Erica Berger, a fictional character from Stieg Larrson’s “Millennium series” of crime novels, was afraid to sleep in her own house because the security system had been tampered with. It must be the way of life in western countries, but in the Philippines, it is something only the upper class can afford. Funny, but having your own house is security per se. Who cares if it’s just a shanty? It’s better than the streets.
My conception changed when I experienced a visit from members of the so-called “Akyat bahay” gang. They broke into our house in broad daylight while I was taking a nap. When I woke up, my laptop, cell phone, wallet and other things were missing. I could not comprehend anything except that I’m still alive and unharmed. The memory still haunts me at night.
That incident changed everything. My laptop was my most prized possession. It helped me connect with my friends and polished the hidden writer in me. But just like that, I lost it. Whose fault was that? Mine, because I was sleeping at the wrong time of the day? The authorities, because they can’t solve this kind of cases? People in general, because they still procreate even though they can’t afford to meet the basic needs of their children? Or legislators, because they still bicker whether to approve the reproductive health bill or not?
This problem has always been part of our society. Can we still resolve it? Can I still walk around the city without being threatened by those batang hamog (street children)? Whenever I see the likes of them, I always run. There’s no more safe place in the world, not even our house. People commit crimes out of desperation, but it is not right to feed one’s family at the expense of others.
Christmas is coming fast. So are the midterm elections. If we can vote wisely, perhaps it will be a step to stop crimes in the future.
Nuelene N. Gallos, 22, is a graduate of the University of the Philippines Visayas (Miag-ao campus).