THERE are times when I go to D.V. Soria when I noticed beggars asking for alms and felt pity by the mere sight of them. If I have some spare money, I would buy them some bread and water but no money is given since there is always a possibility that some might be coddled by a syndicate and the alms could be collected by the leader. I hope the local government would do something for these people, even on a short term basis, although a long term plan is better appreciated so that these people will not go to the streets anymore to beg.

You will notice also in the same place that people are eking out a living to meet both ends, just like paraplegic selling used shoes. Not to mention those selling pirated DVDs, there are also those selling simcards, coconut juice, mangoes, used clothing, and others engaged in rubber stamp making and key fabricating. These people, in their own little way, are showing us that with industry and creativity, one can have his own business. Work indeed dignifies them.

Not only in D.V. Soria will you people trying to make a living of almost anything they can get their hands on—they are also seen on streets. I noticed particularly barkers of PUJs making their rounds of herding passengers and collecting their fees from the driver. I have nothing against these people, except that most of them are burly and seem to be healthy enough for other jobs than collecting easy money. To think that some are even demanding standard fees!

The helpless driver could only shake his head and give in for fear of retaliation by the barker. Just imagine a barker who collects 5 pesos from each PUJ that he “assists” in herding passengers. If in an hour he could make himself purportedly useful for some 20 PUJs, then that’s P100 in that hour alone. So for a span of eight hours, granting there are 20 jeeps per hour that he assisted, he makes about 800 pesos in a day! This is almost like an extortion to the driver. My wife often said that though they probably aided the passengers in embarking the right jeep towards their destination, yet passengers who are very familiar in riding public vehicles may not need any assistance at all since they could find their own way.

Not all drivers, in fact, tolerate or like this practice by at all, as sometimes I would seat in the front seat whenever it is empty and engage some of them in a little chat. They often told me that these persons earn more than them on an average day. I hope that the local government could find ways to stop, or perhaps, regulate these persons from extorting the jeepney drivers. You, able-bodied barkers, ought to be ashamed of yourselves when you could have work or find means for a livelihood. Take a cue from those sidewalk vendors who value hard work to earn income. If you still insist of doing your thing, I would suggest using your income as a capital to start your own little business. So be a man and do the right thing!

(Be one with me in hoping for a better change. Send your comments at jaliviado2001@yahoo.com)