The “Funny Money” that Goes A Long, Long Way
By Apolinario Villalobos
The “funny money” comes from “Perla”, a kind-hearted Filipina benefactor based in America. She earns the money from her translation “sideline”, as she is on a regular call to interpret for Filipinos with cases being heard in court, and who have difficulty in speaking English. The “funny” is her lingual concoction for the job that she did not seek, but in a way, accidentally came her way. She has been consistently supporting my RAS (random acts of sharing) which started when she learned of my RAS from my blogs about such advocacy.
What is really funny is the reaction of friends who keep on asking where some of my fund comes from, as if suspecting me to push drugs just to earn extra. They just cannot believe that somebody would send money for total strangers who are in dire need for help. When I add that there was also a time when another friend in London sent money, and still another in America sent a “blessing” through her “balikbayan” sister, their eyes get bigger in disbelief. In exasperation, I just tell them that it is very difficult for somebody to understand the sharing that others are doing if he or she does not have the same advocacy in life….or if he or she does not extend a hand to others as a habit. As expected, these fence-sitting friends fail to get what I mean. The problem with some people is that, they are used to seeing “charitable acts” done only by people who wear t-shirts emblazoned with their mission.
Perla drives or commutes to courts or hospitals where her service as translator is needed. Her benevolence sometimes bothers me, as I would imagine that she could be left with a little amount or nothing for her own needs. Every time I remind her about that, she would send me a message with typed laughter with an assurance that what she sends me is “funny money” earned accidentally from the job that she has somehow learned to like.
The unselfish sharing of Perla always reminds me of the comment of my two “balikbayan” friends who tried to treat me to a lunch. On our way to the restaurant inside a mall, I saw an emaciated mother and her child who was holding on to a black garbage bag half-filled with empty plastic bottles. Both were staring at the customers eating fried chicken at a lunch counter near the aircon van terminal. When I told my friends to go ahead and that I would just follow in a few minutes, as I would like to buy packed lunch for the mother and her child, they told me not to bother, as “we can just pack our left- over for them after our lunch inside the mall”….they meant “doggie bag”. What they said made me adamant and which also made me decide not to join them anymore despite their pleading. When they left, I bought three packed lunch for the three of us – I, the mother and her child, and enjoyed it in the farthest corner of the terminal where we slumped on the floor. That lunch made my day….and, for which was spent part of Perla’s “funny money”.