Kawatan (Thief)

23 Nov

It’s Sunday already. Tomorrow is the start of a new schoolweek. As I was making my weekly commune, I listened to the songs played on the two jeepneys I took from our house in Bukidnon to Cagayan de Oro. The first one played all those upbeat pop songs that were popular in my childhood during the 90’s:

Aqua’s Dr. Jones:

Dr. Jones, Dr. Jones, calling Dr. Jones

Dr. Jones, Dr. Jones, wake up now!

Wake up now!

Aieaieou aieyaya…


Shalalalala, shalala in the morning


Shalalalala (clap, clap, clap)

Shalala in the sunshine…

and others. I had a bit of nostalgia and silly songs in my head for a hour and a half. On the second jeepney, one of the songs they played was about the perception of Filipinos as thieves, or kawatan. Admittedly, that is true for some of my countrymen. Take note: some, not all. A lot of Filipinos pay for their own bread with legitimate jobs.

The song is in Filipino and a line goes like this:

Ang magnanakaw ay mapagsamantala…

(A thief takes advantage of people…)

Last November 19, 2008, some people broke into our minimart in Damilag. They took about 7,000 pesos worth of canned goods, pilit rice (a variety of rice that becomes sticky when cooked), cigarettes, shoes, powdered milk, sugar, etc. My mother thinks that they were hungry that is why most of what they took were food. My sister explained that they just tried to fulfill the most basic needs of a human being as outlined by Abraham Maslow. According to her, they also tried to fulfill their need for security as stealing from my mother, who is sometimes too kind, would be the safest way.

I’ll stick with the line from the song.

I agree that they must have been hungry. Everyone has to eat. But, they stole from my mother, and practically from my father, and our employees who work hard at our storeseven days a week to earn a living and feed ourselves and their children. Why can’t they do the same thing? No matter how corrupt the Philippine government is and you can’t always rely on them, you can always rely on yourself. My mother, and I, suspect that the thieves were our own neighbors that we know are lazy bums who do not make an effort to improve themselves. My dad was not born with a silver spoon but he worked himself through college and made something of himself. He has come a long way from his humble roots. Others can do the same and not have to take advantage of what somebody else has worked for.

By the way, it’s no longer safe to steal from our store. My mom has set up security measures that will inflict pain on those who try to steal from us. As for those thieves from November 19, they tried to get inside again but were unsuccessful. My mom is too kind for not starting an investigation on the suspects, but she is no doormat and our business is not a charity organization.

A Filipino saying:

Nasa Diyos ang awa,

nasa tao ang gawa.

(Mercy comes from God, action comes from people.)


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