The Mango Mafia
Peacefully you sip your overpriced but yummy coffee in a quiet little corner, minding your business, absorbed in a book, or juicy gossip with a friend. She sneaks up to you, little woman that she is, lugging her huge backpack, and slips you a little tiny gift card.
You open the card with a cute bunny design and read in straight block letters:
I AM A SELF-SUPPORTING COLLEGE STUDENT IN NEED OF A LITTLE HELP TO FINANCE MY STUDIES. I AM FINDING IT DIFFICULT TO MAKE ENDS MEET HERE IN MANILA AND MY FAMILY BACK HOME CANNOT PROVIDE FOR ALL MY EXPENSES. SO TO MAKE A LITTLE BIT OF MONEY, I AM SELLING MANGO PRESERVES, 3 FOR P100 AND 1 FOR P50. YOUR KINDESS IS MUCH APPRECIATED, THANK YOU.
Upon closing the little bunny card your heart is touched. What an ingenious way of earning a little bit of extra cash to go to college. What an industrious young woman, persevering despite the odds. She must really want to finish school and help her starving family in the province. So you shell out a little bit of money and buy her 7D Dried Mango Chips. And you figure out she must be from Cebu, because thats a staple brand from that city. You don't mind that she's selling it for twice its actual price, because what the heck, its for a good cause.
Smug in your good-hearted generosity, you hand her your money and congratulate the hard-working young woman for her efforts. You ask her what her course is and she quickly replies, "Theology at Trinity College." Wow, and its all for the greater glory of God Almighty. You feel a bit guilty because by accident of birth, you don't need to do what she does in order to go to school. With a nod of thanks and a hesistant, shy smile, she goes on to the next table. On to the next set of unsuspecting victims.
You see, this happened to me thrice in a span of a week. Twice in an uppity cafe and once in a gas station. Little innocuous women, young and fresh-looking, wide-eyed innocent. Just trying to make ends meet. Strange that its the same little card, same block letters, same 7D dried mangoes, same bunny design, same sob story. And to think, I felt so good doing a little bit of charity.