ten wisdoms excerpts25 Jul 2015 10:35 pm


A True Story
ten wisdoms 06


By Bernie Lopez
Excerpt from the book – Ten Wisdoms of the Lord’s Prayer.
Chapter 8 “And Forgive Us Our Sins”.
This has been blogged before as a separate article.


This anecdote is inspired by a true story, as told to the author by the coach himself of the Ateneo High School Varsity team. Dialogue has been reconstructed. It is a story of pride and humility.
chapter 8 on forgiveness teaches us
that when someone elbows you
and you smile in return
it is a powerful game changer
beyond your imagination


Tony (not his real name) was the basketball coach when the Ateneo High School Varsity won the championship. Now, he has shifted his attention from rich kids to squatter kids. He left Ateneo and taught in an unknown public school.


As he watches the squatter teens play on a dirt court, he sees how tough they are and how fantastic their raw talents are, crude but intuitive and with quick reflex. He sees their passion and skill. But he thinks it will be a waste if they do not have focus and spirit. To Tony, to be a champ, a basketball team has to be ‘spiritualized’. Morale fiber is the key ingredient of champions. He approaches their leader Bobby.


TONY – Hey, Bobby, help me get your friends into the basketball team.
BOBBY – They’re not interested. They play only to enjoy. Then they hang out at the billiard hall.
TONY – But the gang wars begin there.
BOBBY – I know. I keep telling them that’s a dead-end, but they just shrug their shoulders. They don’t care.
TONY – Tell you what. I buy you guys sneakers.
BOBBY – Really? Do we choose what sneakers we buy?
TONY – Sure, why not, as long as it’s within my budget.
BOBBY – No, you get the budget, we choose the brand. That way you get your team.
TONY – (Hesitating). Okay, deal.


The gang wants only one brand of sneakers, the expensive kind beyond the reach of Tony’s budget. He goes to Ateneo and talks to the varsity team, his former players, to get some help.


TONY – Hey guys, I need sneakers for my basketball team, ten squatter kids.
JOEY – Squatter kids? Wow. Nice. Can we play with them?
TONY – No, no. They’re amateurs. They’re not in your league. You’ll beat them black-and blue.
RESTI – You were our best varsity coach. You made us champions, remember?
TONY – Yeah but these kids are different. They drink a lot … troublesome … hopeless.
JOEY – We also drink a lot. Hey guys, can a good coach make players out of squatter kids? (Everyone says yes in unison.)
RESTI – Okay, coach, tell you what. We buy them shoes on one condition. When you’ve trained them, we play with them.


Everyone screams with approval. Before Tony can reply, donations pour in. These are rich kids. Resti collects and gives a thick wad of bills to Tony after counting it.


RESTI – Okay, that’s thirty two thousand.
JOEY – Here’s another sixty from me. Buy them uniforms. (He writes a cheque. Everyone boos).
TONY – Hey guys, this is too much. I can’t take these.
RESTI – That’s the challenge, coach. You make champions out of these kids the way you did for us. And the only way to prove they’re champions is for them to beat us. Right guys? (Everyone jeers with approval.)
TONY – I am not sure.
RESTI – Aw c’mon. Prove to us you haven’t lost your touch. Challenge the champion, coach, only way to go. And take the money. (Everyone screams).
TONY – Okay, challenge the champion, guys. Give me a year.
JOEY – Take two years. Take forever. (More jeers). Tell you what. If they beat us, we give you double, a cool hundred thousand, for the kids, not for you. Is that alright guys? (More jeers showing their approval).
RESTI – Squatter kids beating us? That’ll be the day.


Tony goes back to the squatter kids at the dirt court. He tells them they will get ten thousand each if they beat the Ateneo varsity. They are silent, hesitant, thinking Goliath is invincible. But the money makes them drool. They agree. They meet for practice at the dirt court.


TONY – Why are you all wearing beach sandals?
BOBBY – The sneakers are for parties and weddings. We don’t wear them for basketball.
TONY – What? I got you sneakers to play basketball.
BOBBY – We play better with slippers. Jessie and Loy play barefoot. They can’t play with slippers.
TONY – (Moaning). So I suppose, you also don’t want uniforms?
BOBBY – No need. Just give us the money.


Realizing how the pocket is connected to the heart, Tony gives in. He gets his squatter team all fired up. Not a single absence in six months. They work hard. Inspite of the slippers, Tony is euphoric. He can see the change in them. It is not just basketball. It is something deeper in their hearts, the spiritual factor. Tony does not care if they lose the game. This sudden spiritual transformation is all he wants.


TONY – I think you guys can beat Ateneo, but it is the attitude that worries me? What do you think of these Ateneans?
JESSIE – Well, they are champions.
TONY – That’s what I mean. You have to remove that from your minds. They are equals. They are not champions, not Ateneans, just players.
LOY – They are rich kids with cars. We’re poor squatters. They are educated, we are not.
TONY – So what? Does that matter? Are you be afraid to face them? (Silence). They will intimidate you. Can you look at them as equals eye ball to eye ball, even just on the court? That’s all I ask.
BOBBY – We will try. Guys, you heard the coach, okay? (Everyone groans).
TONY – Loy, stay behind.


When everyone is gone, Tony supervises Loy on 3-point shots until it was dark. He puts in 4 to 5 out of 10 shots. Twice a week, Tony supervises Loy on 3-pointers for 3 hours. Loy starts to squirm and complain. But Tony finds his weakness. When he treats Loy to fried chicken and rice, he says it is his first time to eat in a restaurant. From then on, it is fried chicken after practice. Loy never misses practice. In 2 weeks, he is making 9 to 10 out of 10 3-pointers.


LOY – Coach, I notice a change in everyone. I’ve never seen them all so happy. It is as if we’ve discovered something worth fighting for. Suddenly, life is no longer absurd or boring.
TONY – (Putting an arm around Loy). Yup, way to go, Loy.


The dreaded game with Ateneo comes. The squatter kids, shoeless and shirtless, face an Ateneo team in full battle gear – blue uniforms, air-cushioned rubber shoes. Problem no. 1 is they are used to sliding on sandy dirt court. They keep tripping on the sticky wooden floor of the Blue Eagle Gym. Ateneo is piling up a lead. During a time out …


BOBBY – It’s no good, coach. We are slowed down by the rubber slippers.
TONY – Jessie, how are you managing barefoot?
JESSIE – No problem, coach. Wood is like cushion if you are used to dirt ground.
TONY – Okay, everybody, play barefoot.


The entire team plays barefoot. Problem no. 1 is solved. Problem no. 2 is self-confidence and inferiority complex. Poor kids can never think of themselves as equal of rich kids. During a time out, Bobby complains how the Ateneans were laughing at their bare feet.


TONY – It’s a psyche war. If you react, they win psychologically. Just don’t show you’re pissed off. Smile to show it’s not affecting you. Concentrate on making points. Pass to Loy for 3- pointers. And listen, guys. Be aware of each of the four other players on the court, whom to pass to, who can make a rebound. That’s how champion teams are made. (The team gives a hoot).


Loy’s long hours of practices pays off. He makes 4 consecutive 3-pointers, reducing Ateneo’s lead to 4 points. After that, the Ateneans stopped laughing at them. This boostd the confidence of the squatter kids. They can beat Goliath if they want to. Problem no. 2 is solved. Loy is now double-guarded, so he starts passing to Jessie or Bobby deep in the goal area, who takes over making points. The squatter kids are now leading by 5. The toughness of squatter kids in their poverty amazes the Ateneans.
Problem no. 3 is avoiding a brawl. When they started losing, the Ateneans resort to rough tactics. When Loy has a hard fall after being elbowed, he stands up, and limps away as if nothing happened. A poor kid will challenge a rich kid in private, but never in public. Also, poor kids are too afraid to have a fist fight with rich kids. The Ateneans are shocked. They want Loy to fight back, but he just smiles. The rough tactics continue to the end, but it is not working. Problem no. 3 is solved. The Ateneans finally lose by 2 points. Trained in sportsmanship, they went over to the squatter kids and shook their hands.


The game taught the poor kids self-confidence, and the rich kids humility. They began to understand the meaning of the Ateneo Spirit. It also bridged the gap between rich and poor. They played more games and became close friends. One would win, then the other. The Ateneans wanted the shame of the first defeat to squatter kids kept secret. But when they became friends, they did not care. They were proud of their new friends. The Ateneo team was sharpened by the squatter kids and remained champions in the UAAP for two more years. The squatter kids attended all their games, wanting to play in the UAAP someday. Loy was recruited into the Ateneo team on scholarship.

To order the book, send email to author at eastwindreplyctr@gmail.com

Check out another book by the author –
Wings and Wanderlust (The Art of Discovering Your Inner Self)
Read some excerpts first at –

in any game never play not to lose

always play to win
reach for the stars
too much effort you miss the shot
no effort you make the shot
spiritual transformation
is found in dim corners and bright places
they bridge the chasm among people
rich or poor, in quiet woods or noisy traffic
you just have to find a tiny open window
then the doors slam wide open
because the human spirit is boundless





eastwind journals16 Jul 2015 09:42 am




Inquirer article (condensed)


Original article with maps and photos
eastwind journals 165
By Bernie Lopez
Permission is granted to re-publish with credits and notification.
Disclaimer – the views in this article are the author’s alone.


we pray for peace Lord
in a troubled world
as we return to Your fold
forgive us our sins
as we forgive others


they wait for me to stumble and err
so that they can pounce on me
take their vengeance and prevail
but the Lord is with me
my mighty champion
my  enemies will not triumph
they will be put to shame
and wallow in confusion forever
Jeremiah 20:10-11


The geopolitical premise is that there seems to be no solution yet on site. First, China will never submit to a court where they may lose. Philippine efforts at The Hague will lead to nowhere. Second, China is in despair for energy to keep its economic growth afloat, without which there may be one cosmic crash never before seen in human history. Third, China fears US ‘encirclement’ due to Obama’s Pivot to Asia, which will bring 70% of US naval forces into the Asia Pacific. China believes confrontation with the US is inevitable, and they are preparing feverishly for it. They will resort to brinkmanship in facing the US Navy in the Spratleys. They are right now militarizing the Spratleys on a massive scale, pouring billions of dollars.


China is working feverishly to put up what is perceived as three large naval bases with long runways at Fiery Cross (Kagitingan) Reef and Second Thomas (Ayungin) Shoal in the Spratleys, and at Woody (Yongxing) Island in the Paracels. They are working 24/7 before they are pre-empted by a US initiative. This is a geopolitical game changer that may craft the destiny of the Asia Pacific. This development implies 1) rapid military escalation on both sides in the next ten years, not to mention Japan’s participation, 2) the inevitability of a US-China naval showdown, 3) the Philippines becoming a major collateral damage. The Filipino will be a pawn in a battle of giants, and may die for Pivot to Asia which is not to his interest.


China is building structures in six other reef facilities (there may be others) – 1) Mischief (Panganiban), reputed to have oil and gas, 2) Johnson South (Mabini or Chigua), near Johnson North controlled by the Vietnamese, 3) Kennan, 4) Gaven (Burgos), 5) Cuarteron (Calderon/Huayang), and 6) Subi (Zamora). Military observers say this is tantamount to a full scale invasion of marine territories of Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, and the Philippines. (See map and photos.)
Click photo to blow up.
Fiery Cross (Kagitigan) Reef, perceived future naval base no. 1.

Second Thomas (Ayungin) Shoal, perceived future naval base no. 2.

Woody (Yongxing) Island, perceived future naval base no. 3 (Paracels)

The 3 perceived naval bases forming a strategic triangle.


Mischief (Panganiban) Reef

Johnson South (Mabini / Chigua) Reef.

Kennan Reef.

Gaven (Burgos) Reef.

Cuarteron (Calderon / Huayang) Reef.

Subi (Zamora) Reef.

In late July 2015, a US Navy P8 surveillance plane reported 2,000 acres reclaimed by China in just two years of massive dredging and reclamation at Fiery Cross. China admits Fiery Cross can host a military facility, and says, if the US tries to stop them, there will be war.


The naval base at Woody would protect oil rigs close to Vietnam. Fiery Cross and Second Thomas are seen as strategic central bases. Fiery Cross has a 3-kilometer runway which can host warplanes and missiles with a range of 1,000 kilometers or more. China is also building a 300-meter deep-sea port that can accommodate undersea nuclear missile silos and nuclear submarine berths, similar to those at the old Subic naval base, a carrier refueling depot, and a large rapid deployment force.


Once completed, China’s perceived twin naval-air-force bases at Fiery Cross and Second Thomas could easily dwarf the US Subic-Clark Field bases. China will have a military edge over the entire South China Sea on a 2,000-kilometer radius, with satellite-driven radars, mobile twin-hulled mini-carriers with deadly drones, stealth warplanes that can reach Subic or Clark in minutes. The P8 surveillance was suspected to have originated from Clark Field.


The 8 defense locations the US wants on Philippine soil, if approved by the Supreme Court under the new mutual defense deal called EDCA, will pit China’s Fiery Cross and Second Thomas naval bases against the eight EDCA US defense system, exposing Philippne population centers near the eight EDCA points if there is a war.


China knows the US is helpless to pre-empt the twin naval bases, that is why it is so brazen as to continue rapid militarization. China knows the US cannot afford to go to war at this time. All it can do is sit and watch, make diplomatic threats, continue daredevil surveillance and report progress to the international media. Meanwhile, China is pouring billions of dollars on the Spratleys.


Counter-Game Changer – Naval Blockade


The US is also capable of brinkmanship. A possible US counter-game-changer is a pre-emptive naval blockade of the Fiery Cross and Second Thomas naval-bases-to-be, similar to that during the Cuban Crisis, to stop construction. The blockade can pre-empt a future bigger war, but it can also trigger a sudden all-out war.


To China, a US naval blockade is ridiculous and is not going to happen. Will the US have an Admiral Patton in response? The US must keep in mind that the glory of carrier duels against Japan in World War II is all gone. With the advent of intelligent missiles, carriers are now vulnerable. A naval war today will be far more deadly with Mac-10 missiles, invisible nuclear subs and killer stealth-drones. It is in fact unpredictable, considering that both sides have secret weapons no one knows about. China’s arsenals have secretly grown ten fold in the last two decades. (Read more on China-US confrontation at carrier killer and carrier becoming obsolete at xxx).
The Ground Force Factor


Any US-China confrontation in the South China Sea will essentially be naval – warships, carriers with warplanes, subs, missiles. The presence of Chinese troops at Fiery Cross and the eight other reefs can be a critical factor since the US cannot just send troops, as evident in Syria against the ISIS. Rapid mobilization of troops in strategic reefs and isles is essential in a major confrontation within scattered islands in a vast area.


The Filipino can be the major collateral damage, reduced to a David in between two Goliaths with no slingshot on hand in his own backyard. The US may pressure President Aquino to field more Filipino troops in the absence of American troops. This would make the Filipinos pawns in a war of giants. We are not talking of bravery here but lives in a one-sided battle.


The best Filipinos can do at this time is continue and expand ground surveillance and intelligence teams to report real time developments. In Second Thomas Reef, where Filipino soldiers occupied an abandoned hospital ship named BRP Sierra Madre, they reported Chinese naval encroachments, as they happened.


As of this writing, the Philippines occupies ten reefs, all with troops – 1) Flat Island (Patag), 2) Lankiam Cay (Panatag), 3) Loaita Island (Kota), 4) Nanshan Island (Lawak), 5) Northeast Cay (Parola), 6) Thitu Island (Pag-asa), 7) West York Island (Likas), 8) Commodore (Rizal), 9) Irving Reef (Balagtas), and 10) Second Thomas Shoal (Ayungin).


The scant scattered presence of Filipino troops in ten reefs can easily be over-run by large Chinese forces or naval fire during heightened conflict. China will not hesitate to be a bully, as in Tibet, unmindful of its international image. Filipino troops may be ‘safe’ for now, until there is a confrontation.  (Source – China-Spratley-Presence).


Meanwhile, Japan has ‘re-interpreted’ its Peace Constitution to allow troops and defense systems on foreign soil. In partnership with the US and the Philippines, Japan plans to build defense systems to keep the Taiwan and Luzon Straits open, vital for oil ships enroute to Japan, from being closed by China. Japan is the dark horse that may tip the balance. If China attempts to close Taiwan or Luzon, war is inevitable, as in Egypt trying to close the Suez. (Read more on Philippine–Japan mutual defense at inquirer-ph-japan-defense-treaty.
China is not Invincible


China reportedly has a powerful lobby against a new bill defining Philippine territory. Chinese companies are secretly fielding Chinese labor in Philippine contracts. Some have been interviewed by Media.


In a heightened conflict, there are two scenarios. First, Chinese locals may participate in favor of China, as in Japanese farmers in Mindanao during World War II giving intelligence information to the Japanese invading forces. Second, Chinese locals may become a target, like the Japanese Americans in California and Hawaii during World War II. Protests against local Chinese can easily happen in the Philippines, which has by far a larger Chinese population, most having have been integrated into Filipino society for centuries now. Another factor is – local Chinese controls about 40% of the local economy.


In Vietnam, a Chinese oil rig 260 kilometers from the Vietnam shore east of the Paracels, was harassed by Vietnamese water cannons, resulting in a ‘bumping war’ with Chinese naval ships. This triggered massive violent protests against Chinese residents in Saigon. China was forced to evacuate them quickly. The oil rig was eventually abandoned. China is not that invincible. They can succumb to people power pressures, but they can also retaliate by simply boycotting Philippine exports, like what they did to our bananas years ago.


Can the Filipino match the Vietnamese bravado and brinkmanship in defying the giant? Can a massacre of Filipino troops in the Spratleys trigger racial violence in Manila? How will the Filipino react when push turns to shove?
Towards a Nuclear Confrontation and World War III


The optimists say there will be no war because both sides cannot afford one at this time. True, but for how long? When an energy crisis or a deep recession occurs, will push come to shove? The pessimists say World War III is just a matter of time. China is courting anti-American Islamic nations for trade, and may yet dominate the Middle East, using bread not bullets, unlike the Americans. War may fuel the global economy, but it may also fuel global financial meltdown or an apocalyptic nuclear holocaust. eastwindreplyctr@gmail.com


a time for valor
it is the time to be brave
throw caution to the wind
be radical and incisive
for a crisis of vast proportion
is descending upon us
without warning it will come
like a thief in the night
to snatch away our inner peace
our joys and pleasures
our health and wealth
but most importantly
our children and their children
ariel / eastwind



eastwind journals09 Jul 2015 04:44 pm

CHINA-U.S. NAVAL CONFRONTASI china’s ‘carrier killer’ missile

China’s ‘carrier killer’ missile

eastwind journals 169


By Bernie Lopez
Permission is granted to re-publish with credits.
The views in this article are the author’s alone.
when the first nuclear bomb of human history
fell on hiroshima in japan during world war 2
everything was razed to the ground for miles around
except for a jesuit church five blocks from ground zero
where people were praying the rosary
we have the power to avert disasters through prayers
Let us first take a quick satellite view of the last 3 decades. The flash point was the Strait of Taiwan. When China conducted missile tests and military exercises here in 1996, the US sent two aircraft carriers to the South China Sea to remind China of its vast superiority, a ‘deterrence’ to China’s aggressive posture to regain Taiwan. The move backfired. Instead of ‘deterring’, it forced China to embark on a long-term weapons program.


Today, the US cannot just pooh-pooh the Chinese arsenal. More than half of China’s Air Force is inside the mountains, neutralizing any US first-strike option. It has developed the ‘carrier-killer’ Dongfeng 21D missile, with speed of Mach 10 and range of 1,700 km, which can theoretically take out an aircraft carrier surrounded by dozens of warships in minutes before the fleet can react. The US is developing its own Mac 10-15 prototype. Still, five simultaneous Dongfengs may be enough to take out an entire fleet. China has developed a light mobile twin-hulled mini-aircraft carrier proto-type, which can be built overnight, and which can carry dozens of deadly attack drones. It has littered the entire South China Sea with thousands of submarine detectors.


The formidable ‘carrier killer’ Dongfeng 21D. Speed Mach 10. Range 1,700 km. Nuclear-capable.
(Source – http://www.andyross.net/images/dongfeng.jpg)


Dongfeng 21D carrier target trajectory data.
(Source – http://www.timawa.net/forum/index.php?topic=24124.0)


China’s scheme involved sophisticated but low-cost weapons, such as “anti-ship missiles, short and medium-range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, stealth submarines, and cyber and space arms”. The Pentagon called these ‘asymmetric weapons’, meaning cheap mega-bullets threatening expensive tanks. The Pentagon saw threats against its fixed bases in Japan and Guam, and mobile carriers. When a Song class Chinese sub appeared undetected beside the Kitty Hawk carrier during a US Pacific war game, the US Navy panicked. Six decades before that, the US had “unrivaled naval and air power”. Now, the US can be denied access to Taiwan waters by anti-ship missiles.


The Pentagon labels China’s latest moves as an “anti-access/anti-denial” (A2/AD) capability. The US response is the Air/Sea Battle (ASB). A US Air Force simulation war game called Pacific Vision in October 2008 triggered the conceptualization of the ASB, a massive joint air-sea assault that can execute in-depth attacks to disrupt and destroy the A2/AD. The ASB strategy is a quick blinding first-strike against A2/AD, using land-sea-based missile launchers, surveillance and communication systems, satellite and anti-satellite weapons, and command and control nodes.


The Pentagon’s ASB has four problems. First, a massive attack deep into Chinese territory will trigger a nuclear response. ASB presumes a nuclear risk. Second, China knows about ASB and is getting ready for it. Hence it is no longer pre-emptive. Third, an ASB all-out attack can be implemented only in a crisis situation, a last resort option, not in a non-nuclear or gray area confrontation. Fourth, the civilian government frowns upon this military adventurism. What if a trigger-happy ASB general causes World War III.


In 1986, China shifted its naval strategy from “Coastal Defense” to “Offshore Defense” to control its maritime territorial claims in the South China Sea. ‘Defense’ evolved into ‘Offense’. If China closes the Strait of Taiwan with mines, the last resort of oil ships enroute to Japan is to use the much wider Luzon Strait (160 km.). This scenario radicalized Japan. It is working feverishly to defend this last choke point. In 2013, it deployed surface-to-ship missiles in Miyako Island to choke any China naval break out to the East China Sea. In 2014, it built a radar station in Yonaguni Island to monitor the nearby disputed Senkaku Island. In the same year, it passed a cabinet resolution to reinterpret its post war pacifist Constitution that paved the way to the concept of ‘global military cooperation’. Japan could now come to the aid of foreign forces under attack outside its territory.


This is a hint that the Philippines and Vietnam could forge separate bilateral mutual defense treaties with Japan. The Luzon Strait choke point is critical to Japan’s international maritime trade. It will be willing to build expensive sophisticated defense systems in Batanes, particularly in the strategic Bashi Channel, if a treaty with the Philippines would permit it.


The US is in fact eyeing a broader defense system in the Philippines under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), identifying eight points – Subic, Clark, Laoag Airport, Batanes, two points in Cebu, and two in Palawan. But if the Supreme Court declares EDCA unconstitutional, Pivot to Asia will have a huge gap in the Philippines in the US encirclement effort of China. If so, a Philippine Japan treaty would be critical. A broad alliance among Vietnam, Korea, Malaysia, Japan, Philippines, Indonesia, Laos, Thailand, Brunei would form the first Asian version of NATO, an Asia Pacific Treaty Organization (APTO). But that’s a tall order. eastwindreplyctr@gmail.com
China’s reply to a vastly superior US is the use of ‘asymmetric weapons’, cheap intelligent missiles against big armor like carriers. Read more – Philippine-Reply-to-China-missiles-not warships.

The Eagle and the Bear are now eyeball to eyeball in the Spratleys, two giants about to claw and wrestle with each other. Read Inquirer article – Playing-footsy-with-the-bear.

Japan is a ‘third force’ that may tip the balance. Read Inquirer article Philippine-Japan-Mutual-Defense-Treaty.

eastwind journals29 Jun 2015 04:22 am

THE RUNAWAY GIRL a true story

A True Story
eastwind journals 168


By Bernie Lopez
Permission is granted to re-publish with credits.


Except for the ending dialogue, this is a true story as related by a friend. It attempts to explain the Theology of Death.


amen I say to you
beware and be cautious
for you know not
the day nor the hour


Matthew 25:12-13


Jimmy is a senior citizen. He is on the Light Rail train on the way home. A frail girl of about ten with dirty clothes and a heavy backpack enters. Staring into nothing, she stands beside Jimmy, clutching the train post. There is a half a seat beside him, so he offers it to her. She gladly sits.


JIMMY. Where are you going?
GIRL. Cagayan.
JIMMY. You mean Cagayan Valley in the north?
GIRL. Yes.
JIMMY. You are going that far alone? That’s about 12 hours bus ride.
GIRL. That long? I can manage. (Casually) I’m running away from home.
JIMMY. Oh oh. Why?
GIRL. My stepfather touches me and forces me when he comes home drunk. Happened many times. Then he mauls me. I can’t stand it anymore. (She displays her bruises on the left arm.)
JIMMY. Yes, you better run away before you get crazy. Have you been to Cagayan before?
GIRL. No. But I know the town where my grandmother stays. She will take care of me.
JIMMY. Do you know what bus to take and where?
GIRL. Not yet. I will ask around. Perhaps you can tell me.
JIMMY. Do you have enough money?
GIRL. I have no money, just loose change.
JIMMY. How do you expect to get there without money?
GIRL. I will ask the bus driver and conductor to give me a ride.
JIMMY. For free? I am not sure they will do that.
GIRL. They will. People are kind.
JIMMY. And if they don’t.
GIRL. I will ask passengers to pay for me.
JIMMY. Do you know how much it costs?
JIMMY. I think it would be about 500 pesos.
GIRL. That much? I will manage.
JIMMY. Passengers can’t afford that much.
GIRL. I will ask for 20 pesos per passenger. People are kind.
JIMMY. I like your positive thinking.
GIRL. I have a guardian angel. The Lord loves me and takes care of me. (She takes out a tattered rosary and proudly shows it.) I prayed before I left the house. Nothing can happen to me.
JIMMY. How about food? It’s half a day’s ride. You need to eat.
GIRL. I will be okay. My grandma will feed me.
JIMMY. No, I mean during the 12-hour trip.


The girl does not answer. Jimmy squirms in his seat. He gets a 500-peso bill from his pocket and gives it to the girl. All the while, Jerry, another senior citizen is listening to their conversation. He stares in surprise at the 500-peso bill.


GIRL. Thank you, sir. You are very kind. (She clutches the money.)
JIMMY. You better put that in your bag so it does not get lost. (The girl does so.)
GIRL. You are very kind. Thank you.
JIMMY. (Long silence.) You know what? Do this. When you get in the bus, talk to the driver and tell him you have no money for food. Ask him to take you with him when you make a stopover to eat. Drivers get free meals from the restaurant because they bring passengers to eat there.
GIRL. That’s clever. Okay, I will do it. Thank you.
There is a long pause. Jimmy squirms again in his seat. He hands three 100-peso bill to the girl. Jerry grunts.


JIMMY. That’s for your food. The driver may not like to give you a free meal.
GIRL. Thank you again sir. (She clutches the bills.)
JIMMY. Put it in your bag. (She ignores him.)


Another girl, a teenager, sits beside them.


JIMMY. Hello there, miss. Can I ask you a favor?
JIMMY. Where are you going down?
TEENAGER. Pasay Rotonda station. Why?
JIMMY. Good. This girl needs to go to one of four provincial bus stations, the one where buses go to Cagayan Valley. She does not know how to get there. I am going down at Ayala. Can you take care of her? Just ask around what bus station to go to.
TEENAGER. No problem, sir. I will do it. (She looks at the girl and smiles.)
JIMMY. One more thing please. Escort her to the station until she boards the right bus. Please get her a sandwich. I gave her money. Do you have time for this? Is it too much trouble?
TEENAGER. No problem, sir. It’s okay. I’m glad to help.
JIMMY. Thanks. (To the girl.) Okay, she will take care of you. Do not talk to strangers, only the bus driver or conductor. Is that clear? Put the money in your bag.
GIRL. Yes sir. Thank you again. You also have a guardian angel. I can feel it.


Arriving at the Ayala Station, Jimmy says goodbye. He and Jerry leave.


JERRY. Wow. That was something you did back there. Why did you want her escorted all the way to the bus?
JIMMY.  Many strange people hang around bus stations, looking for victims.
JERRY. Oh, white slavery. Never thought of that. In all my life, I never saw someone hand out 800 pesos just like that to a complete stranger. Did you notice she is a very brave girl?
JIMMY. Yes, an innocent lamb unafraid of the jungle of predators.
JERRY. It’s more ignorance than bravery. Or it’s faith.
JIMMY. Extreme despair makes you brave. Kapit sa patalim. (Grab the blade in despair.)
JERRY. It’s faith, not ignorance not despair. She never sees it as a ‘blade’.
JIMMY. She has a guardian angel. She knows it, that’s why she is not afraid.
Did you not realize the girl could be conning you?
JIMMY. It crossed my mind. But I gave the benefit of the doubt. Supposing she was conning me. I lose 800 pesos, right? So what? But suppose she was not conning me. Supposing she’s really running away from home and has no money. Supposing she becomes a sex slave?
JERRY. No way. She has a guardian angel, remember? You gave without hesitation and so quickly, without thinking too much. Amazing. You must be rich.
JIMMY. Rich, my ass. Rich people do not take train rides. I earn a lousy 24,000 a month. I get by. Simple living. I live alone. What is 800 pesos to me? I would spend that in three days on food and transport. I would not die of poverty or hunger.
JERRY. I give coins to beggars. At times, I give a whole 20-peso bill. I give but I am not a martyr. 800 pesos? Wow. Tell me, what made you really do it?
JIMMY. Tell me, how old are you?
JERRY. Sixty five.
JIMMY. I’m sixty nine. You and I are going to die soon. There is no time. When the rare opportunity comes, grab it. All my life, it’s just me, me, me. It’s a game changer really, this thing called death.
JERRY. (Long pause.) Come to think of it. You’re right. Thank you for inspiring me. From now on, I will look for little girls to help. So you think I also have a guardian angel?
JIMMY. You better believe it. And you better look hard for opportunities. They don’t come easy in train stations. When the rare opportunity comes, grab it, and die for it. It matters a lot for us old guys.
JERRY. Rare? They’re all over the streets. They’re everywhere.
JIMMY. There is no time. We could die tomorrow.
JERRY. It’s also true for the young. They could die tomorrow.
JIMMY. Do you realize the Lord gives us the poor to sanctify us not so poor? Sharing is never an option. It is an obligation for the rich or the poor.
JERRY. Can I treat you to a bowl of noodles?
JIMMY. Sure, sure. Here’s your rare opportunity. (They both laugh allowed.)


I empty your body so I can fill your soul
I make you poor so I can enrich you
I burn your home so you can seek My shelter
I make you sick so you can find My healing
I bring darkness so you can seek My light
I make you lose your way in the desert
so you can find My path
for even crooked paths lead to Me
I give deliverance only after you carry My cross
I am the Hound of Heaven in search of lost souls
first I sanctify you by sharing My cross
then I make all things beautiful for you
in My time and in My way




when you wrong another, you wrong yourself a hundred fold
when you uplift another, you uplift yourself a hundred fold
malign another, and you malign yourself
teach another, and you enlighten yourself
when you aid the weak, you strengthen yourself
when you give to the poor, you enrich yourself
comfort another, and you are consoled
save a life, and you are saved
life is such that what you give
is what you receive, only a hundred fold





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