At some point of our existence, we meet certain people who by chance would teach us lessons about life: lessons which are essential and most of the time life changing. Some of these people are not meant to stay for long, sometimes they just vanish like magic but their impact seems to be so great that most likely, in our thoughts they endure. I have come across different people in my life, notable people to be precise but of course, there are whose name is above the rest that I can’t help myself but speak of their greatness.
In my journey of being independent, of being far from home I have met an old man, conceivably ten years older than the age of my father that by judging through his exteriors, one can conclude that he had been through a tough grind in his early years. True enough for that man I knew was Mang Boy; a simple man who has been silent yet has everything to brag about of being a father, a husband and a friend. A father because through his meager income as a house boy, he was able to raise his three children, all went to College and now are professionals. A husband because no matter how many temptations he had fought face to face, through his virtue of fidelity he knocked it all out and lastly, a friend a great friend, really. And if you happen to ask why, well, it’s because I am the witness of his compassion and this written piece is our story.
The story of our companionship started on that one fateful day when bad luck seemed to engulf me while trying to look for a new boarding house on which I could still remember myself carrying my bag pack, and on my hands were pieces of equipment like that of electric fan and a small gas stove. I was like a lost sheep trying to trace my shepherd’s footsteps when Mang Boy fortunately popped up on the scene and like a Good Samaritan offered himself to be of assistance. He unburdened me of the stuff that intolerably weighing me down and let my poor skin hide under the shade of his dwelling which from several hours was exposed to the sun. “What is it of you young man, that you keep on scouring the street?” He asked in a jokingly manner, however, a noticeable concern was surfacing on his face.
Unknown to Mang Boy, I have decided to abruptly pull myself up from the pack which for three long years I have lived with, because of varied reasons like relationship issues and other concealed matters. Thus, in an instant there’s a need for me to look for a place where I could start anew. And by the time I am really in need of such, Mang Boy rescued me. Adjacent to the place where he lives is a house owned by two old fellows whom he considers as his friend. And for me not to have hard times looking for an abode I was referred by him. So to cut it short, we became neighbors.
Mang Boy is an epitome of a man who went an uphill struggle and it’s discernible through his scarred hands. Every day, as early as of 4:30 in the morning I would see him watering the plants and as a cheerful person he would always smile and greet me the customary “Good Morning” and I would often reply with a nod as I get past him while heading my way to work. He would often joke me saying “Early bird catches the worm”.
The rest of Mang Boy’s time will be spent running his boss’s errands, from cleaning the backyard, cooking and preparing meals and attending to house chores of all sorts. By afternoon, instead of having siesta, he would busy himself marinating barbecue and Isaw (Chicken or Pig intestines). Selling pork meat on sticks was one of his sidelines aside from making yelo or ice tubig(Ice tubes). Every night he would patiently wait for customers to drop by at our subdivision. He has regular customers though, who keep coming back not only because of tasty BBQs but also because of a warm company.
I started first as a customer and later I became his companion through long hours of sitting and chatting on his little BBQ stall. We always talk about life and other things enclosed with it, under the bright moon of the night. We been sharing so many what-if’s, fancying of situations only in dreams we can have. More often than not during our conversation we tend to forget the time that even it was twelve midnight already, we still chuckle over trivial topics.
Our friendship, I believe, is not only for the good times. I can still vividly recall one instance when I was so broke nearing to hit the rock bottom and yet I have no one to seek help of, that I dared disclosing to him my trouble. He never had second thoughts when I told him my predicament and immediately he handed me the amount I need. There were also times when I have to scrounge for pieces of BBQ and promised to pay it as soon as payday arrives so I can have dinner. He has rescued many of my night meals through his barbecue as I am often out of viand that time.
It is out of his generosity too, that he intentionally shops for milk packs, sugar, and instant coffee and even rice, that if I happen to run out of my supplies then he can lend me. He never sets for deadlines to beat he would just patiently wait when would I pay and I never abused him, though. Mang Boy was so generous to grant my pleas, then.
During my rest day, I walk with him going to the Palengke (wet market). He prefers to just walk instead of riding a vehicle because he doesn’t want to waste even a single centavo. Like an ant that works hard and saves food for rainy days, Mang boy was no different. Ever the penny-pincher that he was, he faithfully taught me to be prudent on the way I spend my money. It takes discipline for a man to save as what he always told me.
He sees himself in me; the qualities I have as a person and so the circumstances I need to face being an independent lad were the same of his. He told me that I would go places, that I would be brewing success if only I make use of my positive qualities on which he had( for a long time of scrutinizing) found in me. He envisioned me having a car, a nice house and all the things which I lacked at that moment. Funny that even now I couldn’t see myself having those but isn’t it nice to ponder about, that someone believes in you more than you believe in yourself?
The things I learned from Mang Boy were the things I treasured the most. All his efforts too being my friend in need are much appreciated. I can’t tell how thankful my parents were to have someone beside me to act as a guardian and a friend while I’m away from my true home. Mang Boy has been my refuge in my messy quest here in the city, my safeguard against impending harm and my stimulus to push myself beyond my limits.
Having someone to advise you, console you from your failures, stand by you through thick and thin is something to be grateful about. And to have someone like a real father who would check upon you if you’re fine or not, sick or sad is indeed a blessing. Honestly, I feel so blessed.
Now that I’m nearing another phase of my life, I remember him telling me to marry someone who has rough hands for I should be paired, according to him, to a woman who’s acquainted with the rigors of life. As he have said, women who have known and exposed to hardships are tougher than those who were sheltered and spared from such. Well, I think I have found one.
For the time being, Mang Boy’s presence is out of sight. His children had built him his dream house and for good, he left the subdivision where we first met, until I, too, decided to also move but still from time to time, I call him to order BBQ and ” Isaw”.
Truly, what I have learned from him were lessons that will forever remain in my thoughts and will serve as remembrance of him that once in my life I met a friend worth treasuring…