This is a post I made about a year ago. I reread it and remembered…
24 April 2012
I was riding a jeepney from UP to SM North, sitting right behind the driver. I call that seat the anti-holdap seat, because I was too far from the entrance and there were no windows behind me. In short, the possibility of me getting held up by thieves was smaller.
Once we reached Philcoa, the driver called over one of the young barkers who make a living out of the sakayan near the footbridge.
"Pababain mo nga yung kapatid mo," the driver said.
I was wearing earphones that time, and it took a while for me to realize that the driver was asking the barker to get a street kid out of his jeepney. It was morning rush hour. The driver needed all of his seats filled.
The street kid sat right by the entrance, and the barker started pulling at him, shouting for him to get down from the vehicle. The street kid resisted, got away from the barker’s clutches, and went further inside, out of reach.
He sat down at the floor right by my feet. He was about 7 to 10 years old, very skinny, hair bleached by the sun. His clothes and body were dirty. His slippers were so thin and were about to fall apart. Around his neck was a small pouch, which he held in a tight fist.
The barker shouted at him. The kid refused. "Kukunin mo lang ang pera ko!"
Despite the barker’s shouts, the kid remained by my feet, quiet. The driver eventually gave up on the kid, and went on with the route.
I have to admit, I clutched my bag tighter to myself, remembering all those reports of street children stealing from pedestrians and commuters. I was very suspicious, even if the kid did nothing by stare at the floor. He didn’t stand up, didn’t ask for alms. He just sat there, eyes wide, holding his pouch to his chest.
When we got to Veterans Hospital, he started to cry.
His sobs were so quiet. If he wasn’t holding his hands to his eyes, I wouldn’t know that he was crying. It was so unlike the cries that my cousins give out when they’re upset. The street kid’s cries did not demand attention. It was like he simply needed to cry.
We reached SM. While everyone was getting down from the vehicle, the driver tried to console the kid in the gruff way that adult men have while consoling.
"Dito ka lang kasi sa teritoryo mo. Hindi ka gugulpihin dito. ‘Wag ka na bumalik doon. Hanggang Mindanao (Ave.) ka lang dapat,"
The kid wiped his tears with his shirt and went down from the jeep, still clutching his pouch.
I realized later how scared the kid must have been. Shame on me for seeing him as a streetchild first before seeing him as a regular little boy.
I’ve recently started working for a small construction office. It’s not the most glamorous job in the world, but it’s a start.
My bosses are very good at what they do (even if their partnership is still very young), office life is okay, and I’m learning construction-y things… but things have been getting monotonous.
I’m lucky enough to have weekends off. Judging by the way my bosses work their asses off on Saturdays, I have a feeling these free weekends should be cherished before they get rare.
So I have resolved to go somewhere or do something productive every weekend. It doesn’t have to be grand or far away, but I spend 5 days of the week sitting on a desk, so I have to get off my ass on Saturdays. I’m determined to explore.