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Column: ALWAYS for DCHerald (July 27-Aug.

2, 2008 Issue)

Talk to Strangers
Erwin Joey E. Cabilan

I don’t talk to strangers. This has been a rule that I follow since I was a child. But on my way
home last Friday (18 July 2008), I had the chance to converse with a stranger, a jeepney driver. At that
very moment, I couldn’t stop myself from being quiet because the driver was so spontaneous in pouring
out his disappointments concerning the rising prices of our basic commodities. He never asked me who
I am. He was so “at home” in expressing his angst. The driver was so focused with the topic while I was
focused on one thing: listening. Very well!

I cannot write here, in verbatim, what he said to me. But I would like to highlight three points
that I got from him namely:
1. our on-going struggle not only in “earning for a living” but also “in living” (Taas ang presyo sa
panaliton pero ang sweldo mao ra gihapon!);
2. most people lack the enthusiasm/interest to live (apathy) (Mas mayo pa mag abroad!) and;
3. our obscure perception towards hope (Ambot kung adunay pa ba kitay kaugmaon.).
His story is mine, is yours and eventually ours! I affirmed what he shared to me. Common people have
been complaining these days about our situation. Fine. Each of us is entitled to our own opinion. But
can we afford to remain reactive for the rest of our life?

Fortunately, I happened to meet such man who was not only passionate in pouring out his
frustrations but was open to listen to me as well. What good message did I share to him? In a very down-
to-earth catechesis, I offered to him three possible ways on how to redeem hope. First, count your
blessings. I lived in a foreign land for a year and I discovered that the Philippines is so rich! My 50Euros
(Php 3,500.00) was not sufficient for my basic needs. Whereas an amount of Php 3,500.00 is already
good to buy grocery items including a sack of rice! Getting sick abroad implies buying expensive
medicines. Whereas in our country, we have herbal medicines just around the corner such as goto cola,
kalabo, gabon, etc.! Count the blessings. They number as the stars in the sky!

Second, in every blessing say “Thank you!”. Gratitude is a language of a heart that is
blessed. Blessings received should not make us feel better as compared to others but instead, these move
us to share our being a blessing. Our loved ones, our work, our friends, our laughter, our home, our
colleagues are blessings. Well, even our problems, could be blessings. In every blessing, say Thank
you. They are not only pleasant to hear; they are good for the heart!

Third, be positive in thinking and doing things. In one of her concerts, my favorite chanteuse,
Barbra Streisand said, “It is very hard to appreciate than to criticize.” Yes, we can be critical but it
would be better if our critical minds are coupled with hands that touch, that work, that reach out, that heal,
that love. Love is the actualization of the sense of optimism. Positive thinking can lead to desirable
actions. By doing this, we don’t only attract good energies. We share good energies as well.

As I recall that event, I am humbled by the presence of the driver who challenged me to go
beyond fears and uncertainties. His story has made me echo once again the Story of Jesus. I never
opened catechetical books just to make him understand God’s message to our lives. Ordinary words,
conveyed in charity, are already enough to make him see that God still and always loves the world.

As I was about to leave, he said, “Thank you!” and he smiled. I reciprocated such gestures.
Humbled by his presence, I encountered God! In Catechesis, we do not only share God but we receive
Him. Thank you, Mamang Driver, for allowing me to share to you a down-to-earth catechesis. In a
special way, you are a blessing!