THE idiomatic expression “money growing on trees” belongs to fiction. While there is a money tree being sold in gardening centers and flower shops, the person who rakes in a bit of cash is the storeowner.

Clients go away with nothing more than the hope that the money tree would live up to its reputation of enticing good fortune through its branches. The tree also represents strength and life.

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For the first time, fiction assumed reality through the news that excited my whole household last Thursday. According to GMA-7, a river in Barangay Sta. Maria, Zamboanga City, had a mysterious visitation with the gods.

No, the television station didn’t report it that way. The report did say that money mysteriously floated in the river, whose banks (no pun intended) were inhabited by shanty dwellers.

Naturally, the people fished out the paper bills—P500, and P1,000 bills—and whooped it up for a day. They bought food, medicine and paid their debts. According to the news, a housemaid mistakenly took a box for trash and threw it along with the family’s garbage. She didn’t know the old box contained money and important documents. Neither did she know it was and is a crime to pollute waterways.

Too late for the owner. The people said they couldn’t return the money because they had spent it already, and as for the documents—who cares about useless documents (to the river dwellers, anyway).

The first time money was mistaken for trash was around two years ago. A house helper in Cebu dumped a whole brown bag of money into the city dumpsite.

For the first time, too, you will hear about the latest idiom on money. I coined it: river flowing with money, and river of money. It means something good flowing into your doorstep.

The current of fortune rushes into your life, depositing a momentary solution to your problems (like food, medication, fare allowance, bills to pay).

One morning you go outside your porch, which overlooks the river, to check out the water level and instead find money floating like paper boats. Your neighbors experience the same phenomenon. As in the Biblical rain of manna, everyone leaves his and her dreary house to go fishing for money—Hey, that’s another idiom.

To fish for money or go fishing for money means taking a chance at finding something good outside your comfort zone; it is diving into the murkiest water to find a solution to your problem.

GMA-7 said that money came falling from or flying out of a box, as though from heaven (well, I’m putting words in the mouth of GMA-7 on this last one).

The heaven to the people living by the river in Zamboanga might have been a low heaven, considering that the housemaid threw the box over the bridge, but their heaven sure answered their prayer for that day: “Give us this day our daily bread.”

Which gives me my third original idiom for this century: money falling from heaven. It means help that comes in the nick of time. There you are walking home with your scruffy shoes and looking dejected as you bow your head in shame because you don’t even have fare money. Suddenly you see a blue piece of paper, a P1,000 bill.

Figments of imagination have an eerie way of coming true, thrills you when they defy logic in the most unexpected places.