Welcome to the Blogsite of CESDEV-Nursing
Community Extension Services & Development
University of Cebu-Banilad College of Nursing!

This blogsite shall serve as your online access for information, updates, photo displays, videos, news, relevant links and other matters related to the programs and activities of UC Nursing CESDEV as well as other features that may be of peculiar interest and value to the University of Cebu community and the multitude of blog visitors.


First posted 00:33:49 (Mla time) January 05, 2009
Conrado de Quiros
Philippine Daily Inquirer

I SAW an interesting sight last Thursday on New Year’s Day. It was at an intersection near the SM-Trinoma area. I was standing by a corner when a group of street kids crossed the street. They had been rapping on the windows of cars and the pickings were few. It was early afternoon, and traffic was exceptionally light. Trinoma and SM were open but a lot of the shops were closed. And most Metro Manila denizens, or what remained of them here during the holidays, were still sleeping off the effects of the night’s revelry, not least the poisonous fumes they had ingested in their lungs in the course of trying to drive away the bad luck from their lives with firecrackers.

When the light turned green, the kids ambled over to where I stood. They were barefoot and looked not unlike the chimney sweep in Mary Poppins, being covered with dust and grime, except that they were not singing “Chim Chim Cheree.” They looked like they were just 5 years old or so, but which was probably wrong, they were probably older, their appearance being merely the product of malnutrition and ingesting even more poisonous fumes than firecracker smoke in the form of carbon monoxide from the exhaust of cars, and not just on New Year’s Eve. They were all boys.

They stopped in front of me and I groped for some change in my pocket. New Year’s Day has a way of separating people with guilty consciences from their coins. Until I realized that the kids were not looking at me, they were looking past me. Specifically at the window of a tailoring shop. On the other side of the glass pane, or barrier, were basketball T-shirts of all shapes, sizes and colors. The tailoring shop appeared to have made the T-shirts for a minor basketball league, possibly a barangay league for small boys. The shirts were paraded in full glory as some sort of advertisement for the shop.

The kids suddenly forgot they were there to score some New Year’s Day gratuity and remembered only with the furious instinct of innocence that they were—kids. They started pointing at the shirts. One kid, who appeared to be the eldest of the group, said he wanted the white shirt, and wondered what number he’d like on it. It would be nice to see his name there, although he didn’t know exactly what it was, he knew only the name he was called by. Two kids both liked the red-orange shirt with the number 42 emblazoned in white on it, and argued furiously about who should get it.

They were just dreaming of course. The glass pane that separated them from the objects of their desire might have been the Berlin Wall or the thick glass window that separated convicts from their visitors. You wondered how many of them would actually be in the latter position, assuming they lived long enough to be in it. But that was just conjecture, and that wouldn’t happen until a time far removed from now. Right now, they were just kids, and what lay beyond the window, glass pane and all, was not beyond the reach of their imagination. Right now, they were a league of their own, suited up in the colors of their team, shirt, pants and new shoes, playing the game of their lives.

They tarried there for a few minutes, and then moved on. The dream was over in a flash, the cars had collected again on the red light.

One might think that this spectacle is not unlike that of the many ordinary folk who drifted by the windows of the appliance or dress shops last Christmas and dreamt of the giant Samsung LCD or the sleek gown displayed there, imagining what joy it would be to have it, what sense of fulfillment it would bring to their lives. But it is not like that at all. There is a point at which quantity turns into quality, or dire extremity mutates into a new reality altogether. These are levels of deprivation that elevate simple desires or wishes or cravings from mere insatiable consumerist appetites into poignant, quixotic and quite impossible dreams. These are levels of naked want that elevate simple fantasies or imaginings into an obdurate demand upon the world on the strength of all that is good and decent to make them true.

You stand indicted before such a sight, and feel even more conscience-stricken than if they had begged for food and you hadn’t any. Strangely enough, some things are more elemental than food. This wasn’t just hankering for a basketball T-shirt and pants, this was a dream of a better life. It had none of the muck of adult greed, it had all the purity of childhood wishing-upon-a-star. You have to grope beyond your pockets into your soul to find enough to give.

It’s something to think about this year, when the predictions are that the ferocious global economic winds will howl in our shores as well, however precious little they will find little left to ravage here. The coming period of want may be a good time to turn philosophical and wonder how much we really need in life to be reasonably happy when all other people need are a shirt and pair of shorts to be transported to heaven.

None of it is to excuse the people who aggravate the want by their greed and crookedness and selfishness or to reconcile yourself with the direness they wreak. Indeed, the spectacle of children with no names who rove the streets living off the kindness of strangers and living in strange worlds spun in their minds by hunger and rugby must make us doubly angry that the above exist. How much do they need to be satiated? Again you see how theft and pillage are not an abstract thing that affects “other people.” Theft and pillage are as palpable as the wall of smoke on New Year’s Eve, and they kill—us.

But there will be time enough to dwell on that this year. Right now, I just wonder where those kids are right now who dreamt of playing the game as the year turned.