Ah, vacation! The one thing we look forward to when work has been nothing but stressful. One of the best destinations right now are beaches because it’s summer and a little sun (okay, a lot) won’t hurt nobody. The clear blue water, fine white sand, and everything in between make for a wonderful getaway with family and friends. But some people forget one thing – the laborers that surround us when we have the time of our lives.
Since it’s labor day and I just visited Fortune Island a week ago, let me tell you a story about how the boatmen showed us kindness like no other during our visit there.
Our first boatman showed us kindness by interacting with us and accompanying us on his boat when the other group joining us were late for more than 30 minutes. Can you imagine that? Their bags were already there, but we waited for half an hour before they got there. I was pissed because that was time we could’ve already enjoyed in the island. But what can I do? Some people are simply inconsiderate. (Repeat bitterness till fade)
The next day, we decided to leave earlier than planned, so we got on a different boat.
The two boatmen quickly assisted us up the boat. They were frustrated because the group they came to fetch set 8:00 am as pickup time, but they weren’t prepared yet when the boat arrived. They said the group were still taking selfies and packing up. They told us it’s frustrating because they allow guests to choose their own time, but some fail to show up on time. I get their frustration because I also hate waiting for people who are late.
One of the boatmen interacted with us while they were waiting for the other group to show up. He added that the day before, the two men in the group didn’t even look back to help them pick up their bags. They just let the boatmen do everything. I guess they just lucked out with that group.
We talked to kuya about the island and how wonderful it is but inconvenient at the same time. Kuya said that the owners of Fortune Island don’t really care about the guests; only making money. He said if they cared, there would be clean restrooms in the island by now. If they cared, there would be more cottages and camp areas to provide visitors more shade.
Kuya then looked back when Fortune Island wasn’t popular yet and they’d only entertain one to two groups per weekend. He said it was a quieter time, a better time. But the influx of visitors now gave them a better source of income, so he’s not complaining. All he wishes for is for the island to be better.
My friend Anna asked him why they don’t sell cold water there. She said even if it was 50 pesos per bottle, she’d gladly pay just to feel refreshed. I added that I will buy a Big Gulp at 7-11 and fill it with lots of ice the moment we set foot in the city.
Kuya’s response caught us by surprise. He talked to the other boatmen and then they served as a jug of ICE. COLD. WATER. and told us “Sige lang, kuha lang kayo.” You can’t imagine how big of a deed that was. When you’ve been under the scorching heat of the sun for a day and you have no access to cold water, that is all you’ll ever want. What I admired most is that they gave it to us voluntarily, without expecting anything in return.
To someone like me who loves water and drinks about 12 glasses per day, that was priceless. Kindness is truly infectious, and it wouldn’t kill you to show it to the littlest of us. It comes back to you and, no matter how cheesy, it makes the world a better place.
Boatmen are not slaves. They’re people like us who happen to be of service when we’re on vacation mindset. That doesn’t give us the right to treat them as if they’re wearing Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak.
To me, boatmen are one of the best kinds of people because they are hard workers. Yes, without us, they won’t get a living. But without them, we couldn’t enjoy the richness and beauty of our country. Without their genuine concern about the environment, we couldn’t preserve the beauty of nature. Without their efforts, we wouldn’t come and go to our destination safe and sound.
This labor day, let us look back, appreciate, and celebrate the work that people do that surrounds our everyday living. The farmers, fishermen, butlers, and everybody else who provide the food we consume every day. The drivers, street sweepers, trash collectors, ticket officers, cashiers, and everyone else in between that don’t get enough thank you’s in any given day. The guides, boatmen, vendors, and locals we encounter when we travel. Their work may not be as groundbreaking as others, but their work is important and essential in our lives.
Ask yourself, when was the last time you said the words “thank you” to a boatman or to any other people who serve you.
Remember to utter these words when he lends you his hand as you get off the boat, when he carries your baggage with a smile on his face, or when he prepares food when you need it the most. Be gracious and kind and considerate of their time, their feelings, and their humanity.
Show kindness even if others don’t show it at all. Bring goodness to this world even when you’re having the worst day ever. At the end of the day, we’re all working to contribute something to this world. Why not make that contribution be for the better?