Let’s call him Johnny.

Johnny grew up in a laid-back town down a countryside that teemed with fresh bounties from its seas and farms. He was born to a poor family that struggled to make ends meet with what meager profit they earned from a tiny eatery they owned at the marketplace.

Back in college, in the city, Johnny woke up at four in the mornings. He had to make it to a 5:00 AM part-time shift at a then-renowned company he worked for. He walked his way from his rented home to work since there weren’t several jeepneys or kartilyas (horse-drawn vehicles) by the time he left his place.

His office wasn’t one with computers or any cool electronic devices at the time. His station was the company’s entire perimeter. His work wasn’t much of thinking but rather of keeping the place neat and — fresh. His teammates were neither professionals nor fellow working students. Johnny worked with his brooms and dustpans in the morning, at noon, and afternoon. He was a janitor – a very good one at that.

After his early morning shift, Johnny would run back to his place for a quick wash, a nonsense breakfast (sometimes), and on to school. There was barely time for study. His college days weren’t about “being in college” but coping with life as much as he could. Weekends also meant going home to help out at the eatery back at the marketplace.

Life demanded too much from someone who barely had enough.

After morning class, Johnny would sprint back to janitorial work. He picked up his brooms, dustpans, and bins over and over again and cleaned up all there was to get rid of. The job was neither anything complex, nor was it something easy. Johnny would sweat all over and melt under the heat, with only a quick rest every now and then.

He would sit on his tiny low chair holding his broom, dustpan and bin beside him. Sitting there in a corner, watching company employees walk the grounds, coming in and going out. Johnny formed a habit of following them with a blank stare while smelling different scents of perfumes as they passed by him.

“Will I ever get to wear a good perfume?”, he pondered. He would give out a heavy sigh, looked up at the nothingness of the heavens, and would soon go back to sweeping away leaves and other pieces of matter that didn’t seem to matter anymore. Once done with noontime shift, Johnny ran back to school subjects again and then go back to his part-time station in the afternoon for the last shift.

Johnny graduated with a degree in commerce from a public university, however, ended up performing as vocalist in several bands singing at hotels and resorts. Since then and until now, he’s always been a music figure in his small town.

Now a retired musician, Johnny sings at the church on Saturdays and Sundays. He still wakes up at four in the morning every single day, this time to comply with his jogging routine. At home, he has a total of twelve brooms, some of which he promised to give to the janitor at the marketplace.

And as if he never had enough of the job before, Johnny still sweeps the grounds surrounding his home and his neighbors’…morning, noon, and afternoon. No longer for a meager weekly pay, but merely because he thinks there’s no better thing to do than…well, clean up!

Right now, one of Johnny’s kids is fondly thinking about him, so she wrote daddy’s story. In fact, it just ended.

Johnny’s daughter,







To Mama With Love

To Mama With Love

My first home. Cradled me safe in her womb. Whispered to me, “My child, be strong.” Now I’m bigger than you. But your heart, it’s bigger, stronger. Teach me. One day, I’m going to need mine to be as strong…in case God decides to build in me another home.

Happy mama’s day, Mama!

All my love,
Your child 🙂