Where can your Php 5.00 take you? Seems a measly amount but it can make you happy and feel like a child again, at least momentarily. And no, we’re not going to buy ice cream or candy, nothing of that sort.

You can simply buy a pack of bird seeds for Php 5.00 and feed the pigeons in Rizal Park, Davao City.

This was my first stop last Monday, and the park that was teeming with people at last August’s Kadayawan Festival is now empty and quiet. Sam (my guide for the week) told me that I should start my Davao experience here. I bought just a pack (because I was stingy) and started throwing it into the air.

The birds never came though. I frowned and was disappointed. “I wasted Php 5.00!” I said, making a face like a very indignant child. I was told to wait a while. While this was apparently a popular attraction and the pigeons are used to eating seeds from tourists, the hum of the buses temporarily parked in the area are making the birds wary.

Timing, is all there is. So I waited and while I did, I decided to talk to the birdman who has been doing this for the last 6 years.

Glicerio Villaluz tells me he used to work in the pantalan (Tagalog for pier) and while he didn’t specify what kind of work he’s done, he said he is now happily retired and comes here every day.

“Rain or shine?” I ask. “Yes, even if it rains hard”, he answers as he fills more plastics with bird feed. “But you’ll get sick,” I reply. He didn’t seem to care, he was enjoying work, enjoying the company of the birds, and enjoys making tourists happy.

I attempt to attract the birds a second time. I throw seeds into the air and they start flying around and descend towards me. I asked Sam to grab my camera and take photos. This was fun! So I start throwing all the seeds and I am enveloped by pigeons in no time.

So in under a minute I use up all my feed and I run towards Glicerio exclaiming, “I want more!” Sam was chuckling, “See, I told you you can be happy with just Php5.00.” I go buy one more pack and run around the park. Ahhh simple joys. Even though I was fueled by only two hours of sleep from my flight, this was such a memorable experience.

When I had used up my second pack, I was saddened. It was time to go as my food tour was about to start.

As I walked away, I look back one more time and wave goodbye. “Mubalik ko, kuya!”  He smiled and waved back. And I left wondering if I could live simply, with contentment and purpose, just like Glicerio.

Cue “tuppence a bag” from Mary Poppins.