image source: lefteyeimages.photoshelter.com

I met Olay summer 2003 when my family and I visited my mom’s home town, Surigao. He was this jolly playful boy who always wear a smile on his face and a look of wonder always present in his eyes.

He looked like a 9-year-old boy judging from his height, but according to him, he’s 14. We couldn’t believe him at that time because he doesn’t even know when his birthday is. I can’t believe that there is someone in the world who doesn’t know his birthday. Still, I think, someone out there could be worse off.

For our brief stay in the province, Olay had shared with us stories, laughter and a lot of other things like teaching us how to speak “bisaya”- the dialect they use in that area of Surigao. Olay also often brought us “sandiya”(watermelon) and would sometimes climb coconut trees just to bring us “butong”(coconut) all for free. It was a time of full of joy, laughter and discoveries I actually wished it all wouldn’t end.

It was about a couple of weeks before we were about to go back to Manila when we checked Olay’s record from my aunt who was working for the baranggay hall. We found out that Olay was born on August 29 and was 14 years old indeed just as he claimed. The date was just a few days earlier than the date we were about to go back home. We managed to greet Olay Happy Birthday. When we left, Olay was crying and even asked us if he can just come with us. If only we could do that, we would have done so. Sadly, we couldn’t during those times.

My brother and I left a letter for Olay which he promised to keep. In the letter, I advised him to finish his studies so that he can have a good future and not to get married too early because that seems to be the trend among the people in the province. We also left him our number which he used to call us a couple of times years afterwards using someone else’s phone.

After 9 years since Olay and I met, I went back to Surigao to visit my relatives hoping to see Olay. According to a relative who happened to be Olay’s neighbor, Olay went with his relative to Manila to work, hoping to get a college education. According to that relative, among Olay’s many siblings, he was the only one who managed to finish highschool. Olay took my advise. That made me feel so happy.

I don’t know where Olay is now. But in the bottom of my heart, I’m wishing him well. And I hope wherever he is, he is just out there, conquering the world and reaching his dreams.