Virgie Sapitola-Sapera Pushes a Cartful
Of Young Coconuts for More than 5 Kilometers Everyday
By Apolinario Villalobos
At a little past 50 years of age, Virgie Sapitola-Sapera pushes a cartful of young coconut from Blumentritt to Quiapo, a distance of more than 5 kilometers one way. Of course, she hopes that along the way, her load will be lessened if she could dispose of some which she sells at 30 pesos apiece. The terminus of such trek is the P. Paterno St. in Quaipo. Asked about her husband, she told me that he leaves ahead, at dawn to be at the area in Quiapo before the rush hour. Their youngest son leaves their home after his quick breakfast to take over the cart of his father who immediately takes a jeepney back to their home in Blumentritt to take a much needed rest. Virgie’s husband has had a stroke but somehow tries his best to contribute to the family’s collective effort to earn.
I met Virgie along Oroquieta St. when she stopped for a mug of coffee at the sidewalk carinderia where I was enjoying my own. That coffee was her breakfast. Her real meal would be at noon in Quaipo. Despite the long trek with a heavy cart full of young coconut yet to push, she was still smiling while conversing with me. She confided that she is from Pangasinan, a province in the north but met her husband in Manila. Their companionship blessed them with five children. While the elder three have families of their own, the two younger ones are left with them, with the youngest in the junior high school or Grade 10. She told me that whatever happens, her youngest son shall finish high school.
I found out that they sell young coconuts for their juice when in season, but for other months, they sell other stuff such as vegetables and other fruits. They cannot afford to miss any single day of the week in making the trek to their post at Quiapo, except when there is a really bad weather and flood. During those unproductive days, they take all measures to scrimp so that their savings can be stretched to the maximum. Her only problem is the medication of her husband who is on maintenance drugs.
Before she left me, I reminded her to be very extra careful in crossing the busy Recto Ave. where early that morning, a motorcycle got bumped by a rushing jeepney. In response, she smilingly pointed her forefinger towards the sky, implying perhaps, that Somebody up there is watching over her…