Nanay Lucy’s bananas feed the soul
As early as seven in the morning, 51-year-old Lucy Alcontin can be seen peeling bananas on the sidewalks of P. Lopez Street in Cebu City. The bananas would soon be sizzling in a pan smothered with flour and caramelized sugar.
It would be a typically long day for Nanay Lucy.
By afternoon, her bananas — most of which are served on bamboo skewers — would be sold out to the endless foot-traffic of students, workers, and shoppers from the nearby Carbon market.
It has been thirty years since Nanay Lucy took her place among the many ‘banana cue’ and peanut vendors along P. Lopez Street.
Their days are the same, those who form a ubiquitous row of food stands on the road.
They carry bunches of bananas, peel them, slice them, and fry them throughout the day.
Nanay Lucy still remembers how different things were thirty years ago.
She said the vendors then could easily sell on the sidewalks.
Now, the sidewalk has been fenced by administrators of a nearby university and the vendors are left at the side of the road trying to shield their products from passing cars and the accompanying dust.
Like all other street vendors, Nanay Lucy realizes that government does not want them there.
But as long as there are customers, she said that she would keep on selling the banana snacks as her only way to earn a living.
Nanay Lucy’s husband, Carlos, has been paralyzed for sixteen years after suffering from a stroke.
She has been taking care of him and their three children: John Carlo, Giselle, and Kimberly; while also trying to sustain the needs of their
family as the sole breadwinner.
Today, her three children, who are all in their mid-20s, work in different fields and are self-sustaining and independent.
One of them owns a tattoo parlor.
They pool their resources together to help Nanay Lucy pay their bills.
For students of the nearby university, Nanay Lucy’s banana delicacies are the best of the bunch.
“Barato kaayo iyang baligya ug lami pa gyod kaayo iyang pinaypay. (Her products are affordable and delicious especially her pinaypay).” said Ryan Karl Tallo, a senior Communications student of the university on the slices of banana fan fritters sold by Nanay Lucy.
Ryan is just one of the many students who frequent the food stand.
For thirty years, Nanay Lucy has formed a bond with her customers as she allows many underprivileged students to buy from her and pay only later.
“Maluoy man gud ko sa ubang estudyante ba. Walay kwarta nya gutom na kaayo mao na ako lang sa sila ilista, (I pity some of the students. They are hungry and penniless so I just list their names and wait for them to pay)” she told Cebu Daily News.
Many students have come and gone off Nanay Lucy’s list; but all of them have paid their dues before leaving the university to graduate.
Nanay Lucy could only reminisce, with fondness, the good old days of the students whose education she helped sustain through her kindness.
“Ang uban mamalik pa gani kung makaagi sila nako kay magpasalamat, (Some of them come back to thank me),” she said.
Through her years of selling banana cues and fritters, Nanay Lucy has not only raised a family; but has also helped the education of poor students by providing them with food when they could not afford it.
In a way, she has marked herself unique among the many vendors along P. Lopez Street.
Her banana cue stand will be difficult to replace when the day comes for her to retire from selling the popular Filipino snack on the streets of Cebu City.
But her legacy will continue in the hearts of the students she had once fed on a hungry day.
Nanay Lucy and her ‘banana cue’ is a reminder that food not only feed the body but can also warm the heart. / Delta Dyrecka Letigio, USJ-R Journalism Intern
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