By Virginia J. Pasalo
I arrived at Jollibee V. Luna a little past eight in the morning and found all the seats on the ground floor taken. I decided to just take out my pancake and have brewed coffee at Dunkin Donuts at Anonas, closer to the source of fresh buko (young coconut) juice.
Upon entering Dunkin Donuts, the two seats were occupied, one with a customer waiting for an order, and the other, a person with disability (PWD). I asked the cashier if I could sit beside the PWD, and they said I could. I did not ask permission from the young man/child because he had a hard time talking and walked limping with his arms unnaturally curving. As I was asking the cashier, the PWD had moved to the stool beside the door, and continued to laugh at the remarks of the personnel joking with him. A few minutes later, he quietly slipped outside the door.
He is known to the personnel as Johnny, between 18-20 years old, from Barangay Botocan, and making a living as a barker in an area (where jeepneys pick up passengers) in a no- parking zone. I observed him from the glass panel, and wondered how he can be a barker if he had difficulty pronouncing words. The cashier told me, he could say, “Nonas, Nonas!” for jeepneys plying the Anonas route. Then a Quezon City traffic officer imitated the way he walked, and both of them engaged in a banter. A few minutes later, two other traffic officers joined their conversation. He seemed friendly with them, and when I asked one of the crew, if Johnny knew them, he said:
“Yes, Ma’am. The police also give him a portion of the ‘tong’ from the jeepney drivers who are not supposed to be picking passengers in that area.”
“How do you know they bribe?”
“Nanenengneng ko ira, Madam, ya wala’y kwartan idederew da ra may drivers, tan ibubulsa da la.” (I have seen them, Madam, that there is money being handed over by the drivers, and then they pocket it.)
“Tua tan?” (Is that true?)
“On Madam, balet okay labat la, ta iitdan da met si Johnny. Manse-save si Johnny pian makasaliw na tambal nen lola to.” (Yes, Madam, but it is okay, because they are sharing it with Johnny. Johnny is saving to buy his grandmother medicines.)
The other personnel brewing the coffee I had ordered butted in:
“Pag wala ho silang nakukuha sa mga drivers, sa liit ng sweldo nila, di na ho mabibigyan si Johnny.” (If they are not getting anything from the drivers, with the little salary they get, they cannot give Johnny anything.)
“Wadyan lanang si Johnny, aalagaren to si Sir Ed. In-promise nen Sir Ed ya doble-en to su naalmon kwarta nen Johnny ed agew-agew.” (Johnny is always here, waiting for Sir Ed. He promised to double whatever Johnny makes for the day.)
“Siopa tay Sir Ed, amay Manager yo? (Who is Sir Ed, your Manager?)
“Andi, Madam, customer mi. Agew-agew ya mankakape dia.” (No, Ma’am, our customer. He comes here daily to have his coffee.)
My coffee was cold, so I stepped out for the buko juice, and proceeded to Mercury Drug for the ginger candy. Then I decided to buy puso ng saging (banana heart), saluyot (jute leaves) and suahe (shrimps), ingredients to a dish my father used to cook for us, each time we visit him and my mother, in Palacpalac.
As I entered SaveMore, I smelled Johnny. He parked himself beside the guard, offering to ease the burden of carrying heavy bags and boxes. He has this aura of soft light that evokes gentleness and a countenance that seem to wash away the guilt of those who have committed wrong, by sharing with him, the fruits of their crime.