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Monday, January 14, 2008

Caveat

I was reminded of this incident before Christmas, on my way home from work after a hectic night of answering calls on various high bill inquiries from customers. I work at a Call Centre for a U.S. based utility company here in Manila Philippines. Since Philippines, is around twelve hours ahead of the U.S., I worked during the night. I take public transport coming to work and the most convenient public transport from where I lived and my place of work are our local jeeps.

I had just barely got in and seated in a jeep when a boy with an improvised drum, made of can and wood hopped in, as the diver stopped the jeep to give way to a getting off passenger. The boy to my estimate was between ten to eleven years old. He was clad in rubber slippers and the shirt he had on was rather bigger for his size. From the colour of what he wore, I could determine the absence of soap and water. The boy’s face though is not that kind you see on the street begging for few coins on their palms. The boy without hesitation started to strike the drum and started to sing. All of us passengers were mesmerized of such a beautiful tune and well synchronized drumbeat.

After two songs, my male seatmate asked the boy where he lives and if his parents knew what he was doing. The boy with sadness in his eyes said. He is from a nearby province and that his mother and two younger siblings are at present staying with a relative in Manila. His father accordingly is in jail. He said his father was once an overseas worker. Coming back to the Philippines, his father met a man at the airport who had excess baggage. His father was requested to have the baggage be declared his, so the other fellow could avoid paying tax for the excess baggage. Apparently the baggage had in it grams of methamphetamine. The boy suddenly started to cry. He said his wish is for his father is to be given justice, and that his mother could find a job.

The man asked the boy if he knows how to read and gave him his business card and told the boy to have his mother call him. The man said he could probably have a job for his mother. The man took his wallet and gave the boy monies and said he could go home now. My heart melted. Some of the gaping faces, who had listened intently to the boy’s story, took their wallets as well, followed the man’s example by sparing some of their hard earned peso. I normally do not bring excess monies in my wallet. That morning, I bought fries and burger from a nearby McDonalds, closer to where our office is located for my breakfast. Those were all I had given to the boy. The boy still sobbing managed a smile and said “salamat po”. Translated in English as “thank you”, then got off at an unloading zone.

So many stories similar to this had been told. I thought they are just meant to cautious people but it really does happen in real life. I hope this story would serve as a warning to everyone to be very diligent when being asked for help. It could happen to anyone, anywhere. Despite our good intension, we are not exempted from legal liabilities and responsibilities when something goes awry. It could hurt us and our loved ones as well if we are not too careful.

I may not see the boy ever again, but I do hope his simple wish for a warm cozy home together with his loved ones would come true. I do hope too, that justice would be served to the perpetrators and set the innocent free.

1 comment:

Johnny R. said...

An interesting and touching story. Deep in my heart, a tear-jerker too. With so much thanks, keep up the good work Jolly...

Johnny R.

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