Loving And Adopting A Native Boy Just Before COVID-19 Spread

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Before this COVID-19 thing started, I welcomed to my home a child from the Philippines with Manobo blood. Manobo, in that country, is a cultural minority living in the coastal areas of Mindanao, the Philippines. It is said that they have a Malay descent, but for me, I do not look at a person’s skin or face. I look inside the heart, and that’s why I adopted this child. Moreover, I have Manobo blood too, but since my grandfather is Spanish, the distinct looks of a Manobo did not register on me. Actually, I look more European than Filipina, and it has brought me to places with career and other opportunities.

Dingdong is seven years old and very smart. His father was a farmer, and his mother was a seamstress. The boy has eleven other siblings; eight of them are girls, and the remaining were boys. They all go to public school, and their parents are striving every day. They world twelve hours daily to earn a measly $10 or five hundred Philippine pesos. They will have to buy food with that for all of them, and the couple was determined.

They didn’t ask for help, become beggars, nor did they do criminal acts just to get by. These are honest and hardworking native Filipinos who were born in poverty and raised without proper education. It’s just a great thing that they understand how education plays a big role in a person’s life and that all of their 12 children are in school.

It is just so sad now that they all had to stop because of COVID-19. In their province, there is no internet, and only the rich have techie gadgets. Online education is not a possibility there.

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I was on vacation last 2019 in the Philippines, and I went to my native land, Jose Abad Santos. My dad lives there and tills our land for a living. He always wanted to go back to his roots, live in a nipa hut by the seaside. After he retired from work five years ago, he finally got his wish. Now, he is a certified farmer and eating the fruit of his crops. Dingdong was one of his scholars, among four others whom he helps out with school expenses, which is not much at all.

These kids were not expected to work around the house, but by 6 am, they are already in my dad’s backyard, cleaning. Some of the bigger kids are cooking their breakfast, while the others wash clothes and other chores. Dingdong caught my eye because he prepares my dad’s morning hot chocolate and pandesal, as he entertains him. (Pandesal is a popular bread roll in the Philippines.) I saw that the young child was witty and inquisitive too.

I took an interest in the boy and made him my personal “buddy” while I was there. Every day, my dad gives him his allowance, and what does he do with it? He buys it with half a kilo of rice and gives it to his mother. Sometimes, my dad would provide him with rice instead of money just by staying at the house. He would wipe my dad’s slippers, feed the chickens, gets mangoes and guavas, cleans the dog cage, and so much more. It seems that the child doesn’t get tired and he looked happy, but I know that it is not enough. He is a child, and chores at my home do not play. While he does it to fill his day, the motherly instinct in me says that he must not endure that kind of life. I did not waste time, and two months before I went back to the US, I spoke to his parents.

To make it short, I asked them to give the custody of Dingdong to me. I said that I would treat him as my child, love him, and cherish him as my own. I also said that he would get the best education there is because I can afford it for him, but his mother interrupted me. She said that from one mother to another, hearing that I would love his son like my own, it was enough to make her agree that Dingdong would have a better life with me. We processed the papers with the lawyers fast, his passport and visa as well. Before lockdown commenced, Dingdong, my little Manobo boy, has been with me here in Bel Air, Maryland.

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Mothering is hard. Telling Dingdong that he is not laborer, but my son is even harder. I think that this boy is OC, as he would wipe everything in my apartment. Dust and all. Gone. Poof! I taught his house to use the machines, and in a day, he was like cleaning everything. He is such a darling.

I also had to enroll him in online schooling, and so he learned how to use the tablet and laptop. He is such a fast learner. It doesn’t mean that natives come from impoverished places with a lack of education, that they cannot be taught. Maybe it depends upon the person and his brains’ capacity. It just so happens that Dingdong is smart. I may have to consult a child developmental pediatrician about him. He may be a genius in the making!

Life is good even with COVID-19. I have Dingdong and my dad. I also left a nice tablet and limitless internet connection for Dingdong’s family to use so that they can communicate anytime they want. You know, if you treat a person well, native or not, they will be decent to you. I hope that people in this world will stop discriminating against natives.

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