Photo courtesy of Janice Tapil and Hanna Bartolome
Photo courtesy of Janice Tapil and Hanna Bartolome

The Tacloban City fiesta celebration plunged lots of merry-making activities here and there. There were different exhibits ranging from food, clothing and the like which have been filling up vacant spaces of the city’s eventful places like RTR Plaza, Parayawan and the Balyuan Amphitheater.

There were also presentations like dance and singing contests, beauty pageants, celebrity concerts, street dances and others that kept the festive spirit going. And of course who would forget the delicious lechon and other mouth-watering foods served during the fiesta day?

It was all just a non-stop piece of unforgettable experience.

But, behind all these glitters and awe from the whole fiesta activities; the happy voices of those who were able to enjoy the seconds of the fiesta season, those who were able to savor the fireworks displays and other fiesta pops including tasting delicious foods in houses and food fairs—behind all these, is the silent, tearless and helpless cries of our elders, our homeless lolos and lolas sleeping on the sidewalks, with nothing to eat—our senior beggars off the busy streets of Tacloban City.

Few days ago, in the midst of the city festivities, I happened to see an aged woman. She was a beggar whom I assumed was in her 60’s already. She was so thin and weary. She had this handbag with her, where her clothes and other belongings are packed inside.

Her family must have left her. Evident in her filthy and torn red shirt and her soiled pair of slippers that nobody must have been looking after her for quite a long time already. She was so pitiful.

I wanted to give something, like a piece of bread or two and a bottle of soft drink or maybe a cup of coffee. I became very sympathetic. I did not know, but I just felt a voltage of pity running through my veins.

There were these goosies all over my body—I was just totally at the height of my emotions that moment. When suddenly, a woman approached her and straightway gave her a plate of food and a bottle of juice. “Nay, aadi hin pagkaon, pangaon kita kay patron yana ha Tacloban”, (I brought you food , let’s eat, it’s fiesta in Tacloban), she said and left the old woman smiling and delightful to the mouth-watering adobo, spaghetti and some pieces of rice cake.

While I, was just there, standing still to the sudden stop of the clock—a second full of thoughts and realizations; that there are still these people who care for the needy amidst the busy minutes of the fiesta day, that there are still these people who value our homeless beggars, that there are still these few people who know the deeper meaning of fiesta—of compassion, of LOVE.

Thank God they still exist.

Then shortly, I went back to my senses.

Lola  was delightfully eating the food the woman gave her. Had it not because she was busy, I would have approached her and asked her story.

But, I did not want to spoil her moment. The least that I could do was to watch her, be inspired with her struggles—and be inspired with these few generous people who still know what a fiesta really means.