Yesterday, after another long, hard day of passing out shoes to kids who needed them, my friend Rick and I were hanging out in a bamboo hut at a local resort here in the Philippines, watching the sun begin to set above the coconut trees in the forefront, when we heard a commotion coming from the street on the other side of the fence. We looked over to see a roughly thirty five year old Filipina woman, beating the holy hell out of what appeared to be a sixteen year old boy. We made our way to the fence to see if we could figure out what was going on.
She had one hand on the boy’s shorts- the only article of clothing he was wearing- and the other on the handlebars of a bicycle. She was screaming across the road, into the squatter’s village, for someone to come and get the bike. Rick and I assumed the thuggish looking youngster had stolen the bike, and he’d picked the wrong woman to try to steal from.
A woman of about sixty came across the road and got the bike, and the near middle aged woman flagged down a tri-cycle and threw the ‘thug’ in it, and said, “You are going to the jail!” and then she punched him in the face.
After they left, we asked the old woman if the teen had stolen their bike. She said no. The story is that the other woman was the young man’s mother. The young man and his friends had made the newest death squad list for being ‘rugby boys,’ or glue huffers, and she was taking him to be thrown in jail, in an attempt to save his life.
You see, the rest of the world outside of the U.S. is not as warm and fuzzy, and colorfully painted and sweetly coated. Here, as is the case in many under-developed nations, the rules work differently. Basically, local government officials, in an attempt to keep drug use to a minimum, will compile a list of known drug users (and this can be thirty year old men who use ‘shaboo’ a drug similar to meth, or nine year old boys who huff glue, to stay off their hunger pangs with a cheap high) and then pass the list out to the families of those who are on it. Basically, if you are still in town twenty four hours later, your new home will be the local cemetery.
An hour or so later, we saw the mother come walking by, alone. The jail was two miles away, so though she’d obviously been walking for half an hour or more, the tears were still falling down her face.
“You did the right thing,” I said to her when she came close enough to hear. “He’ll be okay.”
She smiled, and cried a new set of tears and told us that we were right. They were going to keep him overnight and give him another chance.
But they will be watching.
Thank God for a mother’s love!
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