During my stay in Manila in October 2016, a friend of mine told me about a local man named Edwin, who lives in Manila and conducts special tours named "True Manila". In this tour you have a chance to really get to know the city and to help and volunteer with the locals who need the help. The guy thought that I would like this kind of active tour. Immediately I sent Edwin a massage saying that I would like to join a tour. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I trusted my friend who knew me and knew this would interest me. Edwin straight away cleared off 2 hours in the morning. He asked each one of us to give a donation to buy the kids some food during the tour. I was so happy to have the chance to help and do something meaningful with my money. I spent a month and a half in this amazing country, with the most king, gentle and courteous people that I have ever met. And for the last two days of my vacation I was glad I had an opportunity to reward and help a few children who need this more than I did. I invited a girl from Hawaii that I met at the hostel to join me, and right away she immediately accepted and was also glad for the opportunity. When we arrived at the meeting point, I felt a bit uncomfortable, as if I was not supposed to be here. It was a poor neighborhood, crowded and dirty, with wire fences separating the roads. But soon enough, as we walked down the street with Edwin, I realized how much soul these streets have. I didn’t feel threatened at all. Although all the difficult situations that these people faced with, things that we never realize, they have so much happiness within them, they smile, hug, love, laugh and play.
First, Edwin invited us to his house. He thinks that in order to help this community, we need first to see how and where they live. As we entered the house, there were many children greeting us. They all looked about the same age, which was surprising. We climbed up a wooden crowded staircase. In each of the 4 floors we climbed, one of his sisters lived with her family in one crowded room. After a short acquaintance we went to the street, immediately some children jumped on us and were happy to see us. We gave them some candies that we brought beforehand and also we bought some candies from other children who sold them on the street. 30-50 children gathered around us, they sat so patiently while waiting for us to serve them food and drinks. This situation is opposite of what you expect from street child, who have nothing to eat.
He opened his computer and started telling us stories. He started with the same story I started here. He told the story so emotionally that I felt I could touch his soul in his eyes. I felt that he had some personal connection to it and that there was something else in his story. When he finish I realized something, I looked deep into his eyes and asked him: was that boy was you? He answered: yes!
It was an emotional moment that I will never forget, I felt like I had known him for many years. I didn’t believe, I couldn't understand this. It was unbelievable, from a street child, to a family man with a house and a job. I could never really understand what he went through in life because I never lived on the street, especially as a small child without a family to take care of you. I looked at him and the three of us started to cry and hug. It was a very emotional scene. After that he showed us some photos of the American couple 30 years ago, and also a photo of him that they took. It was amazing, it turns out that the couple came to Manila in order to volunteer to build houses for those in dire need. That’s the reason why they were so sensitive, helpful and caring to little Edwin. A year ago he was able to raise some money and he flew to visit them.
He showed us a video how he surprised them at their home, it is evident how difficult it was for him, and how strong the connection is between the couple and him. It was an amazing video, really emotional, Edwin shed a tear when he remembered this moment.