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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

How Fortunate We Are...

This story was shared to me by a friend years ago.  I had searched my old files, just so I can share with you ... how fortunate we are... We must be reminded that everything we have is a blessing we received from God and we must be thankful... We must realize the importance of the people around us since nothing is permanent in this world... Please don't wait 'til they will be taken away from you... Also, learn to be contented of what you have... don't aim of having more than what you could have... Just think of the people suffering in poverty, a lot compared to you.  May this story open your heart and mind.... God bless.

The "Basureros"

Ever since it was diagnosed that I am having a possible heart enlargement in the last APE, I have exerted more effort to do physical exercises. I do jogging during week days and do long - ride mountain biking every Sunday. But this Sunday is a special Sunday to me. While I was on my way to the mountains of Busay hoping to strengthen my heart by this exercise, instead, I personally encountered a heart-breaking scene that changed me. I already passed the Marco Polo Plaza (formerly Cebu Plaza Hotel) when I decided to stop to buy bananas at a small carenderia (eatery) located along the road. I haven't taken any solid food that morning so I need fruits to have the needed energy to get to my destination - the mountain top.
I am almost done eating with the second banana when I noticed two children across the street busily searching the garbage area. "Basureros"(people who collects garbage for living).  I said to myself and quickly turn my attention away from them to sip a small amount of water. I cared less for this kind of children.  Actually; to make 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 are pretending 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 blurred. I checked outside and saw two young basureros running away with my newly installed antenna. Hatred may be a little bit stronger word to describe my feeling towards these basureros, but I do not like them honestly?
Not till I met these three children. I was about to embark on my bike again when I heard one of the two children, a girl of about 7 or 8 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”, only then that I noticed a small boy standing near to 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's also 5 yrs. Old). Though he did not asked for food to anyone in the carenderia, the way he looked at the customers who were eating, enough to convinced me that he intensely craving for it. 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 bataa uy, mga buotan ra ba na" (I pitied them, they are good children).
I learned further from the carenderia owner that the children are from a good family, both parents were working before, and that their father got a stroke 3 years ago and became partially paralyzed and their mother died of 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 20 pesos 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" (it’s okay sir, thank’s for the offer but we will just buy our own as soon as we sell the things we collected), the young girl said to me.  I explained that they need to go home because it started to rain. "Naanad na man mi ani” (we are already used to it), 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 accept 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's 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." (today is Sunday, Sir, during Saturday and Sunday, my older brother only eats in the afternoon, we are the only ones who eat breakfast but we no longer eat in the afternoon. However, during Monday to Friday, because my older brother attends classes, we make sure that he could eat breakfast, we eat only in the afternoon.  But if we have enough, we all eat), she continued. "Ngano man diay ug mokaon mong tanan, bahinon ninyo bisan ug unsa ka gamay?" (why not divide the food among yourselves, so all of you can eat a little), 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 "( he tops of his class, so as soon as my older brother gets a job, we can stop looking for garbage), 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 carenderia 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 to 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 refused strongly but I jokingly said to the girl " sumbagon teka ron kung di nimo dawaton". (I’ll punch you if you won’t take the money) She smiled as she extended her hand to take the money. "Salamat noy makapalit gyud me ron ug tambal ni papa " (thank you, sir, we will be able to buy medicine for 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 goodbye to him as I drove towards the mountains again. Did he just found 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 did not give up his childhood completely. I can sense it that way he hold and stare at his toy. My meeting with that young basureros made me poorer by 100 pesos. But they changed me and made me richer as to lessons of life are concerned. In them, I learned that life can change suddenly and may catch me flat footed. 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 times a day, still able to hold on to what they believe were 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.


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