The Five Peso Coin Wisdom

Thursday, August 28, 2014


This morning, as I was preparing to keep my laptop, I was surprised to find a 5 peso coin underneath it. I could not remember how I left it there or if it even belonged to me. But who else would it belong to? I’m the only one who has that annoying habit of putting change anywhere. Without thinking much, I took the coin, slip it into my jeans pocket and went about my business. I thought, let’s see where this coin will lead me.

Riding in a public transportation is always a challenge to me. Every time I take a bus, ride the Metro Train or the jeepney, it is always an adventure. I am an observant person, and I have another annoying habit of profiling the people I am taking the ride with. Call it OCD, or whatever it is, but I take is as a precautionary practice, because I thought that whatever happens, if ever I get mugged inside the bus, or held-up in a jeep, I would be able to describe the people I was with. Maybe a bad case of paranoia? Hey, this is Manila. Even though how much I love Manila, I can’t deny the fact that these incidents do happen.

So, as I stood in line together with about a hundred more commuters waiting for the bus, I started my habit of observing the people. There was a slight drizzle of rain, but I didn’t mind , I was lazy to bring out my umbrella. A little rain won’t hurt, I thought.


A boy, about 9 or 10 was asking for alms from the people in the line. I knew what he was saying to them although I could not hear him. I know, he was telling them the same sob story over and over again, why he was begging for money, why he isn’t in school.

I was in a jolly mood today and I thought of “tripping” with the little boy, see where he would take me with his story. I was already forming the questions to ask him in my mind.

When he reached me, before he could say a word, I asked him what the envelope was for. Like a reporter or an investigator, I fired questions at him that I already knew how he would answer. I asked him where he got the envelopes, the props he uses when begging.

I guess he must have answered the same questions a hundred times because he was so articulate, probably memorized every line through constant repetition. Except when I told him something about trying to become a better person, and that he ought to go to school so that he would be able to help his parents, that’s when he started to keep quiet.

Only then did I started to talk to him about the importance of education, of earning money the right way. In the end, I gave him the five-peso coin I slipped inside my pocket earlier. Maybe he thought I was a penny pincher because I have to give him a speech before giving him that small amount of money.


Aside from the fact that I didn’t have any extra cash with me, it really was just the amount that I can afford to give him. Not because I don’t have money ( well, could be considered an excuse), but because I think that in giving him more, I would just reinforce his wrong thinking about money, and that will drive him to become lazy. Asking for money is easier than working for it anyway.

As I sit in the bus, some thoughts started to bug me. I have an hour and a half to ponder and reflect on that and so I let my thoughts flow typing away with my forefingers significant thoughts that came up, in my phone. (This is another annoying habit I do, but I do it anyway, it helps me keep up with my thoughts, because if I don’t do this, I would totally lose every word that came to mind.)

And so I pondered..

What is the difference between me and the boy asking for alms? How did I become different from him? At first, we’d think that the difference is more of the dreams, the willpower and the effort we exert to make our lives better with the principles of life that we live by. But then, thinking deeper about it, I realized, there really isn’t much.

Because in reality, we are all beggars. At some point in life, we have begged for something. Maybe we just change the terminology we use, have a different purpose for begging, but it is still begging. Solicitation, sponsorship, donation. We are asking for something that is dependent on other people’s mercy.

I have asked for sponsorship. I have begged someone not to leave me. I begged for God to listen to my prayers. I know at some point you have begged at someone to love you. You have begged for a special place in someone’s heart.

We are all beggars asking for something that would satisfy a want or a need in us. I realized that since I am no different than that little beggar boy , I have no right to feel superior among any of our brethren.

And as for the little boy, I really hoped that my words fired a light of hope in his heart, to inspire, to start building dreams, and to continue fighting for his mark in this world.

I really thought that I was the one teaching him lessons in life, but the more I thought about it, I realized that the one who gained more was me. I was the one who got rescued. I was the one who understood more about where I stand in life right now.

My five peso coin gave me more than what I bargained for. My five peso coin has finally reached its destination.

 Keep the faith,


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