Love and flowers: A peek at a vendor’s life of selling flowers
CONSOLACION Cebu — It was late in the afternoon and Amparo Ochia meticulously unfolds the bills she earned amid the bustling churchgoers. Feeling contented for a while, she snaps back into reality, hides the thin wad of bills inside her clothing and patiently bides her time until her next big hit: Valentine’s day.
Ochia, 63, a flower vendor, didn’t really believe in love, and she would rather look for ways to earn than to think about romance.
Which is why in 1983, when she was still 23 years old she decided to leave her home in Tabuelan town in northern Cebu knowing full well that she would soon venture out to uncharted lands. She ended up in Consolacion town also in northern Cebu where she sought what the future had in store for her.
She was lucky in the sense that she was new in town and she met somebody, who would point her to earn a bit of cash.
“Naa may nagtudlo nako, maam, Susan Tapayan, unya naa siyay miga na si Lyda, gidala ko niya diri (flower stall). Akoy gipapuli og baligya (sa buwak),” she said.
(Somebody pointed me here, maam, Susan Tapayan, and she had a friend Lyda, who brought me here (flower stall). She allowed me to replace her in selling (flowers).)
Although grateful, Ochia initially didn’t plan to sell flowers weeks upon her arrival, but it proved helpful in earning money, and considered it as a way to help her live out her independent way of life.
“Di man unta ko mamaligya kay mauwaw ko. ‘Unsaon man pagbaligya anang buwak? Di baya ko tig singgit singgit’. Ana siya ‘di man ka mag singgit singgit ana, mutawag ra man ang tawo mopalit og buwak,” she said.
(I was not so keen on selling (flowers) because I am a shy person. ‘How can I sell flowers? I am not a person who shouts’. She told men ‘you won’t shout to sell flowers, the buyers will be the ones to call you that they will buy flowers.)
Eventually, Ochia learned to love selling flowers until she met somebody and got a family of her own.
However, unlike Ochia’s flowers in full-bloom, unwrinkled and bright with love; her life slowly turned gray as her family suffered greatly with her husband’s vices which affected her children the most.
This situation pushed her to work doubly hard as she normally would—just so she could provide for her children’s needs.
“Abi nimo, maam, sultian gyud tika. Naa koy anak gigatas unya pila ra may halin sa buwak? Sa una tig ₱2.50 pa man ang buwak unya mao to kada adlaw ko maninda kay lisod man kaayo maam magpalit pakog gatas…,” she said.
(You know, maam, I will tell you. I have a child that still needs milk and how much do I earn from selling flowers? At first, the flowers only sell for P2.50 and that is why I sell flowers everyday because it is so difficult, maam, I still have to buy milk ….)
Because of the nature of her job to sell flowers, she was most of the time not physically present for her children then, which ended with two of her kids being allegedly physically abused by someone.
Ochia, who still lives with her husband in one roof, has seven children.
And amid this family problems, Ochia focused on one thing that she loved to somehow forget her problems: Selling flowers.
But then life also took a turn for the better for this Tabuelan woman as her daughters started helping her with in selling flowers.
With her children taking care of her spot to sell flowers beside the San Narciso Parish Church Consolacion town, Ochia started selling her flowers to neighboring churches such as outside the gates of the Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Barangay Basak, Mandaue City.
Life changing moment
This was in 2014, but then an incident happened where she nearly was run over by a vehicle as she rushed to cross a street in Consolacion. This was after I had done my rounds selling flowers in other neighboring churches of Consolacion.
“Kay ako baya isuroy [akong buwak], ma’am, gikan ari [Consolacion Parish Church] ug sa Liloan… Adto na pod ko sa Canduman lakaw ko paingon sa Basak. Nadugay na, maam, na hapit ko maligsan pag 53 nako… kay ‘Misa de Gallo’ nagdali-dali pa pod ko diri (Consolacion Parish Church) pagabot nako didto nanggawas naman. Nikallit kog dagan,” she told CDN Digital.
“(Because I would sell [my flowers], maam, from here [Consolacion Parish Church] and in Liloan…then I would go to Canduman then to Basak. Eventually, I was nearly ran over when I was 53 years old…because it was ‘Misa de Gallo’ I was in a rush to be on a spot near the Consolacion church where the churchgoers can see me when they go out the church.
This near accident caused her to reflect on her life and that she still had her children to raise, so she went easy on the selling of flowers and just focused on one spot in Consolacion town.
Life’s challenges might have hardened Ochia from any form of love and hope. However, Ochia said despite this, her love for her children remained.
Flower vendor’s take on love
In an interview, Ochia shared that as a flower vendor, she was used to seeing flowers all day, but she never got the chance to receive one until her grandchild came.
“Nakasuway na jud ko hatagan buwak, ma’am, tungod sa akong apo, si Angel,” she said cheerfully.
(I finally got a chance to be given flowers, maam, because of my grandchild, Angel.)
Angel Rebato is the daughter of Ochia’s child, Richard Rebato, and she is currently a high school student in a school in the town.
“Mutuo gihapon kag gugma?,” CDN asked Amparo, after knowing all the hardships that she encountered through her life.
“Oo, maam. Gugma sa mga anak, sila Angel og uban nako apo, ug mas labaw pa ang Ginoo ma’am. Unahon gyud ang Ginoo sunod sa akong mga apo og mga anak,” she said
(Yes, maam. Love for my children, Angel and my other grandchildren, and most of all love for God. We should always put God first, followed by my grandchildren and my children.)
“Naa gyud nay gugma, ma’am, bisag unsa pay naagian…. ampo lang tag balik nga maapodan ta sa Ginoo,” she said.
(There is always love, despite what one has to go through in life….Let us just pray again that the Lord will share his love to us.) | Jessa Ngojo — CDN Digital Intern
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