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Bitty, Happy birthday!

Whenever Sheila, who is one of our scholars, and her sister, Christie see me, they remind me that the birthday of Bitty is June 4th.

I used to give 100 pesos for the children on their birthday. Their parents are too poor to buy a birthday cake and a gift for them. I felt sorry for them. When I started this custom, everything was cheaper. They could buy their favorite food, 'lechon manok (a whole roast chicken). But prices are getting higher now and they should buy what they need most.

The ones, who annoyed me, were shameless parents. They told me, 'it is my birthday today. Hehehehehe.' My reply was 'Oh! It is only for children. How old are you today?' This is one of the funniest memories.

I was not in Cebu anymore, so it is impossible for me to celebrate the children's birthdays. Chang and I decided to buy cakes for Bitty and the other children. We went to the 'Red Ribbon' and bought two cakes. How wonderful! Even though we paid only 295pesos each, it was bigger than I'd expected. When we arrived at Sto.Nino, all the children were gazing at the red boxes. But I couldn't find Bitty!! Oh dear.

Sheila and Christie told us, 'our mom is busy washing clothes now, so she stays at home on the mountain with little Bitty.' That was amazing. We decided to go to their house with them. I felt sorry for the children who could not have a birthday cakes. I can't take the blame, it's not my fault.

The family lives on the mountain in Barangay Talamban. It is on the outskirts of Cebu City. It is very far from Sto. Nino Church. Why do they live in such an isolated area? They used to be squatters near Sto. Nino Church. The government evicted them. They live in the mountains, but they have to go to Sto. Nino Church everyday. They can only sell candles and bottled water there. The transportation fee is very expensive. So some of them sleep on the road and go home once or twice a week.

We drove to the mountain. Many of my old friends live there. Bitty's family's home is high up on the mountain. It is a dangerous climb. They used to use a handmade ladder to go up to their home on the mountain. They would say to me, 'Romi. Don't come to our house. It's too dangerous for you to use the ladder. I wondered what they meant. Was I too heavy to use the handmade simple ladder? How rude!!! But now it is improved. There is a step. I guess if I visited them on a rainy day, they might say not to come to me. Anyway it was a very beautiful day. The house is so small and simple, but it is very clean and comfortable. There was a big statue of Sto. Nino on the center of the wall. We can see the statue in almost every house in Cebu.

We really enjoyed our small party. We sang a song for Bitty, took pictures and ate cakes. It is a pity that the cream was already melted. How time flies! It was getting dark and time to leave. Even if there were steps, I was afraid I might fall down the steps. I was very nervous and followed close behind Chang. When I arrived at the car, I was exhausted.



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