By on February 21, 2007

Kuya, unsa na, candy? (Kuya, is that candy?)”

Jan-jan was looking at the small box I was carrying. We were both waiting for a ride home at a street corner not far from our church. Judging by the blue t-shirt he was wearing (although he wore it outside in), I could tell that he is one of the kids in the student center supported by our church. I answered “Yes”, although we both know that it’s not.

Dili, uy” (It can’t be), Jan-jan added. I managed to fake a smile to show him that he was obviously right and having guessed that one right, we can go on with our lives now.

Tilaw ko beh” (Can I have one of those?). I was lying when I told him that the box was not mine. While half of my heart wanted to give the entire box to the young boy, the other half wished that the ride I was waiting for would come soon.

Jan-jan was carrying a paint can filled with of crushed softdrink cans on one hand while an apple was on the other. I asked him where he got the apple. He told me that a stranger dropped it on accident. He probably picked it up along the streets while looking for the softdrink cans.

I asked him where he lived. “Lorega,” he answered. “Layo na?” (Is that far?). I don’t know why I even asked the last two questions when I already knew the answers at the back of my head. I thought to myself that by continuing this small talk, I could ease the heavy pang of guilt that’s already chewing inside me.

Pero, mamukong ra man ko kuy.” (But I won’t bother paying the fare). I smiled again. A vacant jeepney stopped in front of us. He climbed up and waved goodbye. While I could have rode on that jeepney (since it will also pass by where I live), I decided to stay and wait for the next ride.

The jeepney was still waiting for more passengers to board. I could still have the chance to give him the box. But I also know that a long term solution would be more practical in the long run. The apple or the glazed doughnuts could only feed him for that evening. As to what his dinner might be for the many evenings there after, I do not have a definite answer.

All these thoughts and so many more were playing on my mind. At the last minute, I could only give to the konduktor (the one that collects the fares) the Php 6.00 that Jan-Jan will need when he arrives at his destination. This is for the kid, I told the guy.

I was unusually quiet on the way home. While others would give an entire loaf of bread or a jogging snack, I stubbornly held on to the doughnuts I could have bought anytime I want.

I wonder what the running senators would have done if they were on my place. The pageantry and circus that usually characterize Philippine elections have failed to raise leaders that effectively address the basic needs of Jan-jan and the many children in Lorega.


March 5, 2007

  1. Reply

    phanyang balani

    February 21, 2007

    This entry adds value or purpose to somebody’s life.

    My experience:

    The other night about 7:00 in the evening, I came across a wowan in a tatty shirt carrying her infant child while her other kids were sleeping on the concrete aisle (a semi-garbage area actually) near Ororama Mega. I asked her “Manang, asa d-ay mo puyo?” She replied “Taga Malaybalay mi, wala pami kaon” Her replies made my heart creased. I then gave her 250 pesos to buy something to eat. I immediately went home to get my exra clothes, blanket, three bottles of mineral water and two loaves of bread to give to them. The woman cried (tears of joy)when she received those valuable-priceless things and she said “Ma’am salamat
    gyud kaayo, daghang salamat gyud” I then replied ” Walay sapayan ug pag-ayo2 mo”

    “Our Love to God Prepares Us for Service.The depth of our love for God directly affects our ability to minister to others.”

  2. Reply

    phanyang balani

    February 22, 2007

    Hi! Linked you up. I personally liked your blog, the eloquent entries, most especially. 😉

  3. Reply


    February 22, 2007

    I wonder where the parents of this kid are. They should be primarily responsible for him—not society, not the government, not anyone else. But of course, it’s an egg-hen case. The parents may not be able to raise him properly because of a lot of factors including society and government. Oh well, this world doesn’t run out of unfortunate people. I wish there’s a clear solution to problems like poverty. I wish.

  4. Reply

    Brennan Mercado

    February 22, 2007

    hi steph. thanks for dropping by. and for the kind words too.

    abaniko, i felt like the hole in the doughnut that night.
    but i wish that someday, i won’t just write about it.

    you’re right about the chicken-egg scenario. while there’s no clear cut solution to the problem of poverty in this country, we can do something significant in our little ways.

  5. Reply


    February 23, 2007

    Brennan, the poor are always with us. There are times when we are subconsciously selective in our compassion. But at least, the desire to help is there.

    Start with your own family, neighbors, and people at church.

  6. Reply

    phanyang balani

    February 23, 2007

    You’re most welcome.

    “But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.”

    2 Corinthians 8:7

  7. Reply

    the caterpillar

    February 25, 2007

    this entry reminded me of the sampaguita kids i used to encounter in philcoa. most of them i found hostile but there was this one kid i really appreciated. when i refused to buy his sampaguita, he said to me in his kind child’s voice, “sige po, ate, magandang gabi po sa inyo.” i found that admirable from him since i was so used to getting annoying (if not bitter) replies from the other kids whenever i refused to buy. but that one kid, there was no sign of resentment in his voice or on his face. he even flashed a smile. i beamed back.

  8. Reply


    March 1, 2007

    I have also met a streetchild named “JR” here in davao. He refuses to stay at home because her mother would just spank him. As he said, “kulatahon ra man ko kuya sa balay, maayo nang diri ta sa dalan kay makakita ta ug kuwarta mag bantay ug kotse”

    But even son, he would usually get beaten up by the other street boys for stealing their ‘teritoryo’.

    Whenever I have enough money, I would usually buy enough viand for the two of us and he would just pay for his rice.

    It saddens me tol, to know that some senators do overlook or refuse to see the contemporary image of Mr. Juan Dela Cruz.

  9. Reply

    Phanyang Balani

    March 2, 2007

    Hi Brennan, gonna miss your upcoming ‘superb’ entries for a month 🙁

  10. Reply


    March 4, 2007

    There are plenty of kids like him here in cebu. your post reminds me of my own personal experience inside the jeepny while on my way to CDU. And the lil lunatic-looking girl begged 5 pesos from me. Had i not been trained and exposed to those of her kind, i should’ve freaked out the time she tugged my right arm. but i did give her 5 pesos – which i don’t normally do. for the simple fact that i don’t support mendicancy. but i dunno, just got pity for the girl.

    and i do agree with the supposed “wish” that the electoral candidates would somehow pay attention to these issues once they take position.

    btw, sure link on. i’m linking you too. links can be seen by click my “pull” tag. 🙂

  11. Reply

    Brennan Mercado

    March 8, 2007

    I am rested in the thought that the act of the giving is never a one-way street. It enriches both the receiving and the giving end.

    Gratitude and giving both start with the letter ‘G.’ But aside from the spelling, I realized that you cannot have one without the other.

    Thank you for all your wonderful insights.

  12. Reply


    March 10, 2007

    ba’t mo pala di binigay yung donut mo?

  13. Reply

    Brennan Mercado

    March 11, 2007

    hehehe. malamang umiral yung pagkamatakaw ko nun duke. 🙂


Brennan Mercado
The Philippines

Brennan is an electronics engineer by profession. From time to time, he gets to travel beyond his office cubicle, try new restaurants or catch up with his terribly long list of unread books. He likes museums, spicy food and talking with habal-habal drivers. For now, he's still deciding on whether to play Pokémon GO or not.

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