Turon vendor rewarded for kind act-A A +A
Friday, September 13, 2013
DONATIONS to victims of calamities run the gamut from immediate necessities to discarded inessentials.
What Catherine Oliveros gave was the fruit of her labor, through which she helps support her family. She donated 70 pieces of turon (banana fritters), which she makes and sells for a living.
Her act of selflessness caught the attention of TV5, which was running relief operations for victims of Typhoon Maring last month.
The 30-year-old mother of six told a TV reporter that she only wanted to make sure that the children who were driven from their homes by the floods would have something to eat. Food was scarce in evacuation centers in severely affected areas in Laguna, where Catherine’s turon was distributed.
At P10 each, the 70 pieces of turon cost P700, an amount that could have sustained her family for up to two weeks.
Catherine's husband is a security guard at the Social Security System office in Quezon City. The job pays between P10,000 and P15,000 a month, not quite enough for a family with six children, five of whom are in school.
Moved by her story, executives at Smart Communications, Inc. and Sun Cellular decided to reward her with load retailer kits. She now sells cell phone load to Smart and Talk ‘N Text, as well as Sun Cellular subscribers.
Her new business augments the family income. But she continues to sell turon, as well as banana-cue, or caramelized bananas in barbecue sticks. She has been at it for as long as she can remember, having inherited the trade from her mother when the latter retired. She said she’s so used to doing it that she could peel, slice, and fry bananas with her eyes closed.
What she can't quite get used to is her new status as celebrity of sorts in their neighborhood in Novaliches. Even the neighbor who used to ignore her now greets her, calling her by name, after seeing her on TV, said Catherine, who was also interviewed on radio.
"Hindi pa rin ako makapaniwala (I still find it hard to believe)," she remarked.
Proof of the change is the brisk sales of her turon and banana-cue. There's a bonus, to boot: Her buyers are now also load customers.
"It's like I've won in the lottery," she exclaimed in Tagalog. But this is even better, she continued. "I have much to be thankful for… I was able to show that even ordinary folks like me can do something for others."
Her only wish is that her children all get to finish their studies so that they could have a better life, said Catherine, who reached only third year high school.
"People like Nanay Cathy, who are willing to give their all for others, embody the true spirit of bayanihan. It is only fitting that we thank her," said Darwin Flores, Smart department head for community partnerships.
Smart is part of Tulong Kapatid, the consolidated post-disaster relief platform of companies belonging to the Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) and PLDT Group.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on September 14, 2013.