March 20, 2010

"Tito Choy"

(March 18, 2010 7:37 PM)

"Don’t talk to strangers", whatever rule they’re calling it—golden or not—I don’t care.  For me, one of the most important lessons I can learn in life will come from strangers—particularly those people I can discuss topics of everything under the sun for a moment or two. It is my innate nature to talk to strangers. During my college years for instance, I used to exchange stories with a bus driver or with a bus conductor. I love my experienced. I can’t remember their names after the acquaintance, but their ideas on how to live and how they appreciated life is awe-inspiring—lesson learned from them lingers. That's why riding a bus or going to different places is never boring because I can surely meet a lot of people that could inspire me. The story of their lives is an extraordinary inspiration. They were great people from all walks of life. Talking to them is better than talking to a professional who talks about his unending wants in life.

A thirty-something man in corporate attire that seems to be in a hurry had managed to stop walking and offered help to carry my baggage. I smiled and bowed my head a little to say how thankful I am for his kindness. I have two reasons for my refusal. First and foremost, because I have to consider him being a busy man—every second counts. Secondly, I have to be vigilant no matter how I love talking to strangers. I'm at Metropolis outside Alabang Star Mall carrying a baggage that weighed 18.5 kilos! I hate to think that walking in that place alone with some personal belongings is quite risky. I was told that it is one of the places where snatching of cell phones and bags as well as stealing is rampant in the face of the traffic enforcers as well as police officers standing at every corner of the place.

Another young tourist smiled and offered help sincerely, even without stopping. Although I know he is just trying to show off, well it is better than showing no kindness at all. You know people when they're just one of the strangers. They're too good to smile at others and can offer help. And since I'm one of the strangers right there, I smiled back! This is one of the good things of being one of us—because we know nothing about the place and the danger it can bring us—innocence can make us believe that there is a wonderful place left. That we can still live the day with no doubts. Isn’t it amazing to be a stranger?

Later than that, as I tried to negotiate with the taxi drivers for a lower fare going to domestic airport I met Tito Choy. I had 2 hours left, and whether he will give in or not to my offer, I had no choice but to take his cab. At first, I thought of him taking advantage of my need but I tried not to spoil the moment. I had a lot of things to think upon. I don’t want to be distracted by shallow arguments.

He started the conversation; he talked about parenting, his dreams in life, and contentment. We both exchanged ideas and before I knew it, we arrived at the airport 45 minutes before my departure. I forgot how irritated I was to him prior to our conversation. Before I closed the door he called my name at once and said, “I bet you’ll be the best, you take good care of yourself”. Whatever impression I gave him, I hoped he had read it right.

In the waiting area after I had checked in, I bought 2 pieces of brownies and a bottle of water for myself. I realized I haven't eaten anything for the past 30 hours. I can feel and I can hear my tummy grumbles during that moment. I lost my appetite, even the brownies taste like it’s already a month-old or two but it is not. I seated in a back row waiting for boarding time although there were vacant seats near the television so I can be entertained. I stayed away. I don’t think the programs will suffice the emptiness that I’m feeling. I am as well nervous to see my parents that I’m planning not to get in the plane. I put in my sweater trying to comfort myself—my hands were cold and my body trembled. I wanted to run away, live in a certain place where I can be surrounded by strangers. I wanted to be forgotten by everyone who knew me—and if I can, to go unseen.

The moment I buckled up my seat belt my tears rolled down my cheeks like there were no other passengers and flight attendance around me. I can’t stand firm. I'm going home because I failed. My cry tells a thousand words I cannot speak of. How I long to be held close by my parents and be cuddled like a baby—I am scared though and felt unworthy of my longings. But then again, I heard the voice of Tito Choy from nowhere that there is always an unconditional love of a parent no matter how disappointed they may be. All that I’m hearing was his voice and his understanding. I wished I could talk to my parents the way I talked to him; maybe they too will understand and will advise the same thing.

 I haven’t had the chance to embrace my parents as tight as I wanted to and perhaps like I needed… but the mere fact that they were there waiting for me outside the Kalibo airport is enough.

I’m home. Not as sweet as one may expect but it is.

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