Doubts in compassion

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.

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Living on Less: Day 2

Budget today: 44.75 PHP

Since the Lucky Me instant noodles was surprisingly expensive for instant food targeting mass consumption, I was left with a debt of 1.25 from yesterday. Of course, since in my current state of food poverty, I had to lessen it to the next day budget; thus, the 44.75.

This day was actually better than expected. I didn’t have cravings nor was I actually hungry. For the most part, I just missed the act of eating.

On my previous diet, Day 2 was difficult since I started feeling really hungry, and the thought of quitting was very appealing. I mean, the first day of a challenge, you would still be very driven about the goal and the last day is you’d feel the need to hold on since you wouldn’t want to waste your effort so far. That’s why on the second day, that’s when you can think that nothing much have been wasted yet, so better stop the agony now. On the other hand, no such thoughts entered my mind. I just wanted to focus on the goal and how to keep myself satisfied within the budget.

Despite the smaller amount intended for today, I even had 1.50 PHP left of it when I tweaked the items on the meal plan.

BREAKFAST

  • Payless instant noodles (6.25)
  • Kopiko instant coffee (6.00)
  • 1 slice of local bread (5.00)

LUNCH

  • 1 piece sweet bread (5.00)
  • Presto peanut butter cookies (6.00)
  • small boiled egg (5.00)

DINNER

  • Payless instant noodles (6.25)
  • Fita crackers (6.00) 1 slice of local bread (5.00)

________________________________

43.25 php

When I realized I forgot my Fita crackers at school which I had to eat for dinner, I was already at home. Annoyed, I had to go out again to buy it outside. Luckily, another bakery in my neighborhood had more options of the sweet cheap bread that night. Their honey bread was also bigger than the bread I bought from the other bakery, but theirs are too sweet. Nonetheless, if keeping me full is the goal, then the sweeter, bigger bread would do.

On the contrary, while I’m able to keep my tummy satisfied within the budget, my choice or option for food is definitely not good for my body. Although some instant noodles claim to have vitamins whatsoever, the wax in their noodles are going to stay dormant for the next three weeks in my stomach. Except for flour and sugar, what else does my body get from bread, biscuits and cookies? I’m only enduring this diet for three days, but others who could be living off these kinds of food everyday would probably be lacking in nutrition.

Of course, when we don’t get good nutrition, how can our mind stay alert and our immune system strong? :/

 

Living on Less: DAY 1

My Living on Less challenge started today.

Since I woke up late and still craving for sleep, I wasn’t able to prepare my assigned breakfast. Good thing that I don’t eat much for breakfast. Coffee and a slice of bread with peanut butter or a slice of cheese (or both, my favorite!) is usually enough to start-up my appetite and wake up my senses.

When I got to work and I had plenty of free time, that’s when I started working on the 3-day budget. I figured that planning ahead would save me the time and energy for the next three days. Based on past dieting experience, my mood worsens on the third day, so better to plan while my head and mood are still intact.

With a limited budget of 46PHP (Philippine Peso) a day (that’s dollar for you), my options were limited. Very limited. There’s probably a lot of options for budget breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but my average budget for a meal is 15PHP which isn’t even enough for transportation. I initially wanted to include transportation in the budget, but given my daily load of work, I could easily snap in hunger. I work with children, so patience definitely should be a virtue. So despite my willingness to sacrifice, I can’t really sacrifice my work that easily, especially children are also on the line (my weak spot).

Anyway, here’s a sample of the budget I made for today:

BREAKFAST

  • 2 pcs of local bread (4.00)
  • Kopiko 3-in-1 coffee (6.00)
  • 1 banana (5.00)

LUNCH

  • Lucky Me instant pansit canton (7.00) (9.00)
  • Fita crackers (7.00) Family Mart
  • 1 pc. banana (5.00)

DINNER

  • Payless instant Mami (6.25)
  • small boiled egg (5.00)

————————————————————–

47.25 PHP (over 1.25 php)

When I made the first draft for this budget, I had to take out one item from my breakfast because the total was 49.00 PHP. That surely made my jaw drop. I mean, I’m not a heavy breakfast eater, but I wanted to prepare for the small meals of the day, but yeah, 46 PHP is just too limiting.

Moreover, I had to redo my entire 3-day budget which I finished in the morning because I found out the instant noodles I ate for lunch was 2 PHP higher than the price I indicated. Even when I checked the local groceries later on, that brand’s cheapest now is probably around 8 PHP.Good thing I found a cheaper instant noodles which is only 6.25 PHP, so I decided to replace all the Lucky Me in my budget plan with this, and I though the soup could also help me feel fuller since it’s liquid.

I fortunately also chanced upon a small store that sells Fita biscuits (9 pcs/pack) for 6 PHP instead of 7 PHP which is the price in Family Mart. Actually, 7-11 sells it for 8 PHP, so I’ve found a gem of a stone in my neighborhood! There are small bakeries around my house which sells large-sized sweet bread for 5 PHP only, so that’s of course included in my plan.

I considered including half an order of rice that can be bought from small eateries, but that’s about 6/7 PHP. Also, as I normally eat more rice than a dish, eating a small amount of rice would just awaken my cravings, so better to stay away from it.

While going home from my mini-grocery for the next two days of the challenge, the majestic smell of crispy brown, deep fried chicken being sold on an intersection of our street was alluring. If this was a normal day, I would’ve asked my mom to cook me fried chicken the next day, or I could’ve pulled out my wallet to munch on one. But I was a poor worker today, right? I could only be invited and tortured by my favorite food in the world, but I cannot possess it.

I swear, I had the bitterest smile while walking away from that stall.

Then I realized something.

It’s only day one, but this challenge is already providing me with so much of what I need to learn about reality.

I did a diet early this year which also lasted for three days. There’s a program and I just had to follow it. The food in quantity was much smaller than what I usually consumed. It’s a diet program, but I didn’t do it to lose weight. It was more of the challenge to prove to myself that I am in control of my mind and my urges. If I lose weight, then that’s a big bonus.

The diet was a bit difficult the second and third day and I could’ve quit midway. I don’t think anybody was expecting me to finish it, given my renowned appetite, but I finished it anyway. Part of that motivation was that I wanted to prove them wrong, though I didn’t have to.

In this Living On Less challenge, the people whom I’m trying to understand with their struggle on food have no choice whatsoever. EVERY DAY IS A CHALLENGEIf you’re a person trying to live with this very limited budget until payday, everyday in your life, there’s no “I quit this challenge” button. You will walk away from that fried chicken every time, defeated.

If you go over-budget, you have to get some from your money the next day or borrow from others. And of course borrowed money is still not your money. You still have to give it back, then you’re still left with nothing in the end.

It was a depressing realization. It is depressing. To think that there are people everyday living in this condition, it is a cruel life.

On the other hand, with the right mindset, attitude towards one’s given condition, and wise shopping, this budget is manageable and bearable. Though with the “luxury” I’ve apparently been blessed with in my entire middle-class status, I just wish our poor brothers and sisters can have a chance at them too. :\

My family

If I were writing an elementary essay, I would talk about my family in the most simplest, idealistic way: My family is made of my daddy, mommy, older brother, and me. We go out every Sunday to go to church. We eat in Jollibee. My family is happy!

If I were to write about my family during my high school days, I would describe it as: My family is made of my mom, dad, older brother, younger brother, step mom and me. I live with my mom when I go to school. Every Friday, my daddy picks me up from our house in Makati to go to our house in Boni. I watch TV all the time in the house or play with my Barbie. On Sunday, we go to church then eat in a Chinese or pizza restaurant. This is the best part of the weekend. I enjoy time with my family like this, but I need to go home at night.

If I was describing my family situation during my latter college years, it would be like this: My family is composed of my father, my mother, my Tita, Kuya, younger brother, and me. My dad is in America, working. My Tita takes care of our shop in Boni. I occasionally visit her, my older brother who lives with them now, as well as my younger brother. I often fight with both my brothers, but they’re mostly simple sibling banter. I always have long talks with Tita. I guess she likes me most because I’m the only girl in the family, and I am a very good listener. She always have complains about the house, the business, my brothers, and of course, my dad, but she loves everyone, nonetheless. If I lived with them, she’ll probably complain about me too, but I don’t so I’m safe. It always amuses me how great Tita’s memory is because she remembers the exact dialogue in her stories. There are weekends I don’t visit anymore because I’m busy or I get lazy, but I need to because my dad always go online on Ovoo. He goes online from 11:00 AM up to 2:00 PM sometimes. He always asks us how we’re doing, the kids, but we mostly go our separate ways after a while then he and Tita talk for hours. We also go to church on Sundays together, but often Tita would go alone or only with me since my brothers can’t be bothered to do so. I don’t like going to church, but I don’t like Tita feeling alone also. After church, my brothers join us for dinner. Later, I go home by myself or they take me home by car. 

I’m going to describe my family at present: In 2014, became less of one person. She’s in heaven now, probably watching over the family she has invested on for so many years. Our house in Boni is less of one matron de arc, but my younger brother lives with two friends as borders. He doesn’t communicate with us much, despite the years of being together, but has episodes of total sadness and I don’t know how to comfort him. Yesterday, he seemed okay, but he had no stories for us except that he doesn’t have a girlfriend anymore. My older brother lives with his family not far from my house, he has now two bouncing balls of energy as sons who keep him busy and a rocky marriage with his wife. I’m not sure what’s the deal with them now, because every quarter we get a press release from my brother that they’re going to finally separate. Yesterday, they seemed okay. I still live with my mom. Things between has never changed, but probably I have more authority over my actions now. She welcomes my younger brother in her house, but it’s more complicated for him than just living with us. There’s a lot more to deal with. My dad is still in America, trying his best to deal with old age, the loss of a loved one, and three kids who cannot communicate with him on a daily basis like Tita did. He must be very sad, feeling lonely and alone, but we can’t help it. We grew up never connecting that well with him. At least with my older brother and I. My younger brother grew up with him, but not me. Over the last months I lived with him, I get to know him better–and worse–but it’s probably late to demand being “malambing” children to us. I already had an established personality when I connected with him, so I can’t be the “princess” he always wanted me to be. My siblings and I don’t talk much. We mostly like Facebook statuses and pictures, give a short comment here and there, but we probably talk more, hang out more with our friends. We don’t hug, we don’t text, we don’t assure each other that we’re gonna be there all the time. I guess the latter is already understood, even without words. When my family meets, even after a long time of not being together, we don’t catch up, we don’t say “I miss you” to each other, we’re not excited over each others’ presence and I’m not sure how to feel about this. I guess, at the back of my mind, I’ve always longed for the kind of family I see on TV, or the ones my friends have, but that’s not the one I have. I can’t say I’m unlucky because I love them nonetheless.

This is my reality and of my family. Also a reminder to just go with what they want for the next birthday treat and not insist on things I like (eherm, Japanese food). Haaaay…what’s gonna happen in the next years to us? Will we still be in the same country? How much will we miss each other? I guess I’ll just have to hold on and see.

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Oh, there it goes.

Recently, many things have been happening in both work and at home.

Both were going well, but recently my happy days have hit a bump and I’m struggling not to fall into a fit.

When one is blessed with an infinity of laughter, one is also prone to days of gloom. I know this well, yet it’s in my nature to forget once inside the comfort zone. The law of nature never fails to come back in the right schedule to slap me in the face with the inevitable realities.

*sigh*

Twilight Zone-d

Ever had that experience of being suddenly shaken by the feeling, the idea that the world, your reality shifted before your eyes?

While walking nonchalantly this morning, I had to halt and take a double-look to my surroundings just to be sure I’m still on the ground. Everything was normal though: the abundant green from the lines of trees, the dusty field, the buildings and everything.

I don’t know.

Despite the surprising luck I was blessed on the way to work and the fine weather, that moment disturbed me.

 

Oh well.