Random Act of Kindness

I haven’t told anyone about this story yet. I want to share it now with hope that more people will pass kindness to their neighbours and even to strangers. My story begun last year around October. I just arrived in Iloilo City from Manila. I was quiet tired from travelling because I didn’t get to sleep much so the first thing I did when I arrived was slept. I slept for three hours and when I woke up it was already dark. I woke up hungry, groggy and disoriented. I couldn’t find any food so I decided to just go out and eat. I decided to eat at a nearby mall. I got out and rode the jeepney. I was halfway through the ride when I realized I forgot both my wallet and my cell phone. I was only clutching the keys in my hand. I’m always anxious when I travel, no matter how short they are, so I was very, very anxious knowing I had no money. It wasn’t my habit to cheat with jeepney fares so I was uncomfortable considering the ”1, 2, 3’’ practice (you get on and get off without paying). I looked around and saw three passengers with me: a teenage boy around 14 was sitting in front of me and a young mother and her little child around 5 sitting beside me. I hate asking for favours even from a friend so imagine me panicking when I couldn’t ask for mere seven pesos from these strangers. I didn’t realize that I was fidgeting with my fingers as I kept on patting my pockets hoping a change was left there. Before I reached my destination, I heard the mother said ”sa lugar” (stop please) the jeepney stopped to let off passengers. I was looking ahead trying to put a brave-no-reaction face when I felt small fingers tugging my t-shirt. I looked behind and the little girl took my hand and pressed a twenty peso bill in my hand. I was stunned. For a moment, I felt tears stinging my eyes and I blinked them quickly. The young mother said ”Basi kinanglan mo pa pabalik. Kaagi na ko sina.” (You might still need fare going back. This happened to me before too.) She smiled, lifted her daughter and got off. All I could do was smile back. I never even thanked them properly. Because of that twenty, I was able to go back for my wallet and I ate happily that evening. It felt so random and so kind and I almost thought it didn’t happen. I vowed to repay that kindness someday.

The opportunity came last February 4, 2012. It came in the form of an old woman. I’m already in Manila by this time. I went to SM Megamall that day to get tickets for an event. Since I came in a quite early than the designated time, I decided to just walk around the mall and wait. After half an hour of walking, I was tired and just wanted to sit down. I went to the food court area where I could sit and wait for a text message from a friend. I found an empty bench and I sat down. This bench had another behind it facing the opposite side. I saw an old woman in her 70s and a man sitting behind me. I grew restless from waiting for few minutes so I kept on glancing at my phone. I didn’t talk to the people who sat beside me. (For once, I really don’t trust strangers in a very public place and I’m also quite vigilant when it comes to snatchers, swindlers, etc.) Few more minutes dragged on, and then I felt the old woman behind got up and sat beside me. She didn’t speak for five minutes but I was already glancing at her. I was very aware of her because I was afraid some syndicate/mob (my imagination was running wild) was using her to beg for money or for extortion. Then I noticed her clothing, they were simple….a knee length skirt and a flowery blouse. They were simple but of good quality, not expensive but they were not cheap either. And she had small diamond earrings in her ears. She looked mestiza (a little Chinese looking).She was clutching a handkerchief in one hand and kept on rubbing her arms and shoulders.

Then this woman suddenly touched my arm softly. I looked at her and she said “Iha, I’m sorry. Do you know how long it takes to travel from Makati to Megamall?” She spoke in perfect English. I shook my head and told her that I don’t know. (I really don’t know since I don’t commute much and I’m not familiar with the routes.) She suddenly looked very worried and I could see tears forming in her eyes but they didn’t fall. Then she spoke to me again and said “Can I talk to you Iha? Kanina pa kasi ako dito. Yung tinawagan ko hindi pa din dumadating.” (I’ve been here for so long already. The person I called is not yet here). Ï noticed an accent when she spoke in Tagalog. I gave a small tight smile and asked, “Anong oras nyo po tinawagan?” (What time did you call him/her?) She said she called her friend around 11 am. I glanced at the time; it was almost four in the afternoon. Then she launched into her story. Though I was anxious I listened politely. (I’m not really good with small talks, much more talk to strangers.) She said she came from Pampanga that day and went to the airport very early in the morning to see her son off who was going to Japan. She insisted on coming though her son opposed to it because there would be no one to travel with her in going back. She took a taxi from the airport and dropped by the Marikina church to attend mass. After the mass, she took a jeepney. (I’m not sure about the routes and if there really is a jeepney from Marikina passing by Mega) There were only three people inside the jeep and one of them was a snatcher who grabbed the purse clinging from her hand. She showed me the bruise on her left wrist. With both her cell phone and money inside the bag, she had nothing except her hanky. The driver of the jeepney let her off without paying and the other passenger gave her ten pesos when she got off. She went inside the mall and used the money to call a friend who promised to lend her money so she could travel home to Pampanga.

While talking, she kept on stumbling between Tagalog words. She then apologized saying she’s not from Manila and she just arrived from Bacolod hence the Hiligayon/ Ilonggo accent and that I may not have understood some of her words. I said it’s okay. I understood her because I came from Iloilo. (Technically I’m from Romblon but since I studied in Iloilo and my father’s from Iloilo, I understand Hiligaynon.) She smiled at me, touched my arm and spoke in her native tongue. “Thank you Lord, daw mabuang nako sa kulba. Wala man gyapon gaabot miga ko. Nagtawag ko liwat sa ila balay, hambal sang timbang nakalakat na kuno siya.” (I’m so nervous, it’s driving me crazy. My friend’s not here yet. I called her house again and the maid told me she already left.” I told her that she’s probably just delayed from the traffic. She wiped her eyes then told me her last name was Yap. (I didn’t told her that my father’s middle name is Yap) She looked at me again and said I looked like a Chinese girl. I told her I came from a Filipino-Chinese family. She smiled wider and told me both her late husband and her mother was Chinese.

I saw her glanced twice at the people eating in the food court. I asked her if she had lunch already and she just smiled and shook her head. I started to get up and she touched my arm and said “Indi lang pangga, ok lang ako.” (No love, I’m okay) But I did notice her trembling hands. Then my phone vibrated, I missed a call from my friend then I received a text message saying Ate Emz will arrive any minute now in a coffee shop. I was torn on how to go on. I looked around for a while, opened my bag and took out one hundred pesos. I folded it inside my palm and reached over to take her hand (just like what the little girl did to me). She looked surprised (I mean it like really, really surprised.) I told her that I had to leave because my friend arrived and told her that I hoped the money was enough for her fare in case her friend arrives late. She gave me a hug and asked what my name is. I told her to just call me Mar. She kissed my cheek (boy! her perfume smells expensive) and said “Thank you pangga… God bless you.” I smiled and stood up. I looked back once and she blew me a kiss. Haha. I was feeling wired the rest of the day because of the two cups of coffee I had after that but I felt really, really good. I hoped she got home safely. There is always that special kind of happiness when you know you’ve just helped somebody. The feeling is extra special when it’s a stranger. I’m not sure if she was telling the truth or not (or maybe I’m actually just soft hearted), though I hope she was, but I hope I helped someone.

It’s never too late or too small to be kind to ANYONE. Be kind to your family, your friends, your enemies (sometimes, haha), to strangers, to animals…to Earth. BE KIND. You’ll never know when you’ll need it the most and you may need it from a complete stranger. The greatest feeling is knowing that you helped without the possibility of repay. It’s not too late to save the world. Peace and Love!^__^

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