The three of us decide to go see Beauty and the Beast. In the middle of the movie we feel something move. Turns out the earth was moving; it was a 5.4 magnitude earthquake on the Richter scale! I hardly noticed and the movie continues on as regularly scheduled. Guess earthquakes aren’t that big of a deal…
After the movie, we walk home from the mall. A young boy, maybe around 8 years old, is lying on the ground all alone. He lays his head on dirty flip flops as a makeshift pillow and tucks his arms into his shirt. He is shivering. The three of us walk past him, on our way to 7-11 to buy some snacks for the room. While we are in the store, I can’t stop thinking about the kid on the street. Where are his parents? Why is he so cold? It’s not that cold outside, but again, I am hot natured. I resolve to find him a blanket. It’s something that could last him a long time and would be useful. I begin to look among the shelves.
I tell Nadia of my plan and she was actually thinking along the same lines. She wants to bring him some food. There are no blankets here in the store and I begin to look among the street vendors. People are selling candy, snacks and all kinds of electrical gadgets, but no blankets. I go back to 7-11 as Nadia is checking out. She picks up a banana, water and a sandwich. The store clerk asks if we want the sandwich microwaved. Nadia and I look at eat other. “yes,” we say in unison. When was the last time that kid had a hot meal? He will have one today.
Alec is kind of a skeptic. He’s been a lot of places and this kid on the street is not the first and won’t be the last. I don’t disagree with him. In fact, we passed a bunch of kids in the 3 days we have already been in Manila. But something about this kid just really got to me. I can’t change the world for everyone, but maybe I can for this boy.
Nadia and I come out the store to find the boy asleep. We strategize the best way to deliver our package without calling attention to ourselves. The last thing we want to do is attract more hungry kids to us, with hands outstretched. We just have food for this one.
I stand and watch the movement of the people on the street, waiting for the perfect movement. I motion to Nadia and she walks past him, dropping her bag in front of his face. Nadia and I walk away together, taking turns looking back to see if he notices. The boy stirs and opens the bag, taking out the sandwich and starts to eat. We smile to ourselves.
I can’t find a blanket from a vendor but remember I brought one with me on the plane. It was stuffed in my bookbag and was bulky and annoying. I did like it because it was large and soft, but when I think of the boy again, I know I can do without it. I can always buy another one when I get back. Nadia and I go back to the hotel to get my blanket. I also grab a pair of socks and stuff everything into a plastic bag.
Nadia and I start to walk back to the place where the boy is, carrying our care package. Along the way we stop at the Pandesal bakery, the smell of freshly baked bread attracts me there every time I pass. Suddenly the boy is there, standing outside of the bakery with others. He is begging for money or treats.
I call him over to walk with me. “Kuya,” I call to him. He looks at me expectantly as I began to draw him away from the other boys. We take a few steps and grab his hand, exchanging the bag out of my possession and into his. We part ways and Nadia and I head back to the hotel.
I see the boy on the street the next day, laughing and playing with the other kids. He looks happy, not like I saw him yesterday. I ask him about the blanket I gave him, not sure if he speaks English. “With my mother,” he says quickly and runs to catch up with his friends. He doesn’t have time to talk to me, he wants to go play. I watch him disappear among the crowd. “As it should be,” I say to myself. As it should be.