LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – The 2016 Palarong Pambansa may have already ended but it has undeniably impacted many lives in just a span of 7 days.
Athletes have conquered and surpassed adversities, putting up their own heroic feats in different sports. Coaches felt pride in every athlete’s victory, and spectators enjoyed all the festivities.
But it’s not only the lives of the participants that were changed. Palaro also painted a smile on the faces of two young boys who didn’t mind the scorching heat as they sold water and other bottled drinks all around the complex in order to help their families.
Meet Rick and Jenly.
Palaro water boys
It’s a Sunday afternoon and the sun decided to burn at 33 degrees in Legazpi City. The 2016 Palarong Pambansa just opened and thousands of people flocked to the Albay-BU Sports and Tourism Complex to witness the biggest annual sporting event in the country.
Amid the crowds watching the opening ceremony and all the people walking around the complex, there were two remarkable faces you couldn’t help but notice.
Jenly Letran, an 11-year-old boy, hardly squeezed himself through the thick mass of people surrounding the track oval. The boy visibly struggled carrying a green bucket, but still wore the biggest smile.
“Ate! Mabakal ka?” he offered. (Ate! You want to buy?)
The boy, who barely stood at 3 feet, turned out to be selling ice cold water and energy drinks, making the most out of the opportunity to earn money in big occasions like Palaro.
After a while, another boy emerged from the crowd and joined Jenly.
“Oo nga ate. Mabakal ka na,” said Rick Armenta, 12-years-old. (Go buy one, ate.)
The two stood side by side with big smiles of anticipation while waiting for an answer.
Innocent desire to defeat poverty
Both are elementary students at Daraga North Central School. Jenly is the youngest of 5 siblings while Rick is the fifth in a brood of 9. Both of their fathers are construction workers whose jobs don’t come on a regular basis.
Unlike other children asked to work by their parents, these two boys have a different story to tell.
“Ako lang po. Tinutulungan ko si mama,” Rick said when asked if anyone told him to work. (It’s my initiative. I’m helping my mother.)
Jenly quietly sat across him while listening to Rick talk about his mother who works as a utility personnel. It turned out that Jenly hasn’t seen his mom for a while now since she left them to be with her new family.
“Sayang naman ang araw kung naka-tambay ka lang. Gusto kong makatulong,” Rick added. (I don’t want to waste my day just slacking around. I want to help.)
The two boys started telling stories of life’s hard knocks while laughing in between, the way children are supposed to laugh – innocently and genuinely. Both shared there are times when their parents would have no money to put food on the table. This is where their desire to earn came from.
According to them, they sell their products whenever Legazpi would stage huge occasions including fiestas. If there’s none, Rick would harvest vegetables like gabi and sell them. He also carries baggages to the market.
“Okay naman po ang kita. Umaabot naman po ng P800 ang kita dito sa Palaro,” Rick said. (The sales here at Palaro are good. It sometimes reaches P800.)
Life may not be that comfortable for the two but they are happy nonetheless. Simple joys would be spending the day with their families, watching television shows, and playing cards with their siblings.
“Masaya naman po kahit mahirap ang buhay,” Rick said and Jenly agreed. (We’re happy although life is tough.)
Given their situation, their parents seldom buy them new things. So if Santa Claus were real and any of their wishes could be granted, Rick said he would wish for a bicycle while Jenly simply wanted a nice pair of shorts.
But even without these material things, the two know how to see joy in the simplest of things. The playful kids laughed as they recalled the brawl they witnessed during the championship game of the secondary boys football.
“Ang saya panoorin ng soccer. Nakakatawa may nagsuntukan pa,” Jenly and Rick broke into laughter. (It’s fun to watch soccer. It’s even more entertaining to watch the brawl.)
Jenly and Rick are just two faces of the thousands of people whose lives somehow changed because of Palaro. (Who are the #FacesOfPalaro?)
Palarong Pambansa doesn’t just breed sportsmanship. It tells stories of different people from different walks of life who meet each other at one point.
The lives of these two boys are stories being told along the sidelines of athletes’ wins and losses alike. Theirs are the stories that make Palarong Pambansa. – Rappler.com
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