Christmas. Getting is good. Giving is better. Once you understand that, it’s always Christmas – Doogie Howser, M.D.
Bangued, Abra. As I was going out of Jollibee from a meeting, a boy approach me from behind. Tapped my shoulder slightly. I turned around and saw a sad face staring at me. He was wearing a tattered shirt and shorts. His slippers are old and dirty.
He extended his frail hands. “Sir Merry Christmas” he said softly. He looked so tired and I can sense he is very hungry. I gave him money and told him to go inside Jollibee and buy some food. His eyes lit up and manage to smile as he ran towards the glass door entrance.
I was about to drive off when the boy ran back towards me. I asked what happened. “Sir didak met pastreken” he said as he was about to cry and pointed to the security guard. “Apaya?”, I asked. He didn’t reply. I was sure he wasn’t allowed because of the way he look.
I got out of my car and took his hand. “Umay kan. Siak maka ammo”. His hands were cold and sweaty. Obviously he was a little bit scared.
The guard open the glass door and he saw me with the boy. He didn’t say a word.
We proceeded towards the cashier. The place was packed like there’s no tomorrow. The place is loud and the cash register continues to ring. I thought to myself this establishment must be making millions every month. I am no longer a customer of any fast food since I decided to quit eating junk food. But because of fastfoods massive advertisement campaign, they make it so appealing to everyone specially the young ones. But that’s another story.
With the boy in tow, we took one of the several lines of cashiers. Judging from where we are, the wait coul be 15 to 20 minutes. So i decided to talk to the boy.
His name is Leonel James. He’s only 11 years old. He came all the way from Bacsil (by foot) to pan handle around Bangued. He is the oldest among 4 siblings. His other siblings are 8, 6 and 2 years old.
I asked him, who is/are with him. “Adda kakadwak tattay sir ngem pinanawandak”. I can sense that’s he’s beginning to relax with my presence. I ordered spagetti, burger and a coke. Surprisingly he doesn’t want French Fries. I told him, we will order take out so he can enjoy eating his food outside because of the chaos inside.
We finally got our order after 20 minutes. Got out of quickly handed his food. He grabbed it as if his life depends on it. He finally was beaming with smile and said “Thanks you Manong” as he started to ran towards the town plaza. I shouted “Merry Christmas”as I followed him with my eyes. He disappeared amidst the crowd… I look back at the guard and give him a blank stare. He bowed his head and looked away.
I wonder how many more “”Leonel” out there who became invisble to the eyes of our society? How many more of them being left alone and forced to survive on their own even at their very young age?
Leonel is a classic example of the failure of our government to provide/protect BASIC HUMAN RIGHT which is ” Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.””
If we cannot provide this…we failed as a society.
To my readers, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year. If you happen to see a “Leonel”, please extend your help…they need it!