If there’s any feeling that has been crushing me lately, it’s being surrounded by poverty.

After writing a guilty entry over at Filipino Voices, I decided to go home immediately before I start having pangs of conscience again.  I think I’m growing morbidly obese over feelings of guilt lately, to the point that some of my friends think that I am developing an unhealthy propensity towards sociological emo.

As I alighted from the bus home, I decided to have some calamares for dinner.  As luck would have it, here comes a kid tugging at my pants.  “Kuya, pahingi,” he said.  While children can deceive you out of Christmas aguinaldo, they can’t dupe you out of food.  Soft-hearted loser that I am who would not at once doubt the innocence of a child asking for food, I decided to buy him three pieces, which he then proceeded to share with two of his friends.

I couldn’t take it anymore.  I walked fast to some corner of Citimall, lit a cigarette, and allowed the tears to fall.  Not being a good crier, I stopped crying after I was done with half.

I’ve always confessed to my mom that my real problem here is being surrounded and exposed to poverty like I’ve never seen before.  You think poverty is just an invention of cinema or of documentary journalists, until you see people actually scrounging trash cans near fast-food chains not for recyclables, but for food.  You actually see people cooking leftovers bound for the trash in tin cans bound for the dump.  What makes it extremely heartbreaking is that as you look around, you see wealth.  You are privy to affluence so much so that you live it.  You see, for the first time in your life, gaps between the rich, the poor, the really really rich, and the really really poor.

You realize you’re sick of it and want to change things, then you realize that there’s really only so much you can do.

So you do what you can, then you realize that you really aren’t doing enough.

Empathy’s a bastard.