Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Of Cops and Thieves (STORY # 1)

QUESTION: What's the difference between a crooked cop and a straight thief?

ANSWER: A crooked cop asks for money. A straight thief gets your money without asking.

Bottom line, there's no difference--you lose your money to any one of them!

Why, in the world, am I writing a post about cops and thieves?

Because I have been a consistent victim of these two vultures for the past 49 years and I just want to:

-- take everything out of my chest
-- warn you that such situations do exist around us
-- test how far I could remember and how much I could still recall and
-- hey, you deserve a good laugh


I was a neophyte in Manila back in summer of 1973. In the Globe building across Philamlife Head Office, I was waiting for Tatay and Nanay in the lobby when I suddenly felt the need to go to the ladies room. I immediately stood up from where I was sitting and rushed to the rest room. When I went back, I realized I left my bag on the couch but didn't even bother to look inside if something was missing. There were about 10-15 people sitting on the L-shaped couch. Silly me to assume that no thief would dare touch my bag. Later that night I discovered that my wallet was gone, along with a substantial amount of monthly allowance.

You think I told my parents so they would give me additional allowance? I feared my father so much that I just kept that unfortunate incident to myself. During that time, my yearly allowance was already deposited in the bank. I just had to withdraw every time I needed to. My father warned before they left me in Manila: "Bahala ka ng mag budget ng pera mo. Huwag na huwag kang tetelegrama na kailangan mo ng pera. Pag naubos ang pera mo bago matapos ang klase, gamitin mo ang PAL ticket mo at bumalik ka na sa Marbel. Doon ka na uli mag-aral. Hindi ka na babalik pa ng Maynila."

Needless to say, I struggled financially during my first year stay in Manila. I kept a record of all my expenses, always checking whether I could still survive until the end of the year (when I go home in December, my mother will give me another check which is supposed to last until summer break when I go home again).

Came the day before I leave for Christmas break. I still had money left for shopping and so off I went to Isetann. It was too late for me to learn that I only had FIVE PESOS after I paid my laundrywoman and other miscellaneous expenses. Oh no! How would I even go to the airport with only five pesos? I prayed for a miracle and guess what? God gave me one.

Ate Neneng, my guardian at that time, was so kind enough to bring me to the airport. When she offered to pay the taxi fare, I said 'thank you' right away then raised my head to the sky and whispered "thank you, thank you Lord!"

My plane ticket was only up to Davao. Nanay will fetch me at the airport then we'll take the bus going to Marbel via Dadiangas (now known as GenSan, the hometown of Manny Pacquiao). When I arrived in Davao, I expected Nanay to be waiting for me at the lobby. But she wasn't. Instead, a group of excited Marbelenos swarmed over me then hugged and kissed me. One of them said (have to translate from Ilonggo to Tagalog so everybody would understand) "Mabuti naman at nandito ka. Kanina pa kami dito at nagdarasal na may taga Marbel na dadating. Wala na kaming pera. Naubos sa shopping. Pwede mo ba kaming pahiramin? Bayaran ka namin sa Marbel."

You could just imagine the look on their faces when they found out that I only had five pesos in my wallet. But I told them that they could wait for Nanay, whom I'm sure will be coming to fetch me.

For the succeeding 3 hours we were all seated in one row, waiting for our 'guardian angel' to arrive. I was beginning to worry because Nanay was never late. All I could do was pray that nothing bad happened to her. I kept looking at my watch wondering if I could sell it at a price that would cover my hotel, food and transportation expenses. Then somebody shouted "Ara na si Toning!" Everybody ran towards her, embracing her, some clapping and some jumping with joy. Nanay was astonished how she became an instant celebrity. After she related how the bridge was toppled down by the heavy rains causing a horrifying traffic congestion between Dadiangas and Davao, our kababayans who waited for her took turns to borrow money from her . . . all is well that ends well.

As for me, I promised myself not to go home again with only five pesos in my pocket.