We ate at SOMS Poblacion because my sister craved Thai food. After that, we were on our way to Glorietta for some shopping. I was in her car, having a crisis about buying an iPhone 12 Pro or an iPhone XS Max with my first paycheck. As an aspiring influencer, investing in a good camera phone is a great decision. I had previously published an article about the best phone for influencers, so it got me thinking.
Stuck on daydreams of being an IG influencer, I looked out the window and saw him.
A kid, most likely around 10 to 12 years old, playing with a stick and stone. Like a make-believe knight, he used the stick like a sword. He swung at a bunch of overgrown plants along the rusty cracks of the Makati Avenue bar walls.
His clothes were rugged with grime and dirt. He had no face mask or face shield on. After playing with the stick/sword for a while, he proceeded to pick up a white tube-like thing.
He bent it like how we would turn those Rubix-cube toys that can form animals. It was at this moment when I felt my eyes swell up with tears.
I was deeply ashamed of myself. Here I am, having a first-world problem about buying an expensive phone, something the kid can only dream of.
I cried. I cried not because I felt pity but because I felt disgusted with myself as an “influencer.”
I realized that I need to work harder than ever at my job and at my studies. I call myself an “influencer,” but being an influencer should mean so much more than just a curated feed and sponsored brands.
I need to work harder as a student, as a worker, and as an influencer. Not because I don’t want to end up like him. Not because I feel “lucky” or “privileged.” Not because “I’m blessed.” By the way, that kind of thinking is just WRONG. That just makes you a jerk with a capital J.
Chiefly, I need to make a better world for him. For all the people like him and all the children robbed of their childhood and happy years. For the people who wake up every morning thinking, “How am I going to eat today?”
“Why should we be the ones to work? They’re just lazy.” Umm, hello? Not everyone is given the same opportunities. Where can they get the skills, education, and experience to be hired?
Especially during this pandemic, companies are pickier with their limited salaries! Where can these people get clean clothes for a decent interview? What jobs can they get? Assignments that gave below minimum wage, wages that aren’t enough to live on?
The light turns green. The car speeds away until the image of the kid in the rearview mirror becomes smaller. But he continued to haunt me.
He’s not the first street child I saw in my life, and I know that I have yet to know more stories like his.
What can I do? I’m not rich either. But whatever voice I have and whatever skill I have, I’ll use it to remind people of the social issues we need to solve. My voice should push people to action because that’s what it means to be an authentic influencer.
We need to inspire actions that will make an impact. Vote for the right leaders. Engage in community service. Conduct donation drives and community pantries. Volunteer for non-profit organizations. Use social media influence to reach the people who matter and people who can do something to help.
An iPhone 12 PRO costs an average of Php 60,000, which is more than enough to invest for a small and sustainable livelihood. Our voices and our choices matter.
I WILL WORK HARDER. I can consider myself genuinely successful once I can do something for that kid.
An aspiring adventurist who aims to travel the world someday. Weird and poetic, a great friend for problematic rants and deep talks about life in general. Hit me up on my socials!