the night that changed my life…

Monday, October 13, 2008

(From my Friendster blog site originally posted on October 20, 2007)

I have never been a good writer but I will try my best to stretch out my storytelling abilities. I want to share to the world how one night changed the way I look at life…

My boyfriend (Boyet) and I are walking along Ayala when we passed by an old man. Boyet was looking the other way that’s why he didn’t notice him. I glanced at the old man, and then

looked the other way. But for some odd reason, I looked back. I saw him with his eyes closed as he touches his lower abdomen. His one hand was carrying a sleeping boy while the other was firmly holding the railings for support. I asked Boyet to ask the man if something is wrong. We had second thoughts because the man might get offended. But we decided to go back and ask him “Manong anong problema?”. Shocked by our presence, he started walking away but his eyes were still closed. I saw that he was fighting the pain as he continued to walk away. I asked him again and he said, “Sumusumpong lang po yung sakit ko”. Boyet asked what his illness is. “Gastric cancer po…” He continued to walk away from us but we started following him. We asked him where he came from and where he is going. And this started it all…

“Galing po kaming DSWD. Pinapunta kasi kami dun para sa Balik-Probinsya na project nila. Ngayon po kasi ‘yung araw ng follow-up ko sa kanila. Ang kaso, pinapabalik ulit kami. Pupunta po kaming Landmark kasi doon po ang sakayan ng Cavite . Makikiusap na lang po kaming makisabay.”

Hearing these words, Boyet gave him money, enough for the two of them to go home. “San po ba makakakuha ng tubig dito?” We decided to go to the nearest McDonald’s to buy them dinner. He whispered “Salamat po Diyos ko. May awa talaga ang Diyos Ma’am.” Inside McDo, Mang Manuel showed me all these crumpled papers as proof that he indeed was going to DSWD. I started asking questions. But I was not prepared for his answers…

“Sa Cavite po kami nakatira. Nagpunta po ako sa Maynila dahil binigyan ako ng referral ng mayor namin para makahingi ng tulong sa DSWD. P1,300 lang po ang kailangan namin para maiuwi ko ang mga anak ko sa Leyte bago pa man ako mamatay.” He took all his strength in opening his bag and brought out old pictures. “Ayan Ma’m yung mga anak ko. 11 ung panganay, tapos 9 ung sumunod, at eto ang Junior ko (referring to the child he is with). Dati maayos pa yung buhay namin (I think they used to own a small sari-sari store). Kaso nauubos ‘yung kabuhayan naming nung nagkaron ng breast cancer ang asawa ko. Malubha na yung cancer ko dahil nagsimula na kong labasan ng dugo sa puwet. Wala na ‘kong pag-asa kaya ang gusto ko lang maayos ang mga anak ko at maiwan sila sa kapatid ng asawa ko bago man lang ako mamatay. Kaawaan na ko ng Diyos, gagawin ko ang lahat, kahit masama maiuwi lang sila sa Leyte . Pinapabalik-balik nila ko para lang sa ganoong halaga. E ang sabi sa’kin ng doctor nung July, maswerte na daw umabot ako ng third week ng September.” I touched his hand and said “Mas kawawa po ang mga anak ninyo kung gagawin nyo yun.” It pains me to see that he broke his burger into two. “Wag nyo na pong hatiin, sa inyo pong dalawa yan.”, Boyet said. “Ay iuuwi ko na lang po kasi sa 2 anak ko”. I am usually tactless and most of the time brutally frank so I
gathered all my courage and asked him “Manong, hindi nyo naman po siguro kami niloloko no?”. He said, “Isunusumpa ko po sa libingan ng asawa ko.” I felt a great deal of shame asking him that question…

We decided to give them money, enough to send the whole family back to Leyte . And the last words he said were, “Maraming salamat po sa inyo. Pinapangako ko po na mamayang madaling araw mismo iuuwi ko ang pamilya ko sa Leyte . Hindi ko po kayo mababayaran ngayon pero Diyos na po ang bahala sa inyo.” And they walked away…

We were both speechless on our way home. Now you might be wondering how this incident changed how I look at life…

1. I realized how corrupt and soulless our government officials are. How can they afford to spend millions (billions with the ZTE deal!!!) of pesos that obviously come from the taxes we pay, and not be able to give away P1300 to a dying man? Is this how our nation has become? The rotting system is obvious but we all remain oblivious…

2. How can someone like Mang Manuel have the kind of faith he has? His wife died of the same thing that is now killing him. He has no money. His kids haven’t eaten for a day. He is aware of the fact that he is leaving his very young children. But how can he ask God to bless us for helping him if he needs God’s blessings more than us? How can he say that God will provide if he has none at all? I question God every day, which made me feel so unworthy of God’s love thinking that there are people like Mang Manuel who wholeheartedly trust HIM…

3. I complain at everything. I complain that my job is tiring when there are people who would do anything just to have a decent job. I complain that I don’t have enough clothes when in fact; I need to buy another closet just to have a place for all of them. How can I complain at all the blessings I have when there are people like Mang Manuel who has less?

4. I realized that I need to live freely; no pretensions, less complications. I might be too busy working to realize that I need a career more than a job. I need to LIVE! And my ability to breath does not necessarily mean that I am ALIVE. I need to follow my dreams, know the things that would quench my longing for contentment, and be where my passion is. I need to have a LIFE. Before it’s too late.

5. And most important of all, I need to cherish the people around me. Some of them might have caused me pain, but I need to bear in mind that I need to heal the scars caused by hatred, grudge and envy. I have always believed that I have loved my family and friends enough. But after that night, I came to realize that my love for them is unparalleled with Mang Manuel’s love for his kids. The fact that he came to Manila penniless and shamelessly asked for help from other people made me wonder if I can do that for my family. Just the thought of it makes me ashamed…


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Email: jerelltabenoja@gmail.com

Blogger’s Note: All opinions expressed here are my own. Just because something worked for me does not necessarily mean that it will work for you too, the same way that I don’t post selfies just because everybody else is doing it. Everything on this blog, unless otherwise stated, belongs to me. Plagiarism is stealing. And the Bible made it clear that thou shalt not steal. =)

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3 comments:

  1. whoa.

    galing talaga ni God ano? galing!

    ReplyDelete
  2. my heart feels crumpled with Mang Manuel.. my tears almost fall.. galing ni God to make you realize those things, and to use you to share it and open our eyes too..
    Can i share your blog to my network site? so others may realize what we realize. thanks..

    ReplyDelete

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