Dec 4, 2015

Helping isn’t always a great feeling.
There can be a time when it can only feel disappointing.

Everyday, on my way to work, there is this old lady sitting pitifully on the steps of the overpass. Her clothes, the same way as her skin are ragged and dirty. Pretty sure she looks more than her age. Skin is burnt from staying under the sun for too long. It also seems dry and rough. Hair, I guess, is already gray but with touches of bronze hair dye from months or a year ago. Her face rather hard to draw distinction from all the chars, dust, and fumes accumulating in there. She has with her huge plastic bags of who knows what could be: her clothes, her things from her house. And the voice- weak and broken. The old lady appears abandoned.

Many days which count to almost a week,I ignore her because I am not the type to give money to the less fortunate. I give food or drop my extra change to donation tins inside the mall. Every time I walk passed the lady, it adds a shameful weight in my heart. I know I have something to give-no matter how small but I choose not to. It’s what I felt but I can’t risk pulling out my wallet. It’s a dangerous place to do that.

Until today. My mom made rice cakes, biko, yesterday and she asked me to take one with me to work so I would have something to snack on. First thing that came to my mind was that old lady by the steps. I had no intentions of being noticed or be remembered by her or the people around. And so, as I took the path I trail on a day-to-day basis, I grabbed the food and quickly handed it to her. Not expecting a word or gesture, I climbed up the steps slightly faster than I usually do.

Then such a shame to my heavy feelings for the passed few days happened. She took the food with her left overworked hand and grabbed my wrist with the other saying, “bigyan mo na ako ng limang piso.” In a tone that used to be genuinely weak and broken now, only sounded fabricated and fake. I did not look back and just continue my way up to the stairs. I tried to be respectful and gentle as I pulled off my hands from her grip. What used to be a guilt I felt when I passed through her now was a disappointment.  Like a fool was I to give my mom’s cooking to someone that ungrateful.

I don’t want to welcome the possibility of absolute zero compassion to people in the bottom society but this experience is surely not the first. I do come across a very grateful individual to help but they are outnumbered by the ones who are not.

Helping, or charity, isn’t always a great feeling because the aftermath depends on the person in the receiving end. Yet, I still believe that it will always be the best option.