The crisp of success

·3 min read

NO ONE can hold a 42-year-old chicharon vendor's tears from falling, as he is set to graduate with a degree of Bachelor of Elementary Education on August 17, 2022.

This chicharon vendor is Jesus Tiwan Fuentes from Barangay Labangon, Cebu City. He lost his mother when he was still six years old, while his father now has a new family. He is the youngest in the family of six.

After the death of his mother, Fuentes stayed with his aunt. It was during his secondary years when he realized that he needed to finish high school so he can do something for his future.

When he was in high school, he said he had to resort to selling puto and lumpia just to survive and to continue his studies.

At the age of 38, he decided to pursue a college degree in an institution in Talisay City. Despite being in a bad patch, he never gave up, instead consigned to selling chicharon to make a living.

"Kung magpaka-aron ingnon jud ka, wa jud kay maabot. Promise, wa juy maabot kay pirti baya namong pobreha. Ang-ang magpaka-aron ingnon ko nga dato mi nga pobre man jud kaayo mis tanan," Fuentes told SunStar in a virtual interview Friday, July 8, 2022.

Fuentes, a husband and a father to four children, has been selling chicharon for eight years now. He pedals from Barangay Tabunok in Talisay City to Barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City to sell the crispy pork rinds.

He said he only gets P400 to P500 a day from selling chicharon. But with that money, he is able to buy food for his family and even sustain his studies.

"Kuhaan pa na sa bugas, tanan [ang P500]...for example P500, ibilin pa man sa pamilya, syempre ngita na sad pagka-ugma...naa nalay mabilin nako nga P50," said Fuentes.

To sustain his needs, he had to sell chicharon to his classmates in school before the Covid-19 pandemic.

When the Covid-19 pandemic was declared in 2020, the school he is attending has resorted to holding classes only three times a week. He spent the rest of the week selling chicharon.

Because of his tight budget, he said there were days when he had to buy fried fish that cost P40 in a carinderia and split it twice for lunch.

But he admitted that the Covid-19 pandemic has somehow helped him manage his time, as they were in a modular class set-up.

Fuentes said some people thought he was crazy, as he often mumbled something while selling chicharon. He said he was just memorizing some of his lessons and he preferred to do it vocally.

He said he tried to save money for security and emergency reasons, but he could not sustain it, as he had to use the money he earned from selling chicharon for food.

In tears, the 42-year-old vendor said he feels bad for his four children as he has not been able to provide them a good life.

His upcoming graduation, though, has given him courage and hope to continue.

He said now that he is close to achieving his dream of finishing a college degree, he could not help but cry almost every night out of joy.

Fuentes is hoping someone can help him find a permanent job after graduation, so he can continue to support his family.

On his Facebook account, Fuentes asked for help from those who have the capacity to help him.

One of Fuentes’ wishes is to be able to live in Talisay City with his family, saying somebody offered him a teaching job in Talisay but he has no place yet to stay. (Jeanie Mea Pitor, CNU intern)

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