Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dear manang

Dear manang*,

When I met you going down the stairs from the office yesterday and said, "Not today, manang", I didn't expect to see you five hours later. I did feel bad not to buy from you, but we all need a change sometimes, don't we?

See, I'm only one of your suki, a regular buyer of the mid-afternoon snacks you bring to the building. After you've sold your turon, waffle, pancit (canton and malabon), sopas, spaghetti, puto, palitaw, lumpia and the countless food items that miraculously fit into your plastic basket, you disappear from sight. If we don't see you by 3pm, we ask around if you have passed by and bear our hunger if we missed you.

Yesterday, M and I went out to buy food elsewhere and did not see you again. So to cross the street and ride the jeep with you at nightfall was quite a surprise. You sat behind the front passenger, quite a way from me, but you paid for my fare even if I was ready to pay mine. I was grateful for the treat. More than that, I was embarrassed. I am not sure how much you make bringing that basket of yours every day to the offices in our area, but I don't think you are able to save so much. I realized how little I give back to those I need it. And I felt ashamed of myself.

The past two days, I've been giving my jeepney fare without expecting the P2 change from my P10. The rationale behind this is that I feel that the jeepney driver, who toils in the heat all day and is directly affected by rising gas prices, needs the money more than I do. There were times when I paid P10 and did not ask for the change back. This goes unnoticed with the Gate 3 jeeps that have various fare rates, but it seems that the Extension jeeps where everyone only pays P8, have honest drivers, so yesterday and the other day I got my change without asking for it. And props go to the fellow passengers who remembered that I gave extra and gave me back the change.

So how can I help people like you who are making an honest living? That is all I really wanted to know.

Your suki

*Manang is a respectful Filipino term for an older woman, often a vendor. Sometimes used disparagingly to describe an old maid.

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