I intentionally left several P5 coins on the side table in my room, pretended to be asleep, and kept half an eye on them. For months now, I had always found myself looking for missing coins around the house. I entertained the idea that an unseen, paranormal force hiding inside our house’s walls was responsible for the coins that seemed to disappear from where I left them. I even considered seeing a doctor because I thought my usually reliable memory was failing me. But that all changed when I decided to set up a trap to catch the culprit.
After almost thirty minutes of waiting, my nephew, whom I fondly call the Promil Kid, entered the room and watched TV. It wasn’t long until he noticed the coins on the table and pocketed them as if they were his own.
I was shocked. For the longest time, what I liked most about my nephew was that he didn’t care about money. Unlike most of the kids in my extended family, he never did approach me and ask for money to buy something. Honestly, whenever I tried to give him cash, he would just look at me and not take it. He’d rather be given food.
That was then.
Apparently, he is now very conscious about the value of coins and what it can do for him. Right after taking the coins, he went out and I followed him to his room.
“Hey, hey,” I said, “why’d you take those? Those are mine.”
“Not anymore, Tito,” he reasoned. “You left them on the desk.”
“That doesn’t make them yours.”
“Please?” He threw one of those I-beg-you-Tito look, which works all the damn time.
My nephew then took out a giant piggy bank (more like a giant baby bottle bank) from under the bed. It was so heavy he had to roll it on the floor. He could not even lift it up or move it around if not by rolling. One by one he inserted the coins into it. Looking at his savings, he flashed a satisfied smile.
“Is it already P10,000, Tito?” My nephew was eager to know.
“I don’t know. You need to count them.”
“There’s too many coins. I can only count up to 100.”
I joined him on the floor, opened the piggy bank and began counting. It took me more than an hour to finish.
“Eight thousand pesos,” I excitedly told him. “Where’d you get all this money?”
Apparently, he stopped buying anything at school and ate only the food prepared by my mom in the morning. That’s P50 per day. No toys. No junk food. No softdrinks. He also kept and saved the money his mom, my sister, gave him after school and on weekends. Not only that, all the money he received from relatives and family friends on his birthday — including bills — found its way into his piggy bank. And of course, he collected every coin he found left lying around the house.
“Eight thousand?” He looked disappointed.
“Yes, that’s so much money already! That’s too much for a kid like you! What are you gonna do with it?”
“How much more do I need to reach P10,000?”
“P2000 more,” I answered. It seemed like it wasn’t enough for him.
“How many days will it take me to save P2000 more?” he asked.
“Depends on how much you save per day.”
There was still no smile on his face.
“What do you need the money for, anyway?” I was desperately curious.
“I want to go back to Hong Kong Disneyland.”
Wow. He’d been saving up for a trip all this time. Last year, I took him and my niece to Disneyland and they had the happiest time there. He had always asked me, his mom and his grandma to take him back to Hong Kong but none of us ever thought he was that serious about it.
“You said before,” he continued,”that if I wanted to go back to Hong Kong Disneyland, we need to have ten thousand pesos to ride an airplane.”
“Well, your mom can afford to buy airplane tickets.”
“No, you don’t understand. Mommy said that if I let her work in Dubai, she can make more money. If we have more money, I could go to Disneyland again. I really want to go to Disneyland, Tito, but I don’t want Mommy to leave and work abroad.”
The sound of the coins hitting the base of the piggy bank was no match to the sadness my nephew showed as he put the coins back into it. I had always left extra coins — intentionally — on my bedside table since then.