Miguel Angelo De Luna.
He placed his signature on top of his printed name on the form for the money transfer.
Within 24 hours his best friend, Marian, would be able to receive the money to pay for his father’s hospital bills and treatment.
Miguel’s father was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that required specialized treatment and was available only in one of the most expensive hospitals in his home country.
For every cycle of chemotherapy they spend around 300,000 pesos. This excluded other expenses for routine check-ups, other medicines, vitamins and supplements, which would amount close to 500,000 pesos. There were also bills for water, gas, and electricity, food and daily expenses.
Treatment was expensive but he promised he would do whatever it took to extend his father’s life.
Gilberto was his only parent, his hero. His father was 60 years old and a man of principle.
Miguel didn’t know much about his mother except for what he was told. How could he ask more questions when every time the past was mentioned, his father would have a sad look in his eyes?
There was no point in dwelling in the past when the present was more important.
He was always told that his mother loved him and would be proud of who he was today. But when Miguel heard of his old nosy neighbors talk about the woman who left the poor man and his son, he could not help but feel a twinge in his chest.
Miguel convinced himself that it was alright because he understood. But even that could not make the pain go away.
A family oriented and selfless person, Gilberto worked at odd jobs just to keep a roof on their head and food on the table.
Gilberto was rumored to have met his wife when he was working as a driver in the city. He was said to have fallen in love with her at first sight. He convinced her to stay with him and build a family at a quaint village.
The family of three settled at an old cottage.
But nobody thought that such a sad thing would happen.
She left Gilberto with a child.
It became a talk of the town. Gilberto was said to have gone home one night only to see the infant unattended. His wife’s things were gone and their savings were empty. He almost became crazy during the weeks as he looked for her. But he could only do so much with an infant to take care of.
He was so in love with her that he could not hold any anger towards her. He was just filled with questions.
Why did she leave?
It didn’t take long for him to know the reason.
Words eventually traveled. Rumor had it that she was in the next city with another man. The man looked like an estranjero they said. And that she was wearing nice clothes and expensive looking jewelry.
The neighbors would look at Gilberto with pity but he ignored it and focused on the babe instead. Sometimes the villagers would give them fruits and vegetables when their harvests were good. Others would offer to look after the baby when Gilberto went to work. He would always come home to his son no matter how late at night. He stopped taking jobs that were too far. It pulled his income down but so long as he would be able to feed his son and put a roof on their heads then everything would be fine.
When Miguel was five years old, they moved to another town after their village was wrecked by a tropical cyclone.
The town was an agricultural area so Miguel spent his weekends helping his father. His five-year-old self helped throw grains on the ground to feed the chickens. He would help command (ride) the water buffalo as his father guided the beast on the fields of the rancho.
When the harvest was abundant, the owner of the rancho would distribute one sack of rice to each worker on top of their salary.
Miguel became best friends with the rancho’s owner’s daughter after he saved her from bullies. From then on, the two were inseparable.
Miguel’s musings were interrupted when the car slowed down and alighted at the front of a public administration building.
He had a wedding ceremony to attend to.
Miguel contemplated about running away.
Standing at 5 feet 7 inches Miguel could easily get lost among the crowds. Most of the men in U country towered over him with heights of around 6 feet.
Miguel stared at his reflection on the rearview mirror. His black hair was combed neat. His eyes were the same hazel. His light brown skin that was tanned for years under the tropical sun reminded him of his home.
His full cheeks hid two dimples that appeared when he smiled. Sometimes they would shyly come out when he got embarrassed. His build was thin. He couldn’t get fat nor form big muscles even if he tried.
Years in the rancho didn’t even bless him with bulky muscles. But his bones were tough.
However tough he thought he was, it was useless. He knew that he was powerless in a nation to which he was not a citizen of. The people of U country were not as warm as his fellowmen. They led busy lives. Nobody would care to listen to an immigrant worker’s fears.
The door on his side was opened.
There was no chance to back out anymore.
After the ceremony, he would live as a rich man’s secret spouse.