Newsboy delivers papers–in style
LUCENA CITY—For Carlos Antolo, 57, selling newspapers is a noble profession.
Thus, even as he conducts his daily work on a rickety bicycle—rain or shine, seven days a week—he sports a clean long-sleeved polo with a matching colorful necktie, rugged pants and a bull cap.
On bright days, Antolo knocks on the doors of his growing list of customers in black coat and tie to deliver the crisp copy of their favorite newspaper, to the amusement of his clients.
His eye-catching getup has earned him the tag “diaristang sosyal” from among his customers along Maharlika Highway here.
“We like his business ethic. There is no lowly job for persons like him. He is the only ‘diaristang sosyal’ around,” a store owner says after receiving from Antolo her paper’s copy for the day.
Antolo acknowledges that the polo and tie were part of his “gimmick and strategy” when he decided to venture into newspaper selling four years ago after he quit serving as a security guard for years in different business establishments in Southern Tagalog.
“I want to be unique from the rest of local newspaper vendors so that the public would notice me and buy my product,” Antolo tells the Philippine Daily Inquirer in an interview in the two-story house owned by his late mother in Barangay (village) Iyam on the outskirts of the city.
He narrates that there were times when motorists in expensive cars would stop on the side of the road just to buy newspapers from him.
“They said they were attracted to my suit. They even asked me about myself and why I was wearing a necktie. They were all curious. Some might have thought that I was nuts, but I didn’t mind as long as they buy a newspaper,” he says with a good laugh.
Antolo says that after getting acquainted with his regular customers who are mostly professionals, including lawyers, doctors, bankers and teachers, he began to realize that newspaper vending is just like any other profession that one should be proud of.
“My customers wait for me every day for a copy of their favorite newspaper. They treat me as an important partner in their daily routine so they can keep abreast of the latest events not only in the country but also in different parts of the globe through the news, opinions, business trends, modern technology and all the gamut of relevant information,” he says.
With his getup, he says he believes that he is “able to put respect and dignity to newspaper vending no matter how lowly it is in the eyes of other people.”
Antolo, who finished high school, recalls that when he stopped working as a security guard, a job that caused his separation from his wife and two children due to his frequent out-of-town postings, he was at a loss on how to feed himself.
“My wife had long left me, bringing along my two kids. I’m now alone. I knew that I have to find work. But at my age and with my poor health, who would still hire me?” he recalls asking himself.
One of his friends advised him to sell newspapers but he felt unsure if he was up to it when he was told that it was going to be a continuous daily job.
“My friend was right. All other jobs have their own rest day. But in the newspaper business, the public is always hungry for news seven days a week even if there’s a typhoon or an earthquake,” Antolo says.
There was no turning back when he made up his mind. He looked for a cheap bicycle in the city’s secondhand shops and bought one for P700.
“With my age, I knew that I would be competing with much younger and faster vendors. I had to prepare myself for the competition,” he recalls, noting that he was suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis when he started the job.
He later combed the rows of ukay-ukay (used clothing) stalls in the central part of the city for colorful but cheap neckties. “As a starter, I bought three colorful ties for P30 each, a pair of rugged pants, a pair of all-around shoes and biker’s hand gloves,” he recalls.
On his first day, he remembers how he was met with inquisitive stares from fellow newspaper vendors with his business attire. “But I just gave them a wink and a smile. But I did not tell them that the getup was part of my marketing tactic,” he says.
Even with a meager earning of only P50 on his first tiring day on the job, Antolo says he was determined to continue his newfound trade.
“I never entertained the thought of giving up. Pumping pedal for hours amid the scorching heat is really backbreaking. But I have to persevere. A person should not wallow in pity but instead strive hard to earn respect from others even in poverty,” he says.
Antolo starts his day at around 5:30 a.m., getting newspaper copies from one of the city’s dealers.
Thirty minutes later, he pedals in the ascending portion of the highway, distributing copies to clients in several subdivisions, government and private offices, factories and sari-sari stores along the route. He still delivers copies after lunch to customers who want to read it in the afternoon.
On rainy days, Antolo still pedals his way around, protected by a plastic raincoat. “But I still wear polo and tie under the raincoat,” he says.
He says he now earns P250 to P300 a day from selling magazines, broadsheets and tabloids.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.