When Money Is Not Everything

By: Dora The Mouse


When I was a child growing up, I’ve seen poverty and misery at a very young age. I experienced hunger and deprivation like everybody else around my neighborhood.  Those were the years when one can not really comprehend what poverty really like until you experienced it.  When it rains, it poured rain into my house. When I was cold , there was no sweater to keep me warm. When I was hungry, there was no food to eat . When I was sick, there was no medicine to ease my pain. My grandmother will kill a chicken to see what is inside the chicken and diagnose my illness. When I go to school, there was no breakfast to nourish my brain.  When I go home from school, there was no food on the table. When I go to church, I did not have  shoes on my feet. I go barefooted. One time, my  late father bought me a pair of shoes three sizes more than the size of my feet. I cried and told him that the shoes are too big for me. He told me to put some old newspaper inside and it will fit me. He told me that my feet will grow into it.  Three years later, my feet really grew into it and I stop putting newspaper inside my shoes. When I cry for help, there was nobody there to help because everybody was helpless too.   Years later, when I was 10 years old , we still suffer from hunger . My cousin and I will sit under a mango tree after a day’s work in the rice field talking about our aspirations in life.  Everybody wants to be rich like what we see in the movies. We dreamed about driving beautiful cars, big houses and pretty dresses with matching shoes, all the candies and chocolates we can buy. It was fun to dream big dreams but can I  really  do it in real life? Everybody just shrugged it off because we were poor and can not even afford to go to  high school  how much more in college.  As a ten year old kid, I thought, life was a daily struggle to survive. How much more going to college and fulfill my dreams.  It was a big dream for a ten year old kid. I didn’t have a clue how and where to start. But our poverty and the hardships I went through while growing up gave me a very good lesson in life that I carried through out my adult life. It gave me inspirations to work hard, set a goal and go for.   DO NOT GIVE UP! My late father said. Life is like a wheel sometimes you are up there and sometimes you are down here.  Right now we are down here poor and struggling.  Try and work hard.  Whether you succeed or failed at least you tried than not trying at all.  In other words, give your best shot and go for it in full throttle.

Many years later, I reached the age wherein I was ready to tackle whatever is in the future for me. I work hard, I mean, really  hard. You can imagine, working during the day and go to school at night. No vacation, no outing like any  other young adult does. I was stubborn like a tiger and nothing can stop me to reach and attain the goal I set for myself.  A few years later, I finished college and work hard until I   reach the very top of the ladder. I have a good position at work, earned good money, bought anything money can buy, like my dreams with my cousins when we were young and sitting under the mango tree.  Bought the latest sport car,  went to the best restaurant in town and bought the latest designer clothes with matching bags and all. Took care of my relatives and made their lives more comfortable but I still wasn’t happy. The material things that surround me were a temporary pleasure. There was something missing in my life that I tried to search and understand.  I tried to be spiritual and search my heart and my soul. What is it? I was  restless, searching aimlessly, where is happiness? My heart is empty of that inner contentment and peace.  I HAVE EVERYTHING MONEY CAN BUY, BUT IN ACTUALITY I HAVE NOTHING. 

MY SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS.   I traveled and went to far places to search for that elusive HAPPINESS. It was a lonely road. I’ve seen poor people on the sidewalk begging for food, a mother with a child in her arms sitting and trying to breastfeed her child but the child continued to cry. I know that the woman probably does not have enough milk. She herself looks emaciated and hungry. I’ve seen little Nipa  Huts with holes on the roof like we used to have many years ago. I saw this man age 35 years old but look 55 because of long years of carrying heavy gravel by the sack. I’ve visited a local elementary school and the old Principal told me that the children fetch their drinking water from the river nearby and asked me if I could donate a water pump.  I promised him that I will donate a water pump . I spoke to one of the school children  that caught my attention for he was very quiet in the corner.  Asked him if he ate his  breakfast, and he replied, there is nothing to eat but I  still go to school. This reminds  me of long ago when I was his age going to school hungry.  I told him maybe he will have lunch and he replied, if there is any food. What if there is no food, I asked, then I go to sleep. Why sleep? Why not play? I don’t have the energy to play. By the time I finished my interview with him, I was the one crying and the little boy was just looking at me with bewilderment in his eyes.  I’ve visited a local hospital in Pawa( Gotladera Memorial Hospital)  and saw the plight of the patients waiting for help. If they don’t have the money to buy the medicine and medical supplies that was prescribed, then , I guess, they will  just go home without any relief of his/her ailment. I encountered a  very old man walking along side the road, limping and in agony. He told me that he has “rayuma” but can not afford to buy the medicine for pain. Apparently, his children a son and a daughter both died a long time ago. There is nobody there to help him in his old age.  He makes his living by planting camote and camoting kahoy but his rayuma is getting worse now. He is worried what will happen with him when he can no longer get out of the house to work. I looked at him in his eyes, he was crying. I held his old wrinkled  hands and whispered  to him, Help will come soon and  left with a heavy heart. When I reached my house, I send him some rice and medicine for pain.

Why? why all these poverty?  What is the government doing ? Where are our leaders? It had been twenty years since I left my barrio. I did not see any progress. Nothing.  I saw the same people that I used to play with years ago, the sign of hardship in life was very visible. Their sad look in their eyes, the several lines in their brows and faces, the missing teeth for lack of dental care, the emaciated look, the hardened hands from years of  working in the field. These were my friends and when I saw them, I feel very sad.  The government has to do something and do it NOW!

 THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINES IS OVER. After a long search for that inner peace and contentment that I was missing in my life, I finally found it. It was right here in my heart  all along.   The poverty and hunger I went through when I was a child was the driving force to seek the reasons of my restlessness and unhappiness. I want to know why? All the successes that I gained and the honors I was bestowed from my dedication at my work was just a piece of paper. My heart was still empty. I felt like a restless soul, searching, wandering aimlessly in the open field, where all I can see was vast space of empty fertile land with no grass growing, it was like my life, empty and hollow. From the lonely path I was traversing ,  I finally found the happiness I desperately sought.  It was the  realization that YOU CAN NOT BUY HAPPINESS AND  MONEY IS NOT EVERYTHING.

WHAT MONEY CAN DO.  I finally found the happiness, contentment and peace I had been looking for. It was my unfulfilled passionate desire to do something to alleviate the sufferings of the poor people that I love. I used to be one of them.  but I didn’t know how and  where to start.  It didn’t dawn to me until I talked to this elementary school boy with those big brown sad eyes. It reminded me of the time when I was his age, hungry and poor. It’s when I saw the old man limping along the road. The young man with a sack of gravel (graba).  I embarked on a mission to help the poor and never expected in my wildest dream that the respond was a tremendous success.

So, what is it? It’s been there for many years and had been serving the poor people for a long time. Maybe it already served some of you but you don’t know who is behind the scene for I don’t seek glory or praise. I am just happy and contented doing it and thankful to God for  guiding me find my niche and  giving me the courage and wisdom to do my mission in my small humble way. 

  I dedicate this article to my late father who taught me the power of pray, love, compassion, humility, hard work and never give up. 

                                                                                          Dora the Mouse

10 thoughts on “When Money Is Not Everything

  1. This personal story by Dora the mouse captures the essence of the ordinary and “small people” of our town, small like a mouse yet full of sensitivity and humanity. It’s an honest portrait of our people’s sufferings, memories, dreams, reflections and the desire for a better life. What is more better than to have three square meals a day, to have shoes protecting your feet, to have clean water to drink, to be able to go to school, to have medicine when you’re sick and to have an intact family? What can be more bergsonian than her father’s strong advice to never give up, to a least try, set your goal and go for it with all your strength? This is life’s primordial impulse to preserve itself being the noblest and most precious event in this universe, at the same time the most seemingly mysterious. Yes, Sta. Remedios, is a small village in Bulan unknown to many who are not from our town, with a long road that leads to where the struggles for survival lie in the heart of Dora the mouse but also where innate goodness, moral strength and the instinct to help others have remained pure and natural despite poverty. This story touches our innermost being as tagaBulans for once again we are reminded that, after all the tempest and storms that had beset our spirit, the essence of a true tagabulan is still one of sharing and helping, one of your-welfare-is-my- concern- attitude and one of loyalty to his/her place of origin and to his/her own people. This is the attitude that will save Bulan from total eclipse, or is the frame of mind that will tell our young people to look back to their beginnings after they have seen the world and consider ways on how to pay back the good things they have learned from their town, pay tribute to the memories of their parents who have loved them and leaders who did not decieve them but showed them the decent side of leadership.
    What else can we wish for the tiny, unassuming Dora the mouse but a long life and many happy returns for her charitable heart and magnanimous mind? The greatness of purpose is seen in the simplicity of its action.

    jun asuncion

  2. dora the mouse’ article entiled “When Money is not everything” is a good read, and a source of inspiration to all of us, taga-bulan and bicolanos. I agree with you dora the mouse that money is not everything, or better still, money can’t buy everything, consider the following proverbs:

    Money is not everything
    Money can buy a house
    but not a home;
    Money can buy a bed
    but not sleep;
    Money can buy a clock
    but not time;
    Money can buy a book
    but not knowledge;
    Money can buy food
    but not an appetite;
    Money can buy position
    but not respect;
    Money can buy blood
    but not life;
    Money can buy medicine
    but not health;
    Money can buy sex
    but not love;
    Money can buy insurance
    but not safety;

    You see, money is not everything.

    Therefore, if you have too much,
    please, send it to me, immediately, hehehe,
    Or, give it to the poor, orphans or beggars
    because they are starving and dying.

    On a lighter side; while I was strolling in one of the shopping malls in makati last friday, I had come across a t-shirt in the store with printed words; “money can’t buy happiness,,, but happiness can’t buy groceries”, hehehe, maybe funny but true indeed.

    mabuhay ka dora the mouse, your article touches my heart and my soul. Dahil pobrehon man kami san mga nakaagi na panahon, beakfast kamoteng kahoy, lunch kamoteng kahoy & dinner kamoteng kahoy again & again, parang daily routine nalang, as my father did not finish college, my mother did not finish high school too, we are 7 brothers and 1 sister, but through perseverance, persistence, diligence, cooperation and dedication, we were all able to obtain college degree amidst scarcity in life.

    God bless you dora the mouse, may your tribe increase and continue serving our less fortunate brethrens in the community!

  3. To Atty Benji

    Thank you Atty Benji for your wonderful comments. Dora the Mouse will surely let her tribes contribute some more interesting stories about (the mouse) opps! I mean humanity.
    Dora the Mouse


  5. Hi Dora the Mouse,

    I am an occasional reader of Bulan Observer and this reading last July became a challenge to me. Please contact me if you have time at this e-mail address milarossa@gmail.com.
    Thanks to Bulan Observer for this opportunity.


  6. Mabuhay ka Dora!!!!
    Im the same with you. I had experienced the Life that you had also experienced. Its really hard to have such hardships. But later on God is always there with you….

    Thank you for sharing this memorable experience with your life….I cried when I read this ‘coz I remembered my past…
    Mabuhay ka…

  7. dear dora,

    What an inspirational story! I myself have had same childhood experience like you. I never had time to play when i was a kid, instead work after school. I work hard to finish college but I don’t have such success and money that you have, thank God I have food in the table when I came home.

    I myself dreamed of building a “beautiful park ” for the children that they can play and a “library”. I want to see our kababayans, esp. children to read books and have a educational place to go in our town of Bulan. I wish my dream comes true, if it happens, It fills one of the holes in my heart. I hope that GOD will hear my prayers and make a way for my plans. I love Bulan and I do care about the children. I could say I have a better life also, but financially I am not capable to build my dream to Bulan, someday!

    Honestly, I want to know you dora. I admire you. Thank you for your looking back and helping Bulan. God Bless!!!

  8. Hello Lorena,

    I am from Sta. Remedios, Bulan, Sorsogon. I am also the founder of Sta. Remedios Charity Clinic. I am glad that you are interested in helping the children of Bulan. You can email me at this address: angelita@canyonsoft.com

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