EVEN AS a child, Renato Zosimo Evangelista knew he was different. For one, he dreaded Christmas. Unlike other children who would get excited at the first whiff of the “–ber” breeze, he would get anxious for the coming days ahead.
It gets colder in the mountains during those months. But it was not the cold that bothered him too much; Christmas was the time when his fellow Mangyan would come down from the mountains and ask for money from the lowlanders. As the youngest Mangyan studying in predominantly Tagalog Holy Infant Academy in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, he was often bullied by his classmates who would tell him: “Bakit ka nandito? Doon ka sa mga kasama mo. Di ka ba mamamasko? Nasaan ang bahag mo? (Why are you here? Go stick to your own kind. Aren’t you going to ask for Christmas charity? Where’s your g-string?)”
SHE SAID it was a crucial journey for her children’s future.
Weeks before classes opened last month, Myrna Verde packed few clothes, gathered her four school-age children, and boarded a bus for Manila, some 138 kms from their village in Zambales. It was their first time to travel that far from home, but Verde, 57, had a mission: to look for kind-hearted city people who would give her money or any kind of help so that her children — all blind since birth — could continue going to school.