A peek into a travelling trader’s life-A A +A
Saturday, February 23, 2013
SHE’S a viajedor, traders who go from one place to another to sell merchandise.
She has a quarrel with a neighbor. We all heard about it as she was on speaker phone talking to a woman she called “ate”. She was using her cellular phone like it was a two-way radio: Unit held upright in front of the mouth, the one in the other end heard by all through the speaker.
The neighbor is described as a troublemaker. She stood up against the troublemaker, she said, and dared the woman to try to spread gossips about her.
“But don’t tell her I told you, ate,” she said in the vernacular.
I was tempted to say, “We promise, we will not tell anyone!” Of course I didn’t, and I more than just told “anyone”, you are reading about it now.
After the long telephone conversation cut short by a dead spot along the highway, she picked up a conversation with a man, who was greeted by another passenger who went down along the highway as a “pastor”.
The man said he’s a pastor of the “Assembly”.
The woman seemed to understand what he meant.
She’s from Marawi, she said, but has a house in Toril and in Marilog.
“The house that was buried in a landslide where a child was killed, that was my house,” she said. She lost her youngest child, a 12-year-old, there. She now has another house near the detachment.
Her house in Toril is beautiful, she said, because it has water inside. “Nawasa water,” she said.
She has three other children. The eldest, 18 years old, recently graduated from hotel and restaurant management (HRM), most likely a tech-voc course considering the child’s age, and is all set to leave for Saudi to work.
She came all the way from Toril to Marilog and was on her way back to Toril because it was “4Ps”. I rode the bus at around 9 a.m. and it’s around two hours down to Crossing Ulas. She must have been up very early indeed to have been able to collect and be on her way back to Toril by 9 a.m. Non-aircon buses that allow passengers to disembark in Marilog come only once every hour.
She sells Cherry Mobile cellphones on installment, she told the pastor. “Eight hundred pesos, goes with battery and charger for free, original. One year warranty,” she said.
She collects the installment during 4Ps day, the government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, the conditional cash transfer for the poorest of the poor.
“Mao na kung tingbayad, mangolekta gyud ko (I go around to collect when it’s the release day for 4Ps),” she said. She’s shrewd too. She doubles what is owed her if the borrower fails to pay on time.
She worked for two years in Saudi and was able to buy a multicab and four motorcycles from her earnings there. She was also able to buy the house in Marilog that was destroyed by the landslide.
She buys “putol-putol gold” and silver. She’ll buy them if you have them.
“Naa ka’y putol-putol gold, pastor (Do you have pieces of gold, pastor)?” she asked.
She also has a steady supplier of ukay-ukay who ships via General Santos, which she sells wholesale, she volunteered when the pastor said he regularly buys ukay-ukay to sell.
“Five thousand, 100 kilos,” she said, “Guapo kaayo nga negosyo ang ukay-ukay kay ang P5,000 mo mahimo na og P15,000 kung maayo ra ka moatiman (Ukay-ukay is profitable because from a P5,000 capital you can earn as much as P15,000 if you handle your business well).”
She can drop the bundle of ukay-ukay in Marilog to a pre-arranged place because she has a friend who has a “ten wheelers” that travels to Cagayan de Oro.
She assures that her ukay are not from Korea.
“Daot nang gikan sa Korea kay ginasagulan man sa tunga og mga gisi (Used clothings from Korea are of lower resale value because these have several torn pieces hidden in the middle),” she said. Hers is from Japan. First class. Aside from clothes, she sells “bidjet” (bedsheets), assorted.
She also buys “manok patani” at P300 per kilo. No limit, she said, for as long as you have them, she will buy them all. She has a Japanese buyer for this, she said. Manok Patani, she said, is an all-black chicken. Black feathers, legs, beak, and even tongue.
She’s excited about her eldest daughter’s work in Saudi and is confident her daughter will do well like she did.
“Dili man parehas sa Bisaya na mag-Saudi, kawawa talaga. Pero ang Muslim, hindi (It’s not like the Visayans who are abused in Saudi, Muslims are treated better),” she said.
Her name is Princess, she’s a single mom, being separated from her much older husband, and this is her story in just over an hour’s ride from Baganihan in Marilog to Ulas. Oh, she also told the pastor her cellphone number. Needless to say, I wrote it down, all the time looking out the window and scribbling on my notebook like I was writing about what I was seeing outside.
My name is Stella, and I find joy in listening to other people’s life stories because I know you love to read about them.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 24, 2013.