Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Anguish of a Modern Man

It was one sunny afternoon, I was walking briskly to catch up on my schedule for the day, I have to prepare a sumptuous dinner for my children as I will be attending a meeting later at night. My mind was preoccupied with what im going to buy for my menu until I heard someone calling me “Ate”(a word of respect for elder sister), I assumed it came from a vibrant little boy. Yes, a boy about 7 years old, I assumed, his eyes glistening, his smile is heart warming and his physique is typical of his age. He was asking for some money, “Ate pahingi naman o, gutom na ako eh”(give me some, im starving) , I decided to give him food than a few coins. That was the first time I saw him there, I have been living in the area for about 10 years that time. It was then an ordinary day, had the dinner prepared as I left to attend my meeting.

During that time, as almost all things for a full time mom like me, routinely, bringing my kids to school early in the morning, fetch them at late afternoon, housekeeping, playing the role of the most (un)appreciated stage momma and attending to some errands. Frequenting the vicinity where I live is an everyday task too, and giving that little boy a piece to eat became a duty to me; though I didn’t notice that its getting habitual. Until I saw him in a company of two other boys probably of same age, he had no slippers, he was wearing a dirty torn short and shirt as if he hadn’t taken a bath for a week, though still wearing the same heart warming smile.

I felt a sting in my heart, I don’t know why I was so moved that I wasn’t able to sleep tight that night, thinking of how I can help him. And for the rest of the days, he and his peers were a permanent fixture in a painting of innate poverty. We became friends, we have been eating in a nearby canteen, the owner called him “alaga mo” (my protégée). I discovered that they were about 6 in the family and that he was already 9 years old that time and do not know how to read or write even his nickname. There were times my kids would ask me why he was always following me and calling me “Ate”. I would only reply that he wanted to ask some food from me. I don’t know why I felt bad about him being sort of neglected and deprived. I can feel his plight opened the unexplored part of my being, his presence unleashed my intrinsic altruistic feeling. I felt so miserable thinking that I cant do anything for him and to those children in the same situation.

I can still remember the time when my kids and I were talking about on how to help destitute children languishing around the busy streets (near their school) begging for alms. My children would always put aside a peso or two for them. My son Dingdong, who was 4 years old then and my daughter Yannah who was about 6 years old once said, that they would want to put up an orphanage for them. I was elated to know my children has big hearts and just wished then that we be given enough strength and resources to do it so. Such was a bold exploit to involve into, though our resources are scarce, we still believe that we can impart to them our humble share; may not be a shelter but some other things beneficial to them.

My children and I have taken part in several outreach programs and continuously participating in projects sponsored by community based organizations, peer groups and NGO’s. To our mind, our involvement in humanity’s incessant quest for social justice is our way of thanking our Creator for what He has provided us. We resolved that we will involve ourselves in a project that will teach street children how to read and write; we have gathered some reading materials, writing pads, pencils and crayons already for our lessons. I believe that teaching them how to read and write will be their first step in liberating themselves from poverty, criminality and abuse. Its always been my dream of becoming a teacher. I came from a family of professional educators. Now is my time to stand tall and go hit my goal, Teacher Abet.

Some time ago, I wondered why I haven’t seen the fine little boy in my neighborhood. There came one of his companions, “ate, wala na si Jomari” (Jomari is gone), I became upset, my imagination gone wild, I was thinking something bad happened to him till I was informed that he was brought under the care of a government agency. Such a relief, but how about them, his companions, they are still in the streets (growing in numbers day by day) exposed to every danger of whatever causes.

Time passed, the challenge is still there, now so imperative and substantial; are there some who would take it? I, as a person, as a citizen, accepted the challenge of doing my fair share for my fellows, and together with my children, we resolved that we will be doing what we believe is right and proper. Furthermore, blaming the government or anybody for another’s misfortune is a limp excuse of one’s inability to cope up with the demands of life.

Jomari is gone, I am hoping he is doing well where he is right now, but another frail body is prowling around, I heard his voice calling me “ate”(elder sister), “feed my mind and my soul”, please.

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