Boy in viral ‘studying in street’ photo finishes elementary education, now living a ‘better’ life 

By: Doris C. Bongcac May 17,2019 - 01:47 PM

Daniel Cabrera, 13, already finished elementary and will soon be enrolled in high school. He wants to be a policeman in the future. /CDN Digital photo | Doris C. Bongcac

MANDAUE CITY, Philippines – Daniel Cabrera, 13, already finished elementary and will soon be enrolled in high school.

Daniel said that a police official, whom he failed to name, has also made a commitment to take care of his college education.

All that he needs to do now is study.

Mas nindot na akong kinabuhi karon. Sa una, usahay ma gutom mi. Karon dili na,” he said with a grin.

(My life is better now. Before, we sometimes went hungry. Now, not anymore.)

Daniel is the boy who became famous after a student from the Cebu Doctors’ University (CDU), Mandaue City Campus posted a photo of him while studying using the bright lights coming from the driveway of the McDonald’s drive-thru area at the North Reclamation Area in Mandaue City.

Aside from having food on their table, Daniel said, his family now has a roof over their head and lights that he could use at night to study his lessons.

During his free time, he also gets to play basketball with his friends of visit a nearby Internet Cafe to play computer games.

Pasalamat gyud sa tanan nga ni tabang namo,” he said.

(I’m really thankful to all who helped us.)

Maria Cristina Espinosa, Daniel’s mother, said she now operates a small sari-sari store where she would get the money that she would use for her children’s needs.

Her eldest son, Christopher, 20, now works as a carwash boy to also help in the needs of his younger brother Daniel, 13 and Gabrielle, 10.


Espinosa recalled that life was never easy when her common-law-partner, Danilo, was arrested and jailed for a rape case in 2013.  Danilo died while in detention on November 2013 due to severe vomiting.

Left with three boys to care for, Espinosa said she worked as caretaker of a “pungko-pungko” stall located across CDU.  She was paid P60 per day for watching over the stall at night time while she worked as a laundry woman during the day.

Paet kaayo ang walay bana. Sa usa ka adlaw kaduha lang mi makakaon. Usahay mag huwat pa ko nga naay magpalaba,” she recalled.

(It’s tough to have no husband. In one day, we only get to eat twice. Sometimes, I wait for someone who wants their laundry done by me.)

Espinosa said that she would place flattened used carton boxes underneath the tables of the “pungko-pungko” stall so her children will have a place to sleep on. They would use the wooden chairs as a fence to serve as their protection from animals. 

Daniel would often visit the drive-thru of the fastfood store that is located just beside the stall where they would sleep at night to study his lessons and do his homework.

Viral photo

One evening in June 2015, CDU student Joyce Torrefranca saw Daniel and took a photo of him while studying on a wooden stool which he placed closed to the driveway of the drive-thru area.

Daniel was a grade 3 student then who went to school at the Subangdaku Elementary School located at least four kilometers away from the “pungko-pungko” stall that Espinosa would watch over.

Since his video became viral, Daniel and his family has become a recipient of many donations – cash or in kind – some of which continues to date.

Espinosa said that Fr. Carmelo Diola of the Dilaab Foundation Inc. gave her the P3,000 which she used to pay as downpayment for a room in Sitio Malibo in Barangay Subangdaku that they now occupy.

With Diola’s help, she also opened a small store a portion of their rented room.

Naa pud usahay nga mo adto ko ni Fr. Diola kay mangayo kog tabang,” she said.

(There are also times that I go to Fr. Diola to ask help.)

Also, Daniel continues to get a P1,500 allowance per month from the management of the McDonald’s NRA branch to help in his studies. He started to receive the allowance and some school supplies shortly after Torrefranca’s video became viral and until after he finishes high school.

The fastfood company also gave him a graduation treat on Thursday afternoon with at least 50 of their neighbors in attendance at its NRA branch.

Perfect attendance

Daniel graduated from Grade 6 on April 3, 2019. While he did not receive any awards, he was proud that he got perfect attendance during the school year.

He said that he never missed a single class because he did not want to be left out in their class discussions.

The boy also told CDN Digital that he was good at math. He received a grade of 82 during the first grading, 84 during the second grading and 94 during the third grading. But he is yet to check on his fourth grading grades when the distribution of cards starts after the Brigada Eskwela scheduled to start next week.

Espinosa said that Daniel was a very diligent boy. He would always get grades that would range from 80 to 95.

Daniel said that since a police official already made a commitment to give him college education, he is now trying to make up his mind on what course to take.

Personally, he wants to take up criminology and become a policeman, but there are also those who would advise him to take up engineering because he was good at math.

Gusto ko mag police kay mao man ang ambisyon sa akong papa,” he said.

(I want to be a policeman because that was the ambition of my father.)

Daniel said that he wanted to fulfill the dream of his father, being Danilo’s favorite son.

But whatever it is that he would wish to pursue in college, Daniel is certain that he would not waste his scholarship opportunity to give his family a better life. /celr, bmjo

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TAGS: better life, boy in viral photo, boy studying in street, Cebu City, Elementary, Mandaue City, McDonald's Drive thru, policeman, viral photo

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