JIMBOY Santillan wakes up very early in the morning every day to prepare for school.
But instead of packing up books and school supplies and place these in a school bag, like most students do, he instead prepares the ingredients for the bibingka (rice bread) that he sells near the Abellana National High School.
Santillan has been selling the native delicacy for P10 per packs of two pieces, in the last four years.
“Mao na ni ang negosyo nga akong nakat-onan sukad sa akong pagka bata. Dili na lang sad ko masuya sa uban nga ni eskwela. Ang importante maka kwarta ko,” he said.
(I have learned this business since I was a child. And I am not jealous of those who go to school. The important thing is for me to earn a living.)
Santillana, 18, only finished grade III in a school in Negros. He stopped attending school because of poverty and after his parents Oliva and Jose separated. He is the eldest of three sibblings.
When he was 10-years-old, he left Negros and followed his mother to Cebu and worked as her assistant in selling bibingka.
When he was 14-years-old and after he learned from his mother’s recipe, he borrowed money and invested in a bicycle-driven cart and started to buy bibingka ingredients himself.
Everyday, he needs P900 to buy seven kilos of rice and shredded coconut.
He earns P1,200 per day which allows him to bring home P300 to his live-in-partner who is now four months pregnant with their first child.
“Wala na lang gyud ko mangandoy nga mo eskwela kay wala may kwarta. Magtigum na lang ko para sa akong anak puhon,” he said.
(I have not thought of going to school because we do not have money. Now, I am saving for my future child.)
And his street food business is not risk free and he allocates a certain amount of his earnings to pay fines each time the Cebu City government catches him selling bibingka in an area where ambulant vendors are prohibited.
Authorities impound his bicycle and cart, and suspends him from the streets for a month. A fine of P500 is imposed before he can retrieve his bicycle and cart.
He said that while he tries to follow the law, getting caught in a prohibited area is sometimes inevitable.
He would normally ride his bicycle driven cart from their house in Tagunol, Talisay City to Cebu City and sell near the daycare center in barangay Pari-an.
In the afternoon, he would move to the Abellana National High School and park near the Fuente Police Station to sell. /Edison A. delos Angeles, Correspondent