A ‘superhero’ dream for homeless boy
To become a superhero is a dream common among children.
It is 9-year-old Daniel Cabrera’s dream, too, although for him, being a superhero would be more than just wearing tights and capes.
For Daniel, it would be about being able to finish school to be able to help pull his family out of dire poverty.
“I want my mother to stop crying,” said Daniel, also fondly called “Biboy” by his family. “She is the only one raising us and it is only by studying hard that I can help.”
Daniel, a Grade 3 pupil at Subangdaku Elementary School in Mandaue City, has two other siblings—half-brother Robert Espinosa, 16, and younger brother, Gabriel, 7.
His mother, Maria Christina Espinosa, 43, works as a helper at a makeshift food stall that sells cheap fried food at the Mandaue reclamation area in Mandaue City.
She earns only about P60 to P80 a day. The pay is low but the owner, Juliet Lubag, allows Christina and her three children to sleep in her stall.
The stall, made of plywood, is only about 5 feet wide and 6 feet long, and with floor to ceiling height of about 6 feet.
But it has been home for Christina and her children for more than a year now.
The family lost their house in a fire in Barangay Tipolo in Mandaue. They had been moving from one place to another until Lubag saw them sitting outside her stall over a year ago.
Lubag took them in, allowed them to stay in her stall and gave Christina a job after learning that Christina is a single parent raising three children.
Robert is Christina’s son from her first common-law husband. The father of Daniel and Gabriel died in 2013, shortly after he was released from prison.
Since the stall doesn’t have electricity, Daniel is forced to do his homework in a lighted parking lot of a nearby McDonald’s branch.
A photo of Daniel doing his homework at the McDonald’s parking lot on the evening of June 25 has become viral in social media.
“My mother said that if I study hard, my future would be brighter,” said Daniel when asked why he was still doing homework at a late hour.
Daniel said he dreams of becoming a policeman because becoming a policeman, he believed, was one way he could protect his family.
Daniel had not been focused on his studies before.
He used to spend after-school hours either playing with friends at abandoned cargo containers in the reclamation area or watching street fights instead of doing his homework.
Daniel would sometimes beg for money from passersby instead of going to school.
The paradigm shift for Daniel came when he saw his mother cry due to exhaustion, of being too tired trying to make ends meet for her children.
Daniel felt helpless and it dawned on him that the next best thing he could do to help was to study hard, finish school and find a job. This would put a stop to his mother’s crying.
In jest, Daniel said one of his motives in wanting to help was so his mother would buy him his favorite comic book, “Dragonball Z.”
Instead of playing, Daniel spends extra time doing homework or memorizing multiplication tables since Math is his favorite subject.
He likes looking at numbers and writing them in different colors. When he isn’t studying, he is drawing his favorite “Dragonball Z” character, Sangoku.
Christina said Daniel is a sweet boy. Although he wants to grow up fast and help his family, she added, he is still a boy who wants to play and read “Dragonball Z” comics.
“He hasn’t stopped talking about those ‘Dragonball’ comics. But as long as he is happy, then it’s okay with me,” she said.
Christina admitted that there were times that she felt overwhelmed by the responsibility of raising three children alone.
She would feel inadequate as a parent because she is unable to provide a better life for her boys.
But every time Daniel snuggles beside her, she is reminded of how blessed she is despite the hardship.
“I feel happy whenever I am reminded that I am lucky to have a son who doesn’t stop caring for his family,” she said.
Since Daniel’s photo doing homework at a parking lot became viral, Good Samaritans have responded, giving him books, pens, crayons and a toy police car.
He wouldn’t have to do homework again in the parking lot. A donor gave the family a battery-powered lamp.
Supt. Julian Entoma, acting director of the Mandaue City police, said at least 50 policemen had pledged to give a portion of their salary to Daniel.
But Daniel is oblivious to fame brought on by the Internet. Instead, he is focused on fulfilling his dream of becoming a policeman, and his family’s “superhero.”
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