There’s this bakery at the back of my house. I go there for pan de sal. hihihi…Some things never change. Pan de sal is one of my comforts and I like their bread in that bakery.
One very early morning, I took the task of buying pan de sal. Our utility crew were still asleep and it was just around the corner anyway. And while I was waiting for them to hand me my purchase of Php50 worth of pan de sal. A man covered in grime and tattered clothes came up to me with his hand stretched out. He was asking for alms. A part of me didn’t want to give him money. I didn’t believe that that was the solution but I didn’t want him to leave with nothing.
A few seconds later, the counter girl asked him if he wanted to buy anything. He pointed out to a purple jelly-filled pastry and said that he would just buy one. I told the counter girl to give him two extra and that I would take care of it. He initiated to pay with his money but the counter girl waved her hand and he walked off silently. My eyes followed him to another homeless man down the street. I wondered if he would share his food. After they exchanged salutations he just kept on walking with his purple pastry in tow.
You know those videos about homeless people being so grateful when they receive a ounce of kindness, it doesn’t always happen. On a regular day, I would be turned off that he didn’t say ‘thank you’ but today was a different day. I wasn’t concerned about my feelings. Instead, I asked why didn’t he say ‘thank you?’ Even the counter girl seemed callous about the whole thing. It seemed so easy to conclude callousness and lack of sympathy but I wasn’t going to be abrasive about this. I was taking care of my vibration and to just throw off my momentum by an incident with people that I don’t even know is simply beyond my goals as a deliberate creator.
I could let this incident make me miserable and diminish my sense of power or I can look at it as an opportunity to commune with God. My limited thinking would not be able to allow me a solution to a problem that is bigger than me. Only God is bigger than these problems that I see.
This question is an off-shoot from another question that has been ruminating in my head for weeks. Local news has been laden with irritating incidents of theft, graft, corruption, insolence and even stupidity from politicians, government workers and even ordinary people in general. The question was, How can we get people to love, honor and respect the Philippines all over again?
With drive-bys and walk-bys, I see clumps of trash all over the place and traffic is way too common for our own comfort. I am losing my place here. I’m not liking it here anymore. For years, I had never contemplated on moving away to the States so much more than I have now. And the question was, How can we get people to love, honor and respect the Philippines all over again?
As I walked back to the house with my comfort bread in tow, the only reason I could think of was that they were never taught grace and appreciation. Survival was placed a premium over Living at the expense of valuable virtues. I passed by the construction workers laying cement on our new street. This project has been going on for months. Even taxis would avoid our street because of the traffic caused by the construction. I only see a dozen or so workers each time and they don’t have the right equipment. For a moment, I was part irritated seeing how long this project is taking but then I watch these men working before the sun peaks and in an instant, I shifted my thoughts to appreciation. Appreciation for another day closer to completion. I was looking for a taho vendor to buy them some but there wasn’t any in sight. I had to get back home and help my boys get ready for school.
I can always blame someone or something but that never really solves problems. It’s too easy to be angry. All these atrocities and discomforts are some of the things we all have to face as Filipinos and as human beings collectively… I look forward to the day that Filipinos will own up to it.
Even if it concerns me that these people may have never experienced what Love is, I just have to take care of my own and be that example, even if just for the people around me.