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Memoir: Encounters in Manila and Bulacan Philippines

I'm an aspiring writer, poet, and author from the Philippines. Aiming to be a successful poet and author someday! :)

Written: October 18, 2021

by: Gianella Labrador


What do we usually think of people living in the slums?

Sometimes, we see people working on the streets as something so low.

Often times, we always get an impression not to talk to strangers who are close to beggars.

We think they could either harm us, or rob us something.

But really, that’s not always the case.

People walking around the streets trying to make a living actually plays a vital role in the society.

Why? You may ask.

These are the people you can ask for directions if you are lost. Sure they know a route you are not familiar with. Just ask nicely.

These are the people you can ask immediately for help when you come across an emergency.

Who knows one might be a veteran that can help you out.

One’s initiative to call out for help is enough to aid someone in danger.

They are the one’s out there on alert to help someone out!

Sometimes, kindness and miracles really come along, specially to these people you wouldn’t expect to help you.

Never belittle someone’s capability just because of their social status and how much they make in a day.

Jeepney Driver Saves The Day

One of the encounters I had was with a jeepney driver.

I have paid the fare for my destination but I was counting another for a tricycle trip that would take me to our home.

It was almost clear the money I have left won’t be enough and it was raining.

The driver then witness my agony as I was sitting next to the driver seat.

Unexpectedly, he offered me 20 or 50php and said “take it, it’s alright.”

Couldn’t thank him enough. Of course, I was hesitant to accept it since I know he also needs it.

But he insisted, so eventually I also had to take it.

A Passerby in My Neighborhood

Another instance was when I was about to get off the jeepney to take the next ride home.

The jeepney was driving so fast that when I was about to get off,

I suddenly tripped and slip of landing my butt on a hard cement of the road.

Then I overheard someone shouted “Miss, are you alright?”

While I saw the passengers just look and said nothing as they went on to their destination.

That alone, though I didn’t notice the person, gave me strength.

That it’s alright. It will be once I get home.

The Old Lady Wearing Jewelries

Then there was this old lady.

I don’t know where she was from and where she was headed to.

But clearly it’s been days that she’s been on the road.

She carries a huge bag filled with some heavy stuffs in it.

She’s wearing a lot of jewelries as in ‘a lot’.

What about her?

It’s just, she’s old and pretty much tired.

As the jeepney goes on, every passenger on that ride notice how extremely sleepy she was.

As Filipinos, I guess we always have that soft spot in our hearts for the elderly.

She was banging her head and swaying her body a lot of times as if finding a comfortable position to sleep.

Passengers were worried that she might doze off and fall, everyone was on alert in any case something happen.

I mean you can’t turn a blind eye in a scenario like that.

The 1000 Philippine Peso Problem.

Then, during this time of Pandemic.

I was again a little broke.

Due to too much stress eating and binge eating.

I had to pay for an electric bill.

But I only have coins with me.

I got no cash left.

I thought maybe I can trade it with the vendors as they need it for change.

I went around to ask these vendors on the streets nearby my apartment and ask if they have a whole 1000 php bill in exchange of the coins I gathered of the same amount.

But to no avail, they humbly replied, “sorry miss, kulang eh.” (It won’t suffice.)

I was close to my last possible resort which is to ask the 7/11 store.

When I decided to ask this lady selling watermelons and pineapples on a cart if maybe I could exchange money.

She said, “ I thought you were gonna buy, or exchange cash into coins (the other way around). Sorry but I don’t like carrying so much coins around as it’s so heavy to carry.”

It’s not like I was expecting a lot, but it was a good experiment to try.

People were willing to help but it just so happens they didn’t have any at the time.

Even if they weren’t able to I still humbly said “Sige po. Salamat at Pasensya na po.” (It’s like thanking them for their time to entertain a request and sorry if I bothered them.)

Even though I knew from the start that I would end up exchanging my money at 7/11, It was still good to try asking for people around and totally not a waste of time.

I mean it’s worth it.

I was able to exchange my money at the store thanks to the other customer who has 1000 bills with her.

She was I think about to pay for something too.

Everything happens for a purpose and a reason.

If it’s not meant to happen, you are being redirected for something else.

Middle-Aged Lady with Five Hand-carry Bags.

Then, just a few days ago.

I met another middle aged lady at a jeepney ride of course.

She was carrying at least 5 heavy bags alone.

A writer I was, I decided to ask her out of curiosity and a little concern.

I know by experience my self how difficult it is to carry a lot of things alone.

Especially if you are travelling somewhere far.

I asked her where she was headed to knowing she’s carrying a lot.

By the looks, it’s like she’s been wearing her clothes for more than a day.

She then replied, “I’m headed to San Ildefonso.” It’s a little far from where my place is.

It will be another long journey for her.

I then asked what was inside of one of her bags just to get an idea of how heavy it was.

She replied, “Oh, these are plants. I’m selling them.”

She then started to ask in return basic information about me.

Later on, I was surprised by her next question.

“Have you… attended the mass yet?”

It was a saturday afternoon. Usually we’d go to church on Sundays or Saturday Evenings.

At the back of my mind, I asked “why the sudden question?, interesting.”

She also asked if there was a nearby church ahead. I simply answered “Yes, we have a church nearby.”

She mentioned too, that she was kind of hoping for a place to stay and stop over as she’s getting sleepy and tired.

Of course who wouldn’t? Carrying multiple bags and commuting to a far place on foot is tough.

It just shows how strong a woman she was. So eager to earn and make a living.

Morale of These Encounters.

What’s the main point of sharing these encounters?

You may wonder.

Actually, I honestly don’t know too.

But I firmly believe, it is not a mere coincidence or by accident you meet amazing people on the streets despite their race/ color and social status.

God has plans and it is one of those. There is a hidden message he wants us to know.

You meet these kind of people as they were tasked to teach you something important or give warnings.

Often times, these people you’ll only meet them once. It’s really just because of the purpose that they have something to impart to you on your journey.

In this world, if you surrender all your fears and worries to God, You will never be alone.

He’ll send various people to help you in certain ways possible.

If you try to open your eyes a little more, you can see humanity is still evident.

Not everyone around you, is harmful than what you always see on the news.

Just have faith and always, always pray.

It’s just like seeking refuge to a father.

It’s not about being religious or being extra spiritual.

Like a father figure, you can always cry to him.

You can tell what’s hurting, your worries, or your problems.

You can tell stories you never had courage to tell anyone.

When you’re in trouble and needs to be saved, call him.

He’s protection and response is quicker than how fast an ambulance were to arrive.

When you have nowhere to go and ask for mercy and a piece of advice, he’s the only answer to all that.

And if you don’t have the capacity and the capability to help someone out, and you feel bad for not being able to help at the very least… Offer them a prayer. It’s the best thing you could give to help.

God will take care of the rest to help them out.

After all, he is the only one that has the power to help billions of people in one go and multi-tasking.

You can help one or two people at a time but at some point you can’t save them all.

That’s when you have to surrender and ask for his help. Let him take over and do the rest.

Always remember to be kind to anyone you meet inspite the cultural differences and status.

You never know what they really are or what their life was before.

Be kind but also never let your guard down.

Always stay alert when dealing with people on the streets specially when you don’t know them.

When in a foreign country, always protect your belongings specially those that are so important.

Getting to know and building connection with other people is also good.

But you have to be wise and careful so they don’t use any information against you to cause any harm.

Don’t overshare, you must not show the ace to your opponents.

Otherwise, you might lose the game.

In everything that you do, always Pray.

Let his will be the answer to your decisions.

Let him choose what is right for you.

Believe that he knows what’s best and whatever happens,

He won’t do anything to disappoint, betray, or harm you.

Believe in the process.

You don’t always have to rush things.

Take the time as you are being prepared for something greater.

If it’s meant to happen, it will happen in his perfect timing.

Let this be your reminder, to stay grounded and be grateful for the little and simple things.

Acknowledge even those not so grand achievements and goals you’ve reached and accomplished.

It’s still gonna be a long way to go, but it’s still progress.

And when you feel like the world has gone harsh and tough at you, look around, there are tons of people you can reach for help. Just give them a chance. Take risks while still holding on to your faith.

You are never alone in this tough world. Believe in humanity.

There are still people that cares and are willing to lend you a helping hand no matter who you are or where you came from.

Every one is dealing with battles we know nothing about. Let’s take a step back and think first before we judge them.

You can ask questions but always remember to keep your tone with respect and not to sound rude or intimidating.

Spread kindness and love to others. People need it more now than ever.

Protect yourself and help others if it’s really needed.

But always let the proffesionals initiate first.

Prioritize your holistic well-being first before assisting others with theirs.

Mental health is as important as our physical health, spiritual, and psychological well being.

If one of the components of our holistic well-being is not functioning well or isn’t well, one way or another it will cause a domino effect to the other components.

Everything should function well for us to be healthy.

Love and take good care of yourself always.

Get Vaccinated if You still haven’t. Stay hydrated.

Don’t skip meals.

Get enough sleep if you have the time.

Lastly, always remember to smile and be happy.

You are blessed and loved.

You matter always and your existence and presence is much needed.

Stay safe always!

God bless you!


© 2021 Gianella Labrador

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