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Helping the needy–but at what cost?

2 Mar

Helping the blind

I’ve always wanted to immerse myself into an altruistic deed every once in a while. It doesn’t only mean that I’d practically go to charities—it’s as simple as doing someone a favor without asking anything for return.

Last night, my thirst for helping someone in need is put to the test. I was on my way home when I passed by a blind man who is roughly in his mid-20’s and I thought he was accompanied by his companion at that time. He heard my footsteps, thanks to my noisy boots. I assumed they were waiting for a taxi, they were standing at a nearby Christian church. I was looking forward to go home early that day when the blind guy called me.

Kuya, pababa na po ba kayo?” the blind guy said. (Kuya in Filipino means big brother) Of course, he’d address me wrongly, he can’t even see that I am a woman.

“No.” I answered.

“Ay sorry, akala ko kasi Kuya ka.” he said. “Saan kayo dadaan? Pasama naman ‘dun sa sakayan.” (Oh sorry, I thought you were a Kuya. Where are you going? Can you accompany to the bus stop.)

“Ah, doon ako sa kabila dadaan papuntang teacher’s camp.” I said. (Actually, I would be passing on the other side going to the Teacher’s Camp.)

“O sige, samahan na lang kita sa baba.” (Okay, I’ll accompany you.”

The other boy beside him pointed the blind guy using his nose. As if to tell me, he’s all yours.

I am a softy. So I agreed to accompany him to the bus stop. Well, actually maybe “Jeep”stop, if aptly called.

He asked if I belong to the Seventh Day Adventist Church. I told him no. And I asked him the same, same answer as I am.

Then he told me he went there to ask for help. He narrated that he was confined in BGH (Baguio General Hospital) and that he lost all his money because of some major operation. He also told me he needs to go to Bontoc.

I asked him what kind of operation. He said, “Intestine.”

Uh-oh. I thought to myself.

I was lucky that time when my co-worker stopped by and waved. Kuya Mat, (let’s call him Kuya Mat for his protection.) said that he would be passing along SLU, so maybe I can hop in and ride for free. Given that I am in some kind of situation in glued in my hands, I asked him if we could also accompany the blind guy so he can be able to ride to the nearest jeep that we see.

Kuya agreed.

Little do we know we’re in for a pleasant surprise.

We’re inside Kuya’s car when I asked him details about why he’s here. I suggested that I bring him to the police so they can bring him home. Besides, my husband’s friend was able to experience the same. He doesn’t have any money left to even go home. But thanks to the police, they brought him home and even gave him free meals! Anyway, going back. He refused at the moment he heard the word Police. He said he’ll be riding a bus home to Bontoc and he needs money to get there.

That really blew his cover. I was appalled to hear him refuse us and even said that the fare to Bontoc would cost as much as going down to Manila. We knew he was lying.

My mind was racing. I had to think fast. This man is not going anywhere. We had to bring him to the bus station going to Bontoc.

Kuya Mat asked him where he came from. The guy answered, “I came from Mindoro. I have to go to Bontoc to get my grandmother’s marriage certificate.”

“Ang layo naman.” We answered. (That’s far!)

We asked him how much is the fare to Bontoc. He said it is probably Php 300-400 ($7-$9, estimate price).

Not only does his story sound too sketchy, the estimate of the fare says another story. We know this is some kind of scam.

I asked Kuya to bring him to the station. Then we’d think of what to do next.

During the trip to the station, the blind guy was asking random things like were we living in Navy Base or what is our job there? We also gave him a “sketchy” answer to match his own. That sounded fair enough for me.

He even said, “Lord, give me a miracle now.” He said he was a Christian. I think there’s nothing wrong with this remark unless he’s saying the truth.

He even complained that he has not eaten lunch.

By the time we arrived to Dangwa (that’s the bus station going to Bontoc), we decided to check what time the bus leaves. Much to our chagrin, we found out that the next bus leaves at 7:00 am.

What are we going to do with him?

We have to think fast.

I spoke with the dispatcher and told him the whole story. I even asked him to look for a place where the guy can sleep or sit comfortably. The dispatcher could only offer the bench outside the ticketing booth.

When I asked him how much is the fare. He answered. It only costs Php 212 (Maybe $5.30?). Wow!

Kuya and I decided to buy him a ticket instead. It’s much safer to buy one for him than give him the money.

Out of the back of my mind, I was hoping that he is saying the truth. That it’s not a big scam.

When Kuya offered him bread, he refused. He said he is not allowed to eat bread. At that moment, I wish I knew a thing or two on med. If I did, I would have caught him lying right there and then. Well, the Police thing is a plus.

It’s getting pretty dark. We bought him a ticket. I told Kuya that he and I pay half of the ticket so I shelled out 112 and he a 100.

I am freaked out by what happened. If kuya weren’t there God knows it won’t turn out that way.

Because I still had this ounce of mercy in me left, I offered him Php15. This is for the jeepney fare when he arrives to Bontoc. He then again brushed off this offer. He said he can’t eat that money. Wow.

I gave him the ticket but he said he might lose it. So we gave it to the dispatcher instead. The dispatcher said that he’d give it to the blind guy before the bus leaves. That is to insure that he never loses the ticket and that he’d ride the bus.

From the looks of it. The guy is disappointed and angry. I just know it.

Before we left him, I told him to wait here patiently and I patted him on the shoulder and told him that the dispatcher will give him the ticket.

It would have been great if he showed an expression of gratitude or happiness. But he showed the opposite. Yes we know he is cold, uncomfortable and hungry—we could only help him as much as we can. We feel that giving him a ticket home and offering him food is enough.

I am being truthful at this one.

It was rather disappointing.

We left him there knowing that he’ll be able to go home now. (If his story is true)

Kuya Mat assured me that if he changes his mind, he still can get the money but he’ll lose 20% of it anyway.

I heaved a sigh of relief after leaving that place.

“Sorry kuya ha? Nadamay ka pa. Akala ko kasi kanina magpapahatid lang sya sa sakayan ng jeep.” I apologized. (I’m sorry kuya. You got involved in this mess. At first I thought that he was just asking me to accompany him to the “jeep” stop.

My co-worker just smiled and said, “At least we helped. Though we’re not sure if he’s real or not.”

“Bahala na si Lord.” I remarked. (It’s all up to God now.)


I relayed to my family what happened to me that time. They said that I was fortunate to be able to see Kuya Mat. If I didn’t, what will happen to me?

Lesson learned. It really pays to say no. But it doesn’t hurt to help the right people.

Should I encounter something like this again, I know what to do next time.

I still have no news what happened to him, but our city is so small you’d get news from people you know.

Moral of the story? In an old Filipino saying puts it, “Walang manloloko kung walang magpapaloko.” (No one will take advantage of you, if you do not let anyone take advantage of you.)