Xandra was originally employed in one of the beach resorts in Bohol but was among the many employees who were laid off when the resort was turned over to a new management.
As for Xandra's meals, here is the heart-breaking part. She had to thrive on one serving of rice and a serving of monggo (mung) beans everyday for two weeks. She would eat half of the serving of rice and another half of the serving of mung beans before she goes on duty. At the middle of her eight-hour duty, she was already tired but she had to put her best foot forward always to impress her bosses so fatigue is a forbidden word in her vocabulary. She would eat the remaining part of her meal then to sustain her for the rest of her shift and her walk back to her aunt's house.
The vendor from whom Xandra buys rice and mung beans knew her already as her regular buyer or colloquially speaking, her suki. The vendor must have pitied Xandra, a hardworking woman trapped in a grade schooler's body. She would gladly offer to Xandra all the scorched rice that she had.
I would like to quote exactly how Xandra's conversation with the food vendor went, as she recounted it to me.
Vendor (showing Xandra the almost empty rice pot): Mokaon ka aning dukot day? Kay ako ni ihatag nimo. (Do you eat scorched rice? I'd gladly give this to you if you want.)
Xandra: Oo, nang, mokaon gyud. Salamat kaayo. (Yes, Ma'am, I do eat that. Thank you so much.)
Xandra thrived on the same meal everyday for two weeks. She also walked long distances from her home and back in order to save her fare.
At last, her first pay day arrived and Xandra was filled with excitement. The problem was, she had to withdraw her salary from the ATM machine. Xandra never pressed the buttons of an ATM machine before but she had to try or else she would finally go hungry and penniless this time. Her first attempts were unsuccessful that she had to call her employer to confirm if they deposited money into her account. They were sure that they did. Xandra tried tinkering with the machine a lot of times until finally, money popped out from the machine.
Xandra immediately went to the nearest restaurant and ate the most decent meal her money could afford her. She ate two pieces of chicken and two cups of rice, and brought it all down with a bottle of soda. You could just imagine how Xandra ate that meal with great fervor. A choir singing "Hallelujah" while she was having her meal would have made the scene absolutely perfect.
Xandra now continues to be the diligent employee that she is. She tells of how tedious her job is as a hospital janitress, mopping a great hallway which could accommodate around twenty-five cars, and racing with time when she is assigned to clean patients' rooms. I had no idea could the job could be as tedious as that until I heard it from a janitress herself. I'd probably fall flat on the hallway out of exhaustion right after cleaning one private room in the hospital.
Xandra is not complaining though. With all her efforts, she has managed to convert their wooden house to a concrete one. Sometimes she is able to give a little of her earnings to her brothers. Recently, she ordered a refrigerator for her mother in Trinidad so she could sell ice and ice candy to the neighbors, a good way to augment the family's income. She also takes jobs of cleaning the rooms of residents physicians. For cleaning the rooms of doctors for two hours, she earns a generous two hundred bucks.
Today, Xandra doesn't have to take long walks back home. She doesn't need to ride a tartanilla at all because she already lives in a decent boarding house which is just a stone's throw away from the hospital. She doesn't get to meet the kind food vendor daily because she can somehow afford to eat various menus aside from mung beans.
Xandra's story is so far the one and only modern success story that I have heard. Surely there are a lot of success stories out there and I would love to hear them.
We slept late that night after hearing a very unique and original bedtime story, unmindful of our early trip back to the city the following day, and in my part, unmindful of the hospital duty that was waiting for me. I closed my eyes to sleep, truly inspired and mindful of the things I have in life which most of the time I take for granted. I wondered, how many Xandras are out there? What treasury of valuable lessons can we learn from their lives? Those thoughts, those questions. . . then I drifted off to dreamland, sleep never erasing my eagerness to hear more stories from other Xandras.