More than twenty years ago, in the middle of the sea, I found
myself staring at a strange old man. He was sleeping on the
floor near the open railing of the boat, while other passengers
including myself were having a paid cot to sleep on.
A glimmering light showed a fraction of his old unshaven face,
his gray head lying on a sack fashioned as a pillow. He must have
not eaten a decent meal for months. His frail body was barely clad with ragged shirt and pants that
may not have tasted soap for
I barely slept, feeling guilty
that I have better sleeping accommodation
than this old
man who needed it most.
First, it was my curiosity as a
journalist that prodded me to talk
to this strange old man. I started
a friendly conversation. His eyes
twinkled as he related to me that
he was looking for relatives on
the other side of the island because
he has lost his own family
in Mindanao. I had to raise my
voice to a higher level for he had
hearing problems. I promised to
help him find his relatives through
a radio station in Cebu.
Dawn came, and the boat docked
at the pier. Life began to stir inside
the boat as the passengers were preparing
Suddenly, a slight commotion was
taking place. I could hear raised voices
from the passengers and angry tones
coming from the crew.
My newfound friend was in
trouble. He was 80 years old, and was
not able to control his bowel and
pooped (Iím sorry if you are eating at
this point) right on the floor at the
I heard voices threatening to throw
him overboard if he would not clean up.
My heart was beating hard. How could I
help this man without drawing attention to myself? I asked one of the crew quietly
where to get a pail, cloth and some soap.
I was directed down at the lower portion
of the boat where I found the items. There
were times when we had to do strange
things. It only took few minutes and my
new friend was clean and happy with
the help of the crew and some kindhearted
passengers. We were offered
coffee and a free ride. I dropped him off
at the nearby radio station, introduced
myself as a media person, and asked
their help for the old man to find his relatives.
My one-man show at CAP Art
Center, where my husband brought
my paintings days earlier and
arranged with curator Mary Abad,
was all set when I arrived. The
ribbon was cut and blessings
I later found out that the old man
was found and cared for. He was
actually a well off man with hearing and
memory problems. Sometimes, God
brings us opportunities in disguise, so
that He can open the door to bless us.