Brick road to Neverland | Inquirer Opinion
Young Blood

Brick road to Neverland

I was on my way home from meeting friends on Maginhawa. I was in a rush, the clouds were gray, and according to the morning weather forecast, summer had ended.

En route to SM North Edsa in a jeepney, I watched street children clambering up. It was a common occurrence: The kids would give the passengers envelopes intended for alms. I hadn’t had a chance to lock glances with any of those kids before that afternoon, and the eyes of that boy broke my heart. I had expected to see deprivation, need, sadness. But what I saw was worse: hopelessness.

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The kid was about seven years old. When I was seven my biggest problem was getting the next book in the Harry Potter series. But the kid was forced to open his eyes to this “harsh world” early on. He lost hope the moment he started working the streets instead of going to school. He should be learning his ABCs, not counting P1 coins in alms.

Many among us were like this boy and went on from there. Some were crushed by “reality” while at work, realizing that books can take us only so far. Some were like the boy when they were looking for a job—always called to an interview but never acing it. Others experienced this hopelessness in school, when they failed a subject or when they were told by teachers and peers that they were not good enough.

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We may not know it but some of the things we do in this life set us up for failure. Each time we fail, we lose a bit of the innocence of a child and gain the experience of an adult.

But it does not matter how many times we fail. It does not matter how little of the innocence of a child is left in us. It does not matter if we wake up one day and finally realize that the world is cruel. One thing that does matter is this: knowing that your suffering is not the end.

We must remember that at a point in our life, we should go back to Neverland. Peter Pan did; after marrying, having children, and forgetting where he had come from (that he was once the leader of the Lost Boys), he returned to Neverland and triumphed against his greatest adversary, Captain Hook.

I was also a dreamer who lost her way, more than once. The year that should have been my happiest became my saddest. I felt so alone and vulnerable. But with a little help from my parents and some encouragement from my friends, I was able to dig myself out of the hole I was in. Just a year later, in my freshman year in college, I failed in yet another endeavor. I could recount more moments when I went through more than the usual life stumble, but they won’t be significant, or at least not as significant as the times when I pulled myself together and got back up.

I am young. I have decades to live. I do not consider myself an expert in matters of living, but I have a soul full of hope. I believe that every day is another chance to start over. This hopefulness is what I wish to see in the eyes of that street kid in the jeepney.

We only live once, but we have a thousand chances to make a choice (good or not). I am now an economist; I used to be a scholar of the state. Everything I have and will ever be are all thanks to every Filipino who gave hope to me and thousands upon thousands of others.

To young people like myself: There is still a long way to go before we get to our goal. No matter how many times we fall short, we must never forget that as long as we will it, there will be a way.

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To the old dreamers: I salute you. You are our role models because you believe in life.

To the realists: You may think that I am immature, a dreamer who will someday be devastated by the truths of life. You may be correct. But I know that somewhere deep down, you still dream of being in Neverland, when you thought everything was well. Maybe you think it is too late for you, but it is not too late for those street kids, and you may just be the ones who can help build the brick road for them to travel on. After all, you helped me without you even realizing it.

Hillary Kathryn Tabanda, 19, graduated from the University of the Philippines Diliman.

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TAGS: Maginhawa, Passengers, SM North Edsa, street children, summer, Weather Forecast
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