Luab: Vacation time is learning time

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By Evelyn R. Luab

Light Sunday

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Feb. 15 found me at 5:30 a.m. at the Mactan Cebu International Airport. I was traveling to Manila alone, but I would be met by my daughter Aimee, my son-in-law Cesar and their 10-year-old Sinika. My vacation had just begun.

My porter took one look at me and decided to call me lola. “Are you taking the Manila PAL flight, lola? Give me your ticket. I’ll take care of you.”He must have noticed that I was having a hard time walking. He suggested that I hold the handle bar of the trolley while he pushed.

Once we were ready to check in, he said, “Follow me,” heading towards the business class counter. I objected because I was holding an economy class ticket.


He said, “It’s okay. You are a senior citizen and this way, we can avoid your standing in line for a long time.” True enough, I was attended to and without any hustle, my luggage went through. My porter still accompanied me to the passageway of the waiting area for boarding and waved me through with a “Thank you and take care, lola!”

During the short time we talked, I learned that he was a college graduate from Mindanao. His wife would arrive next week. He talked about there being no jobs for them despite their being college graduates. He decided to try his luck in Cebu.

He recently became financially stable and rented a one-room unit. With pride, he said, “I asked her to come and I will help her find a job. We will start life here.”

When I asked him about his plans, he answered sheepishly, “No plans yet, lola, but we will be together. Two pairs of hands working together will not fail. We will be stronger to face life.”

I marveled at his trust and faith in their love. What a beautiful way of looking at life. What a beautiful insight to start my day.

Upon disembarking at the NAIA, I was met by a porter with the wheelchair I had requested. Walking that long stretch from the plane to the carousel to pick up my luggage was not for me.

This time, my porter greeted me with: “Welcome to Manila, lola.” We talked along the way and I learned that he was working so he could continue his studies as an airplane mechanic.

He had two more years to go but his parents can no longer afford to send him to school. Actually, he also spent for his first two years in school because they were five in the family. When he said, “I have to graduate, lola, so I can earn more to help my family,” I took one good look at him.

I saw a lanky teenager, probably 19, with so much determination on his face, as he pushed an empty trolley with his left hand while handling my wheelchair. So I asked, “How are you doing so far?”

“I’m good, lola. I’ve saved a little already. I intend to be a really efficient airplane maintenance man. The job pays well. I just have to work hard, sacrifice and believe in myself.”

Long after we left the airport, I remembered the passion in his voice and tremor in his tone as he spoke of commuting daily from Cainta to NAIA during peak hours. I remembered him saying, “Sometimes, I try to walk some distances. I’m not afraid of hardships.

I will succeed, lola!” He touched my heart.

There must be thousands of Filipinos like this young man whose stories remain untold because we do not bother to talk to them and to listen. We are so engrossed in our comfort zones that we don’t get out of it to befriend others who just need a listening ear and the hand of friendship.

Two years is not too long to wait for a 19-year-old person to work hard, save and follow his dream.

To others like him, I say: “Go, young people. With hard work, determination and God’s amazing grace, keep on. Success is really for everyone willing to work hard.”

I met two wonderful people using their physical strength to earn their niche in life.

There is work to be found and money to be earned for people set on earning a living.

Respect is easily earned when others notice the inner strength and character, when one is able to prove himself.

My vacation has just started. My column next week should have more of the joys and wonders of what makes the Philippines still a place of hope, our people still worth standing up for and our families worth our love.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 23, 2014.


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