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Of utmost importance November 6, 2006

Posted by benj in Friends.
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this is the blog of my friend Vincent. He writes well and I think people should read his work. And yeah, he IS single.
Aight Vince, I hope this gets you hits. 🙂

Selling Sampaguitas

“Kuya, bilhin mo na, sampung piso lang isa kuya,” he said while tapping at my window. He was about 5 or 6 years old, with short, straight hair in mild disarray. He was thin and small, he was wearing an old, green shirt with numerous dark stains. He had big eyes. And he was asking me to buy his sampaguitas, in a small, earnest, and strangely persuasive voice.

He tapped at my window while I was peering out into the street, my mind preoccupied by random heavy thoughts. I was stuck in traffic, waiting for the light to turn green so I could make a U-turn and speed away towards home. I was unusually irritable that day, impatient, and quite stressed, and I had wanted to go home as soon as I could.

“Kuya, sige na, bili ka na.”

I looked at him more closely. I like children, maybe even enough to become a pediatrician after I graduate from med school. Immediately I observed that he was a bit malnourished, and he had dry lips.  There was something about him that made him not seem to belong out on the streets, but there he was, dirty and unkempt. His eyes, though, were innocent and trusting. For some reason because of that it seemed to me that the streets haven’t claimed him completely yet.

It struck me that his eyes weren’t hardened like most of the kids I see living in the streets. There was an openness about him, an innocent quality that you find often in the young, but not in street children. More often I observe young mouths contorted in sneers, small noses covered by clear plastic with handfuls of rugby adhesive, little eyes toughened by seeing too much, too soon, too often, and ears grimy with soot and dirt on these young children. But this child seemed new, even fresh. He was dirty, his face had the grime of the streets, but he looked breezy, almost cheerful.

“Kuya, sige na. Sampung piso lang isa,” he said again. I don’t understand why he was so persistent. These children would normally dart quickly from one car to the other.

I hesitated. I have no real use for those white, beaded flowers. But lately I have been following my sister’s lead. She would buy a bunch of sampaguitas from street children and place them on her side mirror outside her car. She didn’t like the flowers, but she wanted to support the children in some way.

I decided to buy his sampaguitas. The going rate for sampaguitas, I think, was about half his asking price, but I felt that haggling for a sampaguita would be excessive even for me. I rolled down my window. I said, with a weak smile, “Sige, bigyan mo ako ng dalawa.” He beamed.

I looked around the car for some coins to give to the kid. I pulled out the coin drawer, I felt the dashboard for change, I looked inside the glove compartment. I couldn’t find any coins. At the back of my mind I realized I was taking a lot of time doing this, and that soon the light would turn green and that I would have to go.

I was still searching the car’s crevices and compartments when the car behind me suddenly beeped his horn; the light had turned green, I should go. I frenetically patted my jeans pockets for coins. I felt them—loose change, probably enough for twenty pesos— but they were buried deep in my jeans. It would take me at least 5 seconds to fish them out. The car behind me beeped again, this time much more impatiently. I do not like cars who would make me wait unnecessarily, and I imagined the temper of the driver behind me rising. Already there was a stretch of clear road in front of me until the intersection, and cars beside me were inching their way to my lane. I felt for the coins through my jeans again. Too much of a hassle, too long of a time.

I gave up. I tapped on the glass, gave a curt, “Next time na lang,” to the kid, and I rolled my window up. I shifted the gear stick, and accelerated forward.

He instantly realized that I was leaving. I’m not sure, but I think he panicked. He started walking, and then running, to catch up with me. He was saying, “Kuya, eto na o.. eto na o..” in a voice that was earnest and beseeching, while softly, politely, and uselessly knocking on my window with his tiny hands. I said, “Next time na,” this time a bit more forcefully and much more resolutely, maybe even a bit irritably, and concentrated on moving ahead. I was leaving him behind.

I saw him when I looked at my rearview mirror. He was running after the car. His face was contorted and pained. He was running after the car with his hands reaching out, calling “kuya”, and he began to cry. Immediately my heart fell. I didn’t realize I would make him cry. I felt terrible, but I had to look ahead to drive. I signaled to go left, and when I reached the intersection I made a U-turn. I drove slowly. I looked for him again, and I saw him. He was still crying, much more so now. He cried the tears of a young child. I glimpsed at his shoulders heaving, and I felt immediately distraught. I saw his face. That’s probably how I looked prior to my first major disappointment. I could not buy him his sampaguitas when he thought I would, and he cried because I made him hope.

I drove on. A part of me wanted to stop, to cross the street and buy from him his sampaguitas, and make him stop crying. A part of me stopped me from doing such an impractical and nonsensical thing. I wanted to tell him that it was ok, that many people would buy his flowers from him, and that I didn’t mean to make him hope and then simply drive on by. I wanted to show him some kindness, some generosity, because it seemed like he didn’t receive much. But I looked ahead at the road, stepped on the accelerator, and drove on.

I was bothered by this experience. I do not know him, but I felt that I understood him. What I did hurt him, much more because he trusted that I would not let him down. It probably would have been easier for a child completely swallowed by the streets to handle a situation like this. He would probably be numb to these small hopes, and would have just watched me drive away with the indifferent acceptance of those who have no more energy to hope for anything better.

I think that life is probably more hurtful for those who hope the most. They hurt more deeply. When they hurt they are completely surprised by their hurt, because they never expect it. They ask with the brazenness of the young, those who have not been educated by pain yet. They make declarations with calm abandon, they quietly believe that their best dreams are ready for the taking. There is something so beautiful about that kind of eager and hopeful trust. And something so tragic to break it and change it forever.

Near the next stoplight I was looking for more kids with sampaguitas. I wanted to drown my guilt by buying a bunch of sampaguitas from the next child—the next children–I would see. But there were none. It was bizarre; I saw not a single street kid selling sampaguitas from that intersection to my home in Cainta.

He affected me so much because I suddenly felt that to him, I was part of the uncaring world that he was being slowly swallowed up by, a world that is slowly obliterating his hopes.

Here I am, back home, and I still think of the child who was trying to sell me his sampaguitas. I wish that he was able to sell them, sell them all. I try to imagine him healthy, living in a decent house, going to school. I hope he fulfills all his dreams.

I hope in the future he will have a better life so he will never have to sell sampaguitas in the streets. I hope that I could do more than buy him sampaguitas, that I could be part of something that would give him something to look forward to, a world better than a street, beaded flowers, and uncaring cars.

April 29, 2006

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Comments»

1. arvin - November 6, 2006

I often ignore street children, I don’t know why.

nakakatuwa ka naman, arang sobrang naguilty ka ah. pero sabagay ni minsan nde pako nakakakita ng bata na gaya ng sabi mo eh ‘fresh’ pa ang itsura – inosente. astig lagi nakakasalubong ko eh, imbis na kaawaan sarap layasa. (sama ko) hehe

off topic: cainta ka? diba taga rob ka? san ung bata sa cainta ‘coz I happen to be from there too.

2. arvin - November 6, 2006

nyaks! so it was from vincent’s blog pala!

(bonaks) read his blog people!

3. Jhed - November 6, 2006

I was walking along Shangri-la one evening, and this kid approached me. Selling her sampaguitas. Kinda like what happened to Vincent. Sabi ko next time na lang, pero hinabol talaga niya ako and insisted to buy her sampaguitas. I asked her how much, pero wala siyang sinabi. Nagbigay ako ng P10 plus yung sandwich na hindi ko nakain.

I feel really bad for the kid. And yeah, nakaka-guilty nga yung nangyari kay Vincent.

Oh well, kahit gaano man natin isipin ang sitwasyon nila, we basically can’t do anything about it. Unless we are the freaking president of the Philippines.

4. utakgago - November 6, 2006

Lovett. Drama, pero ang ganda.

Whenever a street children would ask me for some coins, I interview him/her! Minsan tinatanong ko kung nasan magulang mo, kung nasan nakatira, kung bakit kailangan ng pera…

I’ll make a post about street children today, hehe! I am inspired.

Well, maawain kasi akong tao pagdating sa ganyan so I can’t resist. Pwera lang sa sampaguita SINCE wala naman akong kotse na dapat pagsabitan nyan.

🙂

5. utakgago - November 6, 2006

Btw, ang ganda ng post nya ha!

I’ve read his blog. He deserves another blog-hoster than a cramped-up space in friendster! oh well..

6. ade - November 7, 2006

He needs his own webhost! his writing’s too good to be stuck in crappy friendster!

7. anna - November 7, 2006

Nice blog by your friend! I actually felt like crying while reading through it. =P

8. aajao - November 8, 2006

“I think that life is probably more hurtful for those who hope the most. They hurt more deeply.”

– i liked this statement from you. I’m sorry for the kid but you shouldn’t be taking the blame. life isn’t fair— at least at the moment.

OT: i’m surprised that you are from Cainta. Maybe we could catch up some coffee at the Brick Road (Figaro dapat) or perhaps Mocha Blends in Ortigas Extension.

9. ron - November 8, 2006

Ooh, a link handout. :p

Hi Vincent! Nabasa ko na yan :p Mag update ka naman kasi.

10. mitch - November 9, 2006

*sigh*

I’ve been just as guilty as Vincent or whoever wrote that. hehe. 😀

The children do not deserve to roam around the streets and beg people money because their parents, who most likely laze around, are the ones who have the responsibility to provide a comfortable life for them. Unfortunately, it’s the other way around.

ang ganda nung pagkakasulat niya dun sa pagmamakaawa nung bata even if he decided to leave him na. parang kinurot puso ko dun ah. hahaha! 😀

11. benj - November 9, 2006

arvin
I often ignore street children, I don’t know why.

nakakatuwa ka naman, arang sobrang naguilty ka ah. pero sabagay ni minsan nde pako nakakakita ng bata na gaya ng sabi mo eh ‘fresh’ pa ang itsura – inosente. astig lagi nakakasalubong ko eh, imbis na kaawaan sarap layasa. (sama ko) hehe

off topic: cainta ka? diba taga rob ka? san ung bata sa cainta ‘coz I happen to be from there too.

I would like to thank you for exposing me to mortal danger by telling everyone where I live. Hahaha.

aajao
“I think that life is probably more hurtful for those who hope the most. They hurt more deeply.”

– i liked this statement from you. I’m sorry for the kid but you shouldn’t be taking the blame. life isn’t fair— at least at the moment.

OT: i’m surprised that you are from Cainta. Maybe we could catch up some coffee at the Brick Road (Figaro dapat) or perhaps Mocha Blends in Ortigas Extension.

Again, I didn’t write the article. Nor am I from Rizal. I just realized I got a lot of Rizal-based readers here.

I’m still up for your offer of coffee as long as you pay. Haha. Kidding.

12. ron - November 9, 2006

Ha? E diba hindi ka naman taga Cainta, kungdi si Vince?

13. benj - November 9, 2006

Yes, ron.

Aajao thinks I wrote the piece eh. hehe.

I guess people don’t like reading the first paragraphs of posts.

14. aajao - November 10, 2006

oh. ok. i thought you were plugging Vincent’s friendster blog (no friendster access in the office), which i didn’t bother clicking. hehe.. so i moved on reading the succeeding paragraph which, i thought was your own entry. haha. ganyan ako ka-loyal sa yo!

and i thought it was you who said those words i quoted. i take back the credit from you, and si Vincent na lang yayain kong mag kape. haha!

15. benj - November 10, 2006

Haha. Vince will have to have me as chaperone. It’s not that safe to meet up with strangers you meet on the internet. haha

16. mats - November 10, 2006

I was so touched from this entry by your friend Vince… 🙂
Actually, I didn’t see him as “na-guilty” or what… Everytime I’m on the road and a sampaguita vendor or kahit ano pa yan ang lumapit at magsabi ng, “ate..” I’ll tap the car window instead… There are some street children kasi na – if they see you drinking or just munching something…. They’re like, “Akin na lang yan…” Wala lang… Pero, kapag talagang, mahirap maresist, I do give them something… Most of the times, I do give them 20 bucks and won’t take their sampaguita na lang… Minsan, I’ll look for their parents pa… I dunno, but I have this manner na, I look for someone which should be doing that kind of stuffs… Children who are found on the street kc – they’re in peril… I wish, wala na lang ganyan dito sa Pilipinas. Kung pwede better life na lang lahat, but that’s impossible…
To cut it short, na-touch ako…
peace out!

17. cruise - November 20, 2006

glad to hear that you have a big heart for children, even the Lord loves little children. keep it up, i am sure the Lord will going to bless you for being kind to the children.

18. iskoo - November 21, 2006

kawawa nga talaga yung mga bata sa kalye, nagsusumikap para makaahon sa buhay, ano kaya ginagawa ngmga magulang nila?

19. jaywalker - November 23, 2006

This is one long blogger’s block:D

20. ade - November 23, 2006

Ui, buhay ka pa ba?!

21. ron - November 24, 2006

And meeting you would be safe? Yaiks.

22. Evelyn - January 9, 2007

A touching story.Panay tulo ang luha ko habang binabasa ko and istorya halos hindi ko na makita and screen.


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