THE LECHON KID – A Christmas Story of a Street Kid in Blumentritt * eastwind

A Christmas Story Inspired by a Street Kid in Blumentritt
eastwind journals
by Bernie V. Lopez,
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in the beginning was the Word
and the Word was with God
and the Word was God
the Light glowed in the darkness
and the darkness could not overcome the Light
He was in the world
that came to be through Him
but the world did not know Him
He came to what was His own
but His own did not accept Him
and the Word became flesh and lived among us
john 1:1-14 excerpts
Wherever you are, Richard, street kid of Blumentritt, God bless you.
The Blumentritt-La Loma area is the lechon (roast pig) capital of Metro-Manila. The 50-odd stalls in an eight-block area sell an average of 300 to 400 lechons or about 1.5 million pesos on a non-Christmas day. During Christmas, this doubles to up to about 3 million pesos a day. In this strange part of the city, poverty and affluence see each other eyeball to eyeball. 
One Christmas season, a spiritual event descends on Blumentritt. Five-year-old Richard (true name withheld) is the Lord’s courier to send His Christmas tidings to all, rich and poor, just like the kings and shepherds Bethlehem 2000-odd years ago. Richard has no family, no home. He lives alone underneath a small bridge.
When there is a storm, Richard quickly gathers his things into a plastic bag before the flood would come. He would run to the priest in a nearby church to take him in. After the storm, he is back to restore his cozy home. The priest offers a tiny space in a storage room, but he refuses. He treasures his privacy more. The police comes regularly to shoo him away, as living under a bridge is dangerous. But he is back after a few days with the priest. The police finally gets tired of shooing him away. 
The priest gives him a plate of hot steaming rice for breakfast daily. At break of day, Richard roams the lechon stalls, clutching his plastic plate of steaming rice. By that time, the pigs which are being roasted since 3 to 4 a.m. are hot and ready for the first buyers. At Mang Kiko’s stall, five lechons are standing diagonally on bamboo poles, leaning against the wall, deep red-brown, glistening like sports cars.
Richard places his plate of rice underneath the biggest and lets the oil from the lechon drip to his plate. Mang Kiko sees Richard and ignores him. After 15 minutes and 20 drips, he takes his plate, puts some patis (liquid fish salt) from the table, goes out, and starts to eat with bare dirty hands on the sidewalk, standing. When he finishes, he goes to Mang Kiko, wipes his hand clean, places it on his forehead, saying, “God bless you, Mang Kiko”. Mang Kiko would shoo him away. It is Richard’s way of thanking people. 
At mid-day, he has a plan on how to get lunch. He spots a new egg vendor. So he pretends to limp exaggeratedly towards the woman vendor and just stands there in front of her, hoping to get some sympathy. The woman vendor stares at him. He does not even put his palm out. He just stands there and smiles, irresistible to any decent soul, and he knows it. Finally, the woman gives her two salted eggs. He jumps with joy and hugs her, who quickly pries herself loose from his dirty grasp.
Richard – My name’s Richard. What’s yours?
Aling Fely – Fely. Okay, go, shoo.
Richard – God bless you, Aling Fely.
Aling Fely – I know you’re not lame. Stop pretending.
Richard – I know you know. I was trying to be funny.
Aling Fely – Get out of here.
He puts his hand on her forehead, giving her a God-bless-you, and she yanks it away. Next, he goes over to a sidewalk mini-eatery. A mother and son are just standing up after eating. Richard quickly grabs the left over rice from their two plates and puts it in a plastic bag from his pocket. Nobody notices. He goes over to the eatery owner and gives her a God-bless-you before she shoos him away. After roaming around for two hours, he is outside a dirty barbershop. It’s lunch time. He sits on a bench. He peels the two salted eggs, puts them in the plastic bag together with the rice, and pounds the bag against the wall – a feast with bare unwashed hands. 
After resting a bit, he goes over to the coconut juice vendor, and drinks left over juice from two plastic cups before they are thrown into the garbage. He puts the empty cups on like slippers, and hangs on the rear railing of a passenger jeepney, and, as it moves away, he slides on the pavement, using the cups as his ‘skis’ – ingenious but noisy. He ignores people shouting at him to get off. The burly coconut juice vendor picks him up with one hand. Before he leaves, he gives the coconut vendor his God-bless-you.
In the evening, Richard stalks another lechon stall, the biggest in the area, which displays as many as a dozen lechons at any given time. Hiding within the forest of lechons, he takes a pair of mini-scissors from his pocket and cuts off two 6-inch pig tails of lechon. Aling Donna, the owner, sees him at the corner of her eye but pretends she does not. Richard goes over to her and gives her a God-bless-you hug, for which he is rewarded a plate of rice. That is one sumptuous dinner, two 6-inch pig tails on rice. The next day, after his breakfast of lechon fat on rice, Mang Kiko confronts him. 
Mang Kiko – Hey Richard. Do you know I sold ten lechons yesterday? That’s a record. As soon as you left, a lady bought all five lechons. So, I ordered five more which were all sold before noon.
Richard – That’s because I told God to bless you. You give to me, He gives to you. Haha.
Mang Kiko -I give you twenty drips of lechon fat and He gives me P12,000 income in one day? That’s a bit lopsided.
Richard – You don’t know Him. He didn’t take up Accounting. He’s poor in Math. As long as you give, He gives back more than you give. You better believe it, (proudly) God gave to you because I asked him.
Mang Kiko – Maybe so. (Richard begins to leave.) Hey, hey, bless me first.
Richard puts a hand on Mang Kiko’s forehead and blesses him. Onlookers begin to laugh. Next day, Mang Kiko sells 14 lechons. Richard’s God-bless-you image yielding big income spreads like wildfire. He is giving God-bless-you’s to vendors left and right. The mini-eatery quadruples its income. The juice vendor sells a record 44 coconuts instead of the usual 15. Aling Fely quintuples her egg sales and is now diversifying into balut (fertilized duck’s egg). Aling Donna, the lechon tycoon, sells a staggering 46 in one day. Mysteriously, buyers are coming from nowhere. Richard is getting fat, eating all the lechon he can, no longer drips or tails, but the real McCoy. 
The Lord moves in strange ways to inspire, to sanctify, to bless. Especially during Christmas, you may bump into Him in the nooks and crevices of everyday life, among poor street kids and rich street vendors. He blesses the poor to sanctify the rich. Such was the role of Richard, the gentle-hearted, the God-bless-you kid, The Lechon Kid of Blumentritt. Bernie V. Lopez
An excerpt from the book Ten Wisdoms of the Lord’s Prayer. Email to order.

p57B – On the occasion of the feast of Christ the King last Sunday.

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