Someone once said, “Home is where the hearts is”, if that is true then my home is in Bacong. The house is not a fancy or large house but it embodies so much in such a small space; a true sanctuary. At every turn there is another memory; the echoes of karaoke and children laughing.
Even the narrow road that leads to my doorstep carries special memories. The narrow lane winds through the verdant shadowed countryside to my little house nestled amid bamboo, mangos and roses.
About halfway to my home is a bare patch of mud some local kids have converted to a crude basketball court. Not much to look at, just a hoop attached to a tree.
The boys who play there are just your average Filipino teenagers. No gang signs or tattoos here, just young boys squeezing some fun out of a muddy patch of ground.
One day as I was walking by their ball bounced near my feet. I notice the ball had seen better days. The bladder had ruptured and the ball was more egg shaped than round. Yet they managed to enjoy the game and the cheers of the cute Filipinas courtside.
The next day as I made my way home, I gave them a new basketball. It was no big deal. I just threw them the ball and walked on home.
From that day forward my passing was greeted with smiles and waves. Something about a “real” smile that is very special.
During hot days, I would sometimes stop at the nearby Sari-Sari store and buy the sweaty basketball “gang” a round of cold drinks. They would sometimes crowd around and thank me. Several offered to “pay me back”. I told them not to pay “me” back but if they have the chance to do something nice for someone else they should.
One day one of the older kids asked, “Why do you do you stop and buy us cold drinks?” As I slowly walk home, I answered simply, “Because when I was your age, nobody stopped”.