Wednesday, June 21, 2006

everyday choices

as of last night, i was still trying to convince little Bea, who's turning 6 tomorrow, that instead of the Palmas del Mar Beach Club weekend treat we'll have for her birthday, we'll have an overnight hotel stay and circus show treat in Iloilo sometime in the first week of July, when i'm supposed to bring them all to the Iloilo regional office of the Dept. of Foreign Affairs to present them for their passports anyway.

Bea mainly doesn't want to go because her memories of Iloilo on our way to and back from Boracay last year was that it was the place where she started throwing up as we traveled by boat, then by van, then by boat again.

***

yesterday, the maid shared with me our weekend laundrywoman's problem with her ten(or eleven?)-year-old grandchild who has run away from home.

our laundrywoman was widowed around two years ago, but is now left with more burdens, caring for her grandchildren who have been neglected by their parents. her daughter, who married a drug addict, has left their home to live with a much older widower and is now pregnant by him. the daughter's four very young children, are left alone at home with their abusive father, and so our laundrywoman has decided to take the two younger girls in even as she keeps watch over the two older boys. the girls go to the local public school while the boys have stopped going to school.

last week, the eldest boy ran away because our laundrywoman's other married daughter, the boy's aunt, scolded the boy for sleeping off instead of running errands for her. apparently, the boy talked back and the aunt not only verbally, but even physically lashed him. so the boy ran away.

their neighbors say that they have found the boy at our nearby Libertad Market, begging for alms and sleeping on the sidewalks, but who would quickly run away when he saw them coming. one neighbor caught up with him and asked him to come home with her but he refused. he said he'd rather live on the streets than continue being whipped at home.

i felt sorry for the boy, and his grandmother. i actually grew up in Libertad Market, because we had a store there, and we lived on the mezzanine floor. i saw and heard all the horror stories of street life and how our other market childhood friends easily turned prey to drugs and thievery, and later on, even prostitution.

i am glad now that we had the very strict parents we have. papa and mama refused to let us play too much with the market kids, but instead forced us to stay cooped up in the mezzanine floor reading books, or, if we came down to the store, helping out at the store, even while other kids played.

anyway, i felt heartbroken for the boy, mostly. i know what market and street life can do.

so, despite all head logic (what will it do to my budget??? what will it do to our existing easy and comfortable household set-up now???) i went ahead anyway and told the maid to tell the laundrywoman the next time she comes over, to look for her grandson in the market, and to bring him home, here, to my home with my own kids.

i said i can't promise to pay him as we actually didn't have work for him and i didn't have the extra budget too, but he has a safe, comfortable roof over his head and food to eat. in return, he can assist the maid in little everyday chores.

i also asked the maid to tell the laundrywoman to show me his last school report card. i said i will see... maybe we can help him go to school again, even at this late hour, despite my tight budget.

the kids and i have been so blessed. it's the least we can do to pass it on, to pay it forward.

still, i balk at the commitment my heart has just made for me.

it's really not about the added financial demands; i know by now, from experience, that somehow, we will all be taken care of anyway. that we will be okay.

it's more about the call to love... the call to give more of my self, my patience, my understanding, my nurturing... the challenge to pour out more... can i handle it? am i worthy? or have i just stretched my self too thin?

my head still protests, but my heart seems to be winning more now.
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