The breezy morning at the inner gnarled streets of Baclaran yielded not only bags of fresh Caimito and Singkamas but the opportunity to commute with this boy.
He is Allen Nuñez, a Grade 5 student of Baclaran Central Elementary School. He was seated on the lap of a teenage-looking boy in civilian clothes, when I boarded a jeep to Sucat. We were but fellow passengers until he reached out and paid Php 20.00:
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“Mama bayad po. Isa!”
(“Sir, here’s my fare for one”)
His change went from one pax to another before it reached him. In a few seconds, he was again reaching out but this time with only a PISO but with words that told me of how great this young man can be.Words that defined him, Words that I hope that also define my country’s government offices and many politicians:
“Mama, SOBRA po yung sukli. Ako lang po estudyante. Pinsan ko po yung nakaupo.”
(Sir, you charged me the student fare. It’s my cousin who’s seated. I’m giving you back the extra change.”)
And that ONE PESO went back in the driver’s fare box.
A One peso has many times over, MADE or BROKE one’s integrity and clearly the one peso that tested the character of Allen has defined him well.
That simple act of HONESTY prompted me to appreciate the boy and know him. For Allen’s HONESTY was more soothing than the cool wind on my skin during that jeep ride. His creased uniform and his thin arms were a bit of an injustice to the everyday hero in this boy, for his honesty not only made my heart overwhelm with respect but those who also witnessed what he had done.
What was in our hearts were well translated in the smiles we all kept until Allen and his cousin disembarked. They left me with bedimpled smiles and warm waves of Goodbye.
My guard is on its highest when I take public transport, nevertheless I still find unexpected joy when I chance on people who strengthen my faith in humanity, most of all in my country’s future.
This boy made my day. It was such a Good morning, regardless of what’s on the news.
Mike is the author of “Minsan may Isang Puta”, an allegory which has been circulating since 2004 and with over 50,000 likes and shares in social media alone. It won a film grant in 2010 to be included in the multi-narrative Indie film “Ganap na Babae” (International title: Garden of Eve). The teaser, reviews and commentaries are here. The movie was honored as Cinemalaya 2010’s opening film and has won international and local recognition.
The royalties from the initial 150 copies of Mike’s first sole-authored book, The Dove Files, went to a Project Malasakit scholar who graduated Cum Laude in April 2013, the rest was also paid forward to baby Mark who underwent a liver transplant in March 2013.
Part of the royalties of the “Minsan may Isang Puta” book at Barnes and Noble Online goes to support the education of a young Yolanda survivor taking up B.S. Accounting at U.P. Tacloban.