His name is Angelito. Angelito Liwanag.
He’s the total opposite of Jerico, his cousin and classmate. He’s one of the smallest, and the quietest. He rarely gets out of his seat, and he would just talk if it’s recitation.
Angelito went from top 6 to top 4, and now he’s turning top 2. Wow right?
From Jerico, we walked to Angelito’s house. It was basically the same scenario. They had no electricity, and only a candle lit up their house.
“Pasenysa na ho.” His mother said. “Wala po kaming pambayad ng kuryente.”
“Ay hindi niyo ho kailangan magsorry sa akin.” I smiled, even though I knew they only saw a glimpse of it.
“Nung una sabi niya sa kin ‘ma pupunta dito sa bahay si teacher’ ang sabi ko ‘ha bakit may ginawa ka ba?'”
“Ay hindi po! Napakabait po ni Angelito at wala akong problema sa kanya. Nagtotop nga yan sa klase eh.”
“Uunahan nga daw niya yung top 1.” His father said with pride.
I saw Angelito smiled.
With that, I remembered what he wrote in the Christmas card: “I want happy family.” Yep, without the ‘a’.
“Paano po nakakapagaral si Angelito? Sa umaga din?”
“Opo. Minsan, jan siya sa tapat ng kandila.”
Sounds like a hero, I thought.
“Iyan po yung trabaho namin.” She pointed at the bunch of plastics. “Kinuha namin yung mga plastic tapos binebenta. Jan ho sila kumukuha ng baon.”
“Kamusta naman ho?”
“Minsan wala. Minsan meron.”
Then I think about those times in which they had to do something that costs a lot…
“Nabalitaan namin ma’am nawalan kayo ng bag.”
“Opo. Kinuha lahat. Wala naman hong laman. Records nga lang ho.”
“Sabi ni Angelito mag-iipon daw sia ng 100 tapos ibibigay dun sa kumuha kapalit nung records.”
That touched my heart. Who would say that? No one but an innocent kid. If I could only retain that innocence forever…
Jerico, Angelito and their mothers walked with me to the terminal. They told me how happy they were that I visited, and that finally, someone had seen what they could only tell to others.
For the first time.
Student number 19, check.