This has been published in Philippine Daily Inquirer dated May 11, 2017.
Our family is buying our first ever air-conditioned car, a Mitsubishi L300 cab. Yes, you’re reading it right, the typical L300 white delivery van you usually see roaming in your hometown – that is my father’s dream car.
I used to reject the idea of us buying a delivery vehicle but in retrospect, I believe my father deserves to get what his heart desires after all. To give you a background of what it’s like to live in a sari-sari store household and the reason why he wants to get the L300 van, be my guest. Read on, sir/ma’am.
My parents were never employed, my siblings and I were raised in a house with an extended sari-sari store and bakery in one. We used to live in an overcrowded area in Quezon City near Landmark, this was where my parents first ventured into self-employment. To give you a picture: If you are riding the MRT, departing from North avenue bound to Taft, you can notice a series of cramped makeshift houses beside Landmark – we used to live there until I think I was 7 years old before we transferred to Bulacan and even up until some time in college, I used to stay there because of its proximity to PUP, Sta. Mesa compared to Bulacan. I wouldn’t say that the place was out of harm’s way because real-life gangsters and knife-carrying neighbors clashing on the side street are real, believe me. Despite the unfavorable environment, my parents made it clear to us to always behave in a proper manner, reach out for their hand to bless every time we reach home and to actualize kindness to others. The only thing that we cannot compromise during difficult times is my mother, Mama is like our kryptonite. When my mother lovingly speaks, no one can resist her charm within the household — everything can be settled, including petty sibling argument.
Both my parents usually wake up at 4 in the morning to open our store, go to the wet market, look after the bakery operation while attending to buying customers. It was their daily routine for as long as I can remember – no weekend off, no holidays. We even had a karinderya and tried selling vegetables one time! When we try to go out as a family once in a blue moon for an occasion, our constant concern would be “sinong magbabantay ng tindahan?” When I say “Go out as a family” that means going to a nearby mall and eat in a nicer restaurant than Jollibee, our favorite was Max’s. In most cases where we cannot close our store, either of my parents would buy roasted chicken or ice cream to liven up the mood of our home and then everyone’s happy.
Our first ever out of town as a family happened two years ago in Batangas which coincided with their 26th wedding anniversary. Now that my siblings and I can somehow set aside a budget for our little travels here and there, we want to give them the experience they never had because of absolute dedication in providing everything we need and securing our education through the sari-sari store. I detested waking up 5 in the morning and be the assigned weekend tindera for the day but right now, I couldn’t be more grateful for our family’s collective efforts to keep our humble business up and running.
It’s challenging to raise a family of six and I can only imagine the hard work my parents had to go through starting from a small-scale sari-sari store. If there’s one significant lesson my parents imparted us through all these years is that nothing worth having comes easy. It’s a mix of persistent dedication, hard work and having fun along the way. After all, my father wants the L300 van so it’s easier for him to pick up goods from the supermarket to our home. Even at his age, surviving two abdominal operations and a mild stroke, my father won’t settle down in managing our business. He specifically wants the L300 Mitsubishi cab because it’s air-conditioned, I believe a little luxury wouldn’t hurt.