Dreaming of Jollibee

Posted on November 2, 2012



The Ewican children clean niches and tombs in Consolacion public cemetery to buy rice. (JUCELLE CUYOS)

As far as he can remember, Luigi Ewican had dreamed of eating at Jollibee, the popular domestic fastfood outlet.

He and his siblings never entered Jollibee before.

“We wanted to save money so we could eat there but friends said it was expensive so we stopped dreaming and instead focused on our schooling,” Luigi said in Cebuano.

Luigi, his 10-year-old sister Luela, nine-year-old brother Jaynarb and five-year-old brother Jeric earn P5 each cleaning the niches or tombs at the public cemetery in Consolacion town, northern Cebu.

Instead of Jollibee, Luigi said they eat rice mixed with warm water and a pinch of salt.

Since last Monday, the children, who study at Nangka elementary school, wake up at 5 a.m to search for tombs to clean at the cemetery now that opportunities peak with All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.

They bring plastic bags where they place the wax they scrape from candle drippings.

Luigi said he started working in the cemetery when he was 8 years old after he was invited by neighbors to learn how to make money from melted candles and by cleaning the niches.

He later taught his siblings.

“I’m excited whenever November comes because we can earn money to buy rice,” he said.

If he’s lucky, Luigi gets P20 from cleaning a niche. All five Ewican children said they turn over their earnings to their mother who buys the rice.

Luela said the only time they can eat rice with viand is during a fiesta and Christmas season.

She said she’s already happy when she can eat rice with water and salt.

“It’s delicious for me, we’re used to it. I also like eating ginamos (cheap fish paste),” Luela said.

Luigi can only agree, saying he and his siblings, including two-year-old Cyril will have to content themselves watching other kids eating Jollibee on their neighbors’ TV. /Jucell Marie P. Cuyos, Correspondent

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