I met Delfin the Tycoon in an art shop in Ermita. He was known as the Golden Giant because he had made his pile from a gold mine in Palawan, where he triggered a gold rush. He later moved to a huge palace along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City. Wealth had changed Delfin, a former jeepney driver, and made him callous. He cheated even the poor as a vengeance against his bitterness against his former poverty.
He walked every day to his office across a pedestrian overpass. He was intrigued by an old man in his 70s on a broken wheelchair atop the overpass. He had an oversized half-torn umbrella tied to the wheel chair, and a large tin can where people could throw their coins. He was there from 7am to 7pm, rain or shine. It was his office. If the rain or the wind becomes too strong, the cellphone and vegetable vendors below brought him down.
He was snoring. Delfin woke him up and gave him a 20-peso bill. He looked at Delfin, annoyed for disturbing his sleep, took the money, threw it grudgingly into the can, and went back to sleep. When Delfin went home at 4 pm, he tried to lift the can, guessing there were about 3 kilos of coins.
The old man haunted Delfin, his ingenuity in begging. He just slept the whole day, cooled by the large umbrella, and went home with 3 kilos of coins – no muss, no fuss. Delfin admired the guy. The old man melted his hardened heart. Every day, he threw a 100-peso bill into the can without waking him up.
One day, he saw the old man pushed on the wheelchair by a teenage boy. The old man waited while the boy folded the wheelchair and carried it to the top of the overpass. On his second trip, he brought up the large umbrella, and assisted the old man to the top.
DELFIN. Hi. You’re his son? (Pointing at the old man).
RENATO. Yes sir. I am Renato, sir. My dad gets depressed doing nothing at home. Here he is happy. We live together over there. (He points to a ghetto area nearby.)
DELFIN. He’s happy because he earns a little money, right?
RENATO. He doesn’t care about the money. He gives it to me every day and I add to our food expenses. He is happy because he is of some use and help to me, and he is no longer bored.
DELFIN. What do you do for a living?
RENATO. I collect plastic bottles from the garbage bins, mostly from the five-star restaurants over there. (Pointing to where Delfin normally took dinner.)
DELFIN. Is that enough to live on? Here, take this. (He hands a 500-peso bill.)
RENATO. Oh no. Dad told me never to accept big money, just coins. See you around. Bye.
The boy was gone in an instant. Delfin could not get over it – a beggar who refused big money. One day, the old man suddenly disappeared. Delfin waited a week, nothing. After 3 weeks, he was worried sick.
He went to the ghetto area to find him, asking around. Finally, he found their empty home after walking a muddy maze of crowded shanties. Delfin had never been inside a ghetto before. It was hardly a home. A flight up a steep staircase so narrow, he had to go up sideways. Their room was dark, 3 by 2 meters, enough for a plyboard for a bed father and son shared, plus walking space of half meter. No pillows, no blankets, no cushion, no windows, no door, no bulb, only a candle. Dirty clothes hang on nails all around. The stench was terrible. Delfin was shocked upon seeing true poverty first hand.
Delfin went into a protracted depression. Then one day, his heart jumped. There he was again under his umbrella. In his excitement, he almost stumbled. He woke up the old man.
OLD MAN. (Putting his hand on his ear.) What?
DELFIN. (Screaming at his ear.) Hello.
OLD MAN. (Smiling and staring.) Ah, you’re the one who gives 100 pesos every day. No need, please stop.
Delfin noticed that his feet were swollen. He saw the left hand limp on his lap. A stroke, definitely, he concluded.
DELFIN. (Screaming.) I want to bring you to the hospital.
The old man just smiled and brushed him away. Delfin was helpless. He was in tears. After another month, the old man was gone for good. There was a change in Delfin. He was now kind and gentle. He bought fruits from sidewalk vendors, although he hated fruits. He stopped cheating poor people and started giving to them instead. Once, it was his turn to be cheated of millions in a big business deal. He just laughed it off, thinking of the old beggar. The Lord gives the rich the poor to sanctify them. How true it was for Delfin.
AUTHOR’S BOOK – Wings and Wanderlust – Discovering Your Inner Self. At age 26, the author hitchhiked 25,000 kilometers in Europe and North Africa for three straight years. In this book of his wild adventures, he learned deep insights that changed him totally, which he wants to share with readers. It also a guidebook on how to plan your own adventure.
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