HoRP#13: Romeo

Romeo_3.jpg
(c) Airen Petalbert

Life is about money. One way to earn is to get a job, but the lack of job opportunities makes life tougher. This is just one of the many reasons why most of our countrymen from remote areas and provinces move in the metropolitan in hopes that living here would be easier.

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Meet Romeo B. Balisi, a 43-year-old taho vendor, who left his family in Cagayan Valley to find opportunities in Manila. He recalled some hardship he experienced in his hometown.

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(c) Airen Petalbert

“Maganda kasi rito sa Maynila kaysa probinsiya. Kasi minsan mahirap ang pera ro’n. Kapag magbubukid ka, wala. Kapag bukid tapos kapag umuulan, wala. Kapag bumagyo, wala, talo ka talaga.”

Unfortunately, Romeo struggled to get a job when he arrived in Blumentritt, Manila in 1996, where he currently resides. He just got lucky when a neighbor offered him to sell taho in 1998. This job brought him to Rizal Park.

“Maganda kasi rito e, hindi masyadong pagod.”

We thought because he doesn’t have to roam around, he just has to look for a perfect spot like in front of a sari-sari store, where there are many passersby. However, as much as Romeo wants to rove, the current policy in the park prohibits them from doing so.

“Oo [nakapirme lang] kasi mahigpit pa e. Pero no’ng panahon ni Gloria ikot kami nang ikot. ‘Yong ganitong mga oras nag-iikot na kami e. Mas mabenta no’ng panahon ni Gloria kaysa ngayon. Sana payagan na kami.”

The said policy began in PNoy’s administration and is being implemented until now.

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(c) Airen Petalbert

Our conversation diverted to politics when he mentioned PNoy. It seems that he holds a personal grudge against the previous administration.

“Si PNoy baliw, si Pangulong PNoy, baliw ‘yon e. Iniintindi niya lang ‘yong mga mayayaman kaysa sa mga mahihirap. Tinutulungan niya lang ‘yong mga mayayaman, pero ‘yong mga mahihirap wala pinapabayaan niya ‘yong mga mahihirap.”

On the other hand, he seems to approve the Duterte’s government.

“Okay lang din si Duterte. Kasi ‘pag wala tayong Presidente na gano’ng katapang, kawawa ang buong Pilipinas, puro shabu na, mamamayagpag maysado ‘yong mga ganyang tao. Kasi wala e, baliw na ang mga Pilipino e.”

Romeo is happily married to Gina Valderama for over five years. While they are not yet blessed with a child, he supports his family in Cagayan Valley when he has spare money to offer.

Words by Jonnel Almestas

Photos by Airen Petalbert

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