Tag Archives: Beggars in the Philippines

Of Beggars, Panhandlers and Con Artists in the Philippines

It’s around 12:10 pm at my work in Quezon City, Philippines.  Almost everyone was out getting their lunch.  I myself was about to dig into my lunch when a woman came into my office.   The moment I saw her, I knew exactly what she wanted from me.

She walked with a limp.  The fingers on her right hand were all curled up and twisted into each other.  Her shoulders and face were crooked, like she had a stroke or palsy.  She approached me, and in a slurred speech, she asked if I can spare some change.

If I had a customer, I would have given this beggar either a one or five peso coin just so she won’t bother us.  But this time, it was just me.  So, I gave her my usual monologue: “Sorry.  The owner is not here.  I’m just the secretary.  I barely earn enough and I have two kids in school.”  It’s actually believable, because I don’t wear jewelry (except for tiny fake studs to keep my ear piercing from closing up). And though I’m the owner of the company, I often wear the company uniform – a cotton collared shirt with a small logo at front left.  She left.

I had a feeling that she was not what she appeared to be.  Her clothes were somewhat dirty, but they were well-pressed.  My instincts were correct.  A few minutes later, I caught a glimpse of her at the corner gas station.  She was walking straight and tall!  No trace of the disability she had a few minutes ago. It was like a scene out of the comedy movie “Trading Places”, where Eddie Murphy’s character,  a blind and crippled beggar / con artist, regained his sight and was able to walk when he was about to be busted by cops for panhandling.  “It’s a miracle!”

This was not the first time I’ve seen a “miracle”.  There were four before this one.  It was annoying to have been almost a victim of a con artist, but I have to admit it made my day.  Sometimes, the best thing to do is to sit back, put humor into things, think of Eddie Murphy on “Trading Places”, laugh at life.  I might never again experience this anywhere else.

P.S. Just as I was about to publish this post, another person approached my desk.  He had a rosary around his neck.  He claimed he was a faith healer, and he could help cure my dry skin.  I said to him, “No, thank you.  I don’t need it.”  To which he replied, “Why? Don’t you believe in me?”  Gotta love the Philippines.