Reality Check: 11-Year Old Stays Positive Amidst the Danger and Stress of Life on the Street

“…kung nalaman kasi nilang babae ka, rerapin ka!” (If they knew you were a girl, they would rape you) This was one of the lines in the conversation below that struck me the most. 

We all have our own problems and challenges in life. Most of the time, we may feel this huge weight over our shoulders and think that we were just the unluckiest people on earth. But every now and then, a chance encounter would help us put things in perspective. Such encounters help us realize that we are in fact BLESSED, and it is our turn to give back and share the blessings with others. 

Jiance Mercado shares her story of such an incident and how it made her think twice of what she now feels are petty problems. The following story took place on July 9, Thursday at 8:30pm on her way to home from Taytay. 

Count your blessings

“Super lakas ng ulan pagsakay ko pa lang ng bus sa Taytay bumuhos na ang malakas na ulan. Pero wala akong pakialam. Punong-puno ako ng problema ng araw nato, gusto ko ng sumuko at magsawalang bahala na lang pero kailangan kong pumasok sa trabaho dahil kahit papano inaasahan ko yung sahod ko dahil may binubuhay ako. 

Nasa unahan ako naka upo at may tumabi saken na bata. Payat at medyo madungis at may dalang payong. Akala ko anak ng kundoktor pero hindi, kasi nagbayad siya ng sampung piso.

Bata: “Kuya, bayad po. Saka na lang po yung kulang. Sa Rosario lang po.”

Tinanggap naman ng kundoktor ng walang reklamo.  Tapos napansin ko yung mata niya, kaya pala, may katarata ang dalawang mata niya. NAAWA siguro si KUYA. Dinedma ko na siya after niyang magbayad kasi nga problemado din ako non. Pero kinausap niya ako. 

Sabi nya: “Ate, saan ka po bababa?” (Napataas kilay ko kasi di ako sigurado kung ako ba talaga kinakausap niya. Pero nakita ko naman na sa akin siya nakatingin.)
Kaya sabi ko: “Jan sa Life Homes lang”..

Bata: “Naku po. Wala kayong payong ate, malakas po ang ulan.”

Ako: “Hayaan mo na. Ganon talaga. Teka, mag isa ka lang? Bakit wala kang kasama?”

Bata: “Galing po kasi ako sa Papa ko, sa Binangonan. Humingi po ako ng pambaon sa school.”

Ako: “Binigyan ka naman? Ano ba gagawin mo sa Rosario? Dapat nagpasama ka sa Papa mo pabyahe.”

Bata: “Binigyan naman po kaso sampung piso lang. Ang sungit po kasi ng bago niyang asawa eh. Kaya pupunta po ako ng Rosario ngayon para mag-BARKER.”

Ako: “Huh? MagBABARKER KA pa?? Eh ang lakas lakas kaya ng ULAN?!”

Bata: “Ok lang po yun ate. May payong naman po ako eh.”

Ako: “Kahit na. Gabi na oh. Ilang taon ka na ba?”

Bata: “11 po.”

Ako: “Okay. Anong pangalan mo?”

Bata: “Jenalyn po.”

Ako: “Jenalyn? Bakit pambabae?!!”

Bata: “Eh babae naman po talaga ako eh.”

Ako: “Huh? Hala! Eh bakit ganyan buhok mo? Akala ko tuloy lalake ka.

Bata: “Kasi po ate kapag nag barker ka at nalaman ng mga rugby boys na babae ka, re-rape-in ka po nila at pagtitripan.”

Ako: “Huh???!! Nako wag ka na mag barker. Umuwi ka na lang sa nanay mo.”

Bata: “May asawa na din pong iba mama ko at nasa malayo na siya. Tumatawag tawag na lang po siya.”

Ako: “Ganon? Eh san ka umuuwi ngayon?”

Bata: “Sa kuya ko po. Kaso nahihiya na din ako sa kanya kasi may mga anak na din siya. Dagdag palamunin lang ako don kasi nag aaral na din po yung panganay niya eh.”

Ako: “Huh? Wala ka na ba ibang mapupuntahan? Ilang kayong magkakapatid?”

Bata: “Tatlo po. Pero yung panganay na kuya ko, lulong na po sa droga pati asawa niya kaya po yung pamangkin kong isang taon pa lang, lagi nilang ginugulpi.”

Ako: “ONE YEAR OLD GINUGULPI??!!! Diyos ko.”

Bata: “Opo.”

Ako: “Kawawa naman. Saan ka nag-aaral?”

Bata: “Sa De Castro po, ate. Grade 4 na ako. Magaling po ako sa Math pero mahina po ako sa English eh.”

Ako: “Ok lang yan basta mag aral ka lang ng mag aral. Teka, pano yan pag wala kang baon?”

Bata: “Nagtitiis po pero madalas wala na din ako gana sa eskwela lalo na pag gutom na ako. Ang hirap po. Kaya nag-BABARKER na lang ako kaso nakita po ako ng teacher ko. Nahiya tuloy ako kaya libre na lang po ako sa cook-food.”

Ako: “Huwag kang mahiya na nahuli ka niya nag-babarker, mas mahiya ka kapag nakita ka niyang nag-rarugby.”

Bata: “Opo ate tama ka jan!”

Ako: “Teka, ano pala nangyari jan sa mata mo?”

Bata: “Di ko po alam eh. Pagka-panganak po saken ganito na to eh.”

Ako: “Ganun ba?”

Bata: “Hehe ok lang yan ate. Meron po akong contact lens na hindi na kailangan hubarin.”

Ako: “Haha onga no.”

Napasarap na kwentuhan namin pero dumating nako sa STOP KO. Dahil naaliw ako sa kanya at naawa, binigyan ko siya ng 20 pesos at binigay ko na din sa kanya ang baon kong kanin at ulam. Gipit na gipit din ako ng panahon na yan kaya naman yun lang talaga nakayan kong ibigay. 

Oo nakaka-awa ang sitwasyon ni Jenalyn pero mas nakakabilib siya kasi kahit ganon ang kapalaran niya, mas pinili niyang dumiskarte kesa magreklamo. Samantalang ako, mas blessed pa ako pero kaunting problema lang, sumusuko na ako. Lagi ko kasing iniisip na kawawa ako dahil SINGLE PARENT ako, pero naisip ko, hindi pala ako kawawa at mas lalong hindi kawawa ang anak ko kasi wala siyang TATAY. Kumakain ng higit sa tatlong beses sa isang araw ang anak ko, at may magulang akong naaasahan sa oras na kailangan ko sila di katulad ni Jenalyn na walang lugar sa mga magulang niya pero kahit ganon pa man, hindi man lang siya nagrereklamo.

Ayaw pa niya sana tanggapin yung 20 pesos na iniabot ko dahil 5 pesos lang daw ang ibinabaon niya araw-araw. Sabi ko sa kanya na itabi niya na lang para kinabukasan. Pinilit niyang ialok saken ang payong niya kahit malakas ang ulan, tinanggihan ko siya.  Mas kailangan niya yun dahil kahit papano may pampagamot ako pag may sakit ako.

Ako: “Jenalyn, magdasal ka lagi ah at mag aral kang mabuti.”

Bata: “Lagi po akong nagdadasal, ate. Kakampi ko po ang Diyos. Maraming salamat po, ate. Mag iingat kayo.”

Ako: “Umuwi ka na ha? Wag ka na mag-barker.”

Pagbaba ko ng BUS, di ko na napigilan. Umiyak nako.
Sobrang BLESSED ko pala.
Sisiw lang pala ang mga problema ko.

Kumbaga, ako napilayan lang pero yung iba naputulan na pero di pa din sila nagrereklamo.

Sa buhay nato, dumarating talaga ang mga pagsubok kaya dapat di tayo basta-basta susuko kasi ang problema, ginawa yan ng Diyos para patatagin tayo.

Thank you, Jenalyn. Hayaan mo, magkikita pa tayo. Salamat. Alam kong ginawa kang instrumento ng DIYOS para maliwanagan ako.

Ang dami dami pwedeng scenario na maganap ng araw na yun pero sumakto nung problemado ako.

TRULY, GOD IS AMAZING!”

Rough English Translation

It was raining hard as I boarded the bus in Taytay. I didn’t really care. This day was filled with so much problems that I just wanted to give up. But I need to go to work because I need my salary as someone depends on me.

I was seated in front when someone suddenly sat down beside me. Thin, slightly filthy and carrying an umbrella. I thought he was the son of the conductor but later realizes he wasn’t because he paid the 10-peso fair. 

Kid: “Kuya (term used to show respect for a slightly older male), here is my payment. I will just pay the remaining next time. I get off at Rosario”

The conductor accepted his payment without any complaints. Then I noticed his eyes, no wonder, he had cataract on both his eyes. The conductor must have had pity on him. I ignored the kid after that since I had problems of my own. But then he started talking to me. 

Kid: Ate, (term used to show respect for a slightly older female) where are you getting off? (I raised my eyebrow as I wasn’t sure he was talking to me. But he was looking at me so I responded)

Me: At Life Homes..

Kid: Oh my. You don’t have an umbrella and it’s raining hard.

Me: It’s alright. That’s just the way it is. Hold on, are you all alone? Why aren’t you with a guardian?

Kid: I came from my Papa’s house in Banangonan. I asked for a little allowance for school.

Me: Did he give you some? What are you going to do in Rosario anyway? You should have asked your dad to go with you.

Kid: He just gave me 10 pesos. He’s new wife is really grumpy. So I’m going to Rosario now to BARKER. (people who call passengers to ride the jeep)

Me: Huh? You’re still going to go barker? But it’s raining so hard! 

Kid: It’s okay, I have an umbrella anyway.

Me: Even so. It’s already late. How old are you anyway?

Kid: 11 years old

Me: Okay, what’s your name?

Kid: Jenalyn. 

Me: Jenalyn? Why do you have a girl’s name?

Kid: It’s because I’m really a girl.

Me: Huh? Oh my! Then why is your hair that way? Because of that I thought you were a boy.

Kid: It’s because when I go to barker and the rugby boys find out I’m a girl, they will RAPE me and make fun of me. 

Me: Huh???!! Oh my, don’t go barker anymore. Just go home to your mom. 

Kid: She also has a new husband already and is in a very far away place. She just calls me from time to time. 

Me: Is that so? Then where do you go home?

Kid: To my brother’s house. Though I also feel embarrassed sometimes because he also has kids of his own. I’m just an added burden ‘coz his eldest is also studying already.

Me: Huh? Don’t you have anywhere else to go? How many siblings do you have?

Kid: There’s 3 of us. But my eldest brother is addicted to drugs, so is his wife. That’s why my niece/nephew who is only one year old is often beaten.

Me:  1-year old and being BEATEN? Oh God! 

Kid: Yes

Me: Poor kid. Where do you study?

Kid: At De Castro. I’m already in Grade 4. I’m very good in Math but I struggle in English. 

Me: That’s okay, as long as you continue to study. Hold on, what happens if you’re not given any allowance?

Kid: I just suck it in. But most of the time, I feel lazy to go to school especially if I’m very hungry. It’s really difficult. So I just go barker instead, but my teacher sometimes sees me. I’m embarrassed and just eat for free at cook-food.

Me: Don’t be embarrassed if she catches you working hard as a barker. You should be more embarrassed if you are seen sniffing rugby. 

Kid: Yup, you got that right.

Me: What happened to your eyes by the way?

Kid: I also don’t know. I was born this way.

Me: Is that so?

Kid: Hehe It’s okay. Now I have contact lenses that don’t ever need to come off. 

Me: haha You’re right! 

We had so much fun talking but I soon had to get off. I enjoyed talking to her and had pity on her situation so I gave her 20 pesos as well as my rice and food that day. I am also currently struggling hence that’s really all I could give at that time. 

Yes, Jenalyn’s situation is very pitiful but I am really in awe because even if fate wasn’t on her side, she chose to work hard and find a way instead of complaining. I on the other hand am more blessed and with less problems, but I give up easily. I always think people should pity me because I am a single parent, but now I realized I am not pitiful. Moreover, my children are not pitiful that they do not have a father as they are able to eat 3 times a day. I also have parents I can count on whenever I need them, unlike Jenalyn who has no place in her parent’s hearts but still doesn’t complain. 

She initially did not want to take my 20 pesos because she says her allowance is only 5 pesos per day. I told her to just keep it for the following day. She even offered her umbrella to me because of the strong rains. I declined. She needed it more than I did because I can afford to get sick. 

Me “Jenalyn, always pray to God and study hard. 

Jenalyn: I always pray, the Lord is my ally. Thank you so much. Do take care.

Me: Go home now okay? Don’t go barker anymore. 

As I got off the bus, I couldn’t help but cry. I realized how BLESSED I actually am. My problems were nothing! 

It’s like I was just fractured while others lost an entire limb but they choose not to complain. 

In this life, challenges will always arise. We should not give up too easily. The Lord gave us those problems to make us stronger.

Thank you Jenalyn. Don’t worry, we will meet again. Thank you. I know God used you as an instrument to give me clarity. 

There are so many scenarios that could’ve taken that day, but this happened when I needed it the most. 

TRULY, GOD IS AMAZING!

 

Wow! Hearing about the life of Jenalyn gave us goosebumps. We all know how harsh the world can be. And we’ve seen beggars and children on the street, but little did we know that this is what they go through on a daily basis. Struggling to survive, without anyone to lean on. Children are supposed to be enjoying life, playing, having fun. This is not the kind of life any child deserves. 

Jenalyn is just one of the many children struggling to survive. Though some kids may seem mischievous and rude, please remember that these are just kids who probably didn’t have anyone to guide them and teach them right from wrong. Help them, teach them in whatever small way possible,






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