Monday, April 30, 2012

Sunday Morning

At the corner of a busy intersection, a youth had his head deep in a garbage bin. As we watched, he pulled out a soda can, examined it closely, and then placed it carefully in a sack he held in his other hand. Then he put his head back in the bin. 

We turned the corner as the light went green, but not before Big A remarked, "I want to give that boy a job." I replied, "You could." We went round the block and back to that corner, where the youth was about to walk off with a now half-full sack. 

The car stopped, I rolled down my window and called him over. He was polite, careful, wondering if he'd done something wrong. Big A asked him if he wanted a job, and he said yes. He was, he claimed, 18, but could have actually been a year or two younger. He had no home and no parents. I assumed everything he owned was in the backpack he wore over his shoulders. 

Big A gave him some money and I wrote down the address of his warehouse and general directions. We promised that if he made his way there he'd have a job, a bed and some food. (Big A houses some of the staff in barracks above the main warehouse, and provides rice for their meals as well as drinking water and afternoon tea.) An extra hand wasn't really needed at the time, but as my husband said, "No one should have to forage in a garbage bin to live."

Later that evening, the warehouse manager called. The boy had arrived. Big A gave instructions to assign him a bed, to make sure he bathed, and asked the staff to supervise him carefully over the next few days. We hope the youth will take this chance to make a living, to learn how to fish, as it were, and do good with it. He didn't seem like a drug addict or a petty thief, but we really had no idea who he was or of his background. Still, we could let him change his stars, if he so wanted. The rest is up to him. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Birthday Surprise

I turned 36 this year, and was thoroughly surprised with a birthday party attended by my nearest and dearest. Not one for big celebrations (dinner and drinks with family or close friends will do), I don't usually make extensive plans. This year, with a slew of things on my plate for the month (so much that I'd - horrors - forgotten Little A's final Parent-Teacher conference scheduled for the Monday after school let out for the holidays) I didn't even think about my birthday. Big A's is four days ahead of mine and I'd barely remembered to buy him a cake.

At any rate, b-day rolled around and I had a briefing for a major corporate event scheduled for later that week. I left Little A in the capable hands of his Shadow Teacher, rushed off to the meeting and then straight to the shop to relieve my staff so she could have a meal break, it being the other person's day off. Errands followed, and I made it home at about 430pm, not having had a bite to eat all day.

Big A mentioned that we'd be having dinner at a favorite restaurant of ours, which wasn't unusual as we eat there whenever he wants a good plate of Spaghetti Bolognese (i.e., every other week or so). I finished as much paperwork as I could while Little A napped, and after he'd had his afternoon tea, we were off.

At the cafe, the staff knew us so well that we didn't need to look at the menu. Little A wandered around as I sat and savoured a few moments of quiet, until I had to stop him from entering a room that I thought was off limits, since it was usually reserved for private functions. When I got to the door of the private room, the lights went on and everyone yelled, "Surprise!" I think Little A was as surprised as I was.

Big A had delegated the invitation assignments to one friend per group, each of which occupied one table - my dearest childhood friends, university friends and former workmates, relatives, Little A's godfathers and their wives, and my fellow book club members. This last required a bit of cyber-stalking, apparently, since Big A did not have the contact info of anyone in this group, having only met one or two of them until that evening.

It was a lovely evening spent catching up, eating good food, and receiving my favourite presents - books, delicious eats and bath and body products! I feel lucky and blessed to have had 36 years on earth. I hope many more are to come.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Holy Week

Considering we live in the biggest (population-wise, at least) Catholic country in Asia, the Philippines is shockingly remiss in celebrating the Christian world's second biggest holiday, and this is something that has not gone unnoticed by, of all people, the expat community.

Ever since my mum opened her little shop, we've tried to cater to every possible occasion. At first was hit-or-miss in terms of merchadise selection. Apparently the local market likes giving cards and foil balloons on Valentine's Day, Mother's and Father's Days, but buys neither cards nor baskets for Easter. The expats though, stock up on Easter goodies.

I personally lament the absence of Cadbury's Creme Eggs in my part of the world (despite the presence of their other product lines in supermarkets and garages), as this has long been my best Easter treat (at least since I discovered them in the UK in the late 1980s).

While most Filipinos may not hand around chocolate eggs on Easter Sunday, many do spent the days leading up to it in prayer and church visiting; or at least they did until the mass exodus to the country's fine beaches began with the advent of cheap flights and resort developments. There is a Maundy Thursday tradition of visiting seven churches and saying prayers or the Stations of the Cross at each, and this is one my family has assiduously observed as far back as I remember.

We used to go as a family - parents, grandparents, kids and grandkids. When the families got bigger though, and some of us moved further away from my mum and dad, we started to go on our own. Big A and I used to go on Good Friday while Little A napped, but this year we wanted him to be a part of it, so we did the rounds of the churches after breakfast on Friday morning, before the sun was too high in the sky.

Little A enjoyed church-hopping. He knelt at each, crossed himself and did praying hands. At some churches he sat quietly for a few minutes, but at each one he made for the atlar and tried to climb to the priest's pulpit. Perhaps he wondered why there were no services going on, or perhaps he felt the presence of God was strongest nearest to the altar. Either way, we were pleased with the way he behaved and look forward to continuing this tradition as a family for years to come.

May everyone have a blessed and peaceful Easter!