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Hard Work

Before the sun rises, before the first rooster crows early in the morning, this man sets out to work.

While other parents and children are still cuddled in bed, comforted by a thick blanket on a cold morning, he and his son are already out in the river. On a bamboo raft, they transport loads of eggplants from a vegetable plantation upstream.


After almost an hour journey down the river, he unloads the eggplants from the bamboo raft, then he brings some loads down a steep hill where clients already wait. Since he could not carry all the loads of eggplants, his 4-year-old son stays behind and “guards” the eggplants until his father is back and ready to bring them downhill. This has become their routine almost every day.

The man does not own the vegetables. He is just a “transporter.” He is paid a measly amount for his services. Yet, there was something in his attitude that inspired me when I met him one Sunday morning. He was sporting a sunny disposition. He was smiling. He seemed happy. And content.

God sends us angels in the men and women we meet along the way. On that Sunday morning, God sent this man to remind me that hard work brings us to the ground and makes us appreciate the simpler things in life.

Posted 6 years, 9 months ago at 4:41 pm.

34 comments

Pedicab Boys


I met these boys while I was tending my mother’s sari-sari store.

Maupay!” they called out. “Maupay“, in Waray dialect, means “good.” But when we visit another person’s house or go to a store to buy something, “Maupay” means “Tao po.”

The boys wanted to buy “ice water,” or simply, cold water. Since we do not sell “ice water,” I offered to give them water from our fridge.

While they were drinking, I noticed a pedicab parked in front of the store.

“You drove that pedicab here? Namamasahero kam?” I asked them.

Their answer, a “Yes”, felt like a stab in my heart.

“Who drives it?” I asked.

“Ako,” answered the older one. He was thin and I estimated he was not tall enough to reach the bicycle’s pedal when seated properly on the driver’s seat. How could he maneuver a pedicab? I could only imagine how hard he pedals when he is going uphill or on a steep road. Pedicabs in my province are different from the ones you see in Metro Manila. Mas mataas ang bicycle na gamit sa pedicab sa amin, minsan nga parang racer bike.

I offered them some packs of biscuits. I learned that they are brothers and they have 2 younger sisters. They are orphans so their sickly grandmother, a labandera, is taking care of them. The older one drives a pedicab to help bring food to the table.

“I help him sometimes. I go with him. I push the pedicab when he is having a hard time, especially if the load is heavy,” said the younger one.

I took a photo of them as they pedaled away after our short conversation. I noticed the driver did not sit properly as he drove. His legs were still short for the pedals. He managed to look back and give a shy smile. Beyond his smile, I know there are a thousand more hardships he could not tell me…in words.

I wonder how long they will have to do this. I wonder how long their young, fragile bodies will endure. While other boys their age are probably enjoying at the mall or busy playing war games on computers or PSPs, these brothers are out in the streets fighting their own war, pedaling to keep their family afloat.

Posted 6 years, 9 months ago at 3:49 pm.

35 comments

June

Buwan ng Hunyo nang una akong makipagsapalaran sa Maynila. Trese anyos lang ako noon. Naglakas-loob akong lumuwas ng Maynila dahil nanghihinayang ako sa isang magandang opurtunidad. My uncle had offered to help out with my schooling. In return, I was expected to help with the household chores. Naging katulong ako ng kanilang kasambahay sa paglilinis, paglalaba, pag-aalaga ng bata at pamamalantsa, at kasama-kasama ako ng auntie ko sa pamamalengke. Bale, all-around ako hehehe, maliban sa pagluluto.

Life away from home was hard, especially that I was only thirteen. I was living with relatives but it felt like I was living on my own. Ang mag-asawang tinirhan ko kasi ay hindi katulad ng nakasanayan kong nanay at tatay na pwede mong kausapin tungkol sa lahat ng bagay, Most of the time, they were stiff and strict. I can not remember being asked, even once, how my day in school was. Bagay na madalas kong ma-miss kina Nanay at Tatay. Madalas kasi sa probinsya, tuwing pagkakatapos ng hapunan, ay tinatanong kami nina Nanay at Tatay kung kumusta sa school, kung meron bang lesson na nahihirapan kami. Pagkatapos nun, tuturuan na nila kami sa mga assignment namin.

Pagtuntong ko ng Maynila ay walang ganun: walang nangungumusta sa akin, walang nagtuturo sa assignment ko, walang nagtuturo sa mahirap na lesson. Ako lahat ang gumagawa para sa sarili ko.

Dalawang aspeto ng buhay ko ang nangailangan ng major adjustment: sa school at sa bahay.

Sa school, araw-araw ay nakikibaka ako sa mga classmate kong kung hindi valedictorian ay salutatorian o kaya naman ay accelerated sa elementary. Natanggap ako sa isa sa mga public school sa Manila na may malaking populasyon. Noong unang araw ng pasukan ay nagimbal ako sa dami ng mga estudyante. Ang first year ay umabot ng section 33 at bawat section ay may average na 50 students. Sa first year pa lang ay umabot na kami ng mahigit 1,650 na estudyante. Sa pagdaan ng mga taon, unti-unti itong nabawasan.

Pinalad akong mag-qualify sa tinawag nilang star section o Section One. Sa probinsya kasi, wala kaming star section noon sa eskwelahan namin, sapagkat iisa lang naman ang section sa bawat grade level. Haluhalo ang miyembro ng klase namin noon sa probinsya. Magkakasama ang slow learner at fast learner. Magkakasama ang mga nasa tamang gulang at mga 16 at 17 gulang na ngunit nasa Grade 6 pa lang. Ang iba nga sa kanila, pagka-graduate ng elementary ay agad nang nag-asawa.

Balik tayo sa mga kaklase ko dito sa Maynila. Lahat sila ay marurunong. Lahat yata ay gustong mapunta sa honor roll, parang mga kandidatong nag-aagawan sa pwesto. Ako’y madalas tahimik lang sa klase. Ito ay sa dahilang madalas nila akong bansagang promdi at bisaya. Palibhasa’y bata pa noon kaya kahit paano ay dinamdam ko ang ganung mga panunukso. Ngunit nang lumaon ay hindi ko na rin ito pinansin. Ang tanging nasa isip ko lang ay makatapos ng high school. Unti-unti rin namang nag-mature ang mga kaklase ko at hindi na lang puro honor ang iniisip nila.

Nasa high school ako nang pumutok ang Mt. Pinatubo (O, wag ka ng magkwenta ng edad ko. Alam ko nag-Google ka agad kung kelan pumutok at Mt. Pinatubo hahaha ). Nasa high school din ako nang maganap ang pinakaseryoso at huling coup d’etat laban sa Aquino administration na pinangunahan ng Reform the Armed Forces Movement o RAM (O, sinabi nang wag mag-Google eh!) At the time, hindi pa uso ang celphone. Walang landline sa bahay. The fastest way you could communicate with people far away from you was through telegram. Letters from Manila took 2 to 3 weeks to arrive in Samar. And letters from Samar took the same length of time to arrive in Manila. Madalas, kapag may problema ako sa school o sa tinutuluyan kong bahay, sa simbahan ang takbo ko. Doon ako iiyak, nang iiyak, nang iiyak at magdadasal, magdadasal, at magdadasal. Kung ikaw ay taga-Maynila at mapapadaan ka sa simbahan ng Sto. Niño sa Pandacan, ingiti mo ako sa simbahang iyan na naging kanlungan ko sa loob ng maraming taon.

Sa high school ko natutuhang makibaka sa buhay. Sa high school ako maraming beses na sinubok ng tadhana. Sa high school din ako natutong maging matatag. Sa high school, lalo kong pinagtibay sa sarili ko ang kagustuhan na makapagtapos ng pag-aaral para naman hindi mabalewala ang lahat.

Sa PICC ginanap ang graduation namin nung high school.Mula sa 33 sections noong first year ay naging 28 sections na lamang kami. Kasama ko sina Nanay at Tatay nang umakyat ako ng entablado. At sa araw na iyon ay tuwang-tuwa ako.

Ikinuwento ko ang episode na ito ng buhay ko para kapulutan ng kahit na munting aral, lalo’t kasisimula pa lang ng pasukan.

Una, sa mga magulang at mga taong nagpapaaral, I hope you will take time out para kumustahin ang mga estudyante ninyo after a day in school. I tell you, it matters A LOT to them. Sana’y wag kayong tumigil sa pagtaguyod ng inyong mga mag-aaral

Sa mga mag-aaral na hindi na kinakailangan pang mahiwalay sa pamilya para lang makapag-aral, I hope you’ll feel grateful for that. Hindi madali ang mawalay sa pamilya.

Sa mga mag-aaral naman na katulad kong nawalay sa pamilya, sana’y matutuhan ninyo ang patuloy na pagtitiis at pagpapasensya. Patuloy kayong magsikap.

Alam kong may magtatanong kung nandyan ako sa picture, opo, nandyan ako, pakihanap na lang. Ang makakahanap ay may premyong trip to Boracay Davao Palawan Jerusalem hehehe.

Posted 6 years, 10 months ago at 5:24 pm.

33 comments