Friday, May 19, 2017

Tales from My Travels: Boatman

During my solo trip in Pangasinan, I went on a tour of the Hundred Islands National Park. For a solo traveler like me, tours like that were costly. They usually charge per boat and the more people there are in a group, the less you pay. I tried haggling but the fees where standard. At first, the tourism center offered that I could join a group if I wanted to spend less on the boat tour. I considered it at first but when I saw that the group was composed of mostly senior citizens, I had second thoughts. Not that I had something against old people, but I felt like they weren't the type who'd go on side activities. When the boatman in-charge of this group informed me that they only wanted to tour the islands, then I declined. I had a few activities in mind like cliff-jumping, snorkeling, and riding the zip line. So I ended up renting a boat on my own.

It was where I met kuya Ray. He was a middle-aged man who worked as a boatman or operator of one of those wooden bangkas that they use to tour travelers in the islands. He didn't speak much unless I would ask him questions. Being the chatty and talkative person that I am, I still did my best to chat him up. Eventually, he told me his story. I learned that operating the boat is his only means of earning and making a living for his family. It was his way of life. He didn't even own the boat. So whatever money that he'd make out of a boat tour, he still had to split it with the boat owner. He said that it wasn't much but he still manages. He has two daughters who are still in school. He said that life was difficult but he's getting by and that he is happy with what he does, being able to meet different people through the boat tours. 

There are people in this world who are making an honest living with whatever resources, skills, and talents that they have. There are still people in this world who would rather work hard than resort to stealing and other ways of making easy money. There are people in this world who are simply happy and content selling their craft, which probably took a lot of time and effort to make with the little profit that it gives. 

And this is why I no longer haggle. It is a way of helping them out. These are the people who choose to look at what they have, count them as blessings and be happy with it, rather than look at what they don't have and feel discontent. These are the people who know the value of hard work and diligence. These are the people who give you your money's worth, not because of what they sell, but because of the good vibes and optimism that they bring. 

Which is why when a kid on the streets tries to sell you something which you are interested in buying, do not haggle. Your money could buy him his first meal of the day or could be his baon for the next day. Do not haggle, because you'll never know. If you can give them a small tip, then better. :)

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