May 2, 2011

The Sunflower Centennial Halfway Home for Boys

If you've plied the streets and by-streets of Baguio City long enough, then you have seen THEM. Children, usually young boys, aged 6 to 14, with dirt-ridden sacks slung over their shoulders. Such sacks contain the fruits of their labor of the days past. Plastic bottles. A broken umbrella. Styrofoam packs that say Jollibee, or McDonald's. Clothing that reeks like they just came out from the butt hole of hell.

They walk barefoot. I felt like I won the lottery one time when I chanced upon them hanging out in front of Julie's Bakeshop along Magsaysay Ave. One of them was wearing a Timberland boot. Yipeeeeee!!! Timberland kunam man. The only problem was he was wearing only the left pair. The right pair was nowhere to be found. It was a funny scene. Indeed. But sort of saddening nonetheless.

There was this yet another time when I happened to encounter them feasting on a bowl of bulalo. This time it was at the waiting shed at the Slaughter Compound. The one just along the highway in front of the Rising Sun bus terminal. I was waiting for a friend. The first question on my mind was where the hell did these homeless young guns get these. I'd like to think that some good Samaritan gave it to them. But my brain said that was unlikely. You don't just give a bowl of bulalo to a bunch of wild-eyed young guns. The bowl looked like the type that every street carinderia use these days. So I don't know if they stole it from some carinderia or if someone gave it to them. It was pleasing nonetheless to watch them feast on the meaty bones with much gusto, licking their fingers and rolling their eyes around as if somebody might jump out from thin air and take away their feast.

They wore clothing that have lost their colors, not from overuse but from the buildup of dirt, slime and God knows what else. Red shirts, blue pants, white shorts, pink baseball caps, it doesn't matter, they all have the same aesthetics now – dirty brown or just plain dirty.

With all that said and done, there's GOOD NEWS for these lost boys of the city streets. Enter the Sunflower Centennial Halfway Home for Boys, an initiative by Saint Louis University (I'm proud to have studied there) that aims to provide shelter for abandoned, neglected and abused boys. The center was just recently inaugurated. In attendance were SLU President Fr. Jessie Hechanova and Baguio City Bishop Carlito Cenzon.

So good luck to the Sunflower Centennial Halfway Home for Boys. May you accomplish whatever it is you plan to accomplish. More power.

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