It has been a common story to see sampaguita vendors in front of Catholic churches from rural towns to urban grounds. For many decades, they had become one of the ideas that define of the Philippine society. Some of us might be upset if they are asked by sampaguita vendors to buy what they have. Honestly, I was one of them. And that is “was”. Until I had a chance to talk with a boy on a street in San Pablo one morning.
I can’t remember his name. All I can remember is that he went around where I am standing,asking me to buy his sampaguita, sold for P10. I have no plan to buy one. I fact, I was waiting at the 7-Eleven for my girlfriend and I have nothing to do with sampaguita. He did not leave and start to beg for me to buy his thing. I told him I’m not going to buy, then he ask for coins. I’m not used to give coins because I believe they will always be asking and asking for that everyday. I don’t know what to do so I just started to ask him where is he living.
“Dyan lang po malapit lang. Pero hindi po talaga ako taga dito.” (Just some where around. But I’m not really from here.)
And I gave a follow ups and the following was his answers,
“Sa Basilan po.” (We came from Basilan.)
“Namatay po ang ama ko sa amin (sa Basilan) gawa ng gera. Pinalipat kami ng mayor namin sa maynila, isinabay sa isang papaalis na barko. Doon daw mas ligtas at magkakaroon ng trabaho.” (My father died in Basilan because of the war. Our mayor told us to move to Manila, we took a ride in a ship. He added that in we’re safe in Manila and we can find a job.)
“Kasama ko sa San Pablo ang kapatid ko. Ang ina ko nasa Alaminos. Nagbyahe lang kami ng nagbyahe kung saan man makarating hanggang nakarating dito.” (I’m with my younger brother in San Pablo. My mother is in Alaminos. We just traveled without any specific place for destination until arrived in here.)
Streets define the street children. We, who are better of, define these streets by how we act on these places and how we deal with different people we encounter… like them. We can’t blame these children why they think that streets are the best place to live. This is the place where they can have food, where they walk, run and play. This is where they can express their feelings with avoidance from oppressions from the higher society.
Poverty in a third world country is inevitable. We can’t easily escape from that. Poverty is just a cause. And very unfortunate for some of us, they became a victim.
I know, not all of the children in the street have the same story with the boy I met. But one thing that I understand is that not all of them are bad. Not all of them are street threats. They are like us. It is just that they are not so fortunate.