The Witness
By Acmad Toquero Macarimbang
Published: November 23, 2009
Updated: November 23, 2009


My father earned P115 daily. He was a carpenter. My mother was a homemaker. In my 15 years of living, I knew nothing about what was going on in my poor country. I thought my family would live happily as always, but I was wrong. Not a fairytale...not happily everafter. I learned ABCD..., 123..,but nothing else. During high tides, I joined my friends to swim the perilous shore and catch some fish for dinner. Then suddenly, my mother died outside the hospital. The nurses did not admit her -- no cash to pay!

Not long after: "Bang! Boom!" The war broke out between the government troops and the rebels. Thousands were killed because of this and that... we do not know. "Drop!" my father yelled. Then I dropped. "Bang! Boom!" When I raised my head, I saw my father drenched with blood. I cried until my eyes could tear no more.

The war was over. Nothing was standing still. No more flock of birds. Many suffered. I myself suffered. I migrated to the city. I walked and walked, looking for the answers to all my questions, picking each piece of my life to make it whole. Speechless...I saw a familiar face approaching me. She must be...."Aling Bheng!" i yelled in excitement knowing that I finally found someone to hang on to. "Yes, I am" she breathlessly said.

Yes, she was Aling Bheng, our very good neighbor. She was with her six children asking for alms from anyone and anywhere in the streets. I walked with her, with the understanding that life has unforgiving twists. Then I started saying, "Alms!"