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Saturday, February 14, 2009

In The Hearts And Minds Of All

I'm coming to my four month anniversary for being here in Cebu, Philippines.  I'll be leaving around the 1st of March.  The days have been flying by.  I'm sure this month will also pass very quickly. As the rest of the journey has.  I honestly do not feel like leaving, but this is what I need to do. I met Myra around October 15, when I arrived here in Cebu.  Myra has been my constant companion and girlfriend  every minute since that day.
She is a very sweet, caring, and wonderful woman.  Her companionship and understanding of me has made my trip here not only memorable, but forever life changing. Without her I would never have been able to meet the people I have met, and been witness to the lives and tragedies of many others.    Even with all the tragedy of this country there is something that draws you too it.  When I feel that I have seen enough, I blink my eyes and want more.  What it is that I want more of is hard to answer.  Maybe it's just the idea of being somewhere so different.  Maybe it is the view of a world that I have never seen, possibly a way life that I never imagined or witnessed until now. Stepping outside the door of my rented house,  I constantly look around me and see a land so foreign to me.
I have tried to comprehend all that is going on around me on this island called Mactan, and so far there is little comprehension.  It remains so puzzling to me.  So many questions.  The extremes are everywhere. Today I was waiting outside a store when I noticed a boy coming down the sidewalk towards me, he was eight or nine I think, dressed in a over sized t-shirt with sleeves, the shirt came down to his knees, and as is very common amongst much younger kids, her wore nothing under the shirt. He was barefoot.  I would almost bet he did not have a "home" to go to every night.  But I did see a big smile as he walked and daydreamed.  He stopped,  and was looking for something amongst some bushes.  At the same time a woman with her young son was standing at an outdoor ATM just a few steps from the sidewalk.  As the woman started to process her transaction her boy turned his attention on the other boy rummaging through the bushes,
undoubtedly looking for anything of value.  The little boy with his mother was eating  Fried Banana on  stick.  As the mother turned and took her son's arm to lead him down the stairs to the sidewalk the two boys met. The one boy reached out to ask for some Banana, the other boy started to reach out to give the Banana, and the mother saw this she yanked her son's arm and turned quickly away. Heading off down the sidewalk.  The other boy turned back to to the hedgerow and continued his search for survival.
While this memory of this child so hungry, burned in my mind, I was driving, the other day when I noticed two boys just leaning on the side of a little barbecue restaurant. Two girls were walking by and the one girl had some kind of food in her hand.  One of the boy's made a motion to ask for the food,  but this time the food was passed over to the hungry boy. With two hands the boy quickly raised the food to his mouth and tore into it!
At a very large intersection, that I drive thru almost daily, the "street" children always approach your car, asking for money.  At Christmas there were twice as many children begging for money.  Some of the children have made small instruments  from bottle caps that they will beat rhythmically on there hands and sing songs all of course hoping for any type of handout. Most of the children will come to either the driver side or the passenger side window and lean themselves against your window and will stare at you.  You can't imagine how hard you wish that light would turn.
At this intersection the other day I saw one of the regular boy's approach a SUV, the window rolled down and the boy reached up and was passed several slices of bread.  In as fast as the boy received the bread, he pushed the bread to his mouth again with both hands.  He turned away from the car and headed in another direction, but attracted the attention of the other kids who were quickly at his heels motioning and calling for some of the bounty he had just received.
These examples above are what I talk of when I say sometimes you feel you have seen enough, or even to much, but then again being part of the generosity, and certainly seeing it displayed by others is what makes you want and need more.

There can be no peace as long as there is grinding poverty.
-Tenzin Gyatso, The 14th Dalai Lama

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