Wednesday, November 28, 2007


I would like to re-post verbatim a story forwarded to me today. I thought that even if my regular readers may have already come across it, this anonymous piece is worth everyone's while ...

From a Cebuano.

The Basureros (From a Cebuano)

Ever since it was diagnosed that I am having a possible heart enlargement in the last APE, I have exerted more effort to do physical exercises.

I do jogging during week days and do long - ride mountain biking every Sunday.

But this Sunday is a special Sunday to me. While I was on my way to
the mountains of Busay (cebu) hoping to strengthened my heart by this exercise, instead, I personally encountered a heart-breaking scene that changed me.

I already passed by the Marco Polo Plaza (formerly Cebu Plaza Hotel) when I decided to stop to buy bananas at a small carenderia located along the road. I haven't taken any solid food that morning so I need fruits to have the needed energy to get to my destination - the mountain top.

I am almost done eating with the second banana when I noticed two children across the street busily searching the garbage area. "Basureros" I said to myself and quickly turn my attention away from them to sip a small amount of water. I cared less for these kind of children actually; to make it straight, I do not like them, and I do not trust them even more.

You see, several times I have been a victim to these kind of children who are pretending to be basureros looking for empty bottles and cans when in fact the 'plangganas' , 'kalderos', and 'hinayhays' are their favorites.

I remember one afternoon while I was watching a Mike Tyson fight when I noticed that the TV screen suddenly became blurred. I checked outside and saw two young basureros running away with my newly installed antenna.

Hatred may be a little bit stronger word to describe my feeling towards these basureros, but I do not like them honestly not till I met these three children.

I was about to embark on my bike again when I heard one of the two children, a girl of about 7 or 8 of age saying aloud to the other, a 12-yr old boy, "kuya si dodong kunin mo kasi tumitingin sa mga kumain, nakakahiya, only then that I noticed a small boy standing near to me biting slightly his finger.

He's a few inches shorter if compared to my 5 years old son (but I knew later that he's also 5 yrs. Old).

Though he did not asked for food to anyone in the carenderia, the way he looked at the customers who were eating , enough to convinced me that he intensely craving for it. The older boy then quickly crossed the street and gently pulled out the little one who politely obeyed. As I watched the two crossing back the street to the garbage area, I heard the tindera saying "kawawa naman yung mga batang yun mababait pa naman. I learned further from the carenderia owner that the children are from a good family , both
parents were working before, and that their father got a stroke 3 years ago and became partially paralized and their mother died of heart attack while their father was still confined at the hospital. The parents were still in their early forties when the catastrophe happened, and the children became basureros since then to meet their daily needs and for their father's medication.

Deeply moved by what I heard, I went to a nearby bakery and bought 20 pesos worth of bread and gave it to the children who initially refused including the little boy. "Sige lang po, salamat na lang, bibili na lang po kami mamaya kung makabenta na kami, the young girl said to me.

I explained that they need to go home because it started to rain.
"Nasanay na po kami, the girl answered again.

Again, I explained that the rain can make them sick and if they'll become sick there's no one to take care of their father. Upon mentioning their father, they nodded and accept the bread but I noticed that the older boy did not eat.

When I asked him if he does not like the kind of bread I bought for them he smiled but as he's about to explain, the little girl, who is the more talker of them interrupted, "Linggo po kasi ngayon,pag sabado at linggo hapon lang po sya kumakain, kami lang po
ang kumakain ng agahan pero di na po kami kakain pagdating ng hapon si kuya lang po. Pero pag lunes hanggang biyernes, kasi may pasok, si kuya lang po nag-aagahan, kami hapunan lang pero kung marami kaming benta, kami pong lahat (kumakain) she
continued. "bakit kung kumain kayong lahat, hati-hatiin nyo na lang kahit kunti lang ang pagkain?

I countered.

The young girl reasoned out that their father wanted that her older brother to come to school with full stomachs so he can easily catch up the teacher's lessons. "Pag nagkatrabaho si kuya, hihinto kami sa pamamasura, first honor kasi sya, the little boy added proudly.

Maybe I was caught by surprise or I am just overly emotional that my tears started to fall.

I then quickly turned my back from them to hide my tears and pretended to pick up my bike from the carenderia where I left it.

I don't know how many seconds or minutes I spent just to compose myself; pretending again this time that I was mending by bike.

Finally I get on to my bike and approached the three children to bid goodbye to them who in turn cast their grateful smiles at me. I then took a good look at all of them specially to the small boy and pat his head with a pinch in my heart. Though I believe that their positive look at life can easily change their present situation, there is one thing that they can never change; that is , their being motherless. That little boy can no longer taste the sweet embrace, care, and most of all , the love of his mother forever. Nobody can
refill the empty gap created by that sudden and untimely death of their mother. Every big event that will happen to their lives will only remind them and make them wish of their
mother's presence.

I reached to my pocket and handed to them my last 100 peso bill which I reserved for our department's bowling tournament. This time they refused strongly but I jokingly said to the girl, "suntukin kita pag hindi mo tinanggap yan. She smiled as she extended
her hand to take the money. "Salamat po, makakabili na kami ng gamut ni papa, she uttered.

I then turned to the small boy and though he's a few feet away from me, I still noticed that while his right hand was holding the half - filled sack , his left hand was holding a toy ? a worn out toy car. I waved my hands and said bye bye to him as I drove towards the mountains again. Did he just found the toy in the garbage area or the toy was originally his - when the misfortune did not took place yet? - I did not bother to ask. But one thing is crystal clear to me, that inspite of the boy's abnormal life, he has not given up his childhood completely. I can sense it by the way he held and stared at his toy.

My meeting with that young basureros made me poorer by 100 pesos. But they changed me and made me richer as to lessons of life.

In them, I learned that life can change suddenly and may caught me flat footed. In them, I've learned that even the darkest side of life, cannot change the beauty of one's heart. Those three children, who sometimes cannot eat three times a day, were still able to hold on to what they believe was right. And what a contrast to most of us who are quick to point out to our misfortunes. In them, I've learned to hope for things when things seem to go the other way.

Lastly, I know that God cares for them far more than I do. That though He allowed them to experience such a terrible life which our finite minds cannot comprehend, His unquestionable love will surely follow them through. And in God's own time they will win.