At 2:30 pm yesterday, in the middle of a torrential downpour and flooding in Caloocan City, Philippines, something really cool happened. A young man, just turning 25, waited outside a police station.
His name’s Alwyn Cortez, and he wasn’t in trouble. He was waiting for some street kids he’d talked to earlier.
Today’s Alwyn’s birthday, and a few months ago he confided in me that he didn’t want presents this year. He wanted to share his birthday with street kids, and let them experience a stress-free day of fun and games, a good meal that filled them up to beyond full, and some of the luxuries that you and I take for granted.
So amidst the pouring rain yesterday, he stood outside waiting for the street kids in his neighborhood to arrive. He’d invited twenty. He’d bought t-shirts, flip-flops, towels, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and more for them, and they’d be spending a couple hours in the party room at Jollibee.
He didn’t do this for accolades amongst his peers; in fact, he didn’t tell his closest friends he was doing it. He didn’t even know I was going to write this (I have, however, gotten permission from him now). He performed a seriously noble act for seriously noble reasons, and I’m insanely proud of him.
Alwyn is our Coordinator at Ferdinand, soon to be head of our street child outreach program, Kalye Ferdinand, and I first met him 16 months ago, when I was planning a documentary on the troubles and trials people living in poverty go through to support their families. He was one of our subjects, but he also became one of the closest friends I’ve ever had, and someone I trust more than just about anyone. His mom had recently gotten cancer and he had to drop out of college to support her. She died shortly after, and Alwyn was left as the sole provider for his family. To say things were rough for him during this period is a massive understatement.
The party went off without a hitch. One by one, the kids started showing up, and Alwyn gave them their bags of goodies. Then they walked the short distance to Jollibee, where employees seemed amazed that all this was happening, without a camera crew in sight. The Jollibee mascot showed up, and the kids played games with the employees.
Everyone had a blast. And for once, for those street kids, everything was right with the world.