by joanabagano

Yesterday, I met Manong Edwin.

We talked for almost two hours and when I got out the door, I suddenly felt the urge to cry.

I was tearing up. I didn’t want him to see me through the glass walls so I bowed my head and walked fast. It was already dark and I didn’t want to go home yet. I just wanted to sit outside and stay still. My friend texted me that the moon was beautiful so I looked up and said, “God, show me the moon. I want to see the moon. Life is beautiful. It really is.”

Manong Edwin is the Captain Waiter of Via Mare Cafe in UP Diliman. We were doing a human interest story for Journalism class and I figured I could use some irony. I wanted to write about the life of a waiter working in a high-end restaurant or cafe. I wanted to juxtapose his home life with his work life and focus on the food that he is serving and the food that his family is eating. Apparently, Manong Edwin told me so much more.

I am not in the position to tell his story here unless he allows me to. I would just like to share a few things: first, that Manong Edwin and his family never had a meal in Via Mare. It’s not practical, he said, since his allowance would be used up had they dined there; second, that Manong Edwin wants to put up his own cafe, just a small one, and that he’d still be a waiter there (cause he loves what he’s doing); and third, that we diners need to be more patient with them and realize that they’re not just bell boys or machines — they’re people too.

Manong Edwin willingly shared his story with me and I am very much thankful to him for that. Through him, God confirmed what I was meant to do. I had been waiting for it. After a dozen of interviews with people and this one being the latest, I realized that God put me in this world to hear people’s stories and relay them. That I was not made to write about my own selfish emotions. That my writing was not made as a cathartic vessel for my heart but as a medium for unheard voices and unexplained sentiments which are in people less capable of communicating them.

The next thing I knew, I was praying for him amid the rush of people coming in for dinner. He listened to the prayer quite intently, smiling and looking hopeful.

I earned a new friend. Learning that you have someone new added to the list of people you will remember everyday is one of the many priceless kinds of happiness there is.

Manong Edwin told me that someday, he’d be able to eat with his family in a good restaurant like Via Mare. I told him it would soon happen. Until then, he’d be waiting.

I would like to do something for Manong Edwin on his birthday — October 7. He will be turning forty then. If you would like to help out, contact me at joanabagano@gmail.com.