THEY’VE known each other over the years, selling candles during fiestas in different cities and towns in Cebu Province.

During the opening of the Devotee City yesterday morning, Antonio Larrobis, 44; Juan Catam-isan, 51; Robert Andan, 32; and Raymond Jose dela Peña, 19, met again.

They said the Sinulog is this year’s first major festivity that they’re participating in as small-time entrepreneurs.

“Mora mig mga (We’re like) classmates,” said Andan. “Kining pagpaninda og kandila mora pud nig kurso nga way human-human (This selling of candles is like taking a course where you never graduate).”

Larrobis is from Barangay Can-asujan, Carcar City; Catam-isan, from Bogo City; Andan, from Ronda; and dela Peña, from Asturias.

They said they’re joining the Sinulog is not purely for business.

645 registered

“Dagkot mi daan (We’ll light candles first),” said Andan. “Mangaliya mi nga hatagan mig maayong panglawas (We pray for good health).”

Cebu City Councilor Roberto Cabarrubias said 645 registered when the Devotee City was launched yesterday morning.

Most of the occupants inside 130 cargo containers sell candles and other items.

The facility can accommodate around 3,500 to 5,000 devotees.

Cabarrubias, the Devotee City committee chairperson, said police officers and tanods are stationed at the facility.

He said the facility has 30 portable toilets, 10 shower stalls and 10 cooking counters.

The candle vendors said they’ve already memorized the dates of the festivities in different towns.

“Parehas sa sugarol maayo motimaan (We’re good at remember like good gamblers),” said Catam-isan.

Dela Peña said he mastered the dates of fiestas after a friend gave him a list. He said he started selling candles and doing odd jobs after his mother left him and his five siblings.

For Larrobis, he said he and his wife Marcelina will go to Dalaguete next month for the town’s fiesta and sell candles there.

Annual schedule

He said he knew the dates because his mother, who is now in her 60s, used to bring him around the province to sell candles when he was still 14.

The couple will go to Ginatilan in March and Can-asujan, Carcar City in April.

The most profitable month for Larrobis is May because it is when several fiestas take place.

He and his wife would sell candles in Tabunok, Talisay City; Pinamungajan; Mabolo, Cebu City; Bogo City; and Liloan in a span of four weeks.

He said they earn between P6,000 and P7,000, which is not enough to feed seven children.

They will continue their journey to Simala, Sibonga in the first week of June. In the following weeks, they will travel to Toledo City and Bolinawan, Carcar City.

In July, they will sell candles in Badian and Barili. The following month, they will be in Pardo, Cebu City.

Larrobis said they usually take a break in September, which is planting season.

sHe said they will be in Naga City and Basak, Mandaue City in October. In November, they will be in Boljoon, Lapu-Lapu City and Carcar City.

In the last week of December, Larrobis said they will sell candles in Tuyan, Naga City.

“Kada tuig ni namo buhaton basta maayo lang og lawas (This is our annual routine as long we don’t get sick),” said Larrobis.