mila is a young girl i met one time i went to my parent's house. she seems to be on the annoying side of being a child. you know, trying to attract our attention by closing the gate and eating a piece of candy with her fingers. and as if that is not enough, she would reach out and touch the ends of my fingers with the same fingers.
it was easy asking for her name.
the difficult part was getting into her, when i asked her where does she live. she just shrugged off and reached out her still wet fingers and asked for a peso. and lyan then briefed me and told me that she does not have a place to stay. she sleeps with her dad in front of our house at night.
during the daytime, she goes around with her dad. either begging for food or trying to make of what is left of her childhood.
which makes me sad.
here they are trying to cram themselves into the manila that they know. but they are sleeping it off with just a page of newspaper on their backs against the cold concrete in someone else's front house, not knowing where or what would their next meal be. all that is sure is the uncertainty of life. it is an annoying thought, a kind of a persistent tickle on the roof of your mouth.
at this point, i do not know whom to blame. should it be the government? should be mila and her father? should it be mommy and daddy? when i ran out of options, i realized that it is not persons nor institutions are to be blamed for them being homeless.
rather it is the attitude of people towards them that makes the difference. the indifference of everyone, including themselves, to their plight make the problem all the more insolvable. it has become a systemic problem that would take more than my parents, more than the homeless themselves, and more than the government.
sure my mom can always call the barangay tanod to drive them off every time they sleep around. but the next day, they would still be there. sure, we can always ask them to leave quietly, practice diplomacy and all that bs. but where would they go. they would just be the problem of some other front house. sure, we can ask the government to build more houses and all that funky slogans by tibaks on the issue. but where would we get the money.
i felt helpless.
but i looked mila in the eye, when we were talking. told her my piece of mind and joked with her a bit. and maybe that is better than all the far reaching solutions that any development worker can fathom for that moment. maybe, it is not they are asking me or my parents to solve their problems. perhaps they just need a place to stay for the night, as they try to sort their lives out.
breaking that indifference made me realize that there is more to the problem than what we can do. the first step is really being with the people in their plight. and from there on, solutions can be discerned and maybe they can be lead out of their situations.
but until then, i would just have to realize that the best thing i can do is to be frustrated with them. against the system, against the enormity of the problem. and wait until someone can help the likes of mila and her dad, and the likes of my parents and the government to come together and find directions and solutions.
it could be frustrating to wait, for the time might not come. but as one t-shirt blatantly displays: it is better to be frustrated than to be indifferent.