Makati Sampaguitas

December 10, 2013

Whenever I see or smell the Sampaguita, I always relate it to the church, a Roman Catholic church to be exact. Don't ask me why because I don't know how this association came to be.

Earlier tonight, while my team is in a hotel in Makati for an after-party, I decided I was hungry (again) and I wanted meat so I asked two other teammates to accompany me in going to the nearest Ministop. Right after exiting the hotel, we got peddled by two kids, ages about 7-9 years old, with Sampaguita. Like always, I didn't buy, and so did my teammates. I also do not have a habit of giving out money to street children because most of the time, the money won't go to these kids.

We arrived at the Ministop inside the Atrium building, where the BIR is located. I ordered the famous fried chicken, which is known to be inexpensive, huge and delicious. We were told to wait for 15 minutes as the chicken just got in the fryer.

While waiting for the food to get cooked, the two kids from before entered Ministop. They excitedly went to the counter to buy those rather expensive candy, Push Pop. It costs 28 pesos each. The first kid got to buy hers but while the second kid was paying, the cashier said she didn't have enough money for the candy. The kid sadly stomped to look for a cheaper alternative.

I could have easily just paid for the extra 8 pesos she lacked. But I got curious. I wanted to know more about these kids.

For your reference, the first girl's name is Ashley while the second girl's name is Camille. Ang modern/sosyal ng mga pangalan, no?

Jenn: Bakit hindi ka nakabili niyan?
Camille: Kasi kulang yung pera ko.
Jenn: (to Ashley) O, e ikaw paano ka nakabili niyan?
Ashley: (shows her extra wad of 20's)
Bev (my teammate): Naubos na agad yung mga Sampaguita kanina?
Ashley: (smiles) Pinakyaw eh.
Jenn: (jokingly) May pera ka pa pala eh. Bakit di mo na lang siya ilibre?
Ashley: (smiles and then pays the cashier the extra 8 pesos Camille needs for the Push Pop)
While eating their Push Pops, I could see that they were really glad. However, if you would ask me, a 28-peso candy in their situation is a really unreasonable expense. But then again, as a kid, I lived for that one luxury food item that my mother would allow me drop into the grocery cart; and that feeling of happiness every time I got to eat my luxury food item. It's a memory that I still treasure up until now, even though I could already buy them with the money I make.

I guess now, it's like, us, working professionals enjoying the spoils of our labor during that day when the salary arrives.

We could've stopped the conversation there but, of course, we just had to pry.
Jenn: Bakit nandito pa kayo. Hatinggabi na ah? Wala ba kayong pasok bukas?
Camille: Hindi na kami pumapasok eh.
Jenn: Bakit?
Camille: (doesn't respond)
 Jenn: San kayo nakatira?
Camille: (nonchalant) Wala kaming bahay.
Jenn: Ha? E pano kayo naliligo?
Camille: Sa mga patak-patak lang.
Then Bev asked more questions. At this point, it would be safe to say that my gullible heart was already aching for the situation these kids are in. Truth be told or not.

I, then, asked if they have already eaten dinner. They said not yet. I told them I'd buy both of them a Ministop value meal, but that's all I could give because I no longer have money. Their faces lit up. They were ecstatic.

After paying the cashier for their food, I told them that the money they paid for their candy could've bought them a rice meal too. I also jokingly said they should set their priorities straight. They're kids, so really, I didn't think they would listen. This is why I got surprised when they capped off their beloved Push Pops so they can save it for later, or so they say. Meanwhile, they waited for their meal to get cooked.

By this time, my chicken has already been packed and ready to go. We had to bid farewell to the kids. As we were already going out of the door, Ashley shouted, "love you, ate!". Her face looked sincere. I looked back, smiled and said, "love you too!" 

It's these little things that make the difference of having fulfillment despite the circumstances. It's either that OR I've just been ripped off*.


P.S. If it's the latter, I'm totally fine with it. Even deception would not overcome that feeling of joy when I saw the kids' happy faces when they learned they'll get a free meal.

P.P.S. *my third teammate, whose more versed in street children trafficking syndicates, said that they are buying candy because they are probably getting fed by whoever's in charge of them.

P.P.P.S I don't believe that good deeds should be left untold, mostly because the joy of being able to make other people smile should be shared.

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