Every once in a while you find yourself in situations that are genuinely life changing. This was one of those situations.
About a week ago, we joined a feeding program set up by a group called, Volunteer in Cebu. The goal was to feed a thousand people in Barangay Guizo. It’s the barangay right behind the now defunct Cebu International Convention Center (CICC).
*Sidenote: Have you seen the CICC lately? It looks really really bad. How has it come to this?
When we arrived there was an earlier group already in the thick of things. Braving the heat, they were cutting vegetables and boiling the meat. There was room for even more manpower. That’s why we were here. We got to it.
When the food was finally ready, everyone lined up in an orderly manner. There was no jostling to get in front. The kids, most of them were kids, calmly waited their turn. They brought their own bowls and graciously waited down the line.
While the feeding was happening, I took the opportunity to talk to some of the locals. I was interested to learn more about Barangay Guizo.
I met a guy who was working in construction in the new Chiong Hua hospital in Mandaue North Reclamation Area. His job is to put giant steel rods on the building foundation and posts. Out in the sun the whole day, it’s an honest day’s work.
He hoped to one day get an NBI clearance so he can apply for a desk job; Affording him better pay, SSS, Philhealth, Pag-ibig and everything that comes with a regular job. Unfortunately due to a minor incident when he was younger, he worried that they would not release his clearance. He asked me if I knew how to go about this. I had no clue.
He lives in a small wooden shack in front of the Barangay Hall. His parents own a small sari-sari store. He contributes what he can, but he is looking for a way to a better life.
As you can imagine, there were many kids. Many were jumping around and hamming it up for the camera. They were playing all sorts of games. Simple games like rolling an empty tire on the road. Skating around one legged on a rollerblade. Laughter. There was lots of laughter. If you looked at their faces, you wouldn’t know about their undeniable day to day struggle.
A group of kids were huddled around. Their attention drawn to something. Curious, I approached them and looked down into the huddle. There it was, a huge spider crawling out of his matchbox.
Those of us who played with spiders in our formative years call them Kaka. Watching the kids brought back memories of my younger days when we would make the Kaka fight to the death. The arenas barbecue sticks. The victor a meaty meal.
One of the kids had plastics full of spiders. He was selling them to his friends for 3 to 5 pesos each depending on the size. This enterprising kid would go out into the bush and pick out the spiders. Then he would show them off to his friends. His friends would then buy it off him. It’s good to see an entrepreneurial spirit in someone so young.
The people from Volunteer in Cebu did a great job. Hopefully, we’ll be able to write a little more about them in the future. I knew the feeding experience was going to be rewarding, but I didn’t expect to meet new people and hear their stories.
Many of us, me included, live in our own little bubble. We’re the stars of our own movie that is our life. We forget that there are lots of other people out there. Many of them have a lot less than us.
Volunteer. Help someone in need. Listen to their stories. Learn a little more about other people’s lives. You’ll be surprised. You might be rewarded with an open mind and a more grateful heart.