Alex and Me

Alexander Berin


ALEXANDER BERIN: An inspiring guy.

This is how Alex looked like when I offered him a college scholarship. I was so impressed with his work ethic. His job was to mix cement, gravel and water manually with a regular shovel. He used a dance routine bending at the waist and swinging gracefully, load up two buckets, carried them to where it was to be poured, balanced himself on a four inch wide hollow block, poured the content and did it all over again. I wondered how he could do it all day and not break his back. He was twenty years old then. He showed up every day, six days a week until the project was finished.

What inspired me about Alex is his quiet demeanor, never complaining, just doing his job. He seem to have accepted that this is the life for him, the life of a laborer. I thought I’d give myself a present, so I asked three of the workers if they want to go to college. They all said they do not have the money to go to college. If you had the money what career would you like to study. Alex said he wanted to be a police. The other two declined my offer.

I said, you don’t need to get As. Just pass your classes and don’t get in trouble. Also, I want you to promise you will not smoke, drink alcohol and womanize. He agreed.

Alex graduated with a degree in Criminology two years ago. He asked my brother and sister-in-law to his graduation but my brother already needed constant care. Alex still does not smoke or drink but he got married to Rejoice. They have a baby girl, Izzycolleen.

Fred told me about an incident when one of Alex’s older brother was asking we stop Alex’s scholarship. Fred asked why. Alex has become arrogant, the brother said. Fred said, it seems like you are jealous. I never knew about this conversation until this Christmas. Alex must have developed some confidence and learned how to speak up to his elders.

I have not heard from Alex and I kept postponing writing. I promised myself I will look for him on my trip home. I convinced my niece and her husband to help me find Alex and we found him in the barrio. I wanted to find out what is next for him and he immediately said he must pass the Philippine National Police board exam, except it will cost P30,000 ($700) and he has problem raising the money. So I promised I will send him the money.

When I introduced him to my family, my cousin mentioned that Alex was my birthday gift. And he was. Carmelita asked what makes me happy – and this is one of them.

My wish for 2010 is the success of Alex.

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