Kawawa naman si manong. Salita nang salita, wala namang kumakausap. Hindi naman siya nakabatak ng droga.
Ako na lang ang kakausap.
“How are you, my friend?” kako. Sagot niya: “There are so many things in this laundry shop that need to be improved on.”
“Yeah, I understand. Nice shirt by the way. My name is DC.” I was about to ask his name but he interrupted.
I have heard him say “yani”, an expression that gave me a hint of what part of the world this white-skinned six-footer was from. Mula siya marahil sa Kanlurang Asya o Gitnang Silangan.
He says: “You know, nobody could dispute me. You see Jesus Nazareno (pointing at his yellow shirt). I paid Php 80,000 in Malacañan… at the presidential assistance office. The Philippines is getting better with President Duterte.”
Anim o walong buwan na raw ang nakararaan nang magbayad siya ng ganoong halaga sa ahensya ng pamahalaan. Nakinig pa ako sa mahabang kwento niya ng karanasan ng iba at ng kanya. Hinayang din daw siya sa maraming Pilipinong maliit ang kinikita sa kabila ng pagiging napakasisipag.
Gusto raw niyang turuan ang iba na gumawa ng “tip box”. Aniya, mas malaki pa nga minsan sa ibang bansa ang tip kaysa sa buong sweldo.
“So how do you find the Filipinos as a people?” I asked. Came this response:
“You’re like an NBI, the National Bureau of Investigation. You know, you don’t understand me. I’m an expat. You know ‘expat’?”
I answered, “Expat… you’re migrating.”
(Nagsimula na siyang mag-imis ng kanyang gamit. Lumabas na muna kami ng anak ko. At pagbalik ko, papalabas pa lang siya ng shop.)
“God bless you, my friend. Ma’a salama. May the face of our Lord Jesus Christ shine on you and give you peace,” I told him. He said: “Thank you. I also pray. I asked her (shop customer service associate) if she knows the Lord’s Prayer? Our Father, who art in heaven… No response.”
I asked him: “Please pray for our country, the Philippines. And I’ve been to the Middle East. I have friends from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Palestine, Pakistan, and Turkey. God bless these nations.”
“Oh come on, Turkey today is not the same 15 years ago. Turkey will be lost after 15 more years.”
Nabanggit niya ito habang papalayo sa akin, mga sampung hakbang na ang layo.
Siya kaya’y taga-Turkey? Napaliligiran ito ng mga border ng walong bansa, kabilang na ang Syria at Iraq sa timog, Iran at iba pa sa silangan.
When I yelled a little bit of “I’ll pray for you”, he replied, “Yeah, keep on praying.”
I’ve prayed for all asylum-seekers, all refugees, for their peace and peace for all nations. Please say your prayers for them, too. DC Alviar