6:30 PMI was riding a jeepney routed to our village. The streets are clogged with flocks of jeeps and cars rushing to their own routes, wanting to get home as early as possible. It was sultrous and polluted. Cars were buzzing everywhere, making it more stressful and exhausting to all passengers.
I was checking on my cellphone when the jeep I rode stopped to load some passengers at San Pedro street. Bunch of kids came rushing toward the jeepney. They even raced to be the first to get into it. Then, they sang some Christmas songs monotonously and started asking for coins after.
Some passengers handed over some coins to compensate their effort. One of the passengers also warned them not to run after the jeepneys to avoid accidents. After receiving what they asked for, they ran to the next jeepney to get more.
The very words from one of the kids still linger in my subconscious mind.
He was wearing a torn shirt stained with heavy dust, carrying his little sibling who looked so tired on his arm. They both looked sick and malnourished. I could see in his eyes the burden he was carrying; not because he’s carrying his little sibling, but the weight of his responsibility.
He came to me through the window and asked for some coins saying, “Kuya maayong pasko… kuya pangkaon lang…” (“Kuya Merry Christmas… Kuya just to buy some food…”). He looked so pitiful. I handed him some coins and the food I promised to my own siblings that I was keepin in my bag. Then, the jeep started to move.
While walking towards home, he kept on running in my mind. I was thinking, “Does he even have parents? Do they have a home to rest after a long night? Do they eat enough? How will they celebrate Christmas?”.
All the Christmas lights and decors illuminate San Pedro street to give hope and show the Christmas spirit, but not to these kids who risk their lives just to fill their empty stomachs. This is the irony of how the government spend lots for Christmas adornment, while letting lots of homeless kids and family stay and celebrate the holidays at the public parks and streets.
We can afford to buy a piece of roasted chicken, a gallon of our favorite ice cream, a tray of sweet goodies and all delightful grubs but the fact that we neglect those who are in need, try to ditch them and even stow them away is also averting the very essence of celebrating Christmas– the birth of Christ.
Christmas means bearing a new hope to those who have been victims of poverty and oppression but we ourselves have become their adversary.
If we’d only make Christmas as the time for our less fortunate fellow Davaoeños to realize that not everyone celebrates a “merry” Christmas, then it could also be the best time of the year to share a gift of full plate and a home to those who starve and in destitute.