It was a bit of a challenge finding someone to feature this week. I didn't feel like riding far from home and so I thought I would just stay around Moalboal, maybe somewhere in the mountain. My main goal, as usual, was to make sure that I randomly picked someone who would benefit from the post payout. This is going to be a long story, grab a drink and your popcorn 😁.
The search is on!
I first drove to a dirt road on the side of the national road which I noticed earlier this week. I had never gone that way and thought it might be the right place to start. There were lots of people along the path but no one really caught my attention.
After cruising around left and right without success, I decided to drive up the mountain. The road alternated between rocky paths and concreted sections. I must have been riding up for almost 30 minutes when I saw a lady outside her tiny hut. I engaged the conversation in English and because she wasn't fluent, she asked for her daughter to come out and help her understand what I was saying.
I spent about 15 minutes explaining the #WhoAreTheyPhilippines initiative to them and showing them pictures of the past editions. Despite the fact that I could see the reward would be helpful to them (and they even said themselves that they needed money), they declined being interviewed.
I didn't really understand why they were saying no, but it seemed like they were a bit suspicious and thought it was all a scam. I reassured them as best as I could but then they were saying they were not comfortable enough in English to which I replied "it's ok, I will be the one writing the article". Nothing changed their mind and so I just bid them goodbye and left.
I was very much disappointed when I left and just couldn't (still can't) understand why they would refuse a guaranteed php500 (and most likely more) reward in a week, especially after telling me that they do need money right now.
Anyways... As I continued on the path which by then was all downhill back to Moalboal I started feeling like maybe I should just postpone my search. When I reached a junction I asked myself "Right to Moalboal or left to somewhere I've never been?". I thought I would try a bit longer. Left it was!
I drove for a few minutes and then the concrete road turned to a dirt path which started to go back up the mountain. I drove up for maybe 200 meters but it was very steep and slippery. My back wheel was spinning and it was becoming hard for me to keep my balance. I didn't feel comfortable going any further. Time to head back. It just wasn't meant to be.
As I was nearing back to the junction I mentioned before, I noticed some kids on the side of the road. Among them there was a lady with a baby in her arms. She was cooking some typical Filipino snacks.
I stopped and started a conversation with the kids and then with the lady. I explained to her that I wanted to feature her. She could understand most of what I was saying but once again, I could feel that she wasn't convinced and maybe skeptical about the whole thing. So I thought, "why don't I show you pictures of the past people I interviewed". I reached into my pocket to grab my phone and ..... no phone! I had obviously dropped it somewhere. The question was "where?" because I had not paid attention to it since I left the lady and her daughter earlier and I had been driving for quite a while after that.
I excused myself and decided to trace back my steps starting with the slippery slope. As I left, I was really feeling down. It was like nothing was going right. I reached the dirt path again, parked the scooter and started walking up looking for my phone. What a relief when after walking about 100m, I found it in the middle of the path, a bit muddy but in good condition.
Back on the scooter and back to the kids and the lady. I had to try and convince her to do the feature with me. I'm not sure why, but I felt like she needs it. By the time I got back to her, the neighbors had heard about the foreigner who stopped and talked about an interview and so there were several people around. One of them, Cathy, agreed to help me translate and explain everything to the lady. She also convinced her to be today's feature.
This is how I met Lynmae.
Who is Lynmae
Lynmae is a 34 year old street food seller. Every day, between 3pm and 6pm she sets up her small table and cooker on the side of the street in front of her house. She prepares typical Philippines snacks such as fish tempura, fish balls and hotdog sausages. She sells a small wood skewer with several pieces of tempura at php10 (US$0.20). The same price for a hotdog sausage or for a skewer with fish balls.
This is her only source of income. Needless to say that it isn't much. It's even more difficult for her since the covid19 pandemic as people do not have the same buying power and are more careful with how they spend money. As such she sells much less than she used to.
Knowing how she makes a living and imagining how little she earns, how do you feel if I tell you that she is a single mother with 6 kids, 3 boys and 3 girls, the youngest being 10 months old and the eldest 15 years old? For me the questions which went through my mind when Cathy explained this to me were "how is that possible? How can she feed them all? how can she dress them all? how can she send them all to school?" I still don't know and don't have the answers.
She was born and raised in Moalboal in Barangay Batad-batad as a single child. She studied in one of Moalboal's schools until 4th year of high school.
She used to work as a sales person in a bakery but had to leave the job when she was pregnant. She has also, unfortunately, been unlucky in love and her partners all left her, either for another woman or when they learnt she was pregnant. Now she lives in the house pictured above with her parents and her lola (grandmother). There isn't any other source of income inside the house since her father is also currently jobless.
The kids obviously take a lot of her time especially now that they are home schooled, but if she has some free time, she spends it resting or gardening. She and her parents grow some vegetables which obviously help with keeping everybody fed. They grow okras, talongs (aubergine) and string beans among others.
Cathy, a distant relative who helped me with the translation, on the left and Lynmae on the right
Her dream would be to be able to provide a better life for the kids with a nice house, healthy and copious meals, etc... She would love to be able to give them everything they need or want. At the moment and for now, she is contented and happy when they are happy and healthy.
This is it for Lynmae's feature. To contribute to her reward, please upvote this post and share it with your followers by reblogging it.
Thank you all again for your support and see you next week for another feature.
What is #WhoAreTheyPhilippines?
#WhoAreTheyPhilippines is a weekly project where I randomly select a person in the area where I live or work. I interview that person, take a few pictures and then post about him/her on the Hive PH Community. After 7 days, when the author reward can be claimed, I convert the whole HBD amount to the local currency (PHP) and hand it over to him/her along with some contributions from some of you.
I am very thankful to all of you for your support, upvotes and contributions. I am glad this initiative is well received.
Check out the previous editions here:
WATP #1 - Ernesto The BladeSmith and Ernesto's HBD Reward
WATP #2 - Marito The Trisikad Driver
WATP #3 - Pampilo The Vulcanizer
WATP #4 - Virgilia The Sari-sari Store Owner
WATP #5 - Eliza The Plant Seller
WATP #6 - Kris The Street Food Seller
WATP #7 - Claudia & Rosalina The Homemakers
WATP #8 - Trinidad The laundrywoman
WATP #9 - Alfredo The Retired Fisherman
WATP #10 - Mark The Construction Worker
WATP #11 - Bitiliana the Malunggay and Lemongrass Seller
WATP #12 - Alexous the Fisherman
WATP #13 - Arjay the Buko Vendor