This story isabout the old people, their smiles and their memories, who areliving in Manila Boys Town Complex, Marikina City, Philippines. This institution caters for Manila’s abandoned, forgotten, and voluntarily surrendered children, teenagers, and senior citizens.
For the seniors, they have the Luwalhati ng Maynila, which is their little Home for the Aged.
This is way back 2010 whenour school facilitated a field trip. I was in my first year in Nursing school. We were asked by our institution to hold a small program for the senior citizensliving there. The goal is to make them happy. Our goal is to give themfood and hygiene kits as well.
We arrived at around 4 p.m. at Marikina, we were actually late because Boys Town is astonishingly like on far away Marikina, or maybe there was no Waze back in the days, our bus driver had a hard time looking for it.
We were so wrong thinking that they would get upset about us being late. "We have all the time in the world," said one of them.When they saw us, their faces brightened up in an instant.Soon as they heard that there were nursing students holding a program, they were all so happy. Everyone gatheredinto the small quad and they sat down eagerly waiting for the program to start.
We started the program immediately. I observed each and everyone, they seem to be oh-so-happy. Some of us danced, some sang, and some acted like crazy. We sang old songs, and it broke some of them to tears. We also gave them a chance to show off their talents.There was an old guy who sang incredibly well. And there was one too, who danced so good and even imitated Michael Jackson, he even wore gloves!My jaw actually dropped on that one. He didn't seem like he's 70something. The women are a bit shy. They would just laugh at the back. They eagerly listened to those who were talking, but thencome dancing time, they did the cha-cha. They were so adorable.
Around 5 p.m. the program ended. It's the time that we give out food and the hygiene kits to everyone. So we handed them their cupcakes and biscuitsand their hygiene kit which consists of shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushand soap. So it's pretty much just the basics because we did not have enough funds because we actually used our money for the food and hygiene kits, and we were students. I remember one lady told me after handing the food over, "You know what? You're going to be rich someday." I somewhat got surprised. That's unexpected.I thanked her, because I wanted to believe her! Ha ha! Well going back...
I actually did not expect what I saw, because I thought I already saw everyone. So a few meters away from the quad are small dark rooms, where these people slept. It was smelly. The rooms were made of concrete, and there were single holes in the wall they call windowsand card boards patched together that they would call their bed. There are people who actually owns a bed, but some get to sleep on the card board on the floor. Some of the rooms smelled like urine. What makes my heart melt is that, they were already in that situation, yet when they see us, they would smile at us, like as if they were okay and happy. Some are already bed ridden, I actually do not know how they survive because I remember that there are like 2-4 people in these small rooms.And of course, their number is pretty high comparedto the number of caregivers.
So of course, we handed them over their hygiene kit. And moved around the place to ensure that everyone got their own. And there's this old lady, who went back and said, "You know what, this thing tastes weird. I don't like it." When I checked, it was her toothpaste. "Oh my! I'm sorry, that's not food. It's for your teeth. You use it to clean your teeth with this (pointing the toothbrush)." And then I did the brushing gesture with my hand, and she nods. I turned to my classmates and told everyone to inform them what we are giving out because some of them doesn't know what those things are.
When it was time to say goodbye to everyone, it was sad. Some hugged us good bye.Some of them told us to visit them again. I grew up having high respect for the elderly. I could not imagine my grandparents in that situation.And although itbroke our heartsto see them,seeing their smiles made the whole trip worthwhile.
I honestly want to go back and visit.There may be faces there that I'd look for, and hopefully I'd still see them.However, I do not have funds to help. I do not know how to start.
For those of you who would like to help, Manila Boys Town Complex is located at Narra Boulevard, Parang, Marikina City, Philippines. They have children, teenagers and senior citizens who are happy to see everyone.
So far, I am still amazed by the warmth of the people at Boys Town. Their hopes and their optimism changed my perspective in life. There are just things that we should be thankful for. We sometimes complain about life, but there are people out there who are experiencing the worst and yet they manage to smile at even the simplest gift.
They made me happy.
Who makes you happy?