foreign journalist, anymore than she can measure courage, or the tears that are shed in the course of their investigations. “Journalists are a special breed. Some put themselves in the front line of battle carrying only a camera and not a gun. Some experience disasters and people in trauma and their experiences become a part of them. I can only feel admiration and respect for any journalist who takes up this cause.”
There will always be bad publicity but for Chita, the truth will remain the truth no matter how others may seem to twist or obscure it. “One cannot remove a shadow with a dust pan and brush, but when the sun burst through the clouds, the shadow will disappear. A shadow itself has no substance, and lies will ultimately expose themselves for what they are.”
Despite her busy schedule, she reads books – everything from popular literature to the classics. “There is never a time when I am not busy, but I will take time to take my family to the beach, or enjoy a meal in good company. There will be plenty of time to rest when I die, she chuckled.”
At present her focus is upon improving the environment and Kool Earth, which she leads as Vice President, has proved to be a wonderful mechanism for this, but the welfare of children is also very close to her heart. She’s very excited by her husband’ project which is to develop means of countering the effects of Global Warming, and of setting an example which others can follow.
As a community leader, being Vice President for Public Relations of Toastmasters International in Kalibo, it is not only to suggest a positive cause of action based upon her own experience and also on what she observes, but also to inspire others and encourage them to take the initiative themselves. “I cannot solve all our society’s problems, but if I can serve as a catalyst then I feel that my time has been well spent.”
As a woman leader, it was never her intention to become a leader. “I do what needs to be done and follow what my conscience tells me. If others regard me as a leader then that is their choice. I just see me as me.”
Tackling corruption is also an ongoing concern, and she continues to take a stand against this whenever the need arises.
MESSAGE OF PEACE
She has travelled to many parts of the world, often to see her teacher whom she was extremely fortunate to encounter. “He never fails to inspire me, and his teachings together with the experience that he revealed have become the underlying foundation of my life. He teaches that everything I need can be found within, but more importantly he showed me the means to access this.”
Jesus said the same thing, when He said that the Kingdom of Heaven is within. “My teacher Prem Rawat also known as Maharaji has enabled me to make this a reality in my life. It is wonderful to believe in God, but this is no substitute for experiencing God in person.”
She’s even more excited by the possible visit to Kalibo this year of her teacher Prem Rawat. This is an event which she feels will be of epic importance to people from every level of our society. “All that it takes to light a fire is a single match. It has been my experience that Prem Rawat is able to ignite that fire within, the likes of which cannot be compared with anything that this world has to offer.”
To the young professionals of today, this is her advice: “ Follow your dreams. Have faith in yourself and welcome change. We have been stuck in the past for too long, and our country needs to change. It is young and innovative minds which will ultimately bring this about.
Life is very important to her. Many people think of their life as they would think of the items they put into a shopping bag. For her, life is the shopping bag. Yet, despite her achievements, Chita said the journey is the destination.
“A bicycle only remains upright if you are pedalling. Only when the bicycle is in motion do you feel the wind in your hair. Should I ever reach my destination, I am sure that another destination will arise. My true journey is one of self discovery. A search for that true contentment which all of us desire. Upon achieving that, my only desire would be for even more.”
Remaining with her husband for 38 years is so far an achievement. “He walks so fast that is sometimes hard for me to keep up with him, but then his legs are so much longer than mine,” she laughed.
SECRET IN LIFE
“Life is interesting. I learned a lot. I wanted to impart to those who are interested to learn. “Her secret in life is what she has discovered within. “I am more than the individual that people see. The external identity maybe a part of me, but my true identity lies deep within. The same holds true for all of us, and if each of us were to discover his or her own true identity, we would know that we are in fact a spark of God’s own fire.
“It is not by choice that this is a secret. For only through direct experience can an individual come to know this as he or she journeys through life.”
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THE BLOGGER. Ulysses Espartero is a journalist, historian and book author who traces his roots from two Philippine jewels – Laguna and Antique. While in Dubai, he enjoyed his expat life documenting the struggles and victories of migrant workers in the Gulf Cooperation Council states. In 2014, he released Precious Gems in a Desert of Gold, the first and only coffee table book about Filipino achievers in the United Arab Emirates. Connect with him on facebook.