Way before the government imposed the enhanced community quarantine across some areas in the country, one YouTuber has slowly been using his influence to inspire in more ways than one. This year alone, Syrian-born vlogger Basel Manadi popularly known as "The Hungry Syrian Wanderer" has been busy trying to help communities affected by the Taal eruption in January—up until now with people affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Basel first arrived in the Philippines in 2013, then 18 studying at the University of Perpetual Help. He eventually graduated with a degree in Computer Engineering before putting up his very own YOLO Bubble Milktea & Retro Diner in Las Piñas last year.
Given his early success, Basel continues to come up with ways to pay it forward to different members of society. Basel, who calls himself the Philippines' "adopted son," sums up what he does in his posts with the perfect footnote—usually somewhere along the lines of spreading kindness and positivity.
No wonder Basel's YouTube channel now has two million followers as well as a growing number of Facebook fan groups devoted solely toward admiring his exploits. Here are just some random but inspiring acts of kindness by the 26-year-old social media personality!
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He shares his blessings
Last March 29, while on his way home from the grocery, Basel noticed a man on the street collecting cartons and ended up sharing his supplies with the random stranger. "The guy asked for P10," he said in a post. "I gave him two weeks worth of groceries." He further explained his act saying that as citizens, "We need to constantly remain aware of how difficult things are going to be. And we will have to accept the fact that we will struggle... Together, let's all follow the enhanced community quarantine, look after those who are in need, remain strong, and stay positive."
He gives away hygiene kits
With alcohol and other hygiene products currently in short supply, Basel took it upon himself to help provide these necessities to people in his community including the homeless and less fortunate, plus street sweepers, public servants, and construction workers working the front line. He wanted to inspire people to be more considerate and ready to face the coronavirus threat, although, he explained in a post, "I didn’t hoard all the products for consideration of other people who wanna purchase. I asked permission to get all the displays in the front store only and will give it away for free naman within the area of residence of this store."
He takes care of his employees
After the community quarantine announcement, Basel took his employees to the grocery before temporarily closing his business to make sure they have enough supplies at home. "You can have the best strategy and the best business in the world, but if you don’t have the hearts and minds of the people who work with you, none of it comes to life," the young boss stressed in a post.
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He helps the sick
After seeing on social media the story of a man named Rediemar Villanueva who attempted to end his life after losing his wife of 25 years to cancer, Basel visited his home in Santa Cruz Manila in order to reach out and extend help. “I went there personally to see for myself his real situation and also to let people know on how to find and help him directly," he narrated the touching story in a post. "I met his older sister, a very brave woman who is doing her best to make his brother survive. Hindi po alam ng kanyang Ate na nanlilimos na minsan si Tatay dahil nahihiya na sya at dahil kapos na po sila sa gastusin."
He supports small vendors
Instead of giving out money, Basel continues to find creative ways to help hardworking street vendors all while getting to know them more. This treatment, he says, lets the recipient feel not just love but also gives them some dignity in their labor. From an 82-year-old balut vendor to a 68-year-old gasoline boy, Basel makes every encounter a memorable one with every worker he helps.
He encourages kids to go back to school
Another inspiring story that Basel shared online involves one of the numerous street children collecting plastic bottles seen on the streets everyday. Basel chatted with 12-year-old barefoot boy Jan Jan and took him shopping for clothes and shoes as well as getting him a new haircut. The Syrian influencer also encouraged him to go back to school so he can improve his way of life. “Children are more than we think they are; they can do more than we think they can do. All they need is a vote of confidence from grownups, whom they will ultimately replace anyway. Their dream today will become the realities of tomorrow," he declared in a post.
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He helps workers with specials needs
Basel once surprised Joy—a 47-year-old one-legged delivery personnel—with an E-bike of his own. The reason: He was just so inspired by the worker's perseverance despite the disability. He mused in a post, “We tend to complain over small things, such as getting stuck in traffic, not getting what we want etc. wherein there are people like Kuya who do their best despite of his situation just to provide for his family.”
He helps a senior start out his retirement
Basel got a tip from one of his subscribers about a 75-year-old grandpa in Cavite who continues to work as a padyak driver despite his old age—only to give the senior citizen a chance to start out his retirement with a humble sari-sari store. “Ayon kay lolo, may mga pagkakataon na naawa or nababagalan sila kaya mismong mga pasahero na niya ang pumapadyak sa bike niya at binabayaran pa rin siya. Bought him his medicine maintenance, nagkwentuhan, first time din nya kumain sa McDo at binisita ang simpleng community ni Lolo," he recalled in a post. "Seeing their way of living makes you open your eyes in many things."
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He feeds stray animals
Aside from helping the poor, Basel has made sure that the stray animals he encounters would not go hungry. As a cat dad with three rescues and numerous fosters, he has also made it his mission to find a piece of land that he plans to make into a sanctuary for stray cats and dogs which will also give employment opportunities to homeless people. He also manages a separate YouTube for his cats (Maui Boy, Maki Boy, and Milkand Boy) which he uses to help raise money to feed more stray animals.
He spreads positivity—that's it!
Aside from helping out individual members of society, Basel has also made the best use of his various social media platforms to spread a message of positivity—a consistent theme in all his posts. Especially in this time of enchanced community quarantine and global instability, Basel hopes that people to be more conscientious about their behavior online. "To my beloved Filipinos, instead of posting negativities, spreading fake news to cause panic, blaming each other at kung ano ano pa. We should focus instead na mapabuti ang ating mga sarili muna ng makaiwas sa virus at mag focus sa kapakanan ng ating mga mahal sa buhay at higit sa lahat ay ang bawat isa sa atin," the foreigner said in a post, spoken like a true Filipino caring for his 'fellows.
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Photos courtesy of The Hungry Syrian Wanderer's Facebook account