Saturday, April 26, 2008

THE PINEAPPLE VENDOR OF QUIAPO


She might have been named after the doyen of Filipino cinema -- now ageing though still working -- but this Gloria Romero is not in the glamor business. She is, in fact, a pushcart vendor and quite adept at her tasks. It takes her no longer than ten minutes to peel off the skin and carve out the eyes of a regular-sized pineapple.

A whole one (peeled and all) she sells for 50 pesos, while a slice, slightly salted, for ten pesos a piece. She makes a profit of about 30 pesos from each pineapple. Only recently, Gloria's selling prices were literally half of what they are now. The recent surge in the price of pineapples forced her to raise her prices.

The pineapples that she peddles come from the farms of the nearby Cavite province, which are trucked to Divisoria -- the central drop off point for many goods traded in the metropolitan area. Gloria buys them in bulk and loads up her cart in the morning. By noon, she is at her usual spot in Quiapo busily peeling and selling these pineapples. She usually sells out her day's inventory by the late evening, and would then head back home -- pushing her cart back to Tondo where she lives.


Gloria is proud to admit that she comes from a family of street vendors. She started selling shopping bags in Tutuban during the Martial Law years back in the '70s, and has peddled many other items since then. And for about a decade now, she has been selling only pineapples.

She has four children; the eldest is already married with children, while the other three are in high school. The money she earns from her work makes a substantial contribution to her husband's income; enabling them to afford the usual expenses involved in raising a family. Her prayers, she admits, is for her children to continue doing well in high school so they would someday make it to Pamanatasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, one of the Philippines' most prestigious universities that is tuition-free.

A jovial and hard-working mother, I couldn't help but wish that Gloria Romero's every prayer gets answered.



















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posted by Señor Enrique at 11:00 AM


22 Comments:

Anonymous kyels said...

I bet she's a sweet lady. And honestly, I'd love it if her prayers are answered. That'd mean a lot to her knowing that she only wants the best for her family.

(:

April 26, 2008 4:56 PM  

OpenID juleste said...

Your photos captured not just the delicious pineapples, but the joy of a woman doing her job. Your narrative conveys her dignity, hopes and dreams. Kapag nagawi ako sa Quiapo sana makits ko s'ya at nang makabili naman ng tinda n'ya.

Btw, you're in my blogroll :-)

April 26, 2008 7:03 PM  

Anonymous Vladimir said...

Pineapple is one of my favorite fruits, I just love to eat it.I think the lady what you have shown here is very hardworking and honest and I feel that her prayers will be answered soon.

April 26, 2008 7:36 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

She is, Kyels. What I appreciate most about her was her interest to share her a slice of her life with me (and my readers).

A generous woman, indeed.

April 26, 2008 7:46 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

You have to, Juleste. She was on P. Gomez and Palanca (in front of SM Outlet Store) when I ran into her. She's usually in this area, she told me.

She really enjoyed showing off her skills in peeling the skin off the pineapples, as well as sharing these interesting aspects of her job and family life.

By the way, looking and smelling those pineapples made me buy a whole piece to give as "pasalubong" to some friends in the area. They loved it :)

Many thanks, Jueleste!

April 26, 2008 7:51 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

On behalf of Gloria Romero, Vladimir, though she may never know about it, thank you and God bless you for your good wishes for her. She is indeed a wonderful woman and very proud of her job as a street vendor.

I love pineapples, too! I also grew up drinking pineapple juice at many parties, family affairs, and when visiting friends and relatives ... hehehe.

April 26, 2008 8:22 PM  

Blogger Lola said...

Wow, beautiful pictures. I am salivating already. Just wanna jump and fly to the Philippines right now. I love the month of May. Miss the fruits, the beautiful flowers, the Santa Cruzan, the fiesta. Hay, naku!

Gloria Romero seems like a wonderful woman. I hope she gets to fulfill her dreams for her children. Filipinos for the most part are very industrious and resourceful bunch. Hope this rice crisis doesn't affect too many poor people. I remember those malnourished children of Negros during the sugar crisis (70's? 80's?) and that haunted me for years.

May God bless her abundantly.

April 26, 2008 10:31 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A classic post of hard working, honest to goodness poor Filipinos.

I am proud of them, more than the wannabe Filipinos who earn money by stealing and deceit.

April 26, 2008 11:01 PM  

Anonymous bertN said...

It took the pictures of Gloria at work to remind me of the most efficient way to prepare pineapple for eating. The way it is done here, half of the fruit goes to waste. Talagang throw away society ang 'tate!

After I saw how they clean the fish I caught on a fishing boat and throw the rest away, I just took them home and clean and prepare them Pinoy style. They get rid of all the tasty parts! What a sinful waste.

April 27, 2008 4:21 AM  

Blogger Ebb Tide said...

Great post! I enjoy looking at your real life photos of a pineapple vendor and her story. Someday, I will try to paint this woman w/ your permission of course. Puwede ba?

April 27, 2008 5:18 AM  

Blogger Photo Cache said...

It is very true that every one of us has his/her own story and thank you for telling her story. The pictures are as always terrific, I may even be tempted to get a fresh pineapple even though I have stomach ache after I eat one :)

April 27, 2008 6:08 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Yes Pat, we many fellow Pinoys have admirable entrepreneurial spirit -- always hard at work but doing quite all right. Hopefully, I will get to meet more of them so I could feature them. Hopefully, their efforts, joys and dreams will also inspire many others.

Although quite hot at this time, May offers many festivals, and the fruits in season are just glorious.

April 27, 2008 8:28 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

And they're mostly dressed in impeccably expensive clothing and driving imported cars, Anonymous ... hehehe.

I intend to feature more of Manila's decent and hardworking everyday folks.

April 27, 2008 8:31 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

My brother in New Jersey, bertN, is quite skillful in peeling pineapples, too. However, he tends to make a big production out of it while we sit and salivate around him as we watched him at work. Peeling a pineapple seems like an art to me.

April 27, 2008 8:34 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Certainly you may, Ebb Tide! And I'm sure you'd make Gloria proud as well :)

Thank you!

April 27, 2008 8:37 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Oh, thank you, Photo Cache. Glad you like this post :)

Yes, everyone has a story and more often than not, we can certainly learn from other folks' stories as well.

Don't eat a pineapple if you will only get a tummy ache ... hehehe.

April 27, 2008 8:41 AM  

Blogger nutart said...

Gloria Romero, the pineapple lady :-)...conjures a lot of images! Her pineapples look very sweet and I can actually smell the aroma!
It usually is the case with street vendor ladies, they will answer all your questions and how! They not only sell their wares but their life stories to boot hoping you will get some lessons from their own experiences---body and soul food eka nga. In my college days, my "guru" was a balut vendor (forgot her name!) at the corner of Katipunan and Aurora blvd. As her suki, I would even get free balut when she found out it was my birthday :-). And she would always counsel me whether I liked it or not...like a mother talaga.

April 27, 2008 9:29 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Wow! A free balut for your birthday. That was so sweet, Bernadette.

Hope I get to meet similar endearing characters so I could feature them. I'd love to let the world know that such wondrous folks walk the streets of Manila :)

April 27, 2008 9:52 AM  

Blogger reyd said...

Nag laway naman ako diyan sa piña ni Aling Gloria. I wish all her prayers are answered.
I heard of success stories just like hers around Divisoria, but it is just sad to know that there are some families also who weren't able to achieve their dreams.
It reminded me of the old Chinese lady who sell us her homemade kakanins(kikiam, siopao, siomai..etc) in the 70s in our stores in Divisoria, and until 2002 when I was there, she brought me her special siomai for free, she's now in her late 80's and live in a Binondo condo with her daughter.
What's funny was, she just do that as not to get bored at home, me kaya ang pamilya niya.
( nabalitaan ko nga, marami palang utang yung mga tindera/o namin sa kanya, ...grrrrr...) yung iba nagbabayad naman.

April 27, 2008 3:42 PM  

Blogger Sidney said...

Eric, I like the way you tell the life of "ordinary" people you meet during your walks.
Quite an eyeopener for me and probably for many of your readers!
Keep up the good work.

April 27, 2008 4:10 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I find the story of that Chinese lady intriguing, Reyd.

I was once told that one of the greatest blessings is waking up with something to do. And for that Chinese lady, selling her kakanins was what gave her the most pleasure whether it was profitable or not. It was the daily grind of doing her work and interacting with her suki that kept her young :)

Wish to meet similar characters in Divisoria one of these days.

April 27, 2008 5:44 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Thank you, Sidney!

I guess, I'm slowly gaining the confidence in overcoming my shyness. And the more relaxed I appear as I approach these folks, they would be relaxed in kind while interacting with me.

As Bernadette said, many people are glad to share their life experiences, and the lessons they've learned from which.

April 27, 2008 5:48 PM  

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