The story below was forwarded to me by Mariz a few days ago. True or not, fact or fiction, it is worth reading as a point of reflection wherever and whoever we may be. Unfortunately, I don’t have the writer’s name — this has been circulating. I thought it was worth sharing here in the blogsphere — for whatever it’s worth.
Ever since I was diagnosed with having a possible heart enlargement, I have exerted more effort to do physical exercises. I do jogging during week days and go on long mountain bike rides every Sunday.
But last Sunday was a special Sunday for me. While I was on my way to the mountains of Busay in Cebu hoping to strengthen my heart with this exercise, I personally encountered a heart-breaking scene that started a big change in my outlook.
I already passed the Marco Polo Plaza (formerly Cebu Plaza Hotel) when
I decided to stop to buy some bananas at a small carienderia along the road. I have not taken any solid food that morning, so I needed some fruits to have the needed energy to get to my destination – the mountain top.
I was almost done eating a second banana when I noticed two children across the street busily searching the garbage area. “Basureros” I said to myself and quickly turned my attention away from them to sip a small amount of water. I cared very little for these kind of children actually. To put it straight, I do not like them and I do not trust them, even more.
You see, several times I have been a victim to these kind of children who pretend to be basureros, looking for empty bottles and cans when in fact, the ‘plangganas’, ‘kalderos’, and ‘hinayhays’ are their favorites.
I remember one afternoon while I was watching a Mike Tyson fight when I noticed that the TV screen suddenly became snowy. I checked outside and saw two young “basureros” running away with my newly installed TV antenna.
Hatred may be a little bit strong word to describe my feeling towards these basureros, but I do not like them, really …until I met these three children.
I was about to ride on my bike again when I heard one of the two children, a girl of about 7 or 8 years of age saying aloud to the other, a 12-yr old boy , ” kuya si dodong kuha-a kay nag-sige’g tan-aw sa mga nagkaon, mauwaw ta” (kuya si dodong kunin mo kasi tumitingin sa mga kumain, nakakahiya), only then that I noticed a small boy standing near me biting slightly his finger. He’s a few inches shorter if compared to my 5-year old son (but I knew later that he was also 5 yrs. old) Though he did not asked for food from anyone in the carienderia, the way he looked at the customers who were eating was enough to convince me that he was very hungry and was intensely craving for food. The older boy then quickly crossed the street and gently pulled out the little one who politely obeyed. As I watched the two crossing back the street to the garbage area, I heard the tindera saying ” Lo-oy kaayo nang mga bata uy, mga buotan ra ba na” (kawawa naman yung mga batang yun mababait pa naman). I learned further from the carenderia owner that the children are from a good family, both parents were working before, and that their father has a stroke about 3 years ago, and became partially paralyzed. Their mother died of a heart attack while their father was still confined at the hospital. The parents were still in their early forties when the catastrophe happened, and the children became “basureros” since then to meet their daily needs and for their father’s medication.
Deeply moved by what I heard, I went to a nearby bakery and bought
20pesos worth of bread and gave it to the children who initially refused including the little boy. “Sige lang noy, salamat na lang, magpalit lang nya mi kung mahalinan na mi” (sige lang po, salamat na lang, bibili na lang po kami mamaya kung makabenta na kami) the young girl said to me.
I explained that they need to go home because it started to rain.
“Naanad na man mi ani” (nasanay na po kami) the girl answered again.
Again, I explained that the rain can make them sick and if they’ll become sick there’s no one to take care of their father. Upon mentioning their father, they nodded and accepted the bread but I noticed that the older boy did not eat.
When I asked him if he does not like the kind of bread I bought for them he smiled but as he was about to explain, the little girl, who is the more talker of them interrupted, “Domingo man gud ron, noy, basta Sabado ug Domingo hapon ra siya mokaon kami ra ang mokaon ug pamahaw pero dili na pod mi mokaon inig hapon,si kuya ra. Pero basta Lunes ngadto sa Biyernes, kay klase man , si kuya ra sad ang seguro-on ug papamahaw, kami hapon na sad mi moka-on Pero kung daghan mi ug halin mokaon mi tanan.” (Linggo po kasi ngayon,pag sabado at lingo hapon lang po sya kumakain, kami lang po ang kumakain ng agahan pero di na po kami kakain pagdating ng hapon si kuya lang po. Pero pag lunes hanggang biyernes,kasi may pasok, si kuya lang po nag-aagahan,kami hapunan lang pero kung marami kaming benta kami pong lahat (kumakain) she continued. “Ngano man diay ug mokaon mong tanan, bahinon ninyo bisan ug unsa ka gamay?” (bakit kung kumain kayong lahat,hati-hatiin nyo na lang kahit kunti lang ang pagkain?) I countered.
The young girl reasoned out that their father wanted that her older brother to come to school with full stomachs so he can easily catch up the teacher’s lessons. “Inig ka trabaho ni kuya mo undang na man mi ug pamasura, first honor baya na siya” (pag nagkatrabaho si kuya, hihinto kami sa pamamasura, first honor kasi sya) the little boy added proudly.
Maybe I was caught by surprise or I am just overly emotional that my tears started to fall. I then quickly turned my back from them to hide my tears and pretended to pick up my bike from the carienderia where I left it.
I don’t know how many seconds or minutes I spent just to compose myself; pretending again this time that I was mending by bike.
Finally I get on to my bike and approached the three children to bid goodbye to them who in turn cast their grateful smiles at me. I then took a good look at all of them especially at the small boy and pat his head with a pinch in my heart. Though I believe that their positive look at life can easily change their present situation, there is one thing that they can never change; that is, their being motherless. That little boy can no longer taste the sweet embrace, care, and most of all, the love of his mother forever. Nobody can refill the empty gap created by that sudden and untimely death of their mother. Every big event that will happen to their lives will only remind them and make them wish of their mother’s presence.
I reached to my pocket and handed to them my last 100 peso bill which I reserved for our department’s bowling tournament. This time they refusedstrongly but I jokingly said to the girl ” sumbagon teka ron kung di nimo dawaton” (suntukin kita dyan pag hindi mo tinanggap yan). She smiled as she extended her hand to take the money.” Salamat noy makapalit gyud me ron ug tambal ni papa ” (salamat po, makakabili kami nito ng gamot ni papa) she uttered. I then turned to the small boy and though he’s a few feet away from me, I still noticed that while his right hand was holding the half-filled sack, his left hand was holding a toy? a worn out toy car. I waved my hands and said bye-bye to him as I drove towards the mountains again. Did he just find the toy in the garbage area or the toy was originally his – when the misfortune did not take place yet? – I did not bother to ask. But one thing is crystal clear to me, that in spite of the boy’s abnormal life, he has not given up his childhood completely. I can sense this by the way he held and stared at his toy.
My meeting with that young “basureros” made me poorer by 120 pesos. But it changed me and made me richer as far as lessons of life is concerned.
In them, I learned that life can be changed suddenly. In them, I’ve learned that even the darkest side of life, cannot change the beauty of one’s heart. Those three children, who sometimes cannot eat three time a day, still are able to hold on to what they believe was right. And what a contrast to most of us who are quick to point out to our misfortunes when caught with our mistakes. In them, I’ve learned to hope for things when things seem to go the other way.
Lastly, I know that God cares for them far more than I do. That though He allowed them to experience such a terrible life which our finite minds cannot comprehend, His unquestionable love will surely follow them through.
And in God’s own time they will win………..