Thursday, June 19, 2008

Vicious Cycle

“Anna? Is this Anna?”

I instantly recognized the voice on the phone. And I fell silent, wishing it to go away.

“Anna, Anna. Si Anna ba ito?” it persisted.

I hang up without answering.

The voice, that of a former co-worker who retired 12 years ago, would call every month or so. At the end of each call, I would part with a few hundred pesos. I wasn’t the only one on his call list; he had some of my other colleagues too. Just after Christmas last year, a few of us decided we had done enough of doles and pooled cash to help him set up a micro business. You know, “the-teach-a-man-how-to-fish-so- he-could-eat-forever” la-di-dah. Later, from the grapevine, we learned the makeshift store closed in no time.

I tried to tell myself it made perfect sense to feel aid-fatigued and imposed upon. That to deny him now might be his deliverance later. Still, knots began to form at the pit of my stomach. I imagined the last time I saw him -- a shrunken copy of his old cheerful and slightly cocky self. He could talk very little as he coughed so much.

Suddenly, I remembered a dream I had of him years ago when he was still fit and gainfully employed.

I was inside a nipa hut looking out of the window at him sleeping on a hammock. Just then, I saw the strings of the hammock uncoiling from the fat tree trunks to which they were tied. I rushed out, but – too late – he had landed on the ground.

I wondered then what the dream meant. And I wondered again now, as my insides squirmed.

Desperately, I willed the phone to ring again. And it did. This time, I answered.

I mean I asked questions.

“Ano po ba ang nangyari dun sa binigay naming pang-kapital sa inyo kailan lang?”

‘Hindi po ba kayo nakapagpatayo ng maliit na tindahan?”

“Hindi po ba ginawan pa kayo ni Celia ng business plan?”

“Bakit naman po pinabayaan nyo ang mga anak nyong kurakutin ang tindahan nyo?”

(Didn’t we give you capital for a small business for you and your wife? Were you able to put it up? Didn’t we make you a business plan? Why did you let your grown-up children wipe out your stocks?)

I ended the conversation asking him to pick up an envelope from the guard.

And so the cycle continues ...


rhodora said...

You are so "pusong mamon", my friend. But I can't blame you. Ganyan din ako, minsan. It's hard for me to say no.

lady cess said...

you are so like my mom. pareho kayo, lalagpas sa langit =)

lady cess said...

you are so like my mom. pareho kayo, lalagpas sa langit =)

evi said...

gosh... parang ako ang nahihiya para sa kanya. my husband had a friend who went to my parents' house and pretended to look for me when he knew i wasn't living there anymore. he introduced himself since my parents don't know him and later on borrowed money. my parents were shocked in disbelief.

nakakainis pero if you think about why he's doing it - you feel sorry for that person. it's hard to refuse someone who needs help but i guess, there's also a need to set a limit.

chateau aka imom said...

Ah, the story of many Juans. My Chinese husband and his father have much to say about them, but hindi ko na sasabihin dito.
Ang bait mo naman. I have lots of relatives naman who take advantage of my parents' kindness. They stay at their house for free - room and board. And have the guts to not even help with chores. Kainis.

Anonymous said...

i think i know this person:). kidding. kidding. always entertaining as usual. mi yeti!

lei said...

My mother's like that, too. We often joked her to run for Brgy. Captain! :)

I guess me and my sister adopted the same character. Mas may control lang, kase pag alam namin na abuso na. We tell the person na yun na yung last.

soloops said...

Between me and J, mas pusong mamon siya, to my chagrin (and to his annoyance). Ako kasi napaso na ako sa mga abusive relatives ng dad ko who would have the nerve to demand money from my mama whenever it was time for harvest at HER farm. So now, pagbibigyan ko lang once, pag sumobra pa dun, a di na pwede. Self-preservation and all that jazz, you know.

myepinoy said...

Naalala ko ang tatay ko. The case is the same, people come and ask for money, help to the point na parang responsibility na sila ng tatay ko at sa tingin ko abuso na.

Sabi ko sa tatay ko, niloloko ka na lang nila at ikaw naman ay nagpapaloko. Bakit naman di mo sila pagsabihan o tangihan man lang kahit minsan.

Ang sagot ng tatay ko, o, wag mo nang iko-qoute ang turo ni Kristo "the-teach-a-man-how-to-fish-so- he-could-eat-forever" kasi di ko alam kung papaano gagawin yan.

Anak, ang point dito ay ganito:

Ano ang gusto mo?

Gusto mo bang ikaw ang naghihingi o ikaw ang nagbibigay?

Gusto mo bang ikaw ang nasa katayuan nila o hindi?

Gusto mo bang ikaw ang nanloloko o ang nagpapaloko? (sa tingin ng mundo oo, pero sa totoo lang hindi kasi alam ko ginagawa ko at ako ang mas nakakaintindi sa kanila)

Pag nasagot mo yan, anak nga kita.

Toe said...

Kasi naman, bakit siya natulog sa duyan na hindi nakatali sa panaginip mo e. :)

Anna said...

there's this old man who goes to the house every so often to beg. he was my mom's high-school classmate and he used to be really rich daw. mom says he lost his property because he was an incurable gambler and womanizer. for a time, nadala din ako ng awa especially since he looked so frail. but then one day he asked for money for medication daw and then i saw him coming from the cockpit. vicious cycle talaga...

Gina said...

Bless your heart AM!

It might be a vicious cycle that's hard to break, but when we look at the big picture, it's good that we are the ones who have the capacity to give/or to lend and not the other way.

Anonymous said...

some people never learn from their hardships, 'no? ang bait mo naman. minsan kasi nakakaguilty kapag titiisin mo eh.:(

julie said...

Ambait mo naman, MRC. Ako, hindi ko alam kung kaya ko yan. Ang mama ko ganyan din :) Pusong mamon, kagaya mo.

Sexy Mom said...

yes, the vicious cycle continues...everywhere.

but do you think, given the choice, he would like to be in his past, current and maybe even future situation?

do you think all the other poor people we see around, like to be in their past, current and maybe even future situation?

oh yes, we have heard and seen first hand how able bodied people take advantage of other people (say the barkers for jeepneys, taxis -na hindi naman talaga kelangan, along edsa near the LRT stations), and we would say nakakainis, seeing the helpless and hapless drivers dole out his hard earned P5.

or say the snatchers and the errant pickpockets--but these are different cases.

there are people who just are not lucky. when i think about them, and the few hundreds of pesos these people need compared to the thousands or hundreds of thousands that we spend, the money they need for their sustenance is only "barya" or loose change for us. how we would smirk and feel we have been had (naisahan na naman) dahil sa prinsipyo natin or sa cliche na teach them to fish and not to just give fish. how a few hundreds could make a person so grateful that he/she could kiss your feet.

but deep within us, there is still that goodness in our hearts to reach out to these people. never mind if we didn't show them how to fish, at this point in time, when times are really really hard. it would take a revolution if we want change. and we all know what a revolution entails.

i find myself every so often at UP shopping center, where my "wards" already know me. how their eyes light up when they see me and BA, because they know that mabo blow out na naman sila ng kung anong flavor of the day--dirty ice cream, banana cue, turon, lumpia, their choice. pag may extra money, may C2 pa--a big treat for them na. small change, pero it means a lot to them, what BA calls "pantawid gutom". for all i know, para sa mga batang ito, superstar pa ako, or a good example. if wala naman akong extra, i tell them next time na lang, ha?

tama ba ang nasa memory ko? Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

anyway, napapahaba na comment ko, it could already be a blog post, it might even have a bigger word count than yours (lol).

have a good weekend, and see you on monday.

Leah said...

Miss Anna..pwede magpatulong din?

Ambait mo talaga.

Abaniko said...

After getting tired helping other people myself, I finally adopted the motto: I cannot be responsible for everything and for everybody. It's a good decision for you too to deliver yourself from the bondage of eternal kawanggawa. Hehe.

By the way, can you please force yourself to dream about me. I'm just curious of my future. Then, let's have coffee together and tell me everything about your vision. Haha.

noemi said...

You're so kind! Maybe you just have extra cash to spare. I don't think I can lend to someone who hasn't learned his lesson. But of course, you're different. Mabait talaga.

Rudy said...

I guess the old saying "teach a man how to fish..." won't apply to everyone, especially to those who are too lazy to fish and would rather "borrow" than catch them himself.

Another thing, it really irks the hell out of me whenever I see people with grown-up kids who are still dependent on their parents...

Em Dy said...

When we try to do the right thing, guilt bugs us to do the opposite. I agree with the teach men to fish mantra but somehow it's hard to ignore a person's immediate needs.

Anonymous said...

You have a generous heart. I this case a part of us wants to help and a part is indiginant with the person's sloppiness but the person's dire predicament sometimes overpowers our sense of logic.

raqgold said...

awww, and i really thought you wont give in! just like my nanay at tatay, yung mga dapat pang business nila e pinamigay, hayyyy -- so ngayon, sila naman ang nawalan. pero okay lang sa kanila, kasi daw mas kailangan nung mga tao yung pinamigay nila e. bless are the kind people, they know how to remain kind even in such stressful situations :)

pining said...

they come to you because they know you won't turn them down, you're such a softie and have a generous heart :-)
maybe it's time to change you're sim card/ phn no. he he...

dimaks said...

for me, when you give, you invest :)

rowena said...

Hi AM, I have the same dilemma when I was still working, people would come to our office, beg for money, gave us a thousand reason/ alibi/ sad stories, but sometimes, the office just can't help all of them. I even share some from my own salary. At night, before I sleep I still think of them and wonder what would be their reasons the next time they come back....Pati ako nag proproblema about their situations. Sakit sa ulo, in the end, I would still help them. Anyway, the saying "it's better to give than to receive" holds true.

Belle said...

i know a friend who is just like you..super bait. i call her Mother Theresa. i am like you, too, but with poverty so rampant in the province, i just do the best i can.

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