POWER at home and perhaps a drawing book.
These are the simple wishes of a nine-year-old boy whose photo, showing him studying under the lights of a fast food outlet’s drive-through area, has gone viral.
The boy is Daniel Cabrera, a Grade 3 pupil of Subangdaku Elementary School. When not in school, Biboy, which is what his family calls him, helps his mother by taking care of the family’s youngest, his brother Gabriel.
He would like to be a policeman someday. Or maybe a doctor, his mother says.
Biboy was six when his father Danilo, a construction worker, fell ill and died.
His mother, Christina Espinosa, now works in a “pungko-pungko” stall, a makeshift arrangement where customers eat street food on low benches placed on the sidewalk.
Espinosa helps the stall’s owner, Juliet Lubag, sell lumpia, chorizo and ginabot and other street food items near Cebu Doctors’ University (CDU) in Cebu City’s North Reclamation Area.
In an interview yesterday, Christina said she was shocked that her son’s photo has become so popular but that she was thankful he always concentrates on his studies.
“Dako akong pasalamat niya kay nagconcentrate gyud siya sa iya study. Moadto gyud siya sa McDo kay didto siya magstudy kay way suga diri sa pungko-pungko (I am so thankful that he concentrates on his studies. He goes to McDonald’s to study because there is no electricity in the food stall),” she said.
It was Christina who relayed her son’s dreams of becoming a police officer or a doctor someday. It really depends on Biboy, she added.
Biboy is the second to the youngest of six. That number includes two stepbrothers and one stepsister from her mother’s first marriage.
According to Lubag, the “pungko-pungko” stall owner, the child always goes to the fastfood outlet to study every night. He borrows one of the low benches, which he uses as a makeshift desk. He doesn’t have a chair.
Biboy said that his family sleeps in the “pungko-pungko” stall after a fire burned their house in Barangay Tipolo, Mandaue City. The stall has no electricity.
Robert Espinosa, one of his stepbrothers, brings Biboy and Gabriel to school on his bicycle and picks them up at the end of the day.
Rosalina Detuya, Biboy’s teacher, described him as a happy child who works hard, participates in class, and loves to draw and read.
Biboy confirmed he likes to draw his favorite cartoon characters like Superman and Sangoku. (When he doesn’t have money for lunch, he draws during the lunch break, he said.) He also likes to read a book of Bible stories that a student from CDU gave him.
Joyce Torrefranca, a fourth-year medical technology student at CDU, said she took Daniel’s picture because she was inspired by the boy’s dedication to his studies.
“It’s unusual to see a kid studying in an environment that is not conducive for learning. Despite the smelly streets, noise produced by jeepneys and inadequate lighting, his dedication to study inspired me,” she said.
Torrefranca did not expect that the photo, which she posted last Tuesday night, would get shared and liked so much—more than 300 likes and a thousand “shares” just from her account.
And what would the subject of her photograph like? “Ganahan ko nga naa koy drawing book og suga sa amo kay para didto na lang ko magdrawing ug magbasa (I would like a drawing book and electricity at home so I can draw and study there.)” (Kareen Jean B. Panoril, UP Cebu Intern)