Saturday, April 15, 2006


Somewhere along Roxas Boulevard, 1992, the red light stopped us. An unkempt girl tapped the passenger window: my side. Pretty Sampaguita garlands, would I buy ten pesos ($0.25)Picture_1_2 worth please. Ten pesos equals three garlands, each containing a dozen or so of the small flowers carefully strewn by those small hands with dirty nails. Neil and I scrambled for some change, "three, four, ah.. nuts..", we came up short.

We were giving apologetic shrugs but she was looking at something else - Neil's snack - the half eaten Jollibee cheeseburger on the dashboard. Has she eaten that day at all, we haven't got a clue. "Here you go, little one." and she smiled from ear to ear. She beamed like Christmas day.

She was so happy she wanted to give me three strings of her garlands anyway. I was floored. I know her story: her family is so poor she has sell flowers to eat. Hunger would wake up a girl of six at the crack of dawn so she could hurry off to Luneta to pick those flowers among other kids like her. What she was giving me would have bought her two cups of rice or a cheap plastic toy or half of what it would cost to get her new slippers.

Her generosity shook me to the core. My poor soul. Then the light turned green and she was gone.

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