Peping and the Pearls – by James Garcia

Peping and the Pearls

sasasasaWe went to Taal Batangas last weekend to help my sister and her fiancé have their pre-nuptial photoshoot for their wedding. It took us 3 hours of land travel and then transferred to a boat which will take us to an island where we will have the photoshoot which took us another 2 hours of travel time.

We we’re amazed when we saw the island with a white sand and very clear water. But just when we are about to reach the island, our boat stopped and the captain told us that we have a problem. It was low tide that time so the boat cannot go closer to the island since the rocks under the water might put a hole in the boat. Which is true because we can clearly see the rocks on a clear water under the boat. It was 8 AM that time and he can only make it to the island at 1PM which is high tide.

Few minutes passed while thinking of what to do, we saw a small boat with a man and 2 kids roughly 6-10 years old. He came to us and ask if there is a problem and offered us to ride his small boat and he will bring us to the island. I asked him “how much will it cost?” and he answered “bahala na po kayo” or “any amount will do” with a smile on his face. It took us 3 trips since his boat can only accommodate up to 5 passengers and there were 15 of us.

I am one of the last passenger of the last trip and I am looking at the boatman and you can really see how hard life was for them just by looking at their clothes and faces.

I asked him “are they your son?”

and he answered “yes sir”.

Me: “What’s your name?”

Man: “My name is Peping (and then he smiled)”

I can see that the 2 kids are in the boat. The way they move shows that they are really used in riding that boat.

We finally arrived and eat first before starting the photoshoot. The man sat down under a coconut tree and the 2 kids played around the beautiful white sand.

Peping then approached the ladies and showed something from his bag. Pearls! Beautiful pearls! Earrings, necklaces, bracelets. He said that he is selling pearls to tourists in the beaches nearby. After showing the pearls to the ladies, I sat and have a chat with him.

Me: “Are you from nearby?”

Peping: “We live in Puerto Galera Mindoro and pointed on a far island, while looking at his 2 boys playing in the sand.”

Me: “So you came all the way from Puerto Galera?”

Peping: “No, we are roaming around islands for about 4 days now. We just sleep in our boat at night. We will not go home until we have something to buy food and money for my 2 son for their school. And it will cost us a lot if we will go home to Puerto Galera everyday because it will take 6 hours of travel time.”

Me: “How old are you?”

Peping: “I don’t know… I really don’t know…”

He told me that sometimes, they are giving the pearl in exchange of rice grains or clothes or anything valuable and bring it home to her wife in Puerto Galera. I am amazed to know that he is sending those boys to school which means he is giving importance to education.

I stood up and grabbed food and called his two boys so they can eat. The 2 boys hurriedly came after me and I giving them a plate full of spaghetti and told them “Go ahead and eat. Let me know if you need anything else”. Then I went to my sister to check if they finished setting up.

Suddenly one of the boys reached me and asked if I have a plastic. Luckily I have some plastics on my bag so I gave one to him. I am closely looking at the boy on what he will do with the plastic then I saw them putting in the spaghetti in it. I approached them and asked:

Me: “What are you not eating it?”

One of the boys answered: “We will just take this home and eat this with my mother.”

Me: “But what if you will not go home to Puerto Galera today?”

The other boy answered: “Then we will just eat this tonight” then smiled

I went back and get 2 biscuits from my bag and again gave it to the 2 boys. But they did the same thing! Put it in their bag and told me. “We will eat this with my mother”. Then played in the sand again.

Peping is smiling at me, so I told him. “Can I see your pearls?” He hurriedly get the bag from his back and showed it to me and told me. “Sir, hope you can buy a pearl from me so I can add it to our money for their school on Monday and have something when we go home”.

I checked the pearls and bought a small earring which costs P150 which I gave to my wife. I then handed him P350. I think he is having hard time counting but he told me. “Sir this is too much I think”. I answered. That’s P350, P150 as payment for the earrings and P200 for you and your kids. That is because I think you are a good father to your kids. He looked at me and said “Thank you so much Sir!”. I again asked him if he want to eat. He answered “No Sir, this is more than enough”.

So I told him “You can go ahead anytime you want and continue sell your pearls so you can go home and thanks for helping us!”

I haven’t got the chance to take a picture of him but here is a picture of his 2 kids playing at the sand:

Sometimes we are being materialistic just to be happy while others are happy just by providing something for their family. I hope that Peping got enough money that day to go home and eat the spaghetti with the whole family.