All of life’s biggest gains and losses always start with something small, Baguinda thought. A few months ago, Aling Pawan had loaned him another kilo of rice. He was relieved; Salek and Ricky can eat for another two weeks. Before they consumed the rice, however, Salek had complained of stomachaches. The local manggagamot or healer initially tried to ward of evil dwendes or dwarves that were usually blamed for causing pain to humans. Salek’s stomach, however, kept on hurting. The manggagamot concluded she simply was not eating enough. Baguinda’s left hand held Salek’s right hand as they walked back to their hut, their simple but trustworthy kubo. Baguinda balled his right hand, opened it, and felt its callouses as they walked. He has never longed for more callouses as he did on that walk. More callouses meant fields were tilled and sacks of rice were harvested. More callouses meant more food.
Baguinda stares at the grains that fell on the dirt from the sack of rice upturned by people fighting. How small, how meager these grains seem. He wanted but a few of them. He wanted just enough to fill a cup or more to mix with some fresh river water and boil so that the children he is raising would complain less of stomachaches. That was why he joined the protests.
Instead, he now feels an extreme pain in his stomach from something a bit bigger than a grain of rice. How small, how meager these bullets seem. He never wanted any of them. He wanted just enough rice to fill a cup not bullets to graze his stomach and spill his blood, which is now flowing into the nearby fresh river water. His children cry from afar, complaining less of stomachaches and more of heartache from seeing their Tatay blankly staring into an empty sack of rice.