In a place full of strangers, being wise will take you places. This is a lesson we learned after talking with Gian Manalo, a 15-year-old son of a sorbetes vendor in Luneta.
Gian takes the place of his father when the vendor has other responsibilities to attend to. The young entrepreneur shared with us some of his experiences with the people he met in Rizal Park.
“‘Pag foreigners, sine-salestalk ko lang. Dumudugo nga ilong ko eh. Sasabihin ko, ‘Hello” tapos, ‘What do you want? May bread, cup, cone, ganyan’ tapos sasabihin nila, ‘How much?’ sasabihin ko ‘Fifty pesos.’ Niloloko ko nga sila eh, ‘It’s dirty ice cream, you know that?’ Natatawa naman sila, kaya okay lang.”
When he told us about his unfortunate encounters with some customers, we couldn’t help but notice how smart this young lad is.
“Maraming beses na kong tinakbukhan. Kung halagang bente pesos lang naman ‘yun, okay lang sakin. ‘Wag lang pera ‘yung tatangayin. Minsan kapag magbabayad na, kalimitan ‘yan pag maraming nabili eh. ‘Yung mga may ganap, kunwari Pasko. Sasabihin, ‘Nagbayad na ako ah.’ Syempre magtataka ka kung sinong nagbayad o hindi. Tinatakalan ko na lang. Syempre nakakahiya sa customer, mamaya mapa-away ka pa eh, mapaalis ka pa sa pwesto.”
The HoRP team also asked him about how he responds to rude customers and his answer proved our theory that this teenager is going places.
“Dapat marunong ka lang namang makisama. Dalawa lang naman kasi yan eh, ‘yung maloloko tapos nagpapaloko. Naks!”
Like many students in public high school, Gian failed to avoid the many distractions that vied for his attention. He was forced to stop his studies on his ninth grade at school.
“Bale two years na akong nag-stop. Dalawang buwan na lang ng klase, tumigil ako. Tapos tumigil ulit ako nang isang taon. Nagka-cutting kasi ako eh. Syempre SM, tsaka computer. Di naman maiiwasan yun eh.”
Despite being a school dropout, having Gian is a huge relief to his family. Instead of wasting his time on social media and online games, he chooses to help his father, who has been a sorbetes vendor even before meeting Gian’s mother. Gian plans to pursue his studies next school year and dreams of being a policeman in the future.
“Gusto ko ng Criminology. Wala lang. Bata pa lang ako gusto ko nang maging pulis.”
Words by Airen Petalbert
Photos by Trixie Bautista