Going home from a fun lunch with some long-time friends, a Caucasian guy suddenly asked as for directions on how to get to Gilmore (an area in New Manila). He immediately told his story as to why he needs to get there seeing as we were throwing questioning looks with each other.
The guy said that his phone and money were stolen by some (bad) men while playing Pokemon Go. He got cuts and bruises and developed some severe allergies. He showed us all these, especially the allergies that were bright red and obviously ripe in contrast to his fair skin tone, and I also noticed the small pouch he was holding with medicine (to be honest, the allergies part were unclear to me). He even shared that his clothes were not his, just asked it from some people because everything was taken from him. Moreover, he said he only had 10 pesos while holding a lighter (question mark there).
Looking at his poor condition (especially the skin condition), I immediately felt sorry. If I were alone and he spotted me and with that story, I could have taken him to Market Market at least, so he can ride the MRT then transfer to LRT to get off at Gilmore. My friends also felt the same way, but one of my more rational friends warned us that the guy was only asking for money.
And boy, I was suddenly in doubt.
She could be right. According to her, there had been cases of foreigners going around begging or asking for money with the same story for different reasons and versions of a story. Therefore, the guy could be playing with our soft hearts. On the other hand, I still see two sides of the coin. What if he really was mugged? I would feel forever disturbed that I didn’t do my part to help.
In the end, we settled with telling the guy how to get to Cubao from BGC since he said he already knows how to get to Gilmore from there and gave him 60 pesos for transportation. We didn’t accompany him anymore because one of my friends didn’t want to. I understood her of course, this man is a stranger, and for all I know, he could be a murderer! So somehow, I appreciated my friend’s warning despite killing my desire to help as best as I could.
One of my other friends who felt the same conflict as I did of the incident shared the sentiment that yes, he could be deceiving us, but we just thought of it as giving kindness to someone in need. Also, we imagined that if we were in a similar situation in another country, we wouldn’t want others to turn their backs on us just because we are strangers. My friend said to let the Lord have his way with him, I just thought of it as investing in good karma.
Compassion is something I want to be able to practice at all times if possible. I want to help as much as I can, but I am also not ready to let go of all my worldly possessions just to give to others, so through small ways, I share as much as my heart is willing to. Sadly, my heart is not very big yet. Nonetheless, the good intention is there. Really.
I hope that there would come a time that I could help without doubt. I am a product of a world that is so dangerous, I developed a wall of security to keep myself from harm. I don’t easily trust strangers. I automatically have a scarier version of my resting bitch face when commuting, especially when it’s very late. I walk with a gait of a man about to punch whoever gets in the way according to my friends, and despite that a bit of an insult to my femininity, they’ve been mighty effective in my years of thriving the busy, shady cities of Metro Manila.
I want to be able to help more people in need in the street, so I hope the doubts will somehow lessen to do this more. However, I’m afraid that if the doubts lessen, am I subjecting myself to danger and risk? I wouldn’t want that as well.
So yes, this is an unresolved reflection. Doubts in compassion, indeed.