Thursday, October 14, 2004

Extraordinary people

Friendly grin Posted by Hello

Pic: A stall owner looking out from the display of snack food, smiles a toothy grin for us visitors. Alaminos City, Pangasingan, Philippines, 2004.

A note about the friendliness of the people here. I’ve found that the Filipino people are a friendly lot, eager to meet new people, never selfish in talk, quick to laugh and open to strangers they hardly know. There are so many instances that we were invited to songs, ceremonies and parties even when we didn’t know the people and even more seldom do we get the scowl or indifferent look we often experience as we walk about downtown Kl. Despite all the hard breaks in life, the people can still afford to smile and be jolly with you, sharing the little they have though they can ill afford to. There was a lady, Rosalinda by her name, that we never ever see without a smile in her a face and a laugh in her being, Hospitality was often extended to us and we were truly made welcome.

Another jewel of a being that we befriended was a Mr. Joseph. A university student of poor background, every day is a struggle. At times missing lunches because he can’t afford it, waking early to catch the jeepney from his house to the university (a 3 hour ride as he can’t afford to rent closer lodgings) and recipient of funding from private donor to fulfill his dreams of getting a degree (these offers are rare and only awarded to those truly deserving individuals who must constantly prove their worth). To raise extra cash he joins friends in producing a play and recording songs to be sold off, the cash used for things we ourselves take for granted (not many could afford a laptop, he pays for com rental to type reports and also his phone is often only reloaded with 10 pesos as that’s the most he can afford). His honesty is also never in question, once he found a wallet full of cash (several months worth his usual allotment) and while he didn’t have the cash for even a ride back that day or even for meals, he returned it to the police and walked back home. Yet he manages to shine through, beating the odds and remaining one of the top of his class, active in societies, writer, musician and on his was to graduating with honours in his double degree if science and teaching. Sometimes he puts all of us to shame, a truly remarkable individual indeed.

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