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Monday, March 10, 2008

Jollibee's magic

I borrowed money from my mother for my fare this morning since I spent most of my cash on hand at Jollibee yesterday.

Yesterday I brought one of my nephews to a cathechism class in a chapel near our place. It was only the second Sunday I brought him there.

Yesterday there were also 4 new kids there. They were dirty with chemically colored hair and 2 of them barefooted. One of the cathechist- Kuya Ricky washed them but they were still dirty when they got back. Two of them kept on fighting, shouting and hitting each other on the head and face without care that other people are looking, another kept going around the chapel and sometimes joining in the fight. Only the tallest of them was behaved and would try to pacify them. I’ve talked with this kid and he said that he invited the other 3 to join. The fighting never stopped even when the mass was going on and at one point I was so angry yet pitied these boys for not being able to appreciate the value of what was going on that my eyes welled. When the mass finally ended I checked my pocket and saw that I still have some money left, I asked my nephew if he wants to go to Jollibee with the kids, he said yes. I called the tallest boy and asked his name then I told him to tell the other 3 that I would take them to Jollibee. They got excited. I told them that my money was little and we could not order a lot and they said “kahit ano lang ate” (anything will do) I added that they had to behave since we will surely be thrown out if they were unruly and they agreed. We walked to the nearest Jollibee. I asked them if they knew why I was taking them. And they said it was because of Jesus. “No” I told them. It was because of Edward (the name of the tallest boy). I added that I was very very angry at them but that I admired Edward for bringing them there and seeing him behaved so I was treating them because of him.

They arrived at Jollibee’s entrance ahead of me. The guard asked where they were going and I told him that they were with me and he smiled and let us in. I asked for the prices and finally came up with a combo of burger-french fries and softdrinks for fifty pesos each.

That’s were the magic came. They were behaved and ate their food as they told me about themselves. They were tiny boys but one was already 11, another 9, and two 8’s. The tallest boy was 9 years old. They are scavengers and sell the scraps they find in the junk shop, sometimes they also act as “watch your car” boys and would buy P5.00 rice with soup for their meal and the rest they give to their family. Two of them had no home since it was recently demolished. They belong to big families and they do not go to school at the moment. One of them (Rodel) used to sniff rugby but stopped after a priest told him not to do it that they have also been to another church before and the people there washed them with soap unlike what happened that day where they were only washed with water and no soap. They were boasting that if they give a bottle cap with a Jollibee logo to the guard he will give them Jollibee (I think there’s an ongoing softdrink promo) They kept talking but they were behaved. And at one point they told me that they saw me cry in the chapel. I did not realize that they could be very observant and they would notice that since I knew that I stopped the tears immediately. I told them they were negosyante (businessmen) and shared with them stories of some people I know who were like them but are now famous. I also told them that my father was a shoe-shine boy and sold newspaper and cleaned other people’s home when he was young but also did well in life. Finally I told them that they should know how to read even if they cannot go to school. Edward said he could read a little and I said that it was great. Finally, after they finished eating they put the glasses and the paper wrappers in the tray and they all went to the wash room. It took time for them to figure where that is so that I reminded them that they should learn how to read. They were inside a long time probably enjoying washing (I couldn’t look so I wouldn’t know though). My nephew did not talk but enjoyed eating and joined them in the wash room too. The Jollibee crews including the guard were smiling at us when we left and waved. We had to cross an overpass from Jollibee going back our way and the kids were left behind watching a traffic accident. They were waving at us while we walked the bridge. I couldn’t really see their faces (I had no glasses) but I think Jollibee’s magic worked.


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