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Monday, January 09, 2012

When I Grow Up, I Want to be a Supermodel

When we were children, friends of our folks or relatives would often ask us what we want to become when we grow up. It's also the most-awaited question in Little Miss Philippines, right?

I met this girl in Intramuros during a photoshoot trip -
she approached me, told me she wants to be a model and
asked me to take her picture. She's holding a tiara she
must have picked up somewhere.

I remember vividly how I've always replied that I want to be a doctor. That was before I got scared of blood, of ghost, and of anything gory. I still held on to that dream 'til the day I started applying for college admission when instead of taking preparatory medicine courses, I applied for Engineering. Quite far and totally unrelated to what I originally planned.

Actually, before wanting to be a doctor, I first aimed to have very long hair and marry Alfie Anido. He was the 'love of my life' then. I was five years old (oh yeah, five and so alembong, hahaha). Unfortunately, Alfie got involved with Dina Bonnevie and was murdered. That left me heartbroken at six years old.

My Darling Sister used to love playing with water that she once aspired to become a laundry woman when she grew up, while my Little Sister saw the 'benefits' of being a teacher on Christmas Day (no. of students = no.of gifts) that she announced one day that she wants to become a teacher.

When I recall these times with my sisters, I can't help but laugh. Such good memories are so sweet to relive especially now that we're all grown up and with our own families. It's also good to note that none of us turned out to be anything we planned to be when we were small but we are all happy with what we have become nevertheless.

I'd like to believe every child, rich or poor, has a dream or ambition in life. It can be a simple toy he never had or to finish high school for a street child. For me, a child's dream symbolizes how bright he foresees his future to be.

In my favorite orphanage, the children's way of welcoming visitors (new ones they never met) was to introduce themselves with their name, age and what they hope to be someday. It's an interesting exercise - to hear and learn that despite being abused and abandoned by their own parents, they still want to be 'somebody' in the future. In our visit last year, most of them want to be singers or dancers but in my recent encounter with them, most have changed their dreams into professions like being a teacher, a lawyer or even a nun. And that is perfectly fine, right? It means they continue to see better days ahead.

That is why I was moved into tears when I saw a documentary of a little boy from Payatas dump site who spends every single day digging through hills and mountains of garbage for food, junk or anything that can be sold. He was asked what he wants to be when he grows up, and his reply was, "Wala po" (Nothing). The reporter asked him again. "Wala? Wala ka bang pangarap?" (Nothing? Don't you have a dream or ambition?) and he confirmed his answer although he was almost in tears, "Wala po" (Nothing).

I thought (and hoped) it will be the last time I am going to watch a child who doesn't have a dream until I met Ivy, a very shy abandoned child, who answered "I have no dream, I don't want to be anyone" when I asked many times in different ways about who or what she wants to be when she grows up.

dearest Ivy, how can we put glow into those eyes?

Here's a child looking straight at me with no tinge of hope in her eyes. It was a low moment of my visit, and I almost cried. I couldn't imagine what's going on in her mind - to be an orphan and be hopeless and dreamless just like that. Isn't that the saddest thing? To be in a septic tank and just accept your fate that you'll be swimming there forever?

I don't know what I can do, perhaps in my small ways I can, to help these children have faith, and hope and dream again. I pray that an angel of any form (maybe a teacher, a social worker, a religious person) would meet them someday and change their life for the better.

So, what did you want to be when you were little?


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