HAVE FUN WHEN YOU CAN by Bo Sanchez
One Saturday morning, I kidnap our ANAWIM (Editor's Note: ANAWIM is the non-profit home that Bo operates to help the underprivileged in the Philippines) orphans and kids, all fifteen of them, and squeeze them into my car for a day of fun. Along the way, the kids are singing, dancing, screaming, and vomiting on each other. No wonder my car’s air freshener isn’t working well. And where are we going? Not to those expensive amusement parks where people pay $8 per head. Multiply that by fifteen, and I’ll be poorer than a presidential aspirant who has just lost the elections. Instead, I decide to go to a place that suits my personal tastes and cultural preferences and artistic orientation: a place with no entrance fee.
I drive them to a free park (Quezon Circle in Quezon City, Philippines), rent old bikes—that cost me only $8 for everyone! I spend the whole morning trying to teach the small ones how to balance on a two-wheeler—and wondering whether the big kids left the park and were now biking up Canon road to Baguio City (200 miles away)!
As I try to catch my breath, wipe my sweat, and remove the new designs off my shirt and pants (i.e. bike-tracks), I begin to wonder why I ever got into this thing of putting up an orphanage. Perhaps I should shift careers now. I begin to imagine entering into Showbiz, and making a movie with Cameron Diaz.
After failing to catch them with a lasso, or with ingenious pits that I dig and cover with leaves—I give up and softly whisper to myself, “I am getting hungry and I am going to eat now. If you guys don’t want to eat, I will!” Immediately, all fifteen are behind me, little angels in a row.
After budget meals, plus ice drops – four cents each - for dessert, I decide on a discovery expedition, to a place that they’ve never been to. I escort them to a public toilet. Naturally, they are flushed with excitement. After that, it was “swings and slides” time in the park. Life’s pleasures are free indeed.
I’m driving home with my tired crew. I’m exhausted, yes, but peeking through my rear-view mirror, I catch a glimpse of the kids sleeping soundly, and my heart skips a beat.
I love them so much.
One girl was still awake. She sides up to me and whispers, “Uncle Bo, I am so happy right now.” So I wonder if it was the bike ride, or the swing, or the ice drop, or the public toilet. I ask why.
She gives me a tight hug. “Because, today you were with us.”
I try to drive carefully. My tears are getting in the way.
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