Bai Weng…polio victim as a child, today, a happy mother
and hardworking vendor
by Apolinario Villalobos
I met Bai Weng, a young Muslim mother who sells pastil/patil outside the Margsaysay Park of Tacurong when I took a respite from my walk around the downtown area. Over a mug of 3-in-1 coffee, we had a talk, although, it took sometime before she trusted me. At the start of our conversation, she would just answer my question, but later, she volunteered information related to what we were discussing. I found her intelligent.
I was surprised to find that she walks with a limp until she told me that she was a cripple as a child, a polio victim. At ten, an American Christian missionary found her and brought her to Sasa, Davao city where the mission house was located, unfortunately, she forgot the name of the missionary and the group. She told me that she got operated at the San Pedro Hospital of Davao and after a few months of therapy, she was able to walk, though with a limp. She also confided that among the group of the indigents that the missionary group was helping, she was the only Muslim.
She got married and settled at the Muslim village of barangay Griῆo where she gave birth to seven children. Her husband does odd jobs to earn while she runs a store and pastil stand outside the city plaza, behind the tennis court. She also told me about her 10-year old son who sells soft brooms made from a kind of swamp reed and who earns substantially. Her son does his vending around the city and Lambayong, a neighboring town, on Saturdays and Sundays. According to Bai Weng, her son at his young age, acts independently. He buys his own bath and laundry soap, toothpaste and school uniform.
During my frequent stops at her store, I found out that she uses the “Bombay fund” – money borrowed from motorcycle-riding Indian nationals. She confided that without the fund, she would not have known where to find her start-up fund for her small business. Out of the small-time loans, she was able to invest on two big outdoor umbrellas, school bags for the kids, malongs, and TV.
I am fascinated at the way Bai Weng prepares the pastil, deftly wrapping the rice topped with shredded chicken cooked for hours in oil and soy sauce. She cooks the pastil topping herself in the evening, a batch of two kilos of which could last for one day.
I keep on encouraging Bai Weng to go on with her sacrifice and should be consoled by her children who are all well-behaved, especially, the 10-yearld who sells brooms and whom I found out to be maintaining high grades.
Bai Weng is among the people who inspires me to go on with my advocacy…