Juliet Kalipayan and Her “Trees” Cutout from
Empty Plastic Softdrink Bottles
By Apolinario Villalobos
I found Juliet one morning engrossed in cutting tree forms out of empty green plastic softdrink bottles beside her candy and cigar sidewalk stall. An arm away from her and covered from public view by an umbrella, were her two children. She admitted that her family had been living on the sidewalk for more than 10 ten years as they could not afford to rent a room around the bustling section of Sta. Cruz district where they eke out a living. Her husband Eddie, drives a motorized pedicab or tricycle while she sells cigarettes, candies, and cutout arts from plastic bottles. But this situation did not prevent them from letting their children attend a nearby elementary school, with the elder who is 7 years old is in Grade 2 and the younger, 6 years old is in Grade 1.
She sells her art pieces at 25 pesos apiece and confided that there are days when her works are sold out before dark but there are days, too, when she fails to sell a single one. Friends and sympathizing pedestrians give her empty green and blue plastic bottles, but when she runs out of them, she would check the garbage bins herself, for these materials. She learned the art by observing a friend make cutouts many years ago, and after several attempts, finally succeed in coming out with “perfect” ones that she deftly fashions using a small scissor and cutter.
She and her husband attempted saving extra pesos but oftentimes these are spent for emergencies, especially, for the school needs of their children. All she wishes for now is to have an additional fund for her cigarettes and candies, and she is hoping that before the onset of the rainy season, this will be realized, so they are doubling their effort in saving.
I found out that during the rainy season, with their scant belongings, they would look for a more secure sidewalk corner and just pray that rains would not result to flood which eventually spells disaster for them. Despite all the hardship of living in the city, they have no plans of going home to either the province of her husband or hers. They have tried once but they gave up due to unbearable difficulties. She told me that in the city, for as long as one is patient and hardworking enough, life can be endurable. She added that, while working hard, she and her husband are keeping their faith in God whom she believes will not forsake them.