Molino, Bacoor, Cavite. In a Bus Company Parking Lot. Sitting by a chair in their two-meter-wide home, a woman by her 30s relives the day she almost died in a stampede. Her eyes grow weary as it wells up with tears that never fell, while she tells her story piece by piece to those who seem to care. She relates how she and her husband wants to go back to the province to start a new life, and how a meager few thousand pesos would mean a whole lot.
Now I believe in the saying that “It takes one to know one”. Ignorance leads to indifference and apathy. Not knowing the matter at hand will, most appartenly, lead to non-action. Just seeing these two people and knowing the story behind their gloomy faces made me rethink my take on poverty.
The first man is a beggar I see everyday when I go home from school. It’s usual for people to see beggars in sidewalks, but this old man is different. He’s different not only because he carries his placard, but because he’s persistent. I see beggars near MRT Quezon Avenue Station everyday, but the next day, they’re most probably gone. This man, however, he stays. Every single day. I’ve been seeing him for a week now, and every time I see him, I get hurt. I get hurt because first, I feel his pain. He’s a TB patient and he has no food support, he probably hasn’t eaten whenever I see him for his can is always empty when I see it. But more than getting hurt from empathy, I get hurt because I wasn’t able to do anything to help him.
Just this afternoon, I expected to see him in his usual place, holding his placard up high with his face down. But he wasn’t there. He wasn’t at his usual place doing his usual thing. I looked around for him but he was nowhere to be found. Walking a few steps later, I found him near the Parking Lot of McDo, standing, leaning at the concrete, his hands clutching his can. I looked at him and just couldn’t bear the pain. I wanted to help him. I wanted to give him money. But selfishness overpowered me. I wanted to talk to him and ask how he’s doing, but shyness became me. I wanted to take him to a snack but something inside made me not do it. I feel so bad up to now, because I really want to help that man but so many things are keeping me from doing so.
The second person is someone we interviewed for our research in Journalism. They were a poor family of six and she almost died in the stampede, thank God she did not, otherwise she’ll be leaving alone her family of small children. I was so moved by her story because their simple request was just to be able to go back to their province to start anew. I asked them how much it’d cost to go back there, hoping I could lend a helping hand just to make it happen. But their answer only hurt me, because, again, I wasn’t able to help them financially. A kid like me only has enough to thrive for a day. But still, there was this longing to grant their very simple wish, just a few thousand pesos to sponsor a family of six’s travel back to their province.
I learned that you really have to look at something face to face in order to understand it. You have to immerse yourself in the situation, and no amount of lecture in the classroom can define what something really is.
These days, I have looked at poverty in the eye. And it made me rethink my situation. It most definitely put things in perspective. I know I’m still blessed because I know I will still be able to live the next day. But these people, they’re just counting the days, hoping that tomorrow will be better than what they have today. Their wishes and dreams are simple, and it made me think about my own wishes and dreams. If only I could just make their lives a little bit better, that way I won’t be feeling this guilt that’s been consuming me for so many days now, especially when I see that man everytime I go home.
I want to do something. I really hope you can help me think of what I can do. I know I can call foundations and such, write to this agency and that, but I want to be open to every option and find the best one. It’s not right to say that the youth today has no say in the situation of our country, it’s just that we’re not presented with the proper and enough options to choose from. I would like to be educated on the options I have to help these poor people, so that with my own means I can help alleviate poverty, even in the smallest of ways.