Skip to main content

"Wonder Boy"

Several weeks ago, when me and my wife are into this exercise-walking routine, we met this guy in his 30’s. He came out of nowhere and showed up on us right in front of a Catholic Church where we stopped for a while. All of a sudden, while I am taking photos of the wall art in the other side of the road, this guy in a funny yet sincere tone asked me:


Isang picture naman diyan oh!
(One photo shoot if you please!)



With bit of a surprise, I told the guy, “O sige, posing ka” (Okay, you do your pose). But then instead of just posing the normal way (that moment wherein it is your first time to meet a complete stranger, you know), this guy poses the unusual ways. Quite cumbersome to describe, so here are the photo shots for you to have a look!





Near this wall art is where I met "Wonder Boy".

After this interesting yet mind-blowing photo-shoot encounter, the guy then tell something again.

“Kuya, konti barya naman diyan oh”. (Brother, some small amount if you please.)

As what I can recall, I was not able to give him any amount of money at that time as we really don’t have coins in our purse but money in larger denominations.

So I told him, “Pasensya na kuya, wala talaga barya. Pag nakita kita ulit, bibigyan kita. Ano bang pangalan mo?” (Sorry brother, I really don’t have coins right now. But if ever I will see you again, I will give you. What is your name by the way?)

The cool guy said, “Ayos lang kuya. Ako si… (it’s fine brother. My name is…)


“Wonder Boy!”

Honestly, I’ve anticipated that kind of response from the way he acts and talks right from the start.

Then I asked him, “Saan ka ba nakatira?” (Where do you live?)

He said, “Diyan lang (pointing to a direction). Lagi ako diyan sa PureGold”. (There. I’m always at PureGold.)

After that short conversation, I said goodbye to Wonder Boy telling him that if ever I will see him again, I will give him money.

Then a few days after, when I was about to ride on my bike after buying some groceries at PureGold, Wonder Boy showed up asking for some “barya”. And as promised, I give him some money I have in my purse – ten pesos I think. I asked him if he still remembers me on that encounter in the nearby church. He said yes. I realized he was assisting drivers in going in and out of the mall’s parking zone.

And before we separate ways, Wonder Boy said, “Salamat kuya”. (Thanks brother.)

I politely responded, “Pakabait ka ha. God bless.” (You please be good. God bless.)

Then an old lady noticed what happened and told me, “May bayad ba ang parking ng bisekleta?” (Is there a parking fee for bicycle?)

I told the lady, “Wala po. May kaunti po yun.” (None Madam. That guy has something.)

So the lady just nodded and fully get what I meant with “may kaunti.”

Well, thank you for reading that short story of mine. It is not weird at all for me, to be honest. Encountering such a cool person like “Wonder Boy” is totally not new. In my home town, there are people same as Wonder Boy. Here in my place in Cavite, I’ve helped in small ways someone like Wonder Boy. The funny side of such encounter is that you’re getting entertained with how this kind of people talk to you. You learn something out of those gestures, smiles, laughs, and sometimes really entertaining words coming from them.

On the other hand, there is a very sad story deep inside of them - the Wonder Boys.

Here's another story to share.

Months before I got sick and hospitalized, that was early 2016, I met this person living in a waiting shed near my place. For about 3 or 4 months, every weekend, I used to drive my bike going to him and give him something – food or money. On the first encounter, I just politely approach the person with some bread and water on my hands. I told him that I have something for him and without fear or hesitation, he just took my offers.

Until the time came that I have this confidence to ask about his story - who he is, where he came from, why he’s living in that shed. As if you’re talking to a normal person or friend, typical conversation goes on. What I can still remember is that his home is in Laguna, the nearby province of Cavite (my place). When I asked him how do he survive if he’s not at home with his family, he told me, “Marami naman pong nagbibigay sa akin dito.” (There are many people giving me something to eat.) He’s really polite and kind, nothing to be alerted about.

Every time I stop-by on that shed, he immediately recognizes me. I always have something to give. Personally, I do not care at all if he smells bad or if looks dirty. What I care is if he’s hungry or not. Then I remember asking him if he could make this “origami” thing which I have been doing for quite some time that year, with a promise to give him a gift in return. Weeks after, he was able to show me his creation. Although it is not that perfect, he tried his best and was able to create one. I then give him some old clothes, water, and food that day. T’was really fulfilling!

Then when I recovered from my sickness in about four months, I came back to him but he’s no longer there. I tried going back for several times but he’s really not there. I want to help him more, in any small way possible.

Here in the Philippines, we call people like him as “taong grasa”. Sometimes, people call them “taong kalye”. In the street lingo, most adults understand the meaning when somebody says “may kaunti yan”. In a straightforward language, we say that the person is “mentally distressed”, “mentally-illed” or have mental issues.

The intention of this post is not at all to share the funny sides of mentally distressed people or even put them on shame. The intention is to bring up the issues of mental health in the Philippines and spread mental health awareness to all.

While many Filipino families have one of their members having mental issues, and as part of life, they used to live, laugh, and cry with them, we cannot ignore the fact that still there are people who do not fully understand their true situation. Kids, for example, out of innocence laugh and sometimes fool those kinds of guys. Rude people who regularly encounter such kind of person used to do unacceptable things like beating them, taking their foods or belongings, and uttering ugly words like “Loko-loko” or “Sira ulo”.

Well, even I, wheneve I encountered a mentally-distressed person in the street and that I am not aware of his or her true situation at that time, I would think of something different. That maybe, this guy is drunk or simply think that he or she is stupid. I would not know at first. But my response in this kind of encounter is either I stay away or stop for a while and observe how that person would react, and then leave until he or she calms down. When I then realized that he or she is mentally distressed, I give him or her some money or food, whatever is available in my pocket or purse.



“Taong grasa” came to be as “taong grasa” for some reasons, deeper reasons - tragedy, personal or family problem, accident, unusual experience, abuse, exploitation, etc. Their behavior is beyond normalcy. They need our help.

Finally, I want to share in this post that I have a cousin whom happened to become mentally-ill due to a sea accident. That was very long time ago but as being mentioned in my conversations with my aunts and uncles, this cousin of mine got his mental issues when he used to dive under the sea with this air compressor that malfunctioned. I do not have the exact details but as of today, after several years of getting treatments in a rehabilitation center in Manila, this cousin of mine is now back at his home town in Romblon. There are still incidences when his being mentally-ill strikes back, showing unusual behavior. But the good thing is that he is way better compared to the way he acted years back. My uncle and auntie, his parents, did not back out in helping their son on his condition. They did what they can, with lots of patience and sacrifices, for many years.

Where do I want to go from here?

I just want to say that there are many “Wonder Boys” out there, in the Philippines in particular. But reality will tell that many of our countrymen are not capable enough of sending them to rehabilitation centers for treatment. I remember watching this documentary wherein I found out that it requires a minimum of 2000 to 3000 pesos worth of medication each month to treat a mentally-ill patient. And the treatment spans from a year or more depending on the health situation. For some, it is a life-time treatment.


Poor families, no matter how willing they are to save their family member, really cannot do anything – even asking for help because they have nothing. And we cannot blame them for that, really.

We have treatment centers here in the country, an indication that our politicians are not ignoring their situations. In my advocacy to help in my little ways, let me share to you some of these links that might give you some ideas.

http://www.ncmh.gov.ph/

https://www.webbline.com/mental-health/

http://cnnphilippines.com/life/culture/2017/10/20/mental-health-facilities.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mental_health_care_in_the_Philippines


But sadly, these facilities cannot fully accommodate many Filipinos with mental health issues. Those who are living in remote areas, many do not get the chance to at least be checked-up and given some words of encouragement from a health practitioner in the field. They are left untreated for years, even decades. But these mentally-ill people we’re seeing on the streets, the “taong grasa”, obviously, they need our help. And maybe, in the smallest way possible, we can do something for them.

This is the message I want to convey in this post. That maybe, in our little ways, we can do something about those “taong kalye”, “taong grasa”, or “Wonder Boys”. Give them food. Talk to them nicely. Motivate them. If you can bring that help further, much better. I believe many of you are doing your thing already and thank you for that kindness.

Let’s help the “Wonder Boys”.



Note: Photos of “Wonder Boy” are shared in this post with a clear intention in mind: Share his brief story and encourage people like you who will see these photos to help him if possible. I personally do not know Wonder Boy’s personal life, even his real name, and I just based my judgement of him as “may kaunti” based on my short encounter with him. For the purpose of this article, I intentionally blocked portion of his face. If you feel that this impression/sharing of his photos is wrong, please feel free to contact me and I will immediately take action as needed. And to Wonder Boy, if ever you will read this post, I sincerely apologize in advance if I misinterpreted your true situation. I asked your permission to post your photos on the internet and you agreed. In due time, I will help you the best I can.


About the Author
Noriel Panganiban is a Filipino blogger, writer. He spends a portion of his time writing blogs about the Filipinos and the Philippines, the real situation we have here. In his posts, he mentioned both the good and the bad things. With his advocacy to help the Filipinos is his own little ways, he used to recommend solutions to the existing problems and issues.

Noriel is also the founder of www.knowriel.com, an education website for all learners. This is part of his bigger ambition to help his co-Filipinos and people of the world as a whole. To get to know Noriel more, you may visit his educational website or stay in the blog site and read a few more of his interesting and mind-awakening blog posts.


Comments

Most-Read Posts of the Month

“I Love Baguio City” - My Travel Story in the Summer Capital of the Philippines

The Strawberry Farm, Burnham Park, Mines View Park, the Mansion, Wright Park, Lourdes Grotto, and Session Road; these are among of the popular landmarks in the more commonly known “Summer Capital of the Philippines” – Baguio City. Why so? Well, the temperature here seldom exceeds 26 degree centigrade. During the cold season of December to February, the temperature falls down to even below 10 degree centigrade. The record low temperature was 6.3 degree and that was on January 18, 1961.

How to Travel to Baguio City?
Going to this cold city in the mountainous province of Benguet, Philippines is a six to seven hours travel by passenger utility bus from Manila. Starting from EDSA, traversing the NLEX, entering SCTEX, exiting the province of Tarlac and going through the neighbouring provinces of Pangasinan and La Union, and then exploring the zigzag road of either the Marcos Highway, the Kennon Road or the Naguilian Road, the coldest place in the Philippines will be reached. Baguio is about 2…

"Business as Usual" as the Filipinos Define It (Vulcanizing Shop, Sari-Sari Store, Bakery) – Part 1

I asked the shop owner about these old unused tires on what are they doing with it. The Vulcanizing shop owners says, “Oh, someone will pick up those tires and pay us 5 or 10 pesos each. Sometimes they just take it for free”.


Vulcanizing Shop - A Classic Example of Filipino Business
You’ve most probably seen and been into a local, typical vulcanizing shop like this one in the photo. The business concept is very simple. Here’s a customer with his flat or deflated tire and the vulcanizing boy will repair it using a rubber compound patch, a heating tool, and an air pump. If it’s a regular car or van tire, repairing one may only take 10 minutes the cost of which is around 30 to 60 pesos. If it’s a tire from a truck or bus, it could be around 30 minutes and the repair would cost the vehicle owner around 100 to 150 pesos.

Here’s the thing. A shop like this one could potentially earn a revenue of 1000 up to 2000 per day just by repairing a flat tire. Why? Well, with thousands of vehicles like j…

A Walk to Divisoria - Filipinos Love this Place!

“Divisoria” - almost every Filipino knows this word. The millennials even call it “Divi”.



We paid another visit to Divisoria. Same as usual, it is so crowded that more than half of your energy will be spent on bumping people, spinning round and round to find a better direction, and on walking back and forth, up and down. Of course, finding that product and bargaining for its price is where the remaining energy will be spent.



We arrived there at around nine in the morning and streets are still not too busy. But you will notice that shoppers are on their feet rushing towards the popular 168, 999, Tutuban Center, Divisoria Mall and 11/88 shopping malls. (Any idea why the malls' names are numbers? Chinese thing? I’m not sure. That’s a trivia.) You can see the excitement on them. With a few bags, themselves and that money on the pocket, it is like going into a shopping war. Meanwhile, sellers are all set up with their products too. Their energy is always on top, some are shouting while…

Who are These OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) and Why are They the Modern Heroes of the Philippines

At the turn of the millennium, the Philippine government launches this campaign program calling the overseas Filipino workers or OFWs as “Mga Bagong Bayani ng Bayan” (Modern Heroes of the Nation). From then onwards, different organizations established programs giving awards and recognitions to selected OFWs who did a remarkable contribution or action to their family, friends, work or in general, to the country.


OFW ka ba?Bakit?Eh kasi dating mo pa lang, mayaman ka na. Boom! 
(Are you an OFW? Why? Because with just the way look, it seems that you’re rich. Boom!)

My Cousin Dado as an OFW in South Korea 

At present, OFWs around the world are estimated to be around 12 – 14 million. This is approximately 10 – 12 percent of the Philippines total population. These OFWs are distributed on many countries all over the globe majority of whom are in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Japan, Singapore, Hongkong, Taiwan, South Korea, and Italy. Immigrant workers in the United States, Australia and Eu…

“Fixer” in Philippine Government Agencies Like the Social Security System (SSS) and Land Transportation Office (LTO) – What We Filipinos Can Do About it?

Maybe in this post, I can clearly explain how “fixing” works in many government offices in the country. The idea is first, to warn you that such illegal fixing happens, and second, to give you tips on how you should avoid them. Plain and simple, we will not in anyway damage or speak against anyone or any particular office of the government in this post. It just happened that this is about my experience with LTO and SSS Tagaytay. I want to emphasize that still many government employees in the Philippines are doing their jobs right - including those who are working in the said branches.
If you have experienced transacting with any government offices here in the Philippines, whether you're a Filipino or not, you should already be familiar with these signages.



Here’s a bit of knowledge for you to digest first.
What is “fixing” or who is a “fixer” by the way?
In the Philippines, these good words happened to have a negative connotation over the past decades. Good words? Yes, indeed. When …

The Divisoria Malls - Defining Shopping in the Philippines

They call it the 168 Mall. It is one of the busiest places in the Philippines during shopping days like Christmas season when longing for enjoyment and relaxation is on the air once again. From Cavite, my home place, going to Divisoria, it will take you about an hour travel under normal traffic flow.

What is in this place? Well, Divisoria is the Bargain Shopping Capital of the Philippines. This is where wholesale and retail prices make shoppers say “WOW!” on delight. Visiting this place will definitely give you a realization about shopping on a different dimension. Find out why on the next paragraphs.

On the Photo: The Popular 168 Mall in Divisoria, Manila, Philippines


Divisoria is located in Binondo, Manila. It is accessible via Quiapo(where the famous Black Nazarene of Quiapo Church is) thru Recto Avenue and via Lawton near Manila City Hall. Divisoria has been there since the early 90’s. As it is near the North Harbour, Manila’s main seaport, the freshest and cheapest products usuall…

Why Do We Share Photos of the Foods We Eat on Social Media?

Poor people can’t just do it and here’s why.

According to Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), in the first half of 2014, the Poverty Incidence among “Filipino individuals” was 25.8% while the Poverty Incidence among “Filipino families” was 19.9%. It means that one of four Filipinos experienced poverty during that period. What does it mean by being poor? According to the Office of the President website, “To be poor means earning less than P16,841 a year”.

On the Photo: Filipino "Karinderya" Foods


Are you poor?

May God bless you if you are. You need blessings from above.

I shared the above statistics for one simple reason – there are poor people who can’t eat three (3) times a day. They skip their meals. Well, compared to other third-world countries, it’s even worst. In the African region, people die because of starvation. To that extent, Filipinos are still lucky. But to the extent of being a citizen of a country having P2.6 trillion budget in a year, all of us should have comp…

How Filipinos are Loosing their True Identity

What happens to the Filipinos foods?

Haven’t you noticed, foreign foods are invading the Philippines by storm? International restaurants serving foreign cuisines are everywhere. Culinary arts, the way Filipinos look at it, is just becoming a trendy topic. Chefs, food blogger, culinary experts, food architect - goodness, are they soon to replace the simple “kusinero” and “kusinera” words that best describes our real identity as Filipinos in terms of cooking?




Globalization shapes the future of the country, particularly the food landscape. There is nothing wrong with innovation. I’d been a waiter for quite some time in a popular catering business and if its about food preparation, I’m really impressed with the way our cooks and kitchen staffs do it. Those garnishing, decorative artwork, and plating styles, they really add beauty to the foods we serve. Even an authentic Filipino food, they make a twist making it lovely and attractive to the hungry eyes.

Those terms like “buffet”, “a la ca…

Great Reasons Why You Should be Proud to be Pinoy Today

Yes, we live in a poor country. We walk up and sleep in a country with high unemployment rate, low quality of life, high crime incidence, rampant corruption in the government, unsolved traffic issues, high poverty and so on and so forth. We are residing in a country where there are New People’s Army, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Abu Sayyaf Group and plenty of other leftists doing harm to the nation’s freedom and sovereignty. Many of our rivers, oceans and lands are totally polluted – some are dead. Our streets are flooded with criminals, kidnappers, snatchers, drug addicts, drug pushers and tons of other bad elements invading our liberty. In remote areas around the country, there are children walking barefoot, on their empty stomach and with unconditioned mind and body just to taste the education which their parents were forced to believe that “poverty is not a hindrance to education” – but is not. We experience over and over again the fury of strong typhoons leaving us billion-wort…

“Pasalubong” – What Makes this Filipino Word Very Special?

Probably next to the beauty of a tourism spot, if it’s about the real reasons for traveling there, is our search for the best “pasalubong”. It’s the tagalog word for “gift” or “souvenir” and it can be anything from foods, toys, clothes, handicraft, furniture, soaps, wearables, or household items. It’s practically anything, big or small, cheap or expensive, edible or not. And for as long as that special item was bought somewhere else and then given to someone as an act of love and kindness – the true purpose has been served.


A simple gesture of “Salamat po” (Thank you) for sharing that pasalubong is enough to make you feel the love and kindness back. There is the best pasalubong for kids, for grandmas and grandpas, for a favorite grandson, for a close neighbor or friend, for the workmates, for the boss, for a former enemy, for a religious brother, and even for a complete stranger. Yes, indeed!

Well, “pasalubong” is actually different from a gift for birthday, wedding, or special gatherin…