Two Worlds Collide

imageThis past weekend, I was able to see the other side of living here in the Philippines– a life that I’m definitely more familiar with back home but a life most people here don’t even get to experience. In Eastwood City– a modern commercial and residential area that would make one reminiscent of Hollywood and Highland– I could not help but think of how contrasting life in the province or life for my kids at GK was to the comfortable living of the high-rise condos as my friend’s relatives’ (whom we were visiting). As I looked out of the window of that same condo, I saw living situations that were certainly not “up to par” with the neighboring condominium towers– though they were in the same vicinity. On Saturday night, as we were walking back to my friend’s condo from Mega Mall, there was a boy that could not have been more than seven or eight years old with sampaguita flowers in his left hand and his crying baby brother’s hand in his right. At first, I hadn’t noticed because I was so focused on getting to our destination– but then I realized that the little boy was asking me for money– “‘Te, ‘Te…”– how could I not give in to this begging boy with his wailing baby in hand? Everyone else was passing by like they did not notice. But as I tried to find my five-peso coin that I had gotten in change earlier, it was time to cross with the other pedestrians around me. I struggled and struggled to find that coin– reaching in every crevice of my bag and wallet as fast as I could– but it would not appear to my fingertips. My friends had walked ahead of me and I realized– the longer I struggled, the farther I was straying. So with the risk of losing my companions who were the only ones who knew the way, I left the little boy and his (or what I assumed was his) baby brother to catch up with them; and my conscience ate me up inside with every step I took. It was my first heartbreaking up-close encounter with poverty here in the Philippines and I was not happy with myself for leaving that boy and baby boy. I thought to myself: there’s no way I can conciously enjoy tonight now– but how selfish of a thought then I thought. A child– two children– invisible to the world that surrounds them… begging for even the slightest compensation but receiving none. What kind of childhood is that? What kind of livelihood is that? I can’t help but think– where are these children’s parents? What are they doing walking in the night– walking where there is no light? And why me? What do I have to do with anything? What is there that I can give? What is there that I can do to give these children a life full of sunshine– a life full of light?

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