This is a story of a lovely Filipina from the Philippine countryside who has to go to school in Metro Manila. Unable to make both ends meet, she has no better option but to try the red light district. It helped her dream to go overseas for greener pasture within reach.

In no time, her U.S. tourist visa was approved and before she knew it, she had a job with a decent pay as a nursing aide and eventually earned immigrant status. Earning enough money abroad doesn’t mean helping her family back in the Philippines of their financial needs is a sure thing. Modern lifestyle abroad made her spending lavishly that seems like a necessity, worse than her life in Metro-Manila. She even had a second job.

One day, she decided for a long visit to the Philippines with enough money on hand to try everything that she had never experienced earlier in her life. Unfortunately, she met a Manila hustler looking for a victim exactly just like her and she fell prey. Turning nights into days, she became an instant common figure of the malls, discos, bars and eventually became a nightmare of every parent, an addict to drugs.

Bad fortunes started trailing her and got closer to her side when calamities struck her hometown and devastated all of their properties. On top of that, her parents became sick and brothers became alcoholics to her disbelief. The parents’ only wish to her is to pull herself up with wisdom and praise God despite all of their setbacks.

She needs more money now more than ever, the same thing that her boyfriend was also longing from her. Her guardian angel, as patient as ever, hinted her that God is always there to turn to. She passed by so many Churches, typical in many places in Manila yet she wouldn’t go in. She paused many times and thought, “I tried it before but it didn’t help much.” But who else should she turn to, her idiot boyfriends? She hit the crossroad and felt very confused and vulnerable. Would she go in or go the other way?

At some other point, she met a rich flamboyant Makati playboy. She opted for the easier way – with him and forgot all about the wisdom that her parents taught her. With her more sophisticated profile as a ‘balikbayan,’ or stateside, she blended very well in the jet set communities of Makati and Ortigas and she was enjoying the night life more than ever with a dream come true. The Makati playboy turned out to be the same as the hustler she first met but in better attire. She added another page to her life but with the same title. Her misery outweighs all the good times.

Feeling so humiliated and besieged, she left to say goodbye not just to him, not just to her circle of friends, but to the whole world. She passed by Baclaran Church and saw thousands of women walking with their knees to the tabernacle. With one last tear from her eyes and whatever energy still remained in her, she decided to try literally, the last thing in her priority list and there she went, towards the door of the miraculous Redemptorist Church of Baclaran. She can barely hear over the thousands of women in their tears asking for the intercession of the Blessed Mother to pray for their needs. She then followed the crowd, knelt, and started to move towards the image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. She felt better about it and at the same time felt an urge in her to talk to Jesus Christ for forgiveness.

She rode a taxi to Quiapo Church and again saw thousands of Filipino faithful on their knees. But this time, she knelt, did it without hesitation and never felt as sorry for her sins, truly as ever in her whole life. Then she asked Jesus on the Crucifix if He can still forgive her. To her astonishment, she saw Jesus with a smile on His face so compelling, she felt like floating in the air. She took that positively and left the Church. On her way home, she passed by Manila Bay that happened to be on a sunset. She never appreciated that beauty so much in her whole life until that day, and she started praying to the Lord for guidance in her new beginning, for strength to regain the wisdom that her parents taught her.

Temptations and booby traps abound our society but it’s our duty to protect the gift that God gave us. Life is not just full of miseries. It’s filled with two opposing forces, good or bad and punishment or reward. It’s up to us to know the difference and pick the right one, the path to wisdom that precedes a strong faith on God. St. Augustine reminds us that, “We must pray as if everything depends on God and work as if everything depends on us.”


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