All around Metro Manila, the streets are filled with swarming children. As disturbing as it seems, it has become a natural occurrence for Filipinos to see a child in a torn, ragged, oversized shirt holding sampaguita or hearing noises from “takatak” boys engaging drivers during traffic jams.
But what caught the attention of social media users last 2016 are these two boys who are selling Sampaguita while studying.
After school, siblings Marlon and Melvin Mendoza would go straight to their usual spots in Quezon city to help their mother earn money. But while these two boys are waiting for kind-hearted customers to purchase their humble product, they use the spare time to do homework and review lessons.
Their mother, Rochelle, originally sold the Sampaguitas on her own. But the boys insisted to help their mother. “Hindi ko sila pinilit o inobliga. Sinisigurado ko na ligtas sila at ‘di mapapahamak,” she said.
She only started selling two years ago after her husband was apprehended due to illegal substances. But luckily, the Sampaguita business was able to put food in their stomachs and a roof on their heads.
The then 11-year-old Marlon, who is was in grade 5 at the time, said that the business never got in the way of his studies. As a matter of fact, he finished in the top 10 students in his class last school year. He dreams to be an accountant someday.
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Although there are a lot of passersby who can’t help but raise their brows about the two boys working, some are moved by their diligence. There are also a few who would give them food for dinner.
After their story broke out, the Department of Social Welfare and Development approached Rochelle and the children to offer the boys shelter. Knowing that the boys’ education will be affected by the move, Rochelle turned down the offer. But, the DSWD assured the family that they will be endorsed to receive educational and financial assistance.
Marlon and Melvin’s story isn’t an isolated case. More and more Filipino children now have to sacrifice their childhood to earn for a living.
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