For online classes: Student sells garden soil to buy gadget
Caecent No-ot Magsumbol (The Freeman) - August 2, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  Incoming Grade 10 student John Dale Perez is among the millions of Filipino students at a loss as to how to join online classes as they do not have either a computer, smartphone, or any gadget, much less internet connection, at home.

Yet Perez, 16, is not one to wallow in hopelessness.

Instead, he is making use of his spare time to earn money by selling or bartering garden soil for a gadget and his other school needs.

Raised not by his biological parents but by his grandparents, Perez, a student of Talamban National High School in Cebu City, learned how to become responsible at an early age.

He was only a month old when his parents separated and who are now having families of their own.

Since then, he has been living with his father’s parents in Talamban.

“Baby pa ko, one month pa gyud ko, nagbuwag na akong mama ug papa. Ila kong gibilin sa akong lola diri. Mura man gani kog di anak sa akong papa (I was only a baby when my parents separated. They left me here with my lola. I feel like I am not a child of my father),” Perez told The FREEMAN.

Despite coming from a broken family, Perez said he managed to survive with the help of his grandparents. What’s more, he earned some awards and honors in school, though inconsistently due to problems in the family.

Last year, Perez stopped schooling for about a month as he went to his mother in Liloan.

“Nag-long kog motherly love so niadto ko niya. Pero mao ra man diay gihapon. Mas nisamok man nuon og samot so balik na lang kos akong lola. Diri na lang gyud ko, bahalag wa na ni bungbong among gipuy-an (I was longing for motherly love. But it was just the same. When I went to my mother, it only made things worse, so I just came back to my lola. I’d rather stay here, even if our house has no wall),” he said.

Perez’s lola used to sell fish and babana cue, but was forced to stop when Cebu City was placed under the enhanced community quarantine. Elders like her and minors like Perez are not allowed to go out amid the pandemic.

Adding to Perez’s pain was when his grandfather suffered a stroke last summer. After that, he had to stop as a working student since he was also helping take care of him.

“Dili makagawas akong lola for the modular learning to pick up the modules every week nga alternative sa dili ka afford og online class. I want to prioritize the health of my lola nga dili matakdan sa Covid na mogawas just to get the modules for me. It came to my mind nga mo-stop lang sa ko this school year but my heart is crying inside because of my desire to pursue (education) no matter what,” he said.

Even in GCQ, minors and seniors are still not allowed to go out. Perez was, therefore, left with no choice but to find ways to go to online schooling by selling or bartering garden soil for a laptop or cellphone that he can use.

He also posted his pitch online.

“I believe there's always a way to solve any problem...But I believe more that my crisis now will be solved if somebody here with a good heart can extend a help for me for my request to be granted. Bisan pila ka sako na black soil, willing ko mohakot for the sake of used cellphone/laptop. Please pick up lang in my location here in Talamban Riverside,” part of his post read.

The post was accompanied by a photo of Perez holding a bunch of medals while seated beside sacks of garden soil that were up for sale or barter.

Perez said that if he can already get the gadget needed, as well as some money, he will also use it to answer his grandparents’ needs while the rest he would save for his future studies as he hopes to be an electrical  engineer someday.

Those who want to help him out may contact his uncle at 0932-5027488. A teacher from TNHS has confirmed that Perez is  an incoming grade 10 student in the school. — KQD (FREEMAN)

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