Raphael recounts the day everything changed: he is working with Gardo by the crane belts that offload trash. Even though this location dangerous and trash rains down everywhere, it’s the best place to sort because the trash hasn’t been picked over. Gardo is 14, just like Raphael, but Gardo is in charge because he’s seven hours older and bit tougher and more serious. Raphael is happy that he has Gardo on his side. That day, Raphael finds a “special,” a bag from a rich area, meaning it contains valuable trash like food and it isn’t contaminated with stupp.
Raphael’s anxiety about the dangers of trash falling indicates that the children of Behala live in constant fear of being injured or killed due to their environment. The fact that trash without feces (stupp) is cause for excitement further underscores how deplorable the conditions at Behala are. Meanwhile, Raphael and Gardo’s teamwork demonstrates deep loyalty that will be essential to the boys’ survival as the story unfolds.
Suddenly, a small leather bag falls out of the bag and into Raphael’s hands. Inside is a map of the city, a key with a yellow tag labeled “101,” and a wallet containing a photo of two little children in school uniforms and an astonishing 1,100 pesos—enough for countless chickens, beers, and hours in the video hall. Raphael gives Gardo 500 pesos and he notices an identification card for a José Angelico in the wallet. The boys surmise that José is 33 years old, unmarried, employed as a houseboy; he lives in a place called Green Hills. Raphael surreptitiously slips the bag into his pocket to avoid drawing attention to himself.
Mulligan begins to quantify the boys’ poverty, which the reader can compare with other examples that are raised later in the story. For example, the 1,100 pesos feels like a fortune to the boys because it’s equivalent to one or two weeks’ worth of their earnings. This only amounts to about $58 USD, though, which emphasizes just how little money people in Behala subsist on. Raphael proves his loyalty to Gardo by splitting the money almost equally, while his instinct to avoid attention shows that he is quick-thinking and aware of his surroundings.