The sight of a homeless mother and child is normally one of the saddest in the world. But it’s a sight that’s all too common in the Philippines, according to a 2018 Reuters report. According to the government statistics office, over 4.5 million Filipinos are without a home. Three million of these are concentrated in the sprawling Manila metropolitan area, “possibly the most in any city in the world,” the report estimates.
While homeless people can be seen all around the city, Ameniel Del Mundo, a young IT entrepreneur, came across a surprising scene near the Manila airport road on April 9, 2019. As he waded through a traffic jam, he saw a mother playing with her son on a traffic island.
Binatang Filipino yeah!#Numero5saBalota#Lols
Del Mundo told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that he was stressed out by work matters at the time when he came upon the pair. “The two were playing happily at the island while I was grumbling about my situation inside the car.”
In the photos Del Mundo took, the mother can be seen lying on the ground, using her legs to push her young son up into the air so he “flies.” Despite only having a small section of pavement to lie on, the two seem to be completely engrossed in their game, not to mention happy too.
“I was suddenly reminded at how powerful a mother’s love toward her children has no need for material things,” he shared.
Del Mundo posted the photos on his Facebook page, writing that this duo was “proof that happiness is a choice.” For him, the fact that the two could ignore all the things they lacked and simply enjoy being together was a lesson to keep in mind.
Proof that happiness is a choice. 🙂Edit: This mother and her son were found playing in the middle of heavy traffic at…
Within just a few days, the powerful post had gone viral and now has over 26,000 likes and 22,000 shares. Del Mundo responded to the attention with another Facebook post, thanking everyone for their offers to give gifts to the family, and also for sharing the post. Unfortunately, even with all the social media attention and the help of the Inquirer, no one has been able to locate the mother and son.
Del Mundo reiterated what he thought the real message of the story was: “We cannot choose the circumstances that happen to us, but we can choose to be happy whatever the situation is.”
The photos and Del Mundo’s statement about happiness have inspired an interesting discussion about the relationship of the true nature of happiness on Facebook. It’s raised the question of whether a happy person naturally responds better to adversity or if the way they respond determines if happiness can arise.
One person gave their view that “happiness is a state of being.”
Meanwhile, another responded that “you can’t be in that state without choosing it first.” This was followed by a more detailed explanation: “You choose to ‘accept’ (things) thus you become happy. You choose to ‘let go’ thus you are happy.. you choose to be ‘content, carefree, positive, intimate, faithful, good’, etc… thus you are happy… Happiness is the ‘effect’ (of a choice) and not the ’cause’…”
Regardless of their views on happiness, it seems that the picture resonated with Filipinos across the country and people around the world. The country has seen strong economic growth over the past few years but faces many economic challenges according to a recent report in The Voice of America. Just less than a quarter of the population lives under the poverty line, and the country’s infrastructure hasn’t kept up with its growth.
Nevertheless, moments like the one captured by Del Mundo seem to have inspired many of his fellow citizens to be grateful for what they have rather than focus on what they don’t. As the Beatles sang, “I don’t care too much for money, ’cause money can’t buy me love.”