halata bang ayoko magsulat? “stuff happened last saturday.”
my cousin georgia and i went ’round the soup kitchens and found zilch. a social worker at paco church, edward, told me that folks saw dad — or someone who looked like dad — along roxas blvd. one of the homeless men i spoke with says my dad looks like his friend marcelino, who hangs out at luneta park.
my brother and cousins have gone that route and found nothing, but who knows.
i also met a bicolana, at paco church’s covered courts, who says her late husband used to be diktador macoy’s barber . we were making not-so-idle conversation about the situation at paco church: a practical setup by fr. luke where the homeless can pay P2 to do laundry and hang their clothes to dry on clotheslines; P1 to bathe; free electricity while there, to charge gadgets and do a bit of work; free breakfast, lunch and dinner. on weekends. i told her about dad’s disappearance. she gave me her life story.
i didn’t bring a pen and notebook with me as i usually do.
i committed her name to memory and related the story, repeating her name over and over, that day.
but now, just a week later, i seem to have forgotten it. my faulty memory says it’s CJ. but i can’t be sure now.
just as the people who say they’ve met father tell us they’ve found albert instead of alfredo.
i remember bellen, another lady there, though i’ve also forgotten her surname. it starts with a T. it’s waray. sounds like Tardesenas. her son had just finished his free haircut (those come monthly at paco, but CJ didn’t want her own longish hair cut by a barber. she should’ve gone to the bonifacio shrine, a korean lady from the joyful mission was cutting hair there, while the bombastic korean pastor took a trip down memory lane to ww2 and the homeless baked under the heat of the sun.) my brother had met bellen before me, on his trek to paco. or was it SVD’s kalinga? we take turns, you see.
anyway, bellen says that they’re holding out for some well-meaning soul who would finance her out-of-school son’s education (later georgia and i found out that the st. arnold janssen kalinga center did a bit of teaching on the side, liberally sprinkled with catechism, and since bellen also goes to that center for the feeding programme, she ought to be aware of this. there’s a photo of a man beaming triumphantly at the camera while holding up the certificate proclaiming he’d reached grade-school level status). both bellen and her husband (who was showering at paco’s bathroom at the time) are out of work and she broadly hinted that compassionate landowners could entrust a bit of earth to them so they could plant some crops. they’re farmers by profession. i couldn’t help but think that bellen is both good-natured and a harmless hustler, but then that’s what living in the streets does to you. you rely on goodwill.
so that’s my outdated story.
on the off-chance that i decide to live on the streets, i know where to go hang.
if you guys know how to cut hair, do volunteer your services to fr. luke and cohorts.
there was also a lady there who was getting a tiny fee for mani-pedis, practicing her newly-acquired vocational skills.
the tau gamma from adamson and the knights of columbus fund the feeding program/ retreat-for-the-homeless at paco church. and they’re not subjected to catechism. just given a respite.
tomorrow is the two-month mark of dad’s disappearance.