My Story: I came, I saw, I was conquered!
I didn’t want to be here! When I first came to Metropolitan Manila three decades ago I vowed never to live here. Yet in 2001 destiny brought me here again, and although I didn’t like what I saw, I resolved to stay and conquer the odds to make it through.
My neighborhood at the periphery of the state university campus was not where I wanted to be had I the choice. Just three days into my stay the house across the street was raided on pot/drug session. Few months later the ladies dormitory beside my apartment exploded into a scandalous commotion after a video camera was found installed on the comfort and bath rooms. A year later the eight-year-old girl next door was raped and mercilessly murdered by her own fourteen-year-old uncle right inside one of the school buildings nearby. Gracious me, how could I ever survive such despicable, scary and ugly environment? That was a question I had asked myself every minute – for three long years! My life was a roller-coaster ride of anger, hatred, loneliness and paranoia. I hated the noise, the traffic, the pollution, the congestion … and people reduced to rats, robots, commodities and numbers.
In my work where I take short trips here and there, I tried to live with disaster awaiting me on my doorstep – garbage, broken pots of my precious plants withered or stolen, animal and human wastes littered around! I knew no one in the neighborhood – and did not care the least!
Christmas of 2004 I took a long break in my hometown. Well, after three weeks of absence, what should I expect? So I was utterly surprised to see a clean and orderly front yard on my return. It was evening but I noticed the plants looked happy!
I woke up the next morning to find an old woman watering my plants!!! Moments later another woman joined us. They were taking turns! It struck me then I webbed a curse around me for so long – shutting off to a caring and sharing neighborhood. Aling Mila and Aling Luz… and the likes of them have always been there, taking me as their own without bias or conditions. I came, I saw … I was conquered by love and acceptance! The world is full of good people. It only takes an open heart to live happily wherever you are.